One of the greatest joys of woodturning, at least in my world, is turning green wood. There’s nothing quite like seeing ribbons of wood fly off the tip of your gouge while water courses down the parabolic flute, a constant spray thrown off the spinning blank keeps you cool while, at the same time, it’s decorating your shop. Piles of long shavings cover your lathe bed and gather at your feet.
What great fun, indeed! Well, except, of course, for the part about wet shavings piling up on your lathe bed. All wet woods will leave their mark on your lathe, unless you happen to have one of the Gucci stainless models out there. Some woods are more pernicious than others, particularly those high in tannins. The Oak family tops this list and I recently had the thrill of roughing out a large, very wet, Valley Oak (Quercus lobata) blank.
After spending a couple of hours getting pummeled, taking the blank from a very rough hexagon shape to a perfect cylinder and then shaping the cylinder into a bowl profile, I raked and shoveled a garbage can full of shavings. Only then did I discover how blackened and rusted my lathe bed had become. Oh, the pain of it all!
Get over it! It’s no big deal. Wipe down the ways with dry paper towels to get the gunk off. Spray on a liberal dose of WD40 and sprinkle on a generous application of Bar Keepers Friend. Now, fold a clean paper tower into fourths and apply a bit of elbow grease to the task. Lather, rinse and repeat and, quicker than who shot Bob, you’ll have the ol’ lathe bed looking shiny as a new nickel!
Feel free to use this same trick if some low life miscreant sets down his beverage on one of your machines, without using a coaster, and leaves a ring.