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woodturning1What is a Logspinner?

Almost all of Bob’s pieces began with his cutting up a log and then attaching it onto a machine. This lathe spins the wood so Bob can cut shapes and contours with specialized tools. The logs were very green and wet, each having been recently cut down. The pieces Bob makes require a year to shape, dry, refine and finish.




Where does wood come from?

In contrast to what your parents told you about money, it grows on trees. To honor your question with a more complete answer, Bob gets his wood primarily from native California trees that came down for other reasons. They either fell down in a storm or had to be removed because they posed a danger. Thus, most were destined to be dumped into a landfill. Bob begins working with logs within a few days after the tree is cut down and continues to shape the turned pieces over the next year. Most pieces are labeled with the species of tree that is being recycled. Often, Bob will tell you a story about the tree and the piece you are admiring. (See below)

Recycling Silver Maple

Bill, a turning colleague, invited Bob to stop by and pick up a couple of Silver Maple logs. The neighbor who took down the tree claimed a few logs for himself (1), and then gave the rest to Bill (2) who began turning them. Bob (3) was given two logs, enough to make five bowls which found their way into several homes (4). Some scraps from the turning process enriched Bob’s barbecue (5) cooking. The rest were given to two of Bob’s colleagues (6, 7) who were just beginning to learn the secrets of good Texas barbecue. One Silver Maple tree died and had to be removed, but it didn’t disappear – it was recycled seven (7) times.

Taz Alert

 Tasmanian Blackwood, 5” dia

Tasmanian Blackwood, 5” dia

Bob got the phone call on a Saturday morning, “Taz alert, 10:30 along the creek in Yountville.” It so happens that the tree was taken down to prevent its falling across the creek and onto the back porch of a restaurant. Not just any restaurant, but the renowned and revered French Laundry. Taz is a nickname for Tasmanian Blackwood, a species highly regarded by woodturners. Thus, a half-dozen turners converged to cut up and recycle this particular tree.

Taz has a two-part reputation: it is a challenge to turn smoothly and the finished product has gorgeous color and grain. Tasmanian Blackwood is native to Australia, but also thrives in the Bay Area, particularly the Napa Valley. You probably have seen its “cousin,” Koa, if you have vacationed in Hawaii. Dozens of bowls, with the striking contrast between reddish cinnamon heartwood and creamy white sapwood are now residents of homes throughout the Bay Area. Some have been shipped to Florida and Washington and Texas.