Sunday, January 27, 2013

A new area for SWW!

Hi Everyone,

Well, it's cold, it's snowing, and I haven't gotten over nearly freezing solid yesterday in the wood shop so I decided to stay inside and make something that we've needed for a while now:

A new toilet paper dispenser!

And not just any toilet paper dispenser-a handmade, genuine, one-of-a-kind toilet paper dispenser that you can only find here at SWW!

I'm making this up as I go so I'll post this over the next several days.

Here is a photo of a wooden mounting bracket I'm making. This is a piece of left over aspen from another project. It's about 13 inches long, 3 inches wide and about 1/2 thick. I've decided to embelish it a bit. Here is a photo:

Now you can be conservative about this and just stain it or leave it plain but hey, if you're going to be sitting there you might as well have something interesting to look at...

I've sprayed it with lacquer and I'm letting it dry before the next step which is coloring it in with some markers.

Stay tuned!


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Hollowing Tool and Walnut Vase

Hi Everyone,

Well, when last we met I was working on a small piece of black walnut that I've had in the shop for a while. Here is the last photo of just the turned blank:

I decided since it's such a small piece I'd use it to make an another experimental type turning so I began making it into a small vase. The wood turned beautifully and I smoothed the exterior surface just to see what it looked like and here is a preliminary photo:

I rounded the bottom to make it "tippy" and this is what it looked like:

I looked at it for several days and I didn't fancy the way it looked so I put it back on the lathe and re-turned the bottom:

Here it is at this point:

The piece is ok at the moment but there's something about it that just doesn't work for me so I'm going to keep it around for a while and let it simmer. Not every piece of work works out initially and sometime the best thing you can do is to put it away for a while. So this goes on the shelf for a bit.

New Tool for the Work Shop

I've been thinking of making hollow forms for a while now and while you can hollow out a bowl or a platter easily with a bowl gouge, which have a straight shank, there is only so much hollowing you can do with a straight tool on a more narrow, closed-off form.  So I decided to purchase the medium-sized Robert Sorby hollowing tool:

As you can see the shank is a swan-neck shape with a small cutter on the end and this particular tool comes with a scraper head as well (that's the small round thing in the photo).

I brought it home and decided to hollow out the small walnut vase above and so I put the vase on the lathe and began turning it:

It worked quite well. I managed to hollow out this vase both depth wise and width wise. I'll admit it's going to take some time to get used to using this and not be able to see the tool on the surface of the wood. But with practice I suspect I'll get used to that.

The tool left the inside very smooth and it didn't catch or cut a groove. It is rather slow going how ever so hollowing out this vase all the way to the bottom would take a couple of hours to accomplish. I stopped about half way and applied the finish.

As it's really cold here I'm not going to do any more turning for the rest of the day. My hands and feet hurt from the cold. So time to go in and get warm.

I'm going to be turning some tree branches over the next couple of weeks and I'll show you the photos from all this.

Stay warm,


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

SWW Blog

Hi Everyone,

The Selkie Wood Works blog has registered over 10, 000 visitors! I've had people from all over the world look at this site.

Thanks to all of you who have taken a few minutes to drop by the wood shop!!

Take care,



Чтобы все мои русские друзья-блог Selkie Woodworks официально зарегистрировано 10 000 посетителей. Спасибо всем вам за снижается путем древесину магазин!
С уважением ко всем вам,

Friday, January 18, 2013

Lathe accidents

Hi Everyone,

In my previous posting I mentioned the hazards of turning cracked or damaged wood. Noted lathe artist Lynn Yamaguchi of Tucson, Arizona had an accident last fall in which I believe she was hit by pieces of wood while turning a piece on her lathe. You can see the details on her website and blog at:

She has a number of posts in which she details the injury, the surgery she's had, and  a lot of other information about her ordeal.

I sincerely wish her well and I hope she has a speedy recovery.

Always be careful when you're turning wood.


Welcome back and new project

Hello All,

Well, Happy New Year to you all and it's time to get back to work. If there is wood in the shop, I need to be out working. As simple as that. I had one project that I began last November that I wanted to finish and another that I've been thinking of so here goes!

Black Walnut chunks

Several years ago I acquired a large black walnut tree trunk from a friend who lives in Afton, Minnesota. The tree came down in a heavy rainstorm and as a consequence was absolutely full of water. It was far too wet to work on
 so I decided to stash it away and let it season for a while. Earlier this year I took part of the trunk and cut it into chunks and put Anchorseal on the cut edges and further let it season. I was looking at the chunks earlier this week and decided to work on one of them to see how well it had seasoned.

I picked up one of the chunks and immediately it was apparent that the wood was seasoned because it was much, much lighter in weight that it had been previously. So I took the chunk and began to work on it so here we go:

This is one of the chunks. It is about 12 inches long at the diameter and about 6 inches think at it's widest point:

I took the chunk and split it into two pieces: 

Here you can see I've split off the corners to make it easier to turn. This will be mounted on the lathe shortly and turned into a cylinder:

Here is the chunk with a hole drilled into one end so it can be mounted on my wood chuck and then on the lathe. I'm going to mount it between centers and turn it very slowly as it's unbalanced:

This is the chunk after about 10 minutes of turning. It's smooth and a very lovely piece of wood but there's a problem-it has a crack on one end. I'll have to turn down this section of the blank to see how deep the crack goes. This could doom this piece of wood:

Well, you can see the crack is deep and it runs almost across to the other side. I could discard the block or I can salvage it by sawing off this end. I don't want to throw it away so off to the bandsaw we go:

I want to note here that it's often tempting to turn cracked or damaged wood but you run the risk of the piece suddenly flying apart while you're doing it. It's dangerous to do this even if it's taped and especially if you try gluing it. It's not worth getting hit by flying wood and possibly getting badly injured so don't turn cracked wood. Saw off the cracked areas or if that isn't feasible, dump it. 

 And here it is now. This section appears to be solid enough for turning so I'll proceed.

I had thought to make a weed vase out of it but I'm not sure what I'll do with it now. I'll get back to you about that.

Red Maple Bowl

I have a good friend who is retiring this year along with her husband and I wanted to make them both a present to mark the occasion. I had just happened along a large pile of red maple turning blanks at a wood store and I bought two of them and began turning one last November. I got the outside shaped, sanded and finished but the holidays, etc, prevented my finishing it so I set it aside until this past week when I finished hollowing it out and finished it. Here it is:

I'm going to try to do some turning later tomorrow and if I do I'll post more photos.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Chateau les Chats-fin

Hi Everyone,

Well we finally finished the cat castle. What a project this was. I didn't think it would be very strong or hold up well initially but you know what-this thing is built like a castle! Its very heavy and very stable so large maniac cats jumping on it can't knock it over. Here are some photos:

This is the completed framework. As you can see it's made out of construction-grade lumber. It's over 4 feet high and the base is 2 ft square:

Here it is completed. I couldn't find any small, reasonably priced carpet remanents anywhere so we didn't use plush carpeting. Instead I found a small piece of office-type carpeting and by not covering all the posts we made it work with small scraps to spare. The posts that didn't get completely covered became cat scratching posts by winding 3/8" sisal rope around them. That part really hurt my hands. But with my youngest son and husband helping we got it all done:

This is a heavy piece of furniture that should last a very long time and looks good in the living room. I hope those two little maniacs enjoy it.

More later,