(This has been a difficult day for me--my mother is having some very difficult problems right now and I'm not sure how they will be resolved, if at all. Sometimes, when bad news comes my way, it helps to go down and work on wood for a while. So that's what I did earlier in order to get my thoughts focused on my mom. Please keep her in your prayers.)
I was contacted by an old friend of mine last month. Her parent's 60th wedding anniversary was in July and she asked me to make them a bowl. That wasn't feasible so I offered to make them a plate instead and so today's posting is about how wooden dishes are made on a lathe and specifically how my friend's parent's dish is being made.
I purchased a large plank of black ash last month and I've been making dishes and all sorts of other things with it. It's very thick and strong, and black ash is dense also and so it cuts and finishes very well. Here's a photo of the plank:
Next, I cut out a section of the plank, marked it and cut it into a circle on the bandsaw:
This blank is going to be mounted on the lathe with a faceplate. This screws directly onto the blank of wood with wood screws and then in turn is screwed onto the lathe:
The grain in the wood appears most prominently on the other side of this blank so the bottom of the plate will be turned first on the side in the photo above.
Next, I turned on the lathe and marked the center of this blank and also made marks for a tenon that I will turn so eventually the partially cut dish can be flipped over and re-mounted with the top side of the dish facing out (you'll see what I mean in a second).
Now it's time to put the metal to the board. Here is a photo of the tools I'll be using. Lathe chisels are long-handled tools made out of heavy steel to help dampen the vibration from cutting. In the photo, the first tool on the left is the basic roughing gouge (fondly named Bob after the father of a good friend of mine) that I use quite a bit for basic roughing out of wood and to flatten surfaces with. The chisel next to that is a 3/8 inch bowl gouge. This tool is used to create concave shapes, like the interior of a bowl or plate. Next to that we have a spear-shaped chisel called a parting tool. This will be used to cut the tenon on the bottom of the plate. Lastly, is a skew chisel, a fearsome looking thing and one of my most used tools. I use this to cut convex shapes and for smoothing. Here's the photo:
Time to begin. I like to turn the periphery first and leave the center intact. This helps to dampen any vibration caused by the spinning wood. Here you can see the edge begin cut and it's early shaping:
The next several photos show the progression of the cutting and shaping and the cutting of the tenon:
Now that the basic shaping is done, it's time to sand it smooth. Since black ash turns so nicely, little sanding is needed:
In this photo you can clearly see the tenon cut in the center of the dish. This allows for the attachment of a special wood vice that will fit into that slot and then screw onto the lathe:
Ok, the back is finished. Time to take off the faceplate, attach the wood vice and flip the dish around:
Let's start cutting. The edge is cut first, just like the bottom edge was and it's smoothed:
Now it's time to begin hollowing out the center:
I'm going to leave a lip between the edge band and the center portion of the bowl. That is that ridge you see in the photo.
Here's a better photo several minutes later:
And I'm going to continue to hollow out the center:
At this point I stopped and took the dish off the lathe. It's beautifully turned at this point but it might need to be deepened at this point so I've taken it off and taken it upstairs to look at it for a while and to give myself time to make a decision. Here it is:
Tomorrow I'll finish with the cutting and sanding and apply a finish to it. Stay tuned.
Thanks for stopping by,