Welcome to TurningBlanks.Net!


Q: What are the pros and cons of using green/undried wood?
A:
Pros-Costs less, is easier to turn, has less dulling effect on tools, produces shavings rather than fine sawdust when worked, and is readily available in a wide variety of species, shapes and sizes.  Cons-Heavier and more costly to ship, requires drying, requires more time to complete projects, can occasionally develop staining, and can potentially warp or crack during drying.
Q: What are the pros and cons of using kiln dried wood?
A:
Pros-Can be turned into a finished product immediately, weighs less and is cheaper to ship, will not stain, warp or crack unless improperly handled.  Cons-Has more of a dulling effect on tools, produces fine sawdust when worked, and is only available in more common species from 2" to 4" thick.
Q: What are the best wood choices for a beginning green wood turner?
A:
Cherry is highly recommended for beginners.  It works well, dries well, and produces a quality finished product.  Maple, ambrosia maple, and birch are also good choices for beginners.
Q: How do I dry wood?
A:
There are many methods for drying wood.  See our section on drying wood below for full details.
Q: What is the best way to contact us for assistance?
A:
During normal business hours (10am-6pm Monday through Friday), we can be reached by phone at (864) 723-2765 or (864) 378-5200.  Outside of business hours, we can be contacted by email at service@turningblanks.net.  Please keep in mind that we are nearly always busy sawing lumber and processing turning stock, so you may need to leave us a message so that we can return your call.
Q: How can I remove the wax seal from my turning blanks?
A:
If it is necessary to remove the wax from your turning blanks, we recommend that any wax covering exposed end grain be left intact on green/undried turning stock.  The best method for removing wax is to first use a scraper to remove the majority of the wax from the surface.  After this, use a clean rag dipped in turpentine to scrub away any remaining residue, making sure to re-dip the rag in turpentine as it becomes saturated with wax.  Always work in a well-ventilated area, using appropriate respiratory protection when using chemical solvents such as turpentine.
Q: Which shipping company handles our packages?
A:
We ship via UPS for all orders, as they have provided the overall best service to us and our customers.  By special request, we can ship via USPS flat rate box to Alaska or Hawaii to reduce costs.
Q: What areas can we ship to?
A:
Currently we only ship within the US.  Our woods are not prepared for export, and cannot be shipped internationally.
Q: Is there any additional charge for shipping and handling?
A:
No.  We use recycled packaging materials to save on packaging costs, always charge actual shipping costs, and never charge anything for handling of your packages.
Q: Why are shipping costs so high?
A:
If shipping costs seem high, it is likely due to one of three things:  your location is remote or a great distance from our location in South Carolina, you have chosen to purchase green wood (which is heavier and more costly to ship), or you have made a small purchase consisting of only a couple of pieces of wood.
Q: How can I get better prices on shipping?
A:
There are a few simple solutions.  Ordering kiln dried wood rather than green/undried wood will greatly reduce your overall order weight, and therefore your shipping costs.  Making larger orders that consist of several pieces rather than one or two pieces will drop the overall cost of shipping each piece.  Additionally, if you are able to have your package shipped to a business location, you may be able to reduce shipping costs slightly. 
Q: Do we offer freight and LTL shipping?
A:
Yes.  For larger orders (exceeding about $500), we can get a custom freight quote for your order.  Please keep in mind that if you do not have a loading dock or forklift to unload a truck, you will automatically be required to pay an additional fee for a truck that offers lift gate service to unload your crate.
Q: Can I pick my order up?
A: Yes.  Please call in advance to schedule an appointment at (864) 378-5200 or (864) 723-2765.
Q: How can I track my package?
A:
There are two ways to track your package.  Once your order is shipped, you will receive an email confirmation of shipment which contains a link to your package tracking information.  If this is lost, you can also use the original invoice which we email to you to view the progress through our order tracking page (follow the link at the top right of this page).
Q: What if my shipment becomes lost or damaged?
A:
Contact us immediately at (864) 378-5200 or (864) 723-2765.  All shipments are insured against loss and will either be replaced or refunded.
Q: When will my order be shipped?
A:
All orders are shipped within two business days of having received payment.
Q: How accurate are the dimensions of our turning blanks?
A:
Thickness measurements on all turning stock (both green and kiln dried) is typically within 1/32".  Lengths of spindle blanks may vary by up to 1/16" and diameters of bowl and platter blanks are typically about 1/16" larger than listed.
Q: Are pieces sealed in any way?
A:
Yes.  Green/undried pieces are fully sealed in paraffin wax to slow drying and prevent drying degrade.  Kiln dried pieces are sealed along the end grain to prevent them from reabsorbing moisture from the atmosphere.
Q: Are pieces rough sawn or planed to final thickness?
A:
All pieces are surface planed to thickness so that wood grain is clearly visible in each piece.
Q: Will pieces contain pith or cracks?
A:
There will never be pith, checks or cracks in any piece of lumber that we sell.
Q: Will pieces contain knots?
