Dan is a long time wood worker and beekeeper living in Surrey, BC. I asked him how long he has been working with wood and his response was “All my life. My first project was when I was 6 years old and I made a willow whistle with a pocket knife my father gave me. I progressed from whistles to a degree in Wood Science and Technology from Berkeley and continued on with a career in the forest products industry developing new processes and products for Canadian woods. My love has always trying to match the properties of wood to the requirements of the end products. I have tried to carry this technical approach to my hobbies of building furniture and cabinets and finally to my wood turning.”
Dan prefers turning wood from locally grown trees. Most of the wood he uses is green, i.e. not dry, from trees that have blown down, or had to be cut down due to safety or similar reasons. His favorite is big leaf maple. It has very tight grain, exceptional figure and colour and can be used for almost any type of turning. He uses “green” wood for all of his bowls and platters and dry wood for lidded boxes and similar items where dimensional stability is essential. An exception to this is spalted or partially decayed wood which he uses whenever possible because of its unique patterns and colour. Turning green wood is more complicated than turning dry wood but allows for a greater variety of shapes and sizes. It is also more fun. Spalted wood is the most difficult to turn due to variations in texture from solid to punky. A typical green piece takes from 1 to 3 years to complete. The tree is first cut into pieces or blocks The blocks are turned to rough dimension then stored to dry. After the pieces have dried to about 12% moisture they turned to final size, sanded and finished.
He uses a variety of finishes depending on the desired look and end use. For durability Dan prefers polymerizing resins. For art pieces requiring a soft luster he prefers oils and waxes. Oils or oil resin blends are usually used for items that will be used for cutting such as cutting boards and for contact with food.
A challenge is to turn pieces that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing. Dan tries to retain as much of the shape and figure of the original wood as possible. This is why his work has a lot of live edge, bark and imperfections.
When Dan is not in the shop turning, he is either in the forest trying to find another tree to turn or working with his bees. He says that both turning and watching bees are excellent ways to relax.