If you’re like many turners, the mainstay of your turning stock is chosen from species that are readily available in your area. That makes perfect sense. Many of the best turning projects start out with a trip to the scrap bin or a nearby grove of trees. But just in case you have a mind to broaden your turning stock horizons, we want you to know that Rockler has you covered like never before. Over the last year or so we’ve greatly expanded our selection of exotic and domestic turning blanks, all of which are selected and prepared with specific lumber needs of a woodturner in mind. Here are a few departures to consider:
East Indian Rosewood is a current favorite turning stock choice. An extremely dense and hard wood it makes an excellent choice for work with fine detail. The heartwood is generally purplish-brown with darker streaks that add figure. If it has a down side, it’s that it’s a little on the abrasive side and not as tool-friendly as some other species. But most turners find a little extra tool honing time a reasonable tradeoff for the rich color and exceptional polish-ability. Like most of the turning blank species Rockler offers, East Indian Rosewood is available in sizes suitable for everything from table legs to serving-sized bowls. Rosewood blanks we’ve seen go out the door have received excellent marks in our customer reviews, and are finding a home in everything from hand planes to pepper mills.
Cocobolo, another rosewood cousin, is a long-time turning stock favorite. An ideal turning candidate, Cocobolo is prized for its almost unparalleled luster, its distinctive grain pattern and its exceptional color scheme, which includes a spectrum of red, orange and yellow tones punctuated by darker streaks. An extremely hard and durable wood, the species is a great choice both for detailed work, and for any finished product that will have to stand up to a hard use. Cocobolo is a very oily wood and is essentially waterproof, making it a popular material for cutlery handles, bowls and anything else that will meet regularly with water. Cocobolo turning blanks are also receiving praise from our customers in reviews like these:
"One of the most beautiful pieces of wood that I have ever seen. Will be definitely ordering more of your woods."
Richard Brooks, from Eatonton, GA
"This stick lived up to its reputation-Beautiful. I am surprised to see a company that seems to specialize in tools, etc. can offer such exceptional quality!"
James Fay, from Norfolk, MA
"A great looking piece of wood."
Robert P. Giese, from Bedford, WY
Black Palm is another species you won’t find stacked near the two-by-fours at you local building materials supplier. A knockout to look at, Black palm gives the appearance of a deep brown background overlaid with darker flecks or streaks that shine with an orange translucency in bright light. The end grain offers a completely different and equally striking effect, a unique speckled appearance that is sometimes likened to lizard skin. Tight grained and stable, Black Palm is an excellent candidate for small ornamental projects where an exceptional visual effect is the goal. Take, for example, the pen you see below. This remarkable specimen was turned by a Rockler customer who was kind enough to send us the image along with the following review:
"I will very highly recommend the Black Palm Turning stock from Rockler, The stock turned very easily on my Lathe and came out looking great. Thanks again Rockler for the great service and speedy service."
(Image and review submitted by Raymond E. James, from Morehead, KY)
Of course, when you’re picking out turning stock, you don’t necessarily have to choose wood. For a truly unusual turning experience, try your hand at a Banksia Pod. These otherworldly looking things are actually the seed pod of the Banksia tree, an evergreen native to Australia. Popular for use in everything jewelry to knife handles, Banksia nuts (as they are alternatively called) are remarkable for the multiple voids that radiate from their center. The pods turn readily – although they can be a little on the dusty side – and have an interior color similar the walnut burl and a figure that resembles bird’s eye.
Other out of the way turning stock options include Pink Ivory, Black and White Ebony, Pau Ferro, Tamboti, and African Blackwood (to name just a few). A great way to find out which ones you like best is to take a tour of some of the most popular exotic turning woods with a 20 piece or 48 piece Exotic Turning Blank Assortment. If pen turning is your game, you’ll find a huge selection of pen blanks here at Rockler, including a number of interesting and unusual acrylic and Inlace Acrylester man-made blanks. On the other hand, if you’re just looking for good old fashioned domestic turning stock, you’ll find a variety of sized or ready to turn blanks in all of the most common domestic species.
Or, maybe you’ve been meaning to try the all time classic turning project: a baseball bat. We’ve got hand-selected Baseball Bat Blanks in Ash and Maple that are all ready the lathe. To give you an idea of how that might turn out - for you and perhaps some (other?) lucky kid – we’ll leave you with this sample from our bat blank customer reviews:
"My son needed to do a woods shop project. He is very big in baseball so it was a baseball bat he chose. The wood was great to work with he is very proud of the bat it is on display at his school ‘til the end of the school year. He has taken it outside and tried it out - works GREAT. It came very fast, very nice bat blank finally produce can out great thanks."
Bonnie, from Barron, WI
"I turned a 30" bat for my 9 year old grandson who wants to be the next Albert Pujols. It turned our better than I expected and he and my son both were very happy with it. I couldn't be more pleased."
Gregory Wapelhorst, from Pearl, MS
"I made the first bat from the ash blank for my grandson. I am now making the second bat out of the maple blank so I can compare the two. Great product."
Roger Noebel, from Irvine, CA
"I bought the bat blank to make a bat for my Grandson Kelton. He is 2-1/2 years old so we needed a 24 inch bat. The wood was perfect and turned very well. I did not know whether to get the Ash or Maple. I tried the ash. I am using the other piece to make an 8 inch pepper mill. Great Service from Rockler and a good project. I can't wait to see Kelton's face."
Laddie G. Matusek, from Palacios, TX
(Read more reviews)