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Woodturning Tools and Wood for Sale

Phil Holtan is selling his lake place and shop and downsizing so he has hundreds of woodturning items and some good wood planks and bowl blanks to sell.   He will definitely keep going with his workshops and art shows but I can lighten my load a bit and help you with your turning. Give me a call at 701-261-6044 or email me at to set up an appointment to see my sale items.

Gasrage sale April 2016 #2


Woodturning Tools

New Crown gouges, chisels and scrapers,

Close up of some woodturning gouges, chucks and jaws

Close up of some woodturning gouges, chucks and jaws

HSS, powder metal and Cryogenic 15 percent off

Used Oneway Stronghold heave-duty 4 jaw woodturning chuck with two extra sets of jaws and 1″ X 8 adapter. I can help you order a different adapter if that isn’t the correct spindle thread size for your lathe. New price would be over $300 but on sale for $175.

New Nova G3 and SuperNova2 chucks, inserts, extra jaws, 15 percent off

Used gouges, chisels and scrapers, at least half off new

Massive “Texas toothpick” scraper handle for 1/4 cutter, also smaller model

Box of HSS and cobalt cutters- 3/16, 1/4, 3/8, sq and round blanks

2 different 3-jaw engineering chucks 1″ X 8 thread $25 choice

Face plates, variety of sizes, some 1 1/4″, most 1″,

Tool rests- some Delta and Nova, most shop-made, curved

Delta offset tool rest holder $20

Delta 24″ double tool rest- requires 2 bases

Delta heavy duty floor stand $50

Delta metal turning style compound rest to mount on wood lathe

Various vessel hollowing tools, handles, and cutters

Wood Lathe and accessories

Big Oliver 25 latheBig Oliver Model 25 lathe, 32″ swing, 7 foot length capacity, retrofitted variable frequency drive,  weighs over 4000 pounds, $4500, includes massive shop built steady rest, straight and curved tool rests, face plates, and compound tool rest from its days as a pattern making lathe

VFD unit of TECO controller and big 1/2 Delta motor $100

I-Beam 16 feet long with 2 trolleys and 2 half ton chain hoists $500

Shop-made tailstock swing for Powermatic- $100

Grinding and Sharpening


Grinder Lights- $5

4 X Norton 8″ SG grinding wheels $20 each and 6″ blue and pink wheels for HSS $10 each, Diamond and stone slips for gouges, various prices

Dust collection and air cleaning

2 hp Grizzly dust collector with Oneida cyclone and Oneida 10-bag system, remote control $950

lots of specialized collector piping and gates,

Dust collector rolling heavy-duty floor nozzle $12.50

Delta narrow belt sander, needs work, $15

Shop-Vac brand portable air cleaner.  $50

Other Power Tools

Delta Unisaw table saw, 5 hp, $500, can be seen in Fargo

Antique Tools

Antique planes and tools,

drawknife, 3 braces, 1 hand drill,

2 Yankee #30 screwdrivers,

Beautiful Howe 36# balance scale with pan and weights

Large antique peavey

Adze and large hand drill


Maple, Black ash burls of different sizes and

White oak sliced burl planks

25 elm and maple sliced large burl rounds- 28” – 12”

Many containers of small burl blanks of boxelder, black ash,

White pine column blanks, 8″ X 8 feet, 6″ X 4 feet

2 solid oak panels 24″ X 77″;  3 Oak veneer panels 39″x X 77″

Maple planks for turning blanks $20 each, Planks of Walnut, White pine and Basswood


Many turning books, DVD’s and tapes, etc.  More info and prices soon on

Lead plates for lathe weight, market rate of $.25/lb.

