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We obtained a very wide slab of walnut wood that I was very happy to get. When we first got the slab I was planning on making a slab top for a table. It sat in my wood storage area for a few months, acclimating to my shop environment. I kept looking at it, and I realized that I could get some nice platters from this slab. It had beautiful grain patterns and I could make platters that would showcase this figure. My lathe can handle platters up to 18” in diameter. Having a single piece of wood that is that large in diameter is not easy to come by, so I settled on the decision to process the slab into four platter blanks.

I cut the slab into the four blanks, then let them sit for a few more weeks. Now it was time to put the first blank on the lathe and see how it turned out. When you make a platter or bowl, most of the time you completely sand and finish the outside of the piece, then turn it around and complete the inside. This is because once you take it off the lathe and turn it around you can’t easily work the first side, and it is almost impossible to get the types of finishes that I use onto the outside after taking it off the lathe.

I turned the outside of the platter and was very pleased with the way it turned out. I was excited to see what the inside looked like when it was done. After all, the inside of the platter is the side that will be seen when it is displayed. I attached the Pugsley Craft maker’s mark, then took it off the lathe.

The original slab was air dried, as opposed to kiln dried. Air dried wood will have more moisture content than kiln dried wood. A piece of kiln dried wood will have a moisture content around 6 percent and will maintain that percentage better than air dried wood. This is because kiln dried wood tends to have its cells collapse more, not allowing moisture back in again. On the other hand, air dried wood will usually not be less than 8% moisture content and tends to absorb moisture back when it gets into higher humidity. However, air dried woods tend to keep their color and figure better than kiln dried woods.

Knowing this about air dried woods, I like to bring bowls and platters into the house for a while to acclimate to an environment like where they will end up living in a customer’s home. So I brought the platter into the house and it stayed there for a few weeks.

If you look at the end section of a log, the very center contains what is called the pith. The pith is very reactionary wood tends to develop cracks as it dries. You really don’t want the wood pith in your wood items, as it is hard to manage and can cause problems. Branches also have a center pith, but sometimes you can get away with these in your bowls and platters. Branches appear as knots in the wood.

As the platter sat in the house, it dried more. Oops! A crack started to develop where the knot is in the platter. My first thought was to fill the crack with some black epoxy or thick instant glue. This would seal it up, and since it was black it would blend in well with the figured walnut. But the longer it sat, the larger the crack became. If you look at the picture of the crack, you can see that it spans across the knot, but stops right at the edge of the knot.

In my opinion, the crack is now too large to fill.

After Erika and I consulted about this development, we reached a decision. I will remount the platter on the lathe and turn it down past where the knot is. The platter will be smaller, but will have crack gone, and be a more stable piece when completed. When working with a natural material like wood, sometimes you have things happen and you just have to make a new plan for the piece you are making. Look for part two of this story when the smaller platter is completed.

I still have three more platter blanks to work with, so our fingers are crossed that we get a couple of platters full sized from the blanks.

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  • Jay

Updated: Oct 21, 2020

January 24th, 2020

Yesterday I ordered a new lathe for the business. As soon as we launched, we started receiving inquiries about large salad bowls. One large enough to use to serve salad to the whole family or gathering. Unfortunately, my current lathe could not handle a product of that size, and the lathe is not one that I can count on for regular production work. I did my research and chose a new lathe that would let me make products up to 18” in diameter. This lathe can also production work better and more efficiently. I expect to get this lathe within the next 10 days.

I am excited about this new shop equipment. We are already working through designing a new product line of larger platters and bowls. We will also have the capability of offering nested bowl sets. If you are unfamiliar with these, it is a set of bowls, that are sized so that they become a set of bowls, from large to small. You might be thinking, “What’s so special about that?”. Well, these nested bowls all come from the same piece of wood, so they all match for grain pattern, color, and other unique markings. These bowl sets are prized for entertaining and display. Look for these to hit our product line soon.

This new lathe will also give me the ability to produce natural edged products. These are products that have the natural outer edge of the wood as part of the finished product. The larger capacity of the new lathe makes these products possible.

I will still use my current lathe for smaller items and other shop tasks, but the new lathe expands our product lines greatly.





The lathe took longer to arrive than I thought. While I waited, I prepared a spot in the wood shop for this new lathe. It is a heavy one, so I imagined that where it was placed is where it will live permanently. Arranging the shop for this new lathe forced me to rearrange all the equipment in a more thoughtful layout. This new layout has already paid dividends when I work.

After the lathe arrived, I enlisted the help of my son to get the parts unloaded from the shipping packaging and get it all assembled and set in place. When we finally had it ready, I turned it on for the first time. It is a powerful machine and so very quiet. You can hardly hear it run. I am very satisfied with my choice.

Before the new lathe arrived, I had the opportunity to get some planks of wood suitable for bowls. I got cherry, walnut, maple, and ash. I spent some quality time with this wood when I first got it, breaking it all down and transforming the planks into bowl banks.

When the new lathe was ready, I took it for a spin with some of these blanks. These bowls turned out nicely, and they were a joy to make with the new lathe.

I had been struggling with proper sharpening of my lathe chisels, but after getting a new sharpening station I am now able to keep a sharp, consistent edge on these tools. Combining these sharp tools with the hew lathe, I am confident that I will be making products with ease and enjoyment for a long time.

Now that the new lathe is producing, I will be making a couple of large salad blows. Look for these to be available soon in our store.

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  • Jay

Updated: Oct 21, 2020

Pugsley Craft products are thoughtfully made with attention to quality and beauty.

We use quality components in our products. We test many components and use the ones that pass our high standards. We work with others to get the components we need for our products. And, we always keep an eye open for different and better components.

The wood that we use is hand selected for each product, sometimes when we first acquire the wood. As we make each product, we make thoughtful choices in our usage and placement of components so that each piece showcases the wood’s natural beauty. We are always looking for new ways to utilize wood to it’s fullest. We have designed products around a stock of wood so that the wood is used with the least amount of waste. Sometimes this results in unique ways of assembling a product.

We have lines of products that are designed to use a common thread throughout the products in the line. For example, we have a wormy wood product line and a rustic product line. Products in different lines are designed to make best use of the common material, such as wormy wood. This ties all the products in the line together, making a statement in your home.

Pugsley Craft has many limited run and one-of-a-kind products. These products are made to use a single piece of wood, or a small batch of wood we have in our inventory. Other times, we get an unusual item that we design a product around. These products are offered as they become available.

Pugsley Craft also carries many popular products that are always in stock. These are updated as we see demand for products change. These products can be made in batch runs, providing individual attention to each product while getting the benefit of production runs.

We also will entertain custom requests. This can be anything from one of our products in specific woods, to designing and making the product. This requires working closely together so that we all understand and agree on the final product and how it will be made.

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