Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Coffee Scoop Project Revisited-Grrrr and comment

Good Morning Everyone,

Well, we have some stormy weather ahead later today so I thought I'd go down to the wood shop and do a little turning and I decided to try to make a coffee scoop yet again. But first the background on this:

I have long been a big fan of turner Stephen Hogbin, the Canadian artist. He has been professionally active since the 1960's and was one of the turners in the 1960s & 1970s who took wood turning from an industrial craft to an art form. His work is really quite incredible.
Anyway, a copy of his latest book Hogbin on Woodturning came in the mail yesterday and I spent last night and most of the early hours of this morning reading and studying it.

Hogbin is well known for constructing laminated blocks, turning them resulting block to shape and then disassembling it into pieces and re-building the pieces into an entirely different shape. One of his simpler projects are his well known salad servers. These are a pair of spoons that are created out of either a solid spindle block or a laminated block, turned, and then the whole thing is split into two pieces. The bowl is hand carved and with that you have two identical spoons. Here is a link to a photograph: Stephen Hogbin spoons.

I think the servers he makes are pretty cool and so I decided to try the ill-fated, never accomplished coffee scoop project from several years ago and no wanting to be wasteful, I decided to use the rolling pin that began to de-laminate several days ago and make a scoop out of it.

Here's what happened:

Ok, here's the rolling pin that I made and that I used for this project:

I took the pin and cut it in half and mounted it on the lathe:

And turned it down to a spoon shape:

And then I cut it in half length wise on the bandsaw. So far so good:

I drilled a shallow starter hole in the center and began to hand carve the bowl of the spoon. My enthusiasm was beginning to grow. I might actually get a coffee scoop this time!

As the wind outside was beginning to pick up and it was getting rather cold, I decided to speed things up a bit and go and get the Dremel tool with a round Kutzall tip and hurry the hollowing part of the project up:

Once I got it sufficiently hollowed out I picked up my gouge and began to finish carving the bowl. It was almost finished when -CRACK!-the red Brazilian cherry layer suddenly broke:

So I chipped off the rest of the red layer off and began carving out the remainder of the bowl by hand. Then the rim broke and that was the end of this project:

Well, white oak is a little too coarse for this type of carving and I'm avoiding laminated blanks for this. I'm going to try it again later today with some red birch which is softer and has a finer, closed grain that should hold up better.

More later

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Artful Turn-The Catalpa Bowl-finished and comments

Good Morning All,

Well, the weather has turned cold again and there was a massive snow storm in the Twin Cities last night, although thankfully we only got a very light dusting of snow. But it's good turning weather so I decided to go down to the wood shop and complete the catalpa bowl.

Here's today's photos and comments:

After looking at the bowl for several days I decided to flair out the side of the bowl a little more and remove that double rim inside the bowl that I worked so hard to preserve the other day. And to hollow it out more as well.

Here is the bowl after I've turned and flaired out the side somewhat. I think the edge of the wide band could be narrowed more but I'm going to stop here for now. I think this tends to draw the eye into the center of the exterior a little more and the flair makes it look a little less blocky:

Here is the interior of the bowl. The wall of the bowl at present is very thick. I think thinning the wall will improve the overall appearance of the bowl and it will also increase the interior volume of the bowl as well:

So I very carefully removed the inner wall and thinned the whole thing as well. I've also created a secondary structure inside of the bowl-sort of a plate within a bowl effect:

And here is the bowl after I've sanded it. I'm going to stop at this point and take it off the lathe and varnish it to see how it looks:

And here is the bowl at present with a layer of varnish in the inside and exterior of the bowl:

The bowl over all isn't a bad design. It still looks rather blocky and squarish on the outside and I think the cure for that is to radically flair out the top band of the bowl more and to narrow the bottom band a little more as well.

I'm satisfied with the interior of the bowl at present but will think more about how to develop "plate withing a bowl" look.

Overall the concept of turning different surfaces onto a bowl's sides and interior walls is a good one. I'm going to see next if this concept will work on a wider, shallower bowl.