Garden tools

New 2 gallon garden tank sprayers

7 steel posts $2 each, less for all

5 hydraulic jacks $5-10

Kids Turning Bowls

Will Peterson turning bowls 1-23-16 (2)

What a great experience on Saturday!  I love every one of my turning workshops, but this was one of the best. Will and his dad Mark came to my workshop for the second time. He had come as a 6 or 7 year-old and we had a great time turning R2D2, the Star Wars robot. But since then he has been turning at home and now at 9 years old, he is already a talented turner.  In the weeks since I heard he was coming to my shop again I spent a lot of time wondering what projects we should do and finally, on the day of the workshop, as he told me what he had been doing with his lathe, it was clear that he could do what the grownups do- turn a natural-edged bowl.

So, you can see below the bowls that Will and his dad turned.  Some parts of the turning are more difficult when you are 9 years old and don’t weigh very much, but all in all, he was able to do most of it very well.  And the joy of it.  He just grinned through the whole experience and was so proud of the bowl that he turned, starting with a log.

We had a good talk about safety.  If he gets hurt, he probably won’t be able to continue turning, so it’s important to always wear his face mask, take good safety precautions like making sure the wood is very secure in the chuck or between centers, and taking it slow. That’s hard for a kid, or a grownup, to use good judgement. But Will has great support from his parents. His father Mark is supportive and he turned a bowl too, for himself but even more to be a good partner and safety adviser to Will. Will got a better lathe for Christmas (imagine, a second lathe and he’s only 9) with a good bench, grandma gave him a workshop with me and he turns on his lathe almost every day after school.

As he was leaving, we talked about how to continue to develop his turning.  He’s already watching woodturning videos with his dad and catching Tim Yoder on cable TV. I suggested that he might enter some of his turning in the Minnesota State Fair competition, as some of my other young turners have done. He could attend a club meeting of the Twin Cities turning club. And sometime soon, he could attend an International Woodturners Symposium, maybe Kansas City in June of 2017.

If you want to help a young person in your life learn to turn, call me at 701-261-6044 and let’s figure out how to get them a good start at turning. I think that my new 1 day workshop, accompanied by an adult, is the perfect way to get started.  See my blog on turning workshops for 2016. Not all kids are ready to turn a bowl, yet, but we will carefully and safely get them started.  Both the parent or grandparent and the kid will have a great time, like Will and his dad Mark.

Phil’s Turning Workshops 2016

I have been leading weekend and other workshops for woodturners for 32 years. I have worked with over 1600 turners in over 240 workshops, mostly two-day workshops with just three turners at a time. My regular workshops are offered from January to June. As I meet interested turners, I sometimes put together other workshops in the summer and fall, if I can fill a workshop with three turners.

 Dad and daughter cropped2 Day Workshops- $325 2 days/3 turners 

Beginning to intermediate turners

___ January 29-30   ___ Feb 12-13  ___Feb 26-27   ___March 4-5  ___March 11-12   ___April 1-2  ___April 8-9  ___April 29-30    ___May 13-14   ___May 27-28

1 Day Workshops/1-3 turners  $150/day (see more about the 1-day workshops below)

  ___January 23 (1 day)   ___Feb 6 (1 day)   ___May 7 (1 day)

Please send me by email, the list of weekends you prefer with a 1, 2, 3 with your first preference as #1.  I can let you know by phone or by email if there is space, however, you will not be confirmed in the workshop until I receive your check.

Questions can be sent to   Housing and other information on my web site at  After I hear from you, I will contact you soon to confirm dates. Questions?  Call Phil at 218-346-3860  Mail deposit and registration to:  Phil Holtan 43497 County Highway 53  Perham, MN 56573

This year for the first time I am offering more 1-day workshops. They are different from the 2-day:

  • No more than 3 students at a time, who need to have at least intermediate skills or have made special arrangements. That means either having taken one of my workshops already or being quite experienced and skillful. I also do some workshops with parents or grandparents and a child or youth. We will design a program to fit you.
  • Can be either Friday or Saturday of weekends that I specify, or extra weekdays by appointment.
  • Students provide their own  meals and their basic tools (unless you arrange beforehand to rent some)
  • We can make specific goals– coring out multiple bowls, hollow vessels, sharpening, etc. ….
  • Cost is $150 each person/day (7 hours)
  • With less than 3 students, I work on my own projects too.



