Thursday, June 28, 2012

Bowl Distortion, continued

Hi Everyone,

A couple of days ago I wrote about the silk oak bowl and how it had distorted after drying for a couple of months. The bowl was so twisted that it wouldn't sit flat on a table and I couldn't attach it to the lathe.  The inside was a mess too so the only way to save the bowl was to do a substantial re-turning of the bowl, both inside and out and the bottom too.

To turn the outside and bottom of the bowl required re-mounting on the lathe with a set of Cole jaws:

 Cole jaws consist of 4 pie-shaped pieces of aluminum that has been drilled to accept rubber plugs which are screwed onto the surface of these plates. The whole thing is screwed onto the top of the 4 jaw chuck:

The bowl is then placed on top of this assembly and the jaws of the chuck are tightened. This holds the bowl in place and allows it to be attached to the lathe:

Cole jaws are great for correcting a twisted bowl's outside surface. It's not made for heavy duty turning and I don't use it above 200 rpm. This allows me to gently shave the surface and re-turn it to a round shape with a flat bottom.

Here is a photo of the bowl in the middle of turning. I've cut a small groove in the edge of the foot and if you look carefully you can see that the groove is round while the foot is oval shaped (and not level):

Here is the bowl with the sides and bottom re-turned, flattened and rounded off. I'm not going to turn the inside for the moment. I'm going to see how the outside works out and if it stays round and flat. If not I may have to re-turn it again and if I do, I'll need every bit of wood to do that. Stay tuned for more about this one.

Here is another bowl in the Cole jaws. This was a small bowl I turned earlier this year and it twisted a little bit too. I've placed it on the lathe and the bottom photo shows the bottom and sides re-turned and flattened:

My last project is a jewelry box out of myrtle wood. It's going to be a Christmas present for my mother in law and as it's unseasoned wood, it's drying out in a dry bag for the time being. I'll post photos later on along with a discussion about how that will be made.

Ok, the shop will be closed during July for cleaning and repair work and just to show you all that I'm not just sitting around, I'll post photos of the repair I'm going to do on my garage floor.

Thanks for hanging 'round the wood shop and I'll see you soon. As always feel free to email with questions or comments about wood turning.

See you in August,


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

RIP Nora Ephron

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Bowl-o-Rama: Project Updates

Hi Everyone,
Well, the end of the month is fast approaching and I need to take a look a some of the bowls that I've turned and see how their doing and if needs be, re-turn them and hollow them out.

Here we go:

Here are the bowls that I began working on earlier this spring. From left to right they are: camphor wood, red elm, rainbow poplar, and silk oak. All of these bowls are 10 inches in diameter and about 3 inches deep and all of them have been a learning experience to work on.

All of the bowls except the silk oak bowl, dried without cracking and with very little distortion and so I remounted them on the lathe and hollowed them out:

 The photo below shows the red elm bowl that I began earlier this month. This is larger than the other bowls: 10" x 5".  I left the walls and bottom of the bowl thick in case it distorted while it dried. It was considerably lighter in weight and this indicates that it's lost a lot of water so I re-turned it and hollowed it out more (bottom photo):

 This bowl will go into the drying bag again and I'll do it's last hollowing out when I re-open in the end of July.

This is the rosewood bowl that I'm making for the Blue House sale later this fall. It too is drying well and so I hollowed it out:

The Blue House Bowl will be hollowed out twice more before it's finished this fall. I'm thinking it will be finished at the end of September.

Now for the silk oak bowl. This is a lovely piece of wood but its had several problems-cracking, and some severe distortion while it dries. I really want to save this bowl and to do so is going to require an extensive re-turning from the bottom up so I'll be setting up for this bowl tomorrow. Here it is at present:

I'm also working on a large hickory bowl at the moment and I'm cutting it a new, more sculpted rim. More pictures on that one coming soon.

I'm going to be closing for the month of July for shop maintenance and repair so I have a lot to do over the next several days-keep in touch.

More later,

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Book Review-Lathe Fundamentals, The Complete Gude

Good Evening Everyone,

There are a number of books on the market about wood lathes and one of the very best books for beginners is Lathe Fundamentals: The Complete Guide by Popular Mechanics/Rick Peters ( New York: Hearst Books, 2006. ISBN: 978-1-58816-447-6. 192 pages). Many of the books published about wood lathes tend to be written by experts for people who have been turning for a long time or their coverage of all the aspects of wood turning tend to be rather uneven. Lathe Fundamentals covers every aspect of wood turning-from selecting a lathe, the basic types of chisels, and basic techniques. It also goes into more advanced techniques, has a very clearly written section on chisel sharpening and grinding, and an excellent section on lathe maintenance and repair. At the very end of the book are several projects that will help the beginning turner achieve a simple but well made project-it even has a section on pen turning. The book is also is well illustrated with numerous photographs that show step by step how to achieve a given activity. It's very clearly written with a noticeable absence of technical jargon, which I think at times can be a little confusing for the beginning turner.

