American Elm

Recently, we shot a video where I turned a small canister from green wood. (The video will be distributed in the middle of October.) To get a few big chunks of green hardwood for the video, I haunted some yard waste drop-off centers and pounced when I spied four approximately 15-in.-diameter log sections. Their cross section revealed a creamy colored sapwood and a dark heartwood. It turned out to be American elm, a common tree in my neck of the woods.

Now, I’d used sticked-up elm lumber before and found it stringy with a tendency to twist — although it had a very pleasing grain pattern. This was my first attempt at turning elm, and I have to say that I found it to be excellent. The figure was pleasing to look at, and as a green wood it turned easily. I can’t wait to get back and make a few other things from it.

So, it got me to thinking: are there other common but nontypical hardwoods that folks find better for turning than for flat woodworking? That is the question I put to you … I await your feedback!

Rob Johnstone, Woodworker’s Journal

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