Sunday, August 28, 2011

Next Project: Laminated turning blanks

Hi All,
Here is another project for a lovely late summer afternoon: turning a bowl from a laminated turning block.

Solid wood bowls are lovely to make and to look at but solid wood blanks that are deep enough for a bowl are expensive and unless a wood turner has the ability and the tools to core out the center of the bowl, most of the wood that makes up the blank will wind up being turned off--essentially you will wind up with a big pile of wood shavings.

An alternative to some of this (it doesn't solve the wood shaving problem) is to use laminated turning  blocks. These blocks are made up of different colored woods, usually scrap lumber left from some other project, and that are glued together into a block which can be sawed into a round shape and turned on the lathe:

There are some disadvantages to this type of blank: you have to be careful in gluing up the pieces. You must be sure to coat the surfaces of the boards completely with a good quality glue and clamp them securely for at least 24 hours. The direction of the grain needs to run in the same direction and you do need to use wood types that are similar in hardness. Using soft and hardwoods together isn't a good idea as the softwood will cut more quickly than it's harder neighbors. This results in a very uneven surface.  The other major drawback is the resulting bowl won't have the beautiful grain patterns that you can only find in a solid block of wood.

But there are advantages. Using kiln dried dressed lumber reduces the problems with cracking and warpage that you can have with a solid block. Also you can greatly affect the final appearance of a turned piece by using laminated lumber. And you can use up small pieces of wood so this cuts down on waste and expense.

Let's take our above block and do a little turning:

You can see the outside beginning to take shape and I've also cut a foot into the bottom. Since you've seen me turn many bowls, I'm going to dispense with all the in between photos and show you the finished bowl:

Here is the finished bowl next to a similar block:

This turned very well. I used maple and walnut together and they turned well together and these two woods also give a good color contrast next to each other.

I'm going to take the bowl upstairs and apply a food safe finish to it and then tomorrow I'll place it back on the lathe, and polish it with beeswax.

See you tomorrow,

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