Selecting Turning Stock for Your Next Project

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Selecting turning stock for your next project requires you to balance variety, ease of use and cost.

Most of the species Woodcraft stocks come in a variety of sizes cut at the mill for use in a more efficient format.  No need to cut the next 2" x 2" x 6" handle blank out of a big board – that has already been done for you.  The milled blank may cost a little more than rough lumber, but you get the added convenience of getting a better look at the grain and figure in your piece.

We stock over 75 species cut for different projects: Pen Blanks, Handle Stock, Pepper Mills and Game Calls, just to mention a few. Everyone seems to want to turn Cocobolo, but the variety of species available is astounding. We import wood from Europe, Africa, Mexico, South America, Australia and Indonesia, ranging from dark rich African Blackwood to soft white Holly from the United States.

Each species offers its own unique color, figure, grain structure and ease of turning.  Depending on your experience level, there is a wood that will challenge you, but match you perfectly with your next project.  Domestic woods such as Walnut, Maple and Cherry are very popular for pepper mills. The ease of drilling, turning and finishing makes them an easy choice.  Picking an exotic like Cocobolo for your next pen project makes good sense. It is challenging to turn and drill, but in a project that size it is manageable for even a beginner. 

The wood blanks will typically have been dipped in wax, which is perfectly safe and will not harm your project. You will just remove it during the rough turning process. In the past, a waxed blank indicated that the wood was not kiln-dried and had higher moisture content. This did not typically affect the project because the size allowed the finished project to dry without cracking or deforming the turning. Currently, many mills dip all of their blanks in wax. This keeps even dry blanks from deteriorating as they move from continent to continent and humid to dry locations in winter and summer. Any blank you buy should be allowed to sit in your shop for a day or two to get acclimated to the environment. Again, the small pen blanks and turning blanks are not really a problem.

Although the blank you select may seem pricey if you calculate the board footage price, it actually is quite reasonable once you consider the blank has been milled to a manageable and useful size, dried and waxed and hand selected for quality. These measures allow you to just turn instead of milling and working large cumbersome boards.   

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