Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

Hi Everyone,

I just wanted to wish all of you out there a very wonderful and happy New Year.  As the workshop is closed right now due to extreme cold (even the wood is frozen!) weather, check back later in January and join me in the wood shop and we'll take on more projects and ideas together.

See you soon and Best Always,

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Holiday Notes and Frozen Work Shop

Hi Everyone,

Well first of all, I hope you all are having a terrific holiday season. We certainly did and I got a ash wood plank (future serving bowls), a 3/8" Robert Sorby bowl gouge, and a set of 100mm jaws for the Nova chuck. Oh, can hardly wait to get down to the wood shop.

And speaking of the wood shop--we've had days and days of sub freezing temperatures and everything in there is frozen. As most of my equipment is belt-driven I'm afraid if I go down there and turn one something a belt will snap and I'll be up the creek as far as work goes so I'm not going to be doing any wood working anytime soon. But I will be organizing the shop and sharpening everything and getting ready for warmer days.

I'll post the results of the shop reorganization in a couple of days.

Best and Happy Holidays,


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Still cold and a little work in the shop

Hi Everyone,

Well, it has been really cold here of late--lots of 0 and below temperatures and that has made working in the shop impossible. As it's a balmy 16 degrees outside right now I decided to go down to the shop and do about 20 minutes of work on two projects that need to be finished and mailed this week for Christmas.

The first is the dip and veggie bowl that I made out of laminated pine earlier this fall. I decided to enlarge the center section so as to fit a larger ceramic bowl. Here is the photo:

The second project was a maple platter I made earlier this summer ( I didn't post this one on the blog). It needed to be sanded and it also needs a finish applied so I went down and sanded the center of it:

And now for some bad news-I've aggravated an old knee injury so I'm in considerable pain and can hardly walk. I guess this is a good time to stop work, clean out the shop and do some equipment maintenance and tool sharpening that I've been putting off for a while. So these will be the last two turning projects for this year. If my knee improves I'll make the kayak paddle in a week or two. If not I'll defer it until January.

I will do another posting or two before the end of the year so stay tuned.


Friday, December 6, 2013

Too Cold to Work

Hi Everyone,

Well, it's just too darn cold to work today. My shop isn't heated and it's -5 outside with a wind chill of
-25. It's actually warmer in Greenland right now. And the bad news (drum roll)-- it's supposed to be colder tomorrow.

See you all next week.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Natural edge bowl out of western red cedar and an owie

Hi Everyone,
Well, we've finally got some snow yesterday and today and it's high time we did! The prospect of a brown Christmas absolutely fills me with dread:

Let's hope we get more.

And bad news: Bob the Shop Squirrel seems to have disappeared. As he was with me for about 3 years, I suspect he has, well, lets just say he's moved on to greener pastures...

Now for the project

A friend of mine in Northfield brought me a large section of a tree trunk with the request that a bowl be made out of it and Critter and I split the log last month in preparation. The log in question was supposed to be box elder but a test bowl last week revealed it to actually be wester red cedar. Never fear! We can make a bowl out of this too! Onward and forward.

Here's are the photos to date:

Here is a photo of the section of the tree trunk. In looking at this section of wood, I decided to try to make a natural edge bowl. Even though the bark was removed, the sap wood on the tree is intact  and could be preserved through out the turning. Doing this is a matter of orienting the shape of the bowl correctly. This rough cut surface is going to be the bottom of the bowl and the rounded underside will be the top of the bowl:

And so I cut out a turning blank out of this section and on the bandsaw and mounted the blank on the lathe.  Here you can see it mounted between centers and the bottom of the bowl beginning to take on a round shape:

As I was turning, the roughness of the underside of the bowl began to be removed with the exception of a large chunked out area:

Here you can see it more clearly:

And so I began to remove and re-shape the bottom of the bowl in the hope of cutting away enough wood to remove that area but no so much as to make the bowl appreciably smaller than it is:

As I was turning I decided to flatten the bottom and create a foot. This made reshaping the bottom easier and visually the results will look fine:

After about 10 minutes of turning I had the bottom shaped and the big chunk removed. This resulted in a narrow foot but it is stable enough so I'm going to proceed with the bowl. And you can see that the sapwood area has been preserved and is easily visible:

This is the outside of the log without it's bark. You can see that the surface is irregular and as I'm going to try to preserve the sapwood of the tree this irregular shape will result in an irregularly shaped rim:

Time to hollow out the bowl. I always cut from the center and towards the rim and that's what I'm doing here:

This is the blank about 10 minutes later. You can see how the walls of the bowl are not the same thickness at the point. That will lessen as I hollow out the bowl:

Here is the bowl about an hour later. There is a lot of cross grain tearing inside of the bowl that will have to be dealt with:

Side photo. The sapwood layer is intact all the way around the bowl:

And while I was working with the bowl on the lathe my hand brushed up against one of the pointed ends of the rim and you can see the results-Owww!

