Monday, March 19, 2012

Purple Heart Tea Box for Jim-Discussion, Plans, and Photos

Hello Everyone,

Well it's an absolutely gorgeous day here in Minnesota. We have had temps in the high 70s and I think we  may have hit 80 degrees this weekend. This is phenomenal weather for the northern midwest at this time of year and it has been perfect wood shop weather.

My husband Jim's birthday is coming up and I've been wanting to make him a special present. He has had a very rough couple of years and the past several months have been especially difficult for him. So he gets a one of a kind, super duper tea box out of purple heart wood with a butter yellow hickory wood top.

Purple heart wood is indeed purple-it's the color of purple cabbage. It's expensive and a little on the rare side and so since I usually confine myself to turning domestic hardwoods, this is a wood that I haven't used before.  I was at Woodcraft this weekend purchasing some new scrapers (see below) and I stumbled across a chunk of purple heart and I immediately thought of Jim. So I bought it and brought it home and decided to set everything else aside and make this. So we have a new project to work on.

Here we go. The block is 6x6x3 inches and so I cut off the corners on the bandsaw and mounted it on the lathe. Instead of hiding the foot underneath the tea box, this time I'm going to leave it showing on the bottom of the box.

Here's some photos:

The photo above shows the bottom of the blank. You can see the purple color and a quilted-looking grain pattern.

This next photo shows the finished bottom. I've cut a tenon on the bottom for the 4 jaw chuck to attach to and I've also turned the center into kind of a wavy shape (the belly button thing in the center). I've finished sanding the bottom and it feels like satin. Wow. Time to flip it over and work on the sides and foot.

This photo shows the blank from the side. On the left you can see the rudiments of the foot. The sides are roughly parallel with each other. I'm going to canter them inwards a couple of degrees towards the foot in just a second:

You can see above that the sides are sloping inwards towards the center of the piece. I've also taken a few minutes and used a scraper on the sides to smooth them.

One of the last tools I've mastered are lathe scrapers:

This are heavy, blunt-ended tools that have a sharp edge that scrapes a surface smooth while it's turning on the lathe. The square edged tool on the left is for convex or exterior curved surfaces and the rounded  scraper on the right is for interior bowl work. These are made out of heavy, high speed steel so as to maintain a sharp edge and to dampen the vibration that is generated as the piece of wood spins. These tools are very helpful as finish tools and are worth their weight in gold.

Now it's time to begin hollowing out. I like to drill out the center of bowls and tea boxes. This helps to establish the lower limit of the turning surface and it also removes the center of the work. Since the center turns more slowly than the sides of the piece, it can "grab" the tip of a turning tool and twist it in your hands and that really hurts.

Here I am drilling out the center:

This has produced a lot of purple shavings. Maybe I should put them in a bag and send them to Prince, the rock star who uses the color purple a lot. I bet you didn't know that he's from Minnesota.

I'm going to stop here--I'm tired and it's time for dinner. Next time we'll finish hollowing out the interior and we'll scrape it smooth with the bowl scraper.

On another note: the lazy susan is coming out well. I remade the top and used a different stain and I'm much happier with this and I think my friend will be as well.

Ok that's that for today.

More later,


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