I built a new shop in 2007-2009 on my lake lot. It is in a very Norwegian style with 6 huge turned posts around two sides of the shop. It definitely looks like a turner’s shop.

Inside, I have tried to build a state of the art woodturner’s shop. It has two dust collector systems that will keep the air as clean as possible. It has lots of windows and space so we can be very comfortable with multiple turners at the same time. I am just now finishing a separate spray booth.  I have both a retail store for my turnings as well as a variety of turning tools, chucks and supplies available for sale.

Hear what Participants say:

  • “Just an absolutely great two days for me” – Duey M.
  • “Excellent job-you really know your stuff and you teach it very well. Couldn’t be more pleased with what I learned and the bowl I produced.” – Bob R.
    • “You’re a good teacher-a fun time.” – Al S.
    • “Can’t believe time went by so fast; very informative, great hands on shop.” – Keith B.
Cored stack of ash bowls

Cored stack of Black ash burl bowls, all from one burl

You’ll work on one of several great lathes in my shop – a Powermatic 20-35 with a 20 inch swing, an Australian Woodfast bowl lathe with 20-inch swing, a swing-head Nova 3000 and a Nova 16-44, and a huge Oliver patternmaker’s lathe with a 32” swing and 8 foot bed. I have several full sets of tools, including the Stewart system for hollowing, the McNaughton system for coring multiple bowls, the Escoulen System for Off-center turning, the Beall buffing system and a variety of chucks. You will work with great lathes and sharp tools and experience turning at its very best.

If you have your own tools, you should bring them to learn to sharpen and use them, but you don’t need to bring anything.Big lathe in new shop for web

Workshop Schedule for 2-day workshop.

Friday 2 p.m. – 9 p.m.

  • Orient lathes, tools and safety
  • Sharpening, begin spindle turning skills
  • Roughing blanks
  • “Taming of the skew”
  • Coves and beads with gouge, beading tool, and skew chisel
  • “Keep it sharp” and “Ride the bevel” will ring in your ears

Saturday 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.Chute below cabin

  • Review spindle turning
  • Bowl turning with bowl gouges
  • Go from green wood to bowl blanks
  • Practice first and then turn your first bowl
  • Learn to harvest, dry and use green logs
  • Design, chucking, and tool handling
  • Sanding and finishing

Turning students 2014 including 2 hs kids






Tool list for 1-day workshops unless you arrange beforehand

Full face mask
Work apron
Gouge slip sharpening stone, fine grade, stone or diamond is OK
Turning tools: High Speed steel is strongly preferred
3/8 inch Bowl gouge, ½ and ¼ optional
Half round bowl scraper, ¾ or 1 inch wide
Right-skewed scraper, around 1 inch wide
Large spindle roughing gouge or ¾ spindle gouge for roughing out spindles
¾ inch skew chisel, better yet, ½ and one inch
3/8 and ½ inch spindle gouges, preferably ground from HSS round stock
Parting tool, 1/8 or 3/16 is OKOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA



Phil Holtan: A Woodturner’s Journey

Thanks to OTC, a neat little magazine in Otter Tail County, Minnesota where I live.  They published a cover article in their Spring 2015 issue called “Phil Holtan: A Wood Turner’s Journey.”  Thanks to Kate Bruns the writer and Di Peterson the photographer and publisher for such a nice piece.  The photos are from the Phelps Mill Festival in July 2014, a very favorite art show to me and my family.  I have been demonstrating at that show for over 25 years and we love it.  Thanks.

front cover final-page-001p8 final-page-001p9 final-page-001p10 final-page-001
















How to Harvest and Sell Burls

Cored stack of ash bowls

Nested set of Black ash burl bowls, all cut from one burl. This burl tree yielded hundreds of burl bowls, all cored out this way.

I get a lot of responses to my website from people who have burls and want to sell them. Here’s the advice I usually give them.

