Friday, November 23, 2012

Bass Wood Platter

Hi Everyone,

It's absolutely freezing cold here today-18 degrees this morning with a west wind and snow flurries. But this isn't going to keep us out of the wood shop today!

As I'm planning on giving the bass wood platter away as a Christmas present, I needed to finish it so I've flipped it over and placed it back on the lathe and got it ready to go.

Bass wood is a very soft wood. It's better known as a carving wood than a turning wood. Because of the softness of the wood, we're going to have to be careful how we approach this piece. The tools have to be super sharp to avoid tearing the wood fibers and we have to turn this piece at about 900 rpm. This type of wood also requires a very easy hand with regards to using turning gouges-this has to be done very gently or you risk tearing out a big chunk out of the surface and ruining it.

Here's the process photos:

This shows the blank on the lathe. I've mounted on my Nova chuck and moved up the tailstock so I can turn it between centers. This is a wide piece and I want to avoid excess vibration at the edges. You can see in the photo that the edge is beginning to form. I've turned the edge first rather than the center in order to keep the blank solid. This also helps to dampen any vibration and possibly ruining the edge:

Here is the blank about 2 minutes later. This wood cuts fast:

And here is the blank almost hollowed out. You can see the beveled edge in the photo. There is also a small button shaped area in the center. Because the center of the piece turns more slowly than the edges we have to take special care with this area or risk tearing a hole right in the center of the piece:

Here is the blank with the center removed. I used both a roughing gouge and a 3/8" bowl gouge on the center and I spun the piece at 900 rpm. And I did this very slowly, just gently shaving away at the surface:

Here is the platter that has been hollowed out and cut as smooth as I can. Because the wood is soft and not very heavy, I left this platter a little thicker than I usually to do to make it bottom heavy and to prevent tipping:

This is the finished platter on the lathe. I've sanded it to 600 grit paper and then polished it with shavings. I couldn't see this to begin with but this piece of wood came from the crotch area of the tree:

This is the finished platter off the lathe on sitting on a table. There is no finish on it at this time:

Finish: I'm going to have to think about the finish on this platter. It is a lovely ivory color and I would like to preserve that. Most varnishes, oils, etc, have a gold color to them and that would stain this piece a light gold color. I'm going to have to find a water or colorless finish for it. I'll post photos when it's done.


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