Harrell Wood Products


Wholesale Supplier of Wood Components

Wood Turning Blanks

June 6th, 2010 at 0:37

All wood turning blanks are not produced alike.  So if you are a volume user
make sure you know what your options are before ordering from a particular
vendor.  If you are just turning as a hobby make sure you shop around
because you can get burned on price big time if you don’t.

There are four main specifications you need to define before you purchase
wood turning blanks or squares as they are commonly referred to in the trade.

The first is define whether the squares must be solid or glued up.  This of
course will be to a large part dependent on the size that you need.  A good
way to explain this is as follows.  Lets say that you manufacturer Baseball
Bats. Although glued up squares can be as durable as solid stock, they sure
don’t behave the same way when you smack a ball with one.  A typical
baseball bat would be made from solid Ash 3 x 3 x 36 squares.(the lenght
varies as does the thickness depending on the age of the end user).  These
would need to be kiln dried to 6-8% moisture and be sound (knot free). 

So there is a little more to just buying wood turning blanks than meets the
eye. You should tell whomever you are buying from exactly what the end
product will be so that they can provide the necessary squares with the
features you need at the cheapest price.  Species of wood becomes another
main specification.  If you are going to make bunk bed posts are they for
barricks, dormitories, or childrens furniture.  If they were for the first two,
chances are that they would be made from Oak, but they could also be
Hard Maple, Hickory or Ash.  If they were for childrens furniture they might
just be painted so a low grade Poplar or Beech or even Pine could be used.
You need to specify as the cost varies a lot depending on the species used.

If you are making stair components, then the ballusters would be made out
of solid squares, but the newel posts are probably made from glued up
stock since most solid squares do not exceed 3? x 3? in thickness.  A newel
post is typically  3″ thick after machining (moulded, turned and sanded).
These would have to start with laminated or glued up stock.  Most stair
manufacturing companies require that newel posts are laminated with a
maximum of two glue lines so you would have to use three pieces of 5/4
lumber to make up the 3? thickness required by the finished product.  If
you didn’t specify how many glue lines are allowed, you could end up
having these newel posts made from 4/4 stock with three glue lines and
now you have another common problem.  Getting a proper color match.
The more plys allowed the greater chances there are of getting at least one
of the plys with a color defect that can ruin the looks of the finished product.

So color matching is another specification that should be defined before you
order squares.  If your finished procuct will take a real dark stain or is
painted then color matching will not be a problem. If you are using just a
clear coating as the final finish, color matching is critical.  So specify what you
need before you order. 

In summary, specifications are recommended when buying wood turning
blanks especially if you are buying in volume.  You need to specify the
species or sub-species of wood, then are they air dried or kiln dried and to
what moisture content.  Are they solid or laminated (face glued).  The
number of plys and are finger joint or edge-glued plys acceptable.  What
about color matching and are sound knots allowed or must they be clear
and free of knots.  What about pin knots, are they allowed.  And are you
buying rough wood turning blanks or a net size (S4S, PET meaning surfaced
four sides and precision end trimmed for length).

Specify before you buy but consult with your vendor so that you don’t pay
for higher quality squares that you need.

Please e-mail all inquiries for wood turning squares to  Bob@HarrellWP.com
for a prompt quotation.  We can also handle shipping requirements.

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