Stay tuned,

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Wood delamination-ooohhh noooo....

Good Morning All,

Take a look at this photo:

If you look carefully you'll see that the Brazilian cherry layer in the center of this rolling pin is pulling away from the white oak layer, leaving a gap. This is called delamination and it has a variety of causes:

  • age of the glue you're using
  • environmental and wood temperatures
  • assembly time
  • not enough glue along the length of the joint
  • excessive glue squeeze out 
I made two laminated rolling pins last week and the other pin is in perfect condition but this one isn't. I laminated them both at the same time so environmental conditions, wood, and glue were all the same and I don't stint on glue when I'm laminating blocks so I'm not sure what happened here. Unfortunately this pin has to be discarded as there's no way to fix it.

I'm going to refer all of you to the following article from the US Department of Agriculture. It's about joint failure in laminated panels but a lot of the information applies here too. See: US Department of Agriculture: Delamination of Edge Glued Wood Panels and learn.


Monday, April 14, 2014

The Artful Turn: The Catalpa bowl, continued

Hello Again,

Well I finished lunch and went back to the shop and continued to work on the catalpa bowl. After a near catastrophe, I've managed to produce something that doesn't look like my usual bowl. Here are this afternoon's photos:

I took the bowl back down and I narrowed the bottom band by about 1/16" and I think it looks better overall. The band doesn't flare out so much either. While I was turning I decided to give each surface of the bowl a different shape so no matter what direction the bowl is looked at, the person looking at it will see a unique surface:

I gave the bowl a good preliminary sanding to 320 grit and then flipped it over and began to turn the inside of the bowl:

In this photo you can see that I've hollowed out the bowl to a depth of about 1 1/2" and I've also marked off the walls of the bowl. I decided to turn two walls-the interior wall will be a little shorter than the exterior and the rims will be rounded and will turn towards each other:

Here you can see the walls beginning to take shape. I'm cutting the interior wall first:

Disaster! I got the two walls cut and the rims shaped and I needed to make the groove between them a little deeper so I picked up my skew to cut the groove with and WHAM! I got a catch. You can see the deep cut in the photo:

I took a very narrow bowl gouge and proceeded to remove some of the catch and then I remembered my bedan tool and I not only got rid of most of the catch but I was able to deepen the groove and round off the rims a little more as well. Saved by the bedan!

Here is the bowl after about 30 minutes of turning total:

So I took it off the lathe and came inside to photograph it. Here you can clearly see the double walls:

Here is a side shot of the bowl:

And here is a closeup view of the rim:

Now I'm going to stop work on the bowl and let the whole thing simmer in the back of my mind. I still need to finish hollowing it out and I need to thing about possible ways to accomplish that.

Stay tuned.

The Artful Turn: embarking on more artistic work/The Catalpa project-discussion and plans

I've been working like a maniac lately producing kitchenware and I would like to begin taking some time out of my turning schedule to produce more artistic work.


Wood turning as an art form has been a part of the art world for a number of decades here in the US and beginning in the late 1960's-early 1970's, a number of important artists began to produce serious work utilizing wood turning lathes. I've been collecting books for a long time on wood turning as an art form and at present turners in all parts of the world are producing amazing and truly beautiful turned wooden forms. I would like to take my work to the next level and begin to produce more artistic work too.

Now, I don't have any artistic training and that is a big drawback so I'm going to begin taking some art classes this fall and learn about lines, form, color, and painting. In the mean time I'm going to begin working on some artistic pieces to get a sense of what that is like and to begin to identify the technical challenges in turned wooden art.

I've long been intrigued with the buildings designed by Frank Gehry. The irregular shaped panels that make up the exteriors of his buildings are unique and very eye catching. I'm going to try to produce a bowl that will have several "panels" along the exterior and possibly interior of the bowl that will, I hope they will, appear to look independent of each other and reflect light at different angles and work in harmony with one another. We'll see how this goes.