A:
Except for certain species that are naturally very knotty, such as cedars and cypresses, all knots larger than 1/4" will be removed.  Typically all of our pieces are totally free of knots, but the largest you can expect will be no larger than the size of a dime, and will be located in an area that will not detract from the usability of the piece.
Q: Will pieces contain any insects?
A:
We always try to remove any wood that is insect damaged from trees.  In some cases, though, insects are unavoidable (such as ambrosia maple, which can only be produced by insects).  All wood is treated with food safe pesticides, though, to kill any insects as best as can be accomplished
Q: Will pieces contain any mold, mildew or fungi?
A:
Green/undried wood can develop surface staining during storage through the summer months.  Although we are developing food safe treatments to reduce or eliminate these issues, they can sometimes occur in the more lightly colored woods such as maple, poplar, birch, beech, holly, hackberry and sycamore.
Q: Is there any difference between our turning blanks and cutting your own from thick lumber?
A:
Yes!  We cater specifically to turners, and have methods of sawing which are specific to what we do.  Spindle stock is typically always quartersawn, and bowl blanks are as well-centered as possible to provide the best grain patterns in your finished product (which also reduces the effects of warping in pieces of green wood while they are drying)
Q: Where should I store my turning blanks when I receive them?
A:
The best area to store your turning stock will be on an open, well-ventilated shelf inside a climate controlled environment.  Avoid storing outdoors with exposure to sun, rain and freezing temperatures, in overly humid environments, or next to ventilation systems that are producing regular air flows.
Q: How should I stack my turning blanks in storage?
A:
When possible, blanks should be stored so that air can flow freely around all sides to prevent growth of mold or mildew in green/undried woods.  Stacking woods tightly together can cause wood to stain over the short term, and develop light rot over the long term (only in more extreme cases, however).
Q: Should I remove the wax from my blank?
A:
In most cases, no.  The wax is there to prevent green/undried wood from drying too quickly and cracking, and is present on the edges of kiln dried blanks to prevent them from reabsorbing moisture from the atmosphere.  Removing the wax from green/undried pieces may speed drying somewhat, but will also cause potential problems.
Q: How long will it take for green/undried wood to dry if left whole?
A:
It can take many years for a block to dry.  Even if a piece feels like it is lightweight and nearly dry when held, the center will usually still contain much more moisture.  Consider rough turning your pieces to reduce their thickness and speed up the drying process rather than trying to dry whole blocks.
Q: How long can I store a blank before it goes bad?
A:
So long as the wood is properly stored, it should remain useable indefinitely. 
Q: What's the best wood for a beginning green wood turner?
A:
Cherry is highly recommended for beginners.  It works well, dries well, and produces a quality finished product.  Maple, ambrosia maple, and birch are also good choices for beginners.
Q: What woods are the easiest to turn?
A:
Generally, medium density hardwoods are the easiest to turn.  Softer woods exhibit more end grain tearout and are tougher to sand to a fine finish.  Harder woods are more difficult to work and have a greater dulling effect on tools.  Figured and spalted woods are also more difficult to work with.  Popular, easy to use woods include maple, birch, poplar, rainbow poplar, cherry, magnolia and ash.
Q: What are the hardest woods available?
A:
The hardest domestic woods we sometimes have in stock typically include pecan, hickory, oak, mulberry, Indian rosewood, black locust and osage orange (by far the hardest of the bunch)
Q: What are the softest woods available?
A:
Eastern red cedar, tulip poplar, rainbow poplar, magnolia, catalpa and royal paulownia are among the softest woods that we carry.
Q: Which woods are difficult to dry?
A:
Figured woods (such as burls) and black-line spalted woods are more difficult to dry.  Certain species exhibit excessive warping or tendency for cracking as well, such as persimmon and eucalyptus (which we typically do not stock).
Q: What woods are most decay and insect resistant?
A:
Eastern red cedar and black locust are by far the most resistant to decay and insects.
Q: Which woods are likely to develop staining when green?
A:
Any lightly colored wood is susceptible to developing staining.  Most commonly this includes maple, birch, beech, hackberry, holly, sycamore, tulip poplar, pecan, and hickory.
Q: Are any woods that you carry toxic?
A:
While we do not stock woods that are known to be moderately to highly toxic, certain woods can cause problems.  Persons with nut allergies may react adversely to nut trees such as walnut, oak, pecan and hickory.  Some other woods may cause light respiratory problems, skin irritations or eye irritations, but are uncommon.  If you have any questions, there is plenty of information available on the web to answer your questions.  Always wear protective clothing and respiratory protection if there is any doubt in a wood you are unfamiliar with.
Q: Why do I get rough areas when turning my bowls and platters?
A:
This is caused by the end grain tearing as it is being cut.  This happens more frequently in softer woods.  Although this can't be completely eliminated, it can be greatly reduced by learning the proper techniques.  Check out our education center articles about turning and select an article about "proper cutting direction" for more information.
Q: How should I begin rough turning a bowl or platter?
