TurningBlanks.Net Store Newsletter - July 2014
Sunday , 30 November 2014 , 03 : 21 PM
TurningBlanks.Net Store Newsletter
July 2014 Edition
Focus on Wood - Ambrosia Sycamore

Flat Sawn

Quarter Sawn

End Grain

General Information:

Ambrosia sycamore is a term used to describe any type of sycamore which has been infested with ambrosia beetles.  These tiny beetles bore into the wood, not to feed, but rather to make their homes.  As they tunnel through the wood, they leave behind two types of fungus.  One is the ambrosia fungus, which provides a food source for the beetle and its larvae as they grow (which also provides the name for the beetle, as well as the type of lumber produced).  The second fungus is a type of fungus which causes discoloration in the wood...creating the streaks of color for which this type of wood is known.  Sycamore does not commonly get attacked by the ambrosia beetle, making this type of wood much more uncommon than the more commonly seen ambrosia maple.

Common Name(s):

Ambrosia sycamore


38 lb/ft3  - Medium density


770 lbft - Moderately hard

Specific Gravity:


Turning Properties:

This wood turns quite well.  Being of a medium density, it has only a slight tendency to tear out when cutting across end grain areas.  Has a high silica content, and therefore has a moderate to high dulling effect on tools, requiring more frequent resharpening of tools while being worked

Drying Properties:

Has a high initial moisture content and interlocked grain.  Little tendency to crack or check, but prone to medium or heavy movement during drying.  Will shrink somewhat more than other comparable hardwoods, and may require a bit of additional drying time to remove all moisture.

Sanding Properties:

Sands very well.  For removing tool marks, 120  grit sandpaper is recommended.  Will sand to a medium-high luster, usually requiring grits no higher than 600 to achieve excellent results.

Finishing Properties:

Readily accepts most finishes and stains.  Stains may produce very different colors on heartwood areas when compared to sapwood areas.


No known toxicities have been reported for ambrosia sycamore.

Turning Tutorials - Turning with Sharp Tools, Roughing Gouges

Turning with Sharp Tools - Roughing Gouges

Last month, we continued our series of tutorials which are covering the proper sharpening of lathe tools.   This month, we're going to explain the proper method for sharpening roughing gouges.  Next month, we will cover the bowl gouge.

Special Note Concerning Roughing Gouges -

We wanted to take a moment before we get started with this article to remind our customers not to use the roughing gouge for face plate work (i.e. face grain bowls and platters).  We get lots of questions and comments from customers who are using this tool for this type of work, and wanted to remind everyone:  this tool is not suited for this type of work, and can be very, very dangerous!  These tools are designed for spindle work, and using them for face grain blanks can result in breakage of the tool or the piece being worked on.  Nobody wants flying chunks of metal or wood zooming through their workshop...so be safe and use this tool for its intended use only!

When to Sharpen -

Sharpening should be performed when the tool no longer can produce ribbons of material during cutting.  Other signs of a dull roughing gouge - a tendency to want to bounce excessively when rounding spindles and/or difficulty in running the tool down the face of an already trued up spindle (for example, the tool may collect shavings on the cutting edge which pauses the cutting action, or excessive pressure is needed to move the tool along its cutting path)

Correct Sharpening Angle -

The bevel should be sharpened at a 40 degree to 50 degree angle, with 45 degrees being the best all-purpose angle for sharpening.  Reducing the angle to 40 degrees will aid in cutting softer woods clearly, and increasing the angle will aid in cutting harder or more highly figured woods.  The tool's front edge should be ground straight across, without any unevenness or grinding back of the top edge of the tool (also known as the "ears" of the gouge).


Grinding Methods for Roughing Gouges -

Sharpening with a Grinding Wheel
Once the proper grinding angle has been set for the rest on the grinder, begin by laying the heel of the bevel (the back side of the cutting edge) against the stone, then slowly rotate the cutting edge to make contact of the wheel.  To properly grind the edge, the tool must be steadily held perpendicular to the face of the grinding wheel.  Rotate the handle of the tool slowly, steadily, and smoothly back and forth to grind the entire edge.  Be careful not to pause while performing the grinding motion, as this will cause misshaping of the front face of the tool.  A properly ground tool should be perfectly flat across its top edge when viewed from the top.  Any uneven spots will affect the tools ability to cut properly, especially when the tool is being rotated during the cutting process.

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

To view our full newsletter, sign up via the form at the bottom right of this page.

  • Posted by: Mike Leigher
  • COMMENT BY: william, dautel
Leave your comment

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.

Comments (2)
Comments by william, dautel April 30, 2015

new website is great

Comments by Jimmy Broadhead February 10, 2015

Getting back into woodturning