If you are planning to purchase a lathe and get started as a wood turner, this book is the book you should read before making a purchase. If you plan on purchasing a lathe for someone as a gift, then you should definitely purchase this book.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Part 2: Bowl cracking

Hi Everyone,

One of the bowls I made several weeks ago has developed cracking along one side of the bowl:

Working with green, unseasoned wood is always a crap shoot because of the drying of the wood.  As the fibers lose water they shrink in size and they also pull away from each other. Coupled with stresses in the wood blank that are caused by turning it into a circle, will cause distortion and at times cracks to appear.

As this crack goes through the wall of the bowl I'm going to have to do some serious first aid on it.
First of all, it will be turned down almost to it's final shape. Removing wood will relive some of the stress in the walls of the bowl. Secondly, it's going to need to be treated with a product called Pentacryl.

Pentacryl is a wood stabilizer that was developed by museum curators to treat and restore old pieces of furniture that will crack over time. It replaces the water in the wood fibers and reduces the amount of movement in the wood as it dries out over time. It's non-toxic and doesn't interfere with the making or finishing of the bowl. It's an excellent product and if you are a wood turner who is reading this I highly recommend it.

Here is the bowl after about 45 minutes worth of turning:

I turned both surfaces of the bowl. Here you can really see the crack. If you look very carefully you can see the crack is radiating from a small knot in the wood:

I'm going to treat the bowl with Pentacryl for the next several days and then place it back in the drying bags for a week or two. We'll see this bowl again. Keep your fingers crossed that this works.


Salad bowl out of cherry wood: Discussion and Plans

Hi Everyone,

I'm trying to clear out my turning schedule and so today I'm going to begin a salad bowl out of a solid block of cherry.

Cherry is a common domestic hardwood here in the US and most of the cherry that people see is in the form of kitchen cabinets, furniture, and wooden chests. It's usually stained a dark red but cherry's natural color varies from a golden pink to deeper brownish pinks. It's a closed cell wood and it's very easy to turn, especially if the wood is unseasoned. The one big problem with cherry is finishing it-it can be difficult to sand out scratches and if you don't you will be able to readily see them in the finished piece.

This bowl came from a wood supplier down in Florida and it was in absolutely perfect shape when it arrived. I'm making this bowl for a dear friend of mine who lives in Alabama and who long ago asked me for a salad bowl in a red-colored wood. I had the opportunity to acquire this bowl blank and I did so with this friend's request in mind.

So here we go:

Here is a photo of the bowl blank. It's 10 inches in diameter by 4 inches thick:

Since this blank is made from unseasoned wood, it's very heavy so until the weight of the bowl blank is reduced by turning, I'll turn it between centers for safety's sake:

Here you can see the long strips of cherry wood coming off the surface of the bowl. This is a characteristic of unseasoned wood:

Here we are about 5 minuted into the turning:

This is about 15 minutes into the turning. If you look closely there are two lines on the bottom of the bowl. I'm going to be removing that so the bowl will have a foot:

Here you can see the foot taking shape:

This is a side view of the bowl. It has a squarish-shape. I'm going to turn the bowl so it is more rounded so I'm going to turn the surface in a line from the rim (left) to the foot (right):

Here is the bowl about 10 minutes later:

This is the underside of the bowl. I've cut a tenon into the bottom-this is where the bowl will be attached to the lathe when I turn it over for hollowing:

Here is the bowl with a completed foot and sides-note the pink color. Time to turn it over for hollowing:

Now I've flipped the bowl blank over and I'm going to hollow it out.  This photo shows the center being removed. I do that to establish the depth of the bowl and to make cutting the center easier  to do:

Here are two photos of the bowl:

Now since this is unseasoned wood, it is really, really damp. I've had it spraying me with water all day long and it has a very sweet scent to it. But this also means the fibers can tear and if you look carefully at this closeup shot you can see some of the fibers have torn-they look shaggy.  This bowl is going to go straight into the drying bag for month and we'll take another look at it at the end of July.

As for the basswood platter from yesterday-I have it 3 coats of lacquer and then buffed it and it came out great. Unfortunately the center fibers tore while turning so rather than leave a jagged hole in the center I inlaid a piece of jade into the center. Here is a photo of the completed piece:

I'm going to experiment with this piece so you will be seeing it again soon.

My next posting discusses a bowl that I turned about 3 weeks ago and it's developed some bad cracking. So join me for part two shortly.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Mother in law computer table

Here are the photos of the computer table I made for my mother in law:

This photo shows the table with the book stand and the printer box:

And here it is a la mother in law stuff:

Another project under the belt.

On a drastic note: we must have dozens of trees down after last night's storm including my favorite birch tree about a mile from my place.  And the bad news is we're scheduled for more rain tonight and over the next several days.

I'm going to really miss that birch tree this fall...sigh...


Bad storms, mother in law table, and experimental work

Hi Everyone,
I apologize for not getting back to you last week. I've been working on a computer table and accessories for my mother in law who needed a larger table to do her computer stuff on. I'll post photos of that tomorrow when I have more photos to show you.

We have had a number of very strong storms pass through our area the past several weeks and last night's storm was a real doozy. We had heavy rain coupled with strong winds and that caused a number of trees in our area  to fall down. My area in particular had a lot of trees down this morning and a neighbor of mine wound up with her front yard tree falling down across her driveway. Here are some photos:

 Here is the top of the tree...