First, do some careful measuring of the burl and be able to describe it well when you make contact with someone.  A few photos would be helpful, especially if you have a ruler or yardstick as a size reference.  If the bark is gone it’s probably rotten and not worth much.  A big factor for me if I am looking for or buying burls is if they are an “eyed burl”  or a “layered burl.” Here is some information to help you figure that out, but if you can’t, just tell your seller you are not sure if it’s a layered or eyed burl

Cutting oak burl 12-04

A large oak layered burl. You can see this is a layered burl because there is no circular shape but rather random. Note also cutting a bit above the burl to protect the burl from splitting.

A layered burl is the result of an injury to the tree.  That might be a frost split (caused by a sharp frost when the sap is already running), very common on maples, physical damage done the tree or a broken off branch that the tree grows over to protect itself.  The layers are the way the tree protects itself from further damage by sealing off the hole in the tree’s bark.

An “eyed burl,” sometimes called a basal burl, is really a tumor on the tree.  An eyed burl is much more valuable and can usually be identified by the round or dome-like shape it makes on the outside of the tree.  Note that the burl can be made up of multiple round shapes stacked close to and overlapping each other but the basic building block shape is still round.  I understand that is true because the eyed burl develops from a very small burl earlier in the tree’s life which grows larger but still radiates symmetrically each year as the tree grows in diameter.  I observe that the burl wood from a larger burl on a smaller tree is more dense, uniform and of higher quality  than the same size burl on a larger tree.  The ultimate I have found are “ball burls” which are like a ‘tootsie roll pop” on a stick.   To harvest those, leave 6-8 inches of wood on both ends of the burl to protect it from cracking.

This is the right way to cut a burl, with generous length of log on either side of the burl.

This is the right way to cut a burl, with some length of log on either side of the burl. This is a high quality cherry “ball” burl.

This is a Boxelder eyed burl built up of many rounded shapes.  It's tricky to keep your saw sharp cutting so close to the ground, but worth it for a fine quality burl.

This is a Boxelder eyed burl built up of many rounded shapes. It’s tricky to keep your saw sharp cutting so close to the ground, but worth it for good  burl.

To harvest a burl, it’s best to harvest the whole tree.  That’s because most of the burl is inside the tree, often reaching all the way to the center or pith.  To cut the burl off even with the bark, which I call a “cow pie” is both wasteful and damaging to the tree’s health.  When someone offers me “cow pies” I assume they were poached (cut without permission) and I am very hesitant to buy them.   I prefer to wait until the tree has reached maturity and cut down the whole tree.  Then the best way to harvest them is to leave some normal wood on either side of the burl, maybe 6-8 inches.

Cutting a black ash burl into sections.  I try to cut on natural fault lines in the burl.

Cutting a black ash burl into sections. I try to cut on natural fault lines in the burl.

If you absolutely need to cut up the burl, you risk losing lots of its value.  If you can, let the buyer supervise the cutting up of the tree.  If you can’t, then look carefully at the burl and look for “fault lines” in the burl.  In eyed burls they are  formed when smaller burls push up against each other and form a defined boundary between them.  At least for bowl stock, I generally would try to cut from the outside of the tree directly to the pith of the tree.  That could be either vertically or horizontally.  I often use various sizes of cardboard discs to lay out the best use of the burl.  If the burl will be used for slabs instead, you will have to visualize how the slab will be cut out of the burl and cut accordingly.

Now, as to finding a buyer, I’m partial to woodturners and they tend to be good customers for burls.  To find them, Google “woodturner” along with the name of your town or nearby larger city.  You are likely to find a listing for woodturners who sell their bowls and likely buy burls or know who would be interested.  If there is a specialty woodworking shop in your area, like Woodcraft, check with them.  They tend to know who would buy burls.

If that doesn’t work, then you should go to the American Association of Woodturners website,  In the “Find a Chapter” section under “About,” fill in your state to find nearby chapters.  There are 350 of them so there should be one relatively close.  There you should find a website link or the email of an officer.  Contact them and ask who they could contact about selling a burl.

For example, I found from my Google search a  good resource directory for Minnesota at the site   It has lists and information for both harvesters and sellers and for buyers of burls and other forest products like diamond willow, crotch and other specialty wood.