A:
To rough turn a bowl or platter, there are a few things to keep in mind.  The wall thickness needs to be approximately 10% of the overall diameter of the piece (ex: 1" thick for a 10" bowl).  Maintaining a consistent wall thickness throughout the piece will prevent uneven drying and reduce the chances of cracks developing.  Also, when starting out as a beginner, stay away from unusual shapes such as square edges and thick rims.  These can be tougher to dry, and are better accomplished after more experience has been gained.  For more info, see this education center article.
Q: How should I begin rough turning spindle projects?
A:
Spindle projects require a slightly different approach for success.  They will shrink minimally along their length, and will turn slightly oval across their thickness.  Simply turning the spindle down into a cylinder will help speed drying, but for the quickest results, remove as much material as possible.  Leave the piece about 10% thicker than the final diameter will be (about 1/3" for a 3" diameter piece).  For pieces such as peppermills, vases and lidded boxes that need to be hollowed, make the initial hole about 5% smaller than the final diameter.
Q: What is the easiest method for a beginner to use in drying wood?
A:
We recommend using the "paper bag" method.  Once a piece has been rough turned, place it inside a brown kraft paper grocery bag, or wrap in thick kraft paper.  The kraft paper slows the rate at which water can move out of the wood, which reduces the likelihood of defects occurring.  This is by far the simplest, most effective method for a beginner, and produces very consistent results in our experience.
Q: How can I tell if a piece of wood is dry and ready for final turning?
A:
The most reliable method is to use a quality moisture meter, but there are also other methods.  If using the paper bag method described in the answer to the previous question, a good indicator is that the bag will be dry and crisp to the touch (meaning water is no longer moving through it).  A small kitchen or digital scale can be used to weigh the piece over several days as well.  If the weight stabilizes or begins to increase slightly over the course of a full week, then the wood has dried as fully as it can in the conditions in which it has been stored.
Q: A crack developed while the wood dried, what can I do?
A:
In minor cases, CA glue can be used to hold the crack together.  Allow the glue to fully dry before final turning.  In major cases, the crack can be filled with epoxy resin, or can be turned, then carved out to hide the defect.  For some more tips on recovering from drying problems, see our January and March newsletters.
Q: Are there ways to dry wood faster?
A:
Yes.  Just keep in mind that drying wood quickly requires experience and know-how.  Learn the basics first before trying more advanced methods.  Some other methods worth researching include alcohol drying, dish detergent drying, boiling, freeze drying, and microwave drying.  Doing a search through a popular search engine will provide lots of helpful information.
Q: How much does wood change shape?
A:
All woods dry differently, including wood cut from different trees of the same species.  Typically, wood will shrink almost none along its length.  On average, most species will shrink 3-6% perpendicular to the annual growth rings, and 6-10% parallel to the growth rings.  Some species exhibit more movement than others, and in more extreme cases, will be noted in our descriptions on this web site.
Q: My wood is stained on the outer surface, what should I do?
A:
While we try to reduce or eliminate staining on the blanks we carry, it does sometimes occur.  The stain is typically some sort of mold, mildew or fungi.  Scraping the surface (which we will do before we ship any piece), then wiping down with a mild bleach solution will help slow this from reoccurring.  Fortunately, this often creates interesting colors and patterns in the wood once its turned, so do not be too alarmed.
Q: How can I prevent stain, mold and mildew from forming on my wood?
A:
While cleaning with a mild bleach solution will help, keeping the wood in an environment that does not promote the growth of these organisms is the best solution.  All will thrive in humid environments from 70-100 degrees F.  Storing wood in a cool, dry location is the best solution.
Q: What precautions should I take when working with spalted and stained wood?
A:
Since staining and spalting is typically caused by fungi, it is wise to wear breathing protection and use dust collection when working with these woods.  While the majority of these fungi have been proven to be harmless, persons with weaker immune and respiratory systems may be susceptible to harm from working with these woods over an extended period of time.
Q: I still have scratches once I'm done sanding, what happened?
A:
Usually fine scratches show up more frequently when sanding softer woods.  This is caused either due to a lack of fully sanding away all sanding marks from the previous grit, or due to not wiping the wood's surface before switching grits.  Check out our tutorial in the education center.
Q: What's the best grit to start sanding with?
A:
We recommend using 60-80 grit sandpaper for removing tool marks and end grain tearout to begin with.
Q: What's the best grit to end sanding with?
A:
The answer to this question can vary widely. 320-400 will produce a fine finish on denser hardwoods, while grits of 1200 or more may be necessary for creating a high gloss look in softer hardwoods and softwoods.
Q: What finishes are food safe?
A:
Glad you asked!  Check out our education center articles about finishing for full information on this topic.
Q: I have problems getting a finish to stick to oily woods, how do I resolve this?
A:
Oily woods tend to prevent oil-based finishes from adhering.  Take a look at our education center article about finishing oily woods for full details concerning the finishing of these woods.
Q: What finishes will help my wood retain its original color?
A:
To help wood retain its original color, a hard finish is recommended, as opposed to an oil/wax finish.  Check out our education center article on color retention for full details.