Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Black walnut vase, continued

Hi Everyone,

Well, I had a good turning day today and in spite of the continuing cold here in Minnesota, I got a lot done.

Let's take a look at today's photos:

Now yesterday I began this turning with a chunk of black walnut and I turned it into a cylinder in preparation for making it into a vase. This is our walnut cylinder at present.  I've taken it off the lathe to look at it and to see how much wood I have to work with:

 Before I begin to shape this into something I have to think about how the blank will be attached to the lathe and I also need to true up the ends. This involves putting the blank back on the lathe, spinning it and cutting a groove in both ends. As the blank spins on it's long axis, this will allow me to cut a plane into the blank that is perpendicular to the long axis. Doing this will help me drill a hole into the blank that will be perpendicular to the ends and so the finished vase will sit straight on a flat surface:

Now I'm going take the blank over to the bandsaw and trim off the ends:

I'm going to re-attach the blank to the lathe via a lathe wood chuck, which is a round chuck, similar to a drill chuck, that has jaws that can be opened and closed. Doing this will allow me to take off the blank and remount it quickly and exactly.

I'll drill the hole in the blank with a Forstner bit which is the device I'm holding in my hand below. These types of drill bits drill very exact, flat-bottomed holes in wood and come in a variety of sizes:

Drilling into the end of the blank requires a drill press and here is a photo right after I've drilled it:

This is the hole in the end without the shavings so you can see this clearly:

Here is a photo of the lathe wood vice, the key that operates it, and the blank all grouped together. The vice will screw on to the lathe and the blank will fit over the jaws of the chuck. This is a Tecknatool chuck. This type of chuck has inter-changable jaws and I use it all the time. I don't know who invented this but they have earned a place in wood-turning heaven:

And here are photos of the chuck, the lathe, and the blank ready to turn:


I wanted to produce a vase that was unusual in it's shape and that emphasized the wood, and that was small enough to hold in both hands yet large enough to act as an attractive art piece.  I also wanted to avoid iconic shapes that look like bottles or flasks. I also wanted the piece to be "bottom heavy" so it wouldn't easily tip over. I think the tendency is to make the bottom of the vase the widest part of the turning and the top of the vase narrow.

In looking at the wood blank I decided to flip it over and do the exact opposite. As you'll see in a moment, the bottom of the vase is the narrow part and the widest portion is towards the top. So I had to drill another hole in the opposite end of the blank and remount it on the lathe:

I'm going to begin the turn by shaping the top of the vase:

I do a lot of my shaping with a roughing gouge. This is probably my favorite tool and I've named it Bob in honor of the father of a great friend of mine-her dad is a wonderful man. Anyway, this is used for rough shaping of blocks of wood or large tree branches. I also use it for very fine surface cutting and if sharpened correctly, a large amount of cutting and shaping can be done with this tool:

In this photo you can see that I'm shaping the bottom of it to be narrower than the top. Note that the vase is still be turned between centers. This allows me to do a lot of cutting without the vase suddenly coming off the lathe and possibly hitting me:

I'm thinking the vase may just be a bit too long so I'm going to shorten it a little. This groove in the bottom of the base marks the end of it:

 Here is the rough turning of the vase. The surface is rough, and the end is pitted somewhat. I'm going to smooth it down and take off the shoulder of the vase. I'm also going to trim down the spout a little bit:

In this photo you can see another tool that I use a lot-this is called a skew chisel. This is used primarily for smoothing the exterior surface of a turning and I use mine a lot. It can save a lot of time in sanding. It can be a difficult tool to master and it was the last tool in the standard lathe kit that I learned to use. I suspect this is true of most turners:

Here is the vase several minutes later-note that the surface is much smoother:

In this photo I've rounded the shoulder some and narrowed the base a little more:

Here is the vase after about 90 minutes of turning and general fussing on my part:

This photo shows the value of the wood chuck. I can turn this vase with only the base of it attached to the lathe. This allows me to work on the top without the tailstock getting it the way.

I'm going to trim back the spout a little bit here:

I've placed the vase between centers again in preparation for some more turning and shaping of the top of the vase:

This is the vase after it's been smoothed and turned a little more on the top. It's much smoother, I'm happy with the overall shape, and now it's ready to be sanded and a finish applied:

Well, we've come quite a long way since yesterday. I will be drilling a hole into the vase tomorrow so that flowers can be placed inside of it.  The top of the spout needs smoothing  as well.

Tomorrow is sanding and smoothing day. The more sanding a person does, the more the grain of the wood is visible and the more beautiful the final result will be. I am thinking of using oil on this piece, perhaps Danish oil. I'll give it some more thought this evening.

As I'm almost frozen through, I think it's time to go make some hot tea and see what the cats are up to.

Join me tomorrow for the next step.


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