And here are several more photos of the bowl from different angles. Looks different than the usual round bowl:

Ok, the inside of the bowl will need a lot of attention in the form of sanding and smoothing it. I'm confident it can be finished satisfactorily and I'll use a food safe varnish for the finish to protect it.

I'll send photos of the finished bowl in a couple of days.

Time for a bandaid,

Thursday, November 28, 2013


Hi Everyone,
I want to wish everyone, no matter where you are, a wonderful day and if you're in the US, a terrific Thanksgiving day!
See you this weekend.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Back to Work-Project finish photos

Hi Everyone,

I'm back to work and slowly getting back into to the swing of things. While I was busy last week I had a couple of hours to kill and so I completed a couple of recent projects.

Here are the finish photos:

The Oatmeal Bowl

This is the bowl I started for a cousin of mine in California. I've been reading Robin Wood's bowl book and was entranced by the wooden bowls that were retrieved from the excavation of the Mary Rose that he writes about. I wanted very much to do a couple of projects based on the design of those 500 year old bowls so I created several turning blocks out of a linden wood tree branch that I retrieved earlier this summer. My intent then was to produce bowls similar in shape, design, and size to those bowls used by the crewmen onboard that ship.

Here is the first. It's a little larger than a personal soup sized bowl. The wood contains a lot of mineral staining and it has a rather rustic look to it. This is the interior of the bowl:

And this is a side view. You can see that the bowl is a little distorted and that was intentional on my part:

And the bowl will be mailed to my cousin later this week along with one of my cooking spoons and a bag of my favorite steel-cut oats and a brief history lesson:

Sharing Wood Turning bowl:

This is the bowl I made with my nephew several weeks ago when he was here visiting. I really enjoyed getting to know him again while he was here and he seemed to enjoy his brief intro to wood turning. We produced a small bowl than the previous bowl and this has a slightly different rim. Both bowls have   chamfered rims like the originals which enabled their owners to drink from them as well as eat from them: 

 Here is a photo of the interior along with a smaller, eating sized spoon that I made for him. As he's something of a foodie I'm also sending him a bag of my favorite steel cut oats for him to experiment with:

The Kuksa

Along with the above two bowls, I produced a small kuksa, which is a small wooden cup. I carved it down from the larger cup-blank of several weeks ago and here it is at present. Turning this with the handle protruding was a real pain and so I don't recommend trying to turn a kuksa in this manner. The next time I do this I'll turn a wide section just beneath the rim and carve out the handle from that.

This still needs some refinement and I'll have to think of a good finish for this. I'll probably finish it with salad bowl varnish like the bowls above:

The Veggie-Dip Bowl

This came out rather well. I'm sending this to a friend in a week or two as a Christmas present. I hope she'll enjoy it:

I think we can stick a fork in those projects and call them done.

It's freezing cold outside and it's also Thanksgiving week here in the US so I'm going to put off started my next project until the end of the week when it's supposed to warm up some.

The next project is the long promised box elder bowl for a friend of mine.  See you all on Friday.


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Temporary Work Stop

Good Evening All,

We've had a death in our family and so I'm going to not do any posting this week. I'm sorry for the delay in the project posts but it's unavoidable.

I will be back at work this coming weekend.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Turning a kuksa-video

Hi Everyone,
For those of you who are following this project with the intention of turning a cup with a handle, there is a very good video on YouTube posted by a guy named Bernie who lives in Norway. The steps in the video are very close to the project steps in my last posting.

Go to: http://youtu.be/BqkWYtZPK4U

Great minds think a like!

Kuksa-Turning a small wooden cup on a lathe-Discussion and Plans

Hi Everyone,

I've been trying to produce a kuksa for sometime now. Kuksas are small, hand carved, wooden cups that are common on the Internet and have probably been produced by people who lived in forests for thousands of years and if you google the word you'll see lots of photographs of them.

I've wanted to make one and the first several attempts I made were produced by carving them but having arthritic hands meant that I never could quite hollow the cup. That and the general results not being very appealing meant that they've all wound up in the trash.

Discussion & Plans

I have quite a bit of linden wood in the shop at the moment and I had a large left over chunk from several bowls I've turned the past several days. I didn't want to throw the chunk away so I decided to try to turn and hand carve a kuksa out of it. The outside of the cut will be roughly turned and then refined by carving and the inside will be totally hollowed by turning. And the kuksa will have a single handle similar to the handles on the porringer I did earlier this week.

