Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Altering Your Work: Re-turning a piece when something about it doesn't work

Hi Everyone,

I've been working on an urn for a friend who lost a much loved cat earlier this year. It's made out of laminated pine, Brazilian cherry, and black walnut. I designed the urn around a series of arcs to give it a smooth, flowing line and to make it very smooth and touchable. Instead it wound up overly oval and it resembles a large, wooden egg, which was not my intention.

Here is a photo:

I looked at the urn for about a day and decided that I had the following options:

1. Re-turn the body of the urn into a different shape,
2. Re-turn the lid into a different shape,
3. Add a finial,
4. Discard the entire urn and start again from scratch.

As I like the body of the urn and overall it serves the function of storing remains very well, I decided to alter the lid first as that can alter the excessively oval shape.  If that doesn't work well, I'll add a finial. As a last resort, I'll re-do the entire project from scratch.

Here are photos of the lid to begin with:

The top of the lid is dominated by a large central walnut disc which just overpowers the lid visually:

So on the lathe it went. First I reduced the size of the walnut disc. Then I turned several steps into the cherry portion of the lid and it came out like this:

 And this is what it looks like:

Here it is on the urn:

It does break up the shape without radically altering the design.

Ok, I'm going to just look at this for the next day or two and if I'm still satisfied with it, I'll send it off to my friend.


Saturday, October 31, 2015

Scrap Wood Project 2-The Covered Yarn Bowl or Saving Your Yarn from Marauding Cats-Finish Photos

Hi Everyone & Happy Halloween!

Well it's October 31 and I'm protecting myself from ghosts, ghouls, and zombies-I have my dinosaur socks on which repel all those creatures:

And if all else fails, I'll throw wood chips at them. Another good reason not to sweep out the shop:

Ok, back to the shop and the yarn bowl...

When last we met, I had assembled a turning blank for the lid out of scrap pine and this is the basic blank. I wanted a heavy lid that would not pop off when yarn was being pulled through it and also one that had a substantial knob and this is what I'm aiming for:

So I mounted it on the lath and turned the knob portion round:

And put the large bowl jaws on my Nova chuck:

And turned a thick, almost 3/4" thick lip on the underside of the lid. As the sides of the bowl slope in, I beveled the lip carefully to fit the inside of the bowl:

And voila! It fits perfectly. I sanded it well and then flipped it over and placed it back on the lathe to turn the knob, the lid, and to sand and finish it:

Normally I would have trued up the edge by now but as there is little wood to do that with, I'm going to wait until I'm very nearly done turning to do that. I don't want to cut away too much wood as doing so would make the lid fall into the bowl instead of sitting on top of the rim:

So I placed the blank between centers and began turning. Pine is of course a soft wood and it requires really sharp tools to cut it without tearing it up. I sharpened my tools before I began but even with that, the wood tore quite a bit:

I wanted a large knob that is easy to grab on to so I undercut the knob portion of the blank so my fingers will fit underneath it and cut the knob down and rounded it off:

Here is the blank before sanding. You can see some torn grain at the edge of the lid:

And here it is after sanding. Sand paper fixes many sins in wood turning!

I sanded the lid to 400 grit and thin polished it with pine shavings and it came out really nice. Now for the next step-creating an opening on the lid for yarn to pass through. 

Here we have several ways of accomplishing that-I could drill a hole right through the lid and that can serve as an exit for the yarn. Or I could drill a hole and then cut a slot so that yarn can pass through the lid and into the hole. Or I could drill a small section of the rim away with a large forstner bit and keep the lid intact and that's what I did. Here you see the lid on the drill press ready to be drilled with a 2" bit:

I drilled it and stopped short of drilling all the way through accidently. Since this is pine, I took one of my carving knives and whittled away that remaining section of the rim, sanded the edge of the hole smooth and it's finished:

Here it is:

This is the lid on the bowl. You can see there is enough room for yarn to pass through without it shredding:

Here it is on top of the bowl with some knitting needles poking out of the lid:

And you can see that Rhubarb is studying this trying to figure out how to get at the yarn. He'll never get inside! I have triumphed!!