Here is the bottom of the tree and it's roots. You can see how this was torn right out of the lawn.

Since the trunk was quite large, I decided to walk over and ask if I could take some of the trunk home for turning and my neighbor graciously agreed. Here is a section of the tree which is white ash. The fibers in the wood should be good and straight so when I do turn this into bowls, the turning should go well (ha! famous last words):

As this is freshly sawn wood, it is full of moisture and about a half an hour after I took this photo, there was a small puddle underneath this log.  I'm going to be renting a chain saw in a couple of weeks and when I do I'll be cutting this down to size for turning. More about that in a future posting.

I also bought a large amount of lumber last week from the cabinet guys Forest Wood Products in Oakdale. These folks sell really first rate lumber and I've used them a lot as a supplier. I bought some prime hickory, red birch, white oak, and Brazilian cherry from them and I'm looking forward to making a number of platters and cutting boards from this latest pile of wood. In fact, I bought a large block of basswood from them and I'm going to be experimenting with a portion of it:

I've been wanting to explore and work on some adornment on the surface of the bowls (if you're a SWW regular you'll remember my "blue period" from several months ago). I think this basswood piece will make an ideal canvas for some painting or burning or possibly both. Stay tuned for this.

I'm also gearing up to close for the month of July. I need to do some repair work on my garage floor. Those of you who live in snowy climates are probably familiar with the concrete damage that occurs from road salting. My garage floor looks like the surface of the moon and it really needs work so that's what I'm doing for that part of my summer. But before I do that I will be turning down some of the bowls that I have been working on and making one additional bowl out of cherry and I'll keep you posted on all of that.

We are supposed to get more rain and storms over the next several days so if you live in Minnesota batten down the hatches and stay alert.

More later,

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Cole Jaw kit has arrived

Hi Everyone,

Well, the new Cole jaw kit from Teknatool has arrived. I've been wanted a Cole jaw set for a while now and I decided to spend the dollars to get one-my birthday is coming up!

Cole jaws are an attachment that can be screwed on to the 4 jaw scroll chuck and they are used to attach a bowl back onto a lathe so the bottom of the bowl can be finished as a last step.

It got here on Thursday and I am really jazzed about this.

Here are some photos:

This photo shows the parts right out of the box. The Cole jaws are those wedge-shaped pieces of metal with the holes. The white things are rubber bumpers with a screw inserted into each one, there is the 4 jaw scroll chuck and a screw driver and a small bowl that is nearing completion and needs to have it's foot worked on:

This photo shows the wedges screwed in place over the scroll chuck:

Since the 4 jaw chuck is a scroll chuck, these metal wedges now can be open and closed. This will enable me to cinch down on a bowl to hold it tightly in place while it's being turned:

Here is a final photo with the bowl on top of the wedges and cinched down:

Now the entire assembly can be screwed on to the lathe for turning. When the foot and bottom are turned and sanded, I'll be able to finish the bottom of the bowl. It will look a lot more finished than it does now.

If it wasnt' so hot outside and if I wasn't so lazy at the moment, I would go downstairs and work on this bowl. But it's really pleasant sitting here talking to you so I probably won't do anything today except watch a movie and stretch out.

I ran a lot of errands today and I'll be back tomorrow to show you the wood I purchased and talk more about summer plans in the wood shop.

Thanks for hanging around the wood shop with me. As always, there's another adventure awaiting us!


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Rolling pins

Hi Everyone,
Well, it is hotter than blazes today and of course I had the bright idea to go out and work in the shop this afternoon instead of this morning. Whew!

I ordered a bunch of baseball bat billets earlier this year (or late last year...) and I've been meaning to turn them into rolling pins and kitchen mallets. And I decided to begin working on this today. Here are two photos:

The photo above shows a maple billet on the lathe. The billets are 3 inches in diameter and I turn them to 1 1/2 inches. Baseball bat billets make the best rolling pins around. The lumber is very strong and stable and there are no knots or problem areas in the wood to deal with.

This photo shows the finished rolling pins- from left to right they are white ash, red birch, and maple.

I got a couple of turning blocks today from the UPS guy-one is cherry and the other is rainbow poplar. I'm going to turn the cherry one in a couple of days and get them both done by the end of next week so they can be done by Christmas.

I also decided to treat myself to a Cole chuck and I'll talk about that tomorrow.

I'm going to find something very cold to drink. See you tomorrow.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Cheese boards and movie star son's boots

Hi Everyone,

Well, my son the movie star got some new boots to go with his historical soldier garb:

Wow, I don't see those wearing out anytime soon.

Anyway, I decided to use up some of my wider boards and make some cheese boards today so I have one in hickory and the rest in red birch:

I'm going to sand those tomorrow and oil them.

I'm going to go and purchase some wide, thick hardwood lumber on Friday and I'll post about that. Beyond that the only thing I have on the horizon are some rolling pins. After that we'll have to wait and re-turn some of the bowls from late last month. Oh, I forgot, I have two blocks of cherry coming and I'm going to work on those next week. So we do have more to do.

See you tomorrow.