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Found wood Walnut platter

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  • Found wood Walnut platter

    We got a whole lot of rain around Halloween of 2015. A real gully washer, with floods and all that good stuff. I make a point to take a stroll down near the creek after rains like that, looking for interesting pieces of wood that I can do something with. It's a treasure trove of stuff. I used to bring home pretty much anything, but have become more selective over the years. These days I have a rule: if I want to add something to the pile of stuff out back behind the garage, I have to get rid of something that's already there: either I made something from one of the pieces, or I give away something (or throw it in the burn pile). Fortunately, there's still a lot of questionable stuff in the pile, so I haven't had to burn anything really good.

    Anyway, I took a stroll down by the creek on Halloween after the water had receded a bit, and I found this piece of walnut.


    That's right at 36" long, 20" at the widest part, and 11" on the narrow end. The front side is a little over 3" thick.

    I didn't know what it was when I got it. I had a pretty good idea what I wanted to do with it, but had to let it dry out for a while.

    When I did get time to play, I pulled out my trusty angle grinder (I love that tool) and went to work:


    I had hoped to keep as much of the found shape as I could, but there was a lot of burned material. That forced me to re-shape the area at the top right in this picture. I took about a half inch of burned material out of the middle. The front is only about 2-3/4" thick now. Oddly, I didn't get a picture of the back side at this point.

    Then the thing sat in my garage for a while. A few months later I did some additional shaping with my 2" Foredom angle grinder, and filled the larger cracks with crushed malachite, then put it aside again. For three and a half years.

    I finished building out my shop recently, and have begun finishing old projects. (I know nobody here has unfinished projects . . .)

    Over the past couple of weekends I ground down the crushed stone in the cracks and sanded the entire thing by hand. Man, that was a lot of sanding. Here it is after I finished rough sanding with 60 grit:


    That burn spot on the bottom was really thick. I probably would have had to take off another 1/4" or 1/2" to get rid of it, and I just didn't want to take that much off. I had originally planned to flatten the bottom some, but it was too much work. The thing rocks a little bit (okay, quite a bit), but that should be fine for a display piece.

    In any case, I completed sanding this evening (200 grit on the back and front side, 300 wet on the inside of the platter).

    Finish will be many coats of mineral oil. Add a coat of oil, wait a day, coat it again, lather, rinse, repeat. I figure it'll take a week or two for the back, and another week or two after I turn it over. Finally, I'll add a couple coats of that Howard Butcher Block Conditioner, which has some wax in it.

    As much as I'd like to keep this piece, I have no place to put it. So I might just see if I can sell it. That'll be an adventure, I'm sure.
    Attached Files
    Last edited by jmischel; 08-24-2019, 11:13 PM.

  • #2
    I brought the thing into the house and put the first coat of mineral oil on the back. I had forgotten just how beautiful finished Walnut is, and also how dark it gets. I burned my name and the date on the back, in the burned part. With the mineral oil on it, I can't read the mark. Maybe when it soaks in a bit?

    That end grain is really thirsty. I suspect I'll be adding oil to the end grain while I'm doing the front side as well as while I'm doing the back side.

    I have a few more progress pictures I'll post in a few days. Just a few shots I took while I was shaping--before I added the crushed stone. Other than that, probably won't be any updates until I flip it over to finish the front side.



    • #3
      You truly have yourself an interesting piece here. If you do decide to get rid of it, I would imagine it will be with some regret, well done.
      . . .JoeB


      • #4
        A long journey for that wood but you did stick with it and it is beautiful work of nature...with a little help from you. Enhancing a found piece of wood certainly gives one a lot of appreciation for the work. The wood is something to be very proud of doing and it will find a useful purpose. Well done!
        Living among knives and fire.


        • #5
          Hi Jim , Walnut is a very Pretty Wood and that piece is no exception . I had a 4 ft. piece and cut into 18 " long pieces that looked like yours , I was going to make a Bench out of it but to Heavy to work with . I have enough Walnut to last me for the rest of my Life . You did a Great job on that Piece , enjoy it for awhile . Merle


          • #6
            I can always use free black walnut handouts, Merle.
            Living among knives and fire.



            • #7
              joepaulbutler: Thanks. It really is an interesting piece, and it was quite a learning experience. Glad to be done with it, though. And you're right: letting go can be difficult. We put a little (or a lot) of ourselves into every piece.

              woodburner: Thank you for the kind words. This is the kind of work I most enjoy: working with a found piece to showcase the inherent beauty. For me, it's more about showing off what's already there than it is about shaping it to my design. Probably because I'm not all that great at forming a block into something particular.

              Thanks, Merle. I rather liked working with this walnut. I've carved a few other things from small pieces of walnut, and I have another old found piece. The only thing I don't like is the smell, especially when it's wet. But it's certainly not the worst-smelling wood I've worked with. Oh, and I echo woodburner's sentiment: if you ever decide to let go of those big chunks, I'd give them a good home . . .



              • #8
                Seeing the box in the background of that first picture, I realized that this was the day I broke in my new Ryobi angle grinder. Somebody had given me a cheap used angle grinder a few years before, and I didn't know what I'd do with the thing. Then I got my first big found wood piece and I discovered how useful the tool can be. I burned that tool up after just a few days' work, and over the next two years burned up three others that I picked up at Harbor Freight. I finally got fed up with replacing cheap tools and decided to splurge on an "expensive" one at Home Depot. The Ryobi cost a little less than double what the high-end Harbor Freight tool cost ($55 rather than $30), but the difference is astounding. It's more comfortable to work with, and I probably have more hours on that tool than on the four cheap ones, combined. There's no substitute for quality tools.

                Harbor Freight is fine for some things, but if I'm going to be swinging a tool for hours at a time, I'll spring for something better.



                • #9
                  Here's the front after one coat of oil absorbed. That thing is thirsty! I figure I'll go through a quart and a half, maybe two quarts of oil before I'm done.



                  • #10
                    Wow, that is a gorgeous piece of found wood, Walnut at that. We live further North so Walnut doesn't grow wild here. Best we can hope for is Maple, Birch or Beech. Plenty of soft wood, Fir, Pine, and Spruce, but that stuff isn't much good for carving. Well done.

                    Before they slip me over the standing part of the fore sheet, let them pipe: "Up Spirits" one more time.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by squbrigg View Post
                      Wow, that is a gorgeous piece of found wood, Walnut at that. We live further North so Walnut doesn't grow wild here. Best we can hope for is Maple, Birch or Beech. Plenty of soft wood, Fir, Pine, and Spruce, but that stuff isn't much good for carving. Well done.

                      Thanks, Bob. The Walnut was one of my better finds, no doubt. Maple, Birch, and Beech would make for some great pieces, too. We have plenty of Cedar and Juniper around here, some of which can be pretty nice. Especially the Eastern Red Cedar. Some Pine, but it's hard to find large, intact, pieces because it rots so fast.


                      • #12
                        Looking good, Jim!

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