When I went shopping for wood last week, amongst other things, I purchased a small block of catalpa wood. Catalpa trees are found all over the US but are native to the eastern portion of the US. It's not endangered. It's easily turned and it kind of resembles ash but instead of the yellow color of ash it is a medium golden brown. The block I purchased is about 2 1/2" thick and about 10 inches in diameter and this would be an excellent start for an artistic piece. I'm not sure at this point what kind of finish to apply. 

Here's today's photos:

Here is a photo of the blank that I began with. It's not heavy or very dense and it has a golden brown color and a nice figure:

Here is a photo of the underside of the bowl. I've given it a wide, thin foot so as to lift it off of the surface of a table or shelf.   I've begun to turn the rest of the bowl:

Here is a side shot. You can see the all the exterior surfaces of the bowl here and I've trued up the side. This portion of the turn went very well:

Next, I turned the first section which is the band of wood on the right hand side of the bowl. I want this section to flair out from the bowl a little. The second, wider band will flair out in the opposite direction:

Here's what it looks like:

Time to take it off the lathe and see what it looks like:

Here it is outside:

I'm inside right now and the bowl is sitting on my coffee table at the moment. I think narrower band needs to be made a little narrower, by about 1/8 of an inch. I think it overpowers the rest of the exterior of the bowl. I'm going to have some lunch and go back down to the shop and narrow it down a little bit. I'll be back in about an hour.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Rolling Pins Part 2: turning and finishing the pin and TURN-O-RAMA WILL BE BACK THIS YEAR!!

Hi Everyone,

Well, it's a really nice day outside-it's cool and breezy and there is no snow to be seen. Perfect day to make a rolling pin and that's what I did.

Here's today's photos:

I left yesterday's laminated blanks in the clamps over night and this morning I removed the clamps and now we have two turning blanks-one that is white oak and Brazilian cherry (~15 " long) and the other is white oak with black walnut(14" long):

Next I trimmed the edges and marked the center. Then I drew a circle about 2" in diameter and I did this on both ends. The circle helps me to judge the diameter when I'm turning:

And I placed it firmly between centers and turned it at about 700 rpm. I've also applied a layer of wax on the tool rest and underneath my roughing gouge to make the tool slide along the tool rest little easier. And I've sharpened by large roughing gouge and I'm going to turn the whole block into a cylinder approximately 1 7/8" in diameter:

In this photo you can see the pin emerging from the blank. I'm shortly going to go to the other end and turn that section of the blank to a cylinder as well:

Here you can see a closeup shot of the left hand side of the cylinder. It's rough and the Brazilian cherry layer needs to be cut smooth:

Here is the cylinder. It's obviously not the same diameter all the way across. A good thing to do is to have a set of calipers ready from this point on because as the pin becomes closer in diameter from end to end, it's difficult to judge by eye if your turning is finished or if more turning is needed to even things out:

And here is the rolling pin. The cutting along the pin is done:

Next I'm going to round off the ends. I use my skew chisel for this:

And here I'm just smoothing the surface with the skew. I like to leave my skew chisel just a little dull for this as it's easy to get a catch with a sharper chisel:

Finishing the Pin

This is a closeup shot of the surface and you can see a little tear out in the photo. Sanding will take care of that. I begin with 80 grit paper and go to 220 grit:

 Here you can see that same spot a few minutes later:

And this is the finished pin next to the other turning blank:

To finish the ends-I like to drill and insert a dowel in a contrasting color in the holes in the ends of the pin and then sand the whole surface smooth. This is cherry from the ill fated pegging experiment yesterday:

And here we are about an hour later. Two hand made rolling pins that have been finished with flakseed oil.

And that ladies and gentlemen is how you make a rolling pin.

I'm going to be splitting a walnut log that I've been drying out and I'll make rolling pins out of some of that wood and when I do, I'll do a blog posting on that whole process.

I'm going to do another Mother's Day Turn-O-Rama this year and I'm going to keep this one a secret as it's my favorite thing to make on the lathe.

See you soon,