Lilac was never a source of usable wood/lumber that I ever considered until three years ago when I had a conversation with Mike Chase, a professional wood turner displaying his skills at the Farmington Fair. He enthusiastically spoke to me about the merits of lilac as one of the best woods for turning and he suggested I give the wood a try.
Three years intervened before I was able to revisit Farmington, Maine, and have another conversation with Mr. Chase. In our subsequent discussion about woods and wood turning, I mentioned our previous conversation about lilac but had been unable to source a piece.
Upon hearing that, Mr. Chase generously offered me one of the two lilac squares that he had with him. I accepted his kind gift and promised to get back to him with the results, which I have since done. This said, I decided to add this update to my previous post, simply because lilac is unusual.
Surprisingly, to me anyway and flowers aside, hundreds of images and postings appear on Google relating to the wood itself... meaning that I am not adding anything new or profound.
|Lilac is indeed an excellent wood for turning. Yes, wood from that same bush/small tree that flowers every spring.|
The lilac square that I accepted had a couple of cracks and soft spots so I allowed it to acclimatize for about a month before working with it.
The checking cracks did not extend deep into the wood and one soft spot (embedded decay) is the only remaining unusual characteristic. Most may simply label that soft spot a defect but I prefer to see it as an unusual characteristic unique to this piece of wood. True, some spots may cause problems or tear-out, but in this case it did not, as the above photo shows.
I've since completed turning the piece round just to try the wood but haven't decided what to do with it. I suppose in the back of my mind I'll think about using it in a walking stick; I make those and this piece will be ideal for that.
Conclusion: lilac is indeed an excellent wood for turning, one of the best I've worked with.
The Oddblock Station Agent