TurningBlanks.Net Store Newsletter - July 2013
Sunday , 30 November 2014 , 10 : 28 AM
TurningBlanks.Net Store Newsletter
July 2013 Edition
Focus on Wood - Norfolk Island Pine

Flat Sawn

Quarter Sawn

End Grain

General Information:

Norfolk pine occurs naturally in Hawaii, and is common in Florida as well, due to the subtropical climate.  The tree is actually not in the pine family, but its appearance is very similar to pine.  Tree limbs grow at evenly spaced intervals, providing an interesting effect in pieces turned to include these limbs.  The wood is typically a light yellow to medium reddish brown color, and blue staining within the wood is quite common.

Common Name(s):

Norfolk island pine, norfolk pine, Cook's pine


31 lb/ft3  - Medium density


550 lbft - Soft

Specific Gravity:


Turning Properties:

As this wood is quite soft, there is some tendency to tear out when cutting across end grain portions, which will require sanding.

Drying Properties:

Dries very well, with little tendency to warp or crack during drying.  Even log sections, which contain the pith of the tree, dry quite well in comparison to other species.

Sanding Properties:

Sands very well.  For removing tool marks, 80 grit sandpaper is recommended.  Will sand to a medium-high luster, usually requiring grits no higher than 600 to achieve satisfactory results.  Remember to check the surface of the wood carefully for scratches and defects when switching to a higher grit sandpaper.  Any finely-grained wood such as norfolk pine will yield a smoother surface in the end if care is taken to remove all scratches left from prior stages of sanding.  It is very important to wipe any sanding dust from the wood's surface before changing grits of sandpaper.

Finishing Properties:

Readily accepts most finishes.  Staining can be difficult, as with most softwood species.  Pre-treatment with a wood conditioner will help to ensure the most even staining results.  Oil based finishes are commonly used with this wood when turned very thin.  The oil based finish gives these pieces a semi-translucent appearance.


No known toxicities are reported for Norfolk pine.

Turning Tutorials - Lathe Safety Series, Part 4

Lathe Safety Series, Part 4 - General Safety

This month, we will be concluding our series concerning safety at the lathe.  Our focus will be somewhat broadened this month, in order to cover any remaining items which may not have already been addressed.

Proper Attire -

Loosely fitted clothing, especially long-sleeved shirts or jackets, can potentially become wrapped up in a workpiece or the headstock of the lathe.  Well-fitted shirts or jackets are necessary in order to avoid a potentially severe accident.

Avoid wearing jewelry.  While small rings pose very little danger, large rings, watches, arm bands/bracelets and necklaces can be potentially quite dangerous.  Be sure to remove all jewelry to prevent them from getting caught in your workpiece or the headstock of the lathe.

Make sure that shoes are properly tied before working at the lathe.  Many an accident has been caused when a person was unaware of a loose shoelace, which caused them to trip and fall onto a moving lathe.

Long hair should be properly secured to prevent it from accidentally coming into contact with a spinning lathe or workpiece.

Lighting -

Fluorescent lighting can be dangerous at the lathe.  Although not apparent, these lights flicker very rapidly, and at constant intervals.  In certain cases, when the flicker of the light is synchronized with the rotating speed of the lathe, the lighting can cause the lathe to appear as if it is sitting still, even while rotating.  For anyone who has used a timing light in doing work with motors, the effect is very much the same.  If it all possible, use incandescent or LED lighting.  If fluorescent lighting must be used, be aware of this potentially dangerous situation.

Organization -

Keep tools located near the tailstock of the lathe when possible.  Having to reach for a tool near the headstock of the lathe puts you in harms way in the event that a piece breaks apart and comes off of the lathe.  While this does not occur commonly, it can happen. 

Keep the floor clear of clutter and debris.  Either can potentially cause a person to trip and fall into a moving lathe.

Tool Handling -

Each tool has its own specific use, and can be potentially dangerous if used improperly.  Educate yourself prior to using a new tool, and never use a tool for a job for which it is not intended.

Spindle roughing gouge -  NEVER use this tool for bowls, platters or faceplate work.  The tool is too large, and is not ground in a manner which allows for safe use on anything other than spindle work.

Bowl gouge -  This tool can be difficult to master in the beginning.  Remember to keep the bevel of the tool in contact with the wood's surface when being used.  Attempting to use the tip of this tool without the support of its bevel, can lead to disastrous catches that can send the tool flying and/or break apart the workpiece, sending broken wood flying about.

Skew -  The skew is another tool which can be difficult to master.  Cutting at the improper height on the workpiece, cutting in the incorrect direction, or using the wrong point (long or short point) of the tool can cause catching.  Be sure to learn proper cutting techniques before attempting to use this tool for the first time.

Scrapers-  Scrapers are commonly used by all turners, and are especially popular amongst beginners.  While relatively easy to use, they can also be dangerous.  Most accidents occur when the tool handle is pulled down below horizontal, causing the cutting edge to catch and be thrown out of the user's hand.

Additionally, accidents can occur when working with bowls, platters and hollow forms, particularly when cutting towards the center.  If the tool is allowed to cut past the center of the workpiece, into the portion of the wood which is spinning in an upward direction, the tool can easily be pulled out of a person's hands and sent flying into the air.

Lathe Operation -

Never touch a spinning workpiece.  Be sure to turn off the lathe before handling any work.

Never adjust the tool rest with the lathe running.  Turn off the lathe and allow it to come to a complete stop before making adjustments.

Keep the tool rest within about 1/8" of the workpiece  The further the tool rest is from the wood, the more leverage is required to maintain control.


While this is not an all-inclusive list of every safety concern, it should cover most situations.  Always be aware of your habits, and address issues promptly.  Be sure to keep a first aid kit nearby, just in case an issue should ever arise.  We wish you all the very best, and hope that we have been able to help keep you safe!

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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