TurningBlanks.Net Store Newsletter - May 2012
Saturday , 29 November 2014 , 09 : 05 PM
TurningBlanks.Net Store Newsletter
May 2012 Edition
Focus on Wood - Camphor

Flat Sawn

Quarter Sawn

End Grain

General Information:

Camphor trees are non-native to the United States, but are planted as ornamental landscaping in subtropical southern regions, such as Florida.  The wood is well known for the aroma, which produced by the wood's oils.  The scent is very similar to the smell of eucalyptus and/or some types of medicated chest rubs. 

Common Name(s):

Camphor, camphor laurel, cinnamon wood


33 lbs/ft3 - Moderately dense


860  lbft - Moderately soft

Specific Gravity:


Turning Properties:

Turns very well, with very little dulling effect on tools.  Has only slight tendency to tear out across the end grain, despite being relatively soft.

Drying Properties:

Dries well, with little warping occurring during drying.  This wood has the tendency to check or crack if handled improperly, though.  As with any oily wood, prolonged exposure to the air can cause small checks in the surface to occur, which can later develop into larger cracks.  To improve results, it is recommended that roughed out turnings be completed in one session (don't take breaks and come back to finish later), and then moved directly into the drying process once finished. 

Sanding Properties:

Sands very well.  For removing tool marks, 120 grit sandpaper is recommended.  Will sand to a medium high luster, requiring grits of at least 600 to achieve good results.  As with any soft wood, to improve the quality of the finished surface, the turner must take care to thoroughly sand away any marks left from prior sanding grits before moving on to finer ones.

Finishing Properties:

Readily accepts nearly any type of finish or stain


Although uncommon, the dust of camphor wood is known to cause slight to moderate respiratory irritation, and the woods' oils can cause minor skin irritations is some persons.

Turning Tutorials - Signing Your Work

Signing Your Work

So...you've got your project completed, except for one minor detail.  It's time to sign your work and show it off!  You've spent lots of time turning, sanding and finishing...so don't forget to do a good job with the part that gives you the credit.  There are a number of ways in which to sign your work, which we're covering this month.  Let's take a look at the options:

Paint and Ink -

The easiest, most cost effective method for signing your work is the use of some type of paint or ink.  Felt tip pens, paint pens, and white out applicator pens can all be used.  These are simple...all you need to do is use the pen to write your information on the bottom.  Felt tip pens are usually best for lighter woods, where they'll be most visible.  Paint pens and white out applicator pens are good for darker woods, where a contrasting color will aid in making your information more visible.

Adhesive Stickers-

Some turners choose to use adhesive stickers on turnings where there is a large enough surface to do so (such as the bottoms of bowls or platters).  Remember, however, that these stickers will not last well if the bowl is meant to be used for utility purposes.  Stickers are better for display pieces that will be handled more lightly.  A variety of shapes and colors can be purchased at craft supply shops, and written on with your choice of pen or paint.  For those who want a cleaner, more professional look, stickers can be designed and printed onto sheets on a home computer, or a print shop can provide a wide variety of design choices printed to order for you as well. 

Carving -

Carving is a good choice for ensuring that your signature and/or information will stand the test of time.  Many people attempt to carve signatures with rotary tools (such as a dentist's tool or Dremel tool), but these tools can be difficult to control when trying to do such fine, detailed work.  Experience will help make things go more smoothly, but an engraving tool will make the work much simpler.  An engraving tool works with a vibrating motion, as opposed to a rapid spinning motion.  The vibrating motion is much easier to control.  An inexpensive engraving tool will do the job...no need for another fancy, expensive piece of equipment to add to the huge pile of expensive tools you already need for wood turning! 

Burning -

Wood burning is another good choice for making your personalization last.  Typically, wood burning will work best on more lightly colored woods, but can be used on some dark woods as well.  Should you choose to try wood burning, we recommend purchasing a good tool.  Inexpensive tools, which do not include temperature controls, can be difficult to work with.  While they will work well on some woods, thee results can vary widely.  Higher quality models will allow for temperature control, and the ability to interchange tips.  When getting started, it will take some practice to determine what temperatures work best for specific situations, and which shapes of tips you will prefer to use.  Practice on some scrap pieces of wood before you move on to working on your finished turnings.


Also, here are some additional things you may want to consider when signing your work:

Printed Name -

Consider if you want to print your name on the piece.  Writing out your name, as opposed to (or in addition to) singing it will make it easier for someone to identify you as the artist.  Remember to make your name legible, but don't be afraid to get creative.  Some people will prefer something plain and easily recognizable.  Others may prefer to use all upper-case lettering.   Play around with different styles until you find one you like


Not all persons will put their actual signature onto the finished piece, but some do choose to do so.  A signature adds an extra level of personalization, but may require a little extra practice to achieve should you choose to apply it via carving or burning techniques

Wood Type -

Remember...not everyone is as familiar with wood as you may be.  Identifying the type of wood used for the project may come in handy for the person who ends up receiving your piece.

Date -

Adding the date to your turning is another option.  It's not typically necessary, but is a good idea, particularly if the piece is given to a person for a birthday, anniversary or other special event.  

Title -

Typically, titles aren't given to most turnings, but many artists choose to use them.  A good example:  our father recently turned an olivewood pen which he titled "The Jonah Pen".  The wood grain on the side of the pen clearly depicted what appeared to be a large fish, mouth wide open, about to swallow a small stick figure in his mouth.  Pretty cool!  Adding a title can definitely take an interesting piece and make it much better.

All archived monthly newsletters do not include the following:

  • Business updates
  • Recently added woods and schedule of upcoming woods
  • Photo of the month contest results
  • Discounts and upcoming sales information

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