Let's take a look at the photos thus far:

This is the blank that I began with. I've bandsawed it out of a chunk of linden wood and you can clearly see the handle area sticking out from the side:

And this is what it looks like on the lathe:

I placed it between centers and turned it very slowly at first-200 rpm and began roughing off the side and the bottom. Needles to say the piece is unbalanced so it is going to be turned slowly for a while:

Here is a photo of the bottom. I've trued up the bottom and cut a mortise so I can flip it over and attach it to the lathe. Time to turn it over and work on the rim a bit:

Here it is before I began to turn the rim/top of the cup:

 Here is the top of the cup after about 15 minutes of very careful, slow turning. I cut from the outside rim towards the inside. This helps to keep the blank on the lathe. Turing from the inside towards the outside can cause the blank to dislodge and come off. The top of the piece is flatter now:

I turned the cup over, locked the lathe in place, and began to do some roughing out of the exterior of the cut by hand. I use a 2" carpenter's chisel to take off the uneaven, unturned sections of the cup:

I also used a drawknife:

This is the cup so far. I also sawed the handle area a little bit and I've created a groove along the bottom. Eventually I'm going to cut off the bottom and round it some to make it easier to hold in the hand. I also don't want to make the cut too deep, just enough for a quick cup of water. After this point it was time to flip it over again and begin hollowing it out. All of the work on the exterior from this point is going to be done by hand. This saved me a lot of hand work:

Time to begin hollowing. I hollowed it out about 1mm at a time, from the outside towards the inside of the cup:

Here is the interior after about 5 minutes of slow cutting. It's about 1" deep:

Here you can see I've drilled a hole into the bottom of the inside of the cup. I did this to help establish the depth of the piece and to make turning the center of the interior a little easier:

And here is the cut fully cut out. It's about 2" deep at this point:

Now, next time, I'll refine the rim and make it narrower for drinking, and I will probably turn the exterior of the cup a little narrower so as to make it fit in my hand a little easier. Then I'll carve out the handle and lastly smooth the exterior by hand.

Stay tuned,

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Annual Blue House Christmas Boutique is coming!

Good Morning Everyone,

Wow! The annual Blue House Christmas Boutique is coming! Join everyone at St. Matthew's Episcopal Church in St. Paul for the annual Christmas sale. The sale benefits the Blue House, an orphanage for children in Uganda that was started by the late Beatrice Garabanda. There are all sorts of neat things for sale: food, handcrafts, and of course fine handmade wood work from your's truly.

 And if you're a fan of Selkie Wood Works, then I would really love to meet you. I'll be there around 10, eating free samples and tripping over my own feet and talking about wood turning to anyone who will listen.

The sale will be held on December 7 & 8, from 9am - 3pm on Saturday and 9 am -1pm on Sunday at St. Matthew's Episcopal Church, 2136 Carter Avenue, St. Paul. And on Saturday only they serve lunch  with the best soup you've ever tasted.

Do your holiday shopping!
Meet some great people!
Support a great cause!

See you there!

Blue House Christmas Boutique

St. Matthew's Episcopal Church, St. Paul, MN

Monday, November 11, 2013

Oatmeal Bowl is finished, and it's colder than a well-digger's you know what here

Hi Everyone,

Well, the apprentice and I did not get to finish the bowl together. He has been ill and recovering from some surgery earlier this year and just recently got out of the hospital. He had been having some minor nose bleeds the past week and yesterday had a good sized nose bleed and had to visit the ER for treatment. I didn't want to take him into a cold, dusty environment and he's on his way home today so we couldn't finish the turn. But I did go down and finish the turn and he'll be able to see online how this went.

Here's the photos:

This is the bowl back on this lathe today and fortunately it hasn't distored. If you look closely you can see the extensive end grain tearing  and the whole thing needed to be hollowed out a lot more and that is what I did. I thinned the walls and then I sharpened by bowl gouge and turned the speed up to 900 rpm and very gently shaved the sides until they were smooth. Then I deepened and rounded out the bottom of the bowl:

This is the bowl after it's been shaved. It needed very little sanding. I've also refined the rim a little and removed some tearing along the rim's edge:

And here is the finished bowl. It's got lots of mineral staining and some spalting lines. The color is a buff color and so when I've applied the salad bowl varnish to it, it's going to be really pretty:

This is the bowl from the side:

Now, since this was unseasoned, it has to go in the drying bag for 2 weeks to dry out and stabilize. We'll come back to it then and take a look. If the wood fairies are kind to us, it will still be round and un-cracked and ready for varnishing.

So stay tuned for this one at the end of the month.

My next project is a bowl for my friend and colleague, John S.

See you later in the week.


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Sharing Wood Turning, continued

Good Evening All,

Well, I had a terrific evening with my nephew in the wood shop hollowing out the oatmeal bowl.

Here's the photos:

In my previous posting I turned the outside of the bowl. In this photo you see Michael hollowing out the bowl with a 3/8" Sorby bowl gouge. He hollowed out about 80% of the bowl with me helping to establish the inner curvature of the bowl and the depth of the turn.

This is the bowl about an hour later. I've placed a biscuit in it so you can discern the depth of the bowl:

Now tomorrow we're going to deepen the bowl and then sand it smooth. Once that's completed, I'll wrap the bowl in several paper shopping bags and let it dry for about 2 weeks. Then I'll take it out and apply a finish to the surface. Michael will be home by then so he won't be able to complete the turn but he'll get to see how a bowl is turned and finished to completion. When he returns next spring during Spring Break, I'll have a project ready for him to do from beginning to end that he can take home and display to his friends and family.

Ok, have a good night and see you all tomorrow.