Friday, March 9, 2012

Lazy Susans-discussion and process photos

Hi Everyone,
As my bandsaw is down at the moment, I'm not doing any bowls right at the moment but I did get a call from a friend asking me if I could make her a lazy susan for her dining room table. She has a whole crew of kids and grandkids and enjoys having everyone over for dinner and she thought that a lazy susan might make serving dinner to everyone a lot easier. So here is the process I've begun:

Normally I make small diameter lazy susans of about 12 inches for use as a serving tray but my friend wants a larger susan of 18 inches in diameter for condiments, napkins, etc, for a number of people. Small susans can be made on the lathe but since my lathe's diameter is 12 inches max, I will have to use a pre-made 18 inch pine round table top and make a small pine bottom on the lathe. This presents a number of problems centering the lazy susan bearing directly in the middle of the top board--if the top isn't centered perfectly, the top won't spin in a circle. Instead it will spin in an oval and look terrible. So precision is important here. And since there is no way to see if you have done all the measuring and drilling correctly until it's finished and completely assembled, it's a rather nerve wracking thing to do.

Here we go:

In the photo below you can see the top, the bottom, the lazy susan bearing which is the silver thing in the middle of the photo and a finial which is the black thing in the photo. My friend has asked for a finial to be placed in the center of the top as both a decoration and to serve as a knob for turning the susan. So I made one out of solid pine on the lathe and as finials are usually black in color, I stained it with an ebony colored stain.

The bottom section was turned on the lathe out of solid pine and the edges were beveled. Spinning the bottom on the lathe is a good way to find the absolute center of something and also to shape the and sand the bottom section. To correctly center the bearing  I cut a small depression in the wood and I then drilled a small hole in the center of the bottom. I'll be able to use this small hole to center the entire bottom section on the top section. 

Here you can see that I've screwed the susan bearing down to the bottom section. In order not to drill holes through the top of the susan and ruin it, I'm going to have to center and screw the bearing down on the bottom and then drill holes through the bottom and use this bottom section as a jig to guide with centering both the bottom section and the bearing. The photo shows how I've drilled holes through  the bearing and into the bottom--I've marked the holes with some nails so you can see them.

Here is a photo of the screw holes being drilled. I had to use a large drill bit to allow a drill bit to pass through the bottom and screw the screws into the bearing and into the top. (yes, I know it's confusing. And this is a photo of my new drill press--I've named it Nico in honor of a young cousin in California. A lovely chap.).

Here are the holes that have been drilled through the bottom.

Centering the top on the bottom:
Here are several lines that mark the center of the top section.

I drilled a hole about 1/4 inche into the top section and then I took the drill bit and drilled it through the bottom section and left just a tiny bit of the bit sticking out of the surface:

I used this drill bit as a guide and was able to drop it into the hole on the top section. Here is the entire thing centered:

In a second I'm going to turn the whole thing over but before I do I'm going to use the larger holes to make a mark for the next set of screws. These screws have to screw the top part of the susan bearing to the underside of the top and I have to do this blindly. So I'm flipping and centering the bottom section now:

I've used self tapping screws to make screwing the whole thing together a little easier, but I'm also using short screws to ensure that the tips don't protrude through the top. You can see how small the screws are in the above photo:

Here is the completed susan, all screwed together with no holes in the top. It runs smoothly and quietly. It was a real bear to screw together and as it's cold in the wood shop today, my hands were frozen and not working very well--so that made the whole thing ever harder to do.

Next, I'll put the finish on. My friend wants the sections stained a very deep burgundy color to match some wall paper in her kitchen so now I'm going to disassemble the whole thing and seal the pine to prevent blotching. I also need to finish the finial and drill a hole in the top for it to fit into to.

I'll post more photos when that's all done.


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