Finally, don’t have unrealistic expectations about the price.  Most burls, especially layered burls, are not particularly valuable.  On the other hand, a larger eyed burl in good condition should bring $25 to $200 depending on size, species and condition.  I have had burls up to 8 feet in diameter, and many in the 4-5 foot range. Those can be worth $500 or more.  It may be worth it to seek more than one offer on your burl if you think it is particularly valuable.

A bowl turned of spalted Boxelder burl with amazing color and a pleasing shape.

A bowl turned of spalted Boxelder burl with amazing color and a pleasing shape.


A Visit to the Center for Art in Wood in Philadelphia

Outside shot of Center for Wood Art edited 12-24

I had a great trip to Pennsylvania lately to see my daughter and I took a side trip to Philadelphia to see one of the holy sites for woodturners. One of the birthplaces of the new modern interest in woodturning and of the American Association of Woodturners was Philadelphia, where the LeCoff brothers and many others started sponsoring woodturning symposia in the early 1970’s and had the first idea of a woodturning center in 1976.

That center, now called the Center for Art in Wood is now open in a wonderful section of Old Town Philadelphia on one of the oldest alleys in America.  It’s located within blocks of the Betsy Ross House and Benjamin Franklin’s Christ Church and is now surrounded by galleries and unique restaurants.  Albert LeCoff is the director and its supporters and those represented in its extensive collection are a virtual Who’s Who of Woodturning.  In December of 2014 there was a wood sculpture display by Emil Milan, which shows that the center has widened its appeal from simply woodturning. Also on display was the amazing work of Ron Fleming, a long time master of turning. Before Fleming was a woodturner, he was a professional airbrush artist and you can see his fine arts background in the elegant shapes and the piercing and carvings of leaves and animals in his hollow vessels.  He was one of the first turners to take his woodturning a step further by embellishing with other skills, in his case naturalistic carving. You can see more of his amazing turnings at his website 

Besides the short term exhibitions, the Center has over 1000 objects of wood, mostly turned, by the world’s most famous woodturners. The website has a wonderful virtual tour that introduces you to all the artists and objects in its collection.  There is also an extensive research library there that would be a “must” if you have serious interest in exploring woodturning more deeply.

The store also has the finest collection of woodturning for sale I have ever seen.  I purchased a bowl by Robin Wood, am English pole lathe turner whom I have admired for many years but have never seen his work in person.  I get the impression that most of the items are donated by the makers to benefit the work of the Center.  Again, remarkable support from the world community of woodturners.

Display Case at Turning Center edited12-14

Just at the other end of the historic alley from the Center is another very interesting woodturning site, the factory of the John Grass Wood Turning Company. Though it’s only in the process of restoration, it is by all accounts a remarkable artifact of turning’s history in America. The factory was founded in the 1860’s and functioned until 2003 and often employed dozen of mostly immigrant turners.  The old line shafts and lathes are all still there and the goal is to restore the factory as a showplace and museum of the days when Philadelphia was called the “Workshop of the World.”  I will follow the progress of the restoration and look forward to visiting again when that work is complete.  You can see a video and learn more of its history in the center’s website.

Philadelphia is an amazing city for many reasons, and very easy to reach if you visit anywhere in the Eastern Seaboard.  Of course it’s worth a visit to Independence Hall and the birthplace of America, but you can also visit some of the historic sites of woodturning history and delight in how far it’s come.


Sign of the John Grass services

Sign of the services John Grass provided



John Grass Turning Factory in Philly

John Grass Turning Factory in the Old Town district of Philadelphia

“Wood,” from the New Yorker


Of all the elements, it is happiest in our houses.
It will sit with us, eat with us, lie down
and hold our books (themselves a rustling woods),
bearing our floors and roofs without weariness,
for unlike us it does not resent its faithfulness
or question why, for what, how long?

James Richardson
from “Essay on Wood” in The New Yorker (June 9 & 16, 2014)