The Apricot Mistake… – Los Alamos Reporter

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Apricot trees created by Father Theophane McKee. Photo courtesy

By Father Theophan McKee
St. Job de Pochayev Orthodox Church

After my success with a wooden practice chalice a month ago, I decided to try my hand at turning a small piece of apricot wood that I was given a few years ago on the lathe.

When I got it, the tree had just been cut down, so the wood was damp and green, and while some experts recommend turning it into green wood, others warn against it.

When a tree is cut, the wood, which was “green” at that stage, begins to dry out. The pores that allow water and nutrients to pass through the wood are filled, but once cut, it begins to dry out. During drying, shrinkage and warping occur. Some wood species retain so much moisture that cracking and warping are inevitable. Advocates of green sawing often do it in two stages: they green saw a shape, such as a bowl, but keep the thickness and roughness. The piece is then dried, any warping or cracks are straightened, and it is sawn again to the final shape.

I don’t have the foresight or patience to do that, and when I pick up a piece of wood and turn it on the lathe, I’m usually trying to avoid other tasks that I have more to do, and the satisfaction of making something without all the steps it takes to make pottery on the wheel.

Pine, by the way, has a lot of sap and splits easily. Fruit trees are usually good if you can find lumber large enough to work into the shape you want. Fruit trees also have beautiful swirly grain.

The other day I came across a tongue-in-cheek t-shirt that I was dying to buy. It said, “Well, well, well, if it’s not a choice you make then you’re fine.” I love this sentiment. Most of us are not that self-aware.

We make decisions all the time, most of which are unconscious and even less noticeable in their consequences and impact. Most decisions are “50/50” and not life-changing or world-shaking. But little things add up over time and become big things. Attention to detail is important in many aspects of our lives and even small improvements, when compounded over time, can make a real difference to the quality of our lives.

The good thing is that everything is repairable, and that’s the hope. Good can come out of almost anything, no matter how horribly wrong it may be.

Last week, I was desperate to avoid an assigned homework task, so I grabbed a piece of apricot and put it on the lathe. It’s a hard wood, so the chisel reacts great – the cut is sharp and doesn’t split. However, after stripping all the bark away, it was obvious that the piece was badly split, with the crack going all the way to the center. So it’s probably not my favorite piece of wood. It’s only about 4-5 inches in diameter, so if you split it and turn it perpendicular to the original piece, you’ll get a very small bowl.

If you remove the bark and pith it shows the grain and is beautiful, I think I’ll split it and cut it into cross shapes instead – no point in wasting it or throwing it in the fireplace.

Almost everything is salvageable, even me.

thank god.

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