Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Black walnut vase, Pt.3-Sanding and Finishing

Hi Everyone,

Well, the Selkie Wood Works blog has hit another milestone-yesterday was my 300th posting! Congratulations to me and that big pile of wood in the shop.

Ok, back to work:

When last we met, I had finished cutting and shaping the flower vase. I went out to take a look at it and I'm satisfied with the shape and there is no cracking that I can see, so I'm going to finish it off. It needs to be sanded and then a finish applied to the surface.


I'll be the first person to admit that I hate sanding! It makes a big mess and it's boring to do. It is also probably the most important part of the project as the final appearance depends on a super smooth surface in which the grain and the wood color is visually at it's sharpest. The only way you can get there is to sand it.  I start at 100 and go up to 400 and I take my time doing it. I sand in one direction only, in this case I go from right to left in the photograph and I don't move the sand paper in circles, I just sand in a straight line. Over and over again.

In the photo above you can see a lot of scratching left over from yesterday's cutting and shaping. The scratching has to be removed and I'm going to begin with a brief power sanding before I go on the the finer grades of sand paper.

 I use an angle sander for lathe sanding as it's better balanced in my hand and not as heavy as a conventional drill is. This is a picture of the sander with a sanding disc attached to it. This is 100 grit paper and I'm just going to briefly sand the surface to get rid of the larger,  more visible scratches. After this I'm going to sand it down to 400 paper. I'm going to put the camera down and sand until I'm done:

Ok, I'm done. After I'm done with the sandpaper, I left the vase on the lathe and spun it at about 800 rpm and buffed it with 0000 steel wool to remove any residual wood whiskers. Then I polished the surface with a big handful of wood shavings. This last step gives the surface a lovely shine:

Next I need to finish the spout on the vase. I'm going to cut a 3/4" hole about 3" deep in it for flowers or dried branches. To do this, I'm going to put a drill chuck into the tailstock and insert a 3/4" spade bit into the chuck. Then I'll turn on the lathe and slowly advance the drill bit into the center of the vase as it spins. Here are photos of the set up:

 Done. I've also cleaned up the surface of the spout and sanded it smooth:

The Finish

If you've read my blog, you'll know that I love oiled finishes. They make the grain and color of the wood just pop and they give wood a wonderful warm sheen. They are also easy to apply and can easily be renewed should the piece become scratched or damaged.

The problem with oil is that it can obscure the grain and color of wood. In the case of walnut it can make it a uniform brown color. As walnut naturally has a lot colors in it, it's to one's advantage to try to preserve those colors as much as possible.

I've been researching this on the Internet and I found a finish by a company called Tried and True. Apparently they haven't been in business terribly long and they put out a line of wood finishing products. I've decided to use their varnish oil product on the vase. According to the company this is non toxic, and it's made primarily out of linseed oil.

The varnish oil is the color and consistency of honey and it has to be warmed to approximately 70 degrees. The company specifies that it be applied in thin coats and so that's what I've done here. I applied just enough to shine the surface and no more. This will cure in 24 hours and then I'll be able to apply another coat. After that cures I'll buff the surface. My last step will be to cut off the bottom  waste wood. Here's a photo of the vase with a single layer of varnish oil:

I've taken the whole thing-wood vice and vase off of the lathe and taken it inside so it can warm up. This will help the finish cure and I can also take a couple of photos so you can see the vase standing up:

It's hard to see in the photograph, but the finish has preserved the colors of the walnut very nicely. I'm happy with this. Time to leave it alone to dry.

And this is a picture of Rhubarb, one of my cats. These guys are breakfast cats-they love to hang around at breakfast and will snatch and eat anything that they can. Yesterday, as I was about to sit down and enjoy a pumpkin muffin, I got up to go and check on something and when I came back my muffin had been reduced to crumbs. A certain orange cat was sitting there, licking his chops. The other one had his head stuck in my glass of milk and was happily hosing the whole thing down.

Don't let those furry faces fool you-underneath that warm fuzzy face is a big muffin thief!!

Ok, as it's getting cold outside, I'm going to go and find a warms spot to sit down and drink something hot. See you tomorrow.


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