Here is the finished bowl and lid:

It just needs several coats of lacquer and it's done.

This makes producing yarn bowls much easier and it makes using a variety of different kinds of bowls and containers possible.

Ok, I have another pet urn to make and then it's time to stop and clean out the shop and do some maintenance on the shop tools. After that I have a very special project that I'll share with you.

Have a terrific Halloween!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Scrap Wood Project 2: Covered Yarn Bowl-Cats vs. Human/Discussion and plans

Hi Everyone,

Yarn bowls are lovely things and I envy knitters and crocheters who have one. They can be made out of a variety of materials, clay and wood being the most used materials and some approach fine art. I think a yarn bowl for it to be really functional should be large enough and deep enough to hold yarn while it's being worked. One of the problems with yarn bowls as that they usually are wide open and that means, especially at my house, that my cats Biscuit and Rhubab can get into the bowl, steal the yarn, and generally make a huge mess out of what ever it is I'm trying to make. The other problem is that I don't have a large capacity lathe so making a really large bowl is out of the question.

Yes, we know you're there...

Solution: purchase a suitably large bowl and make a wooden lid that fits on the top. It will keep the yarn in the bowl, use up more scrap wood, and keep the rotten cats out of my knitting.


Here's the bowl I got. I purchased this for a couple of bucks at Target. It's about 11 1/2' in diameter and stands about 9 1/2" deep. It's clear plastic so you can see the yarn inside which is a nice added bonus:

For the lid I choose a piece of 11 1/2" wide by 23" long piece of pine for the lid and a 1"x 4"piece of pine for the knob on the top. You can use any type of wood, solid or laminated, for this. I'm going to laminate all this together so I'll have a 11 1/2" x 11 1/2" x 1 1/4" thick block with a 3 1/2" x 3 1/2"x 1 1/4" block on the top for turning:

As this is drying in the shop at the moment I'll stop here. Tomorrow I'll turn the lid and fit it to the bowl and then it's finished.

Drop by tomorrow to see the results.


Scrap Wood Projects: Making a Drop Spindle and a Covered Yarn Bowl-Discussion and Plans

Hi Everyone,

I've got a couple of projects here that will not only help you make a dent in that ever growing pile of scrap wood in your shop but will generate a couple of holiday gifts for friends or family who like to knit and crochet: a drop spindle and a covered yarn bowl. Both are easy to do and don't require much wood.

First the drop spindle-a friend of mine contacted me last week and asked me if I could make her a drop spindle as she wanted to make her own yarn and if you google "drop spindle" you'll see a variety of different devices that consists of two parts: a broad flat wheel called a whorl and a spindle and for references sake here are photos of the one that I made:

If you look closely there is a small metal hook on the whorl end of the spindle and a shallow cove on the opposite end.

I had no idea what this device does so I got on YouTube and found the following video to illustrate the device in action so I would know just what this thing is supposed to do and here is the video I watched:

There is also a very good discussion on exactly how spindles work at Ask the Bellwether: Which Spindle Spins the Best?  On this site, several different designs are discussed and this is the take away from that:

  • The spindle needs to be heavy and long enough for so the spindle doesn't wobble and it's usable like the one on the video,
  • The whorl needs to have most of it's mass along the rim of the whorl for it to spin and spin true.

My friend also requested a spindle that was 12 1/2" long with a whorl that was 3 1/2" wide. The selection of the wood was left to me.

Make a drop spindle out of scrap lumber out of hickory and white oak.

The process is fairly simple and took about an hour to make. I made the spindle first out of a stick of white oak and I turned it down to 3/8" in diameter. I also turned a shallow cove on each end of the spindle, sanded it and then cut if off the lathe and set it aside:

The whorl was out of a small piece of 1" thick hickory:

And here it is mounted on the lathe. I trued up the face and side and then I turned it down to about 3/4" thick:

And I shaped the whorl by leaving the rim fairly thick, the center a little thinner, and the center thick enough to hold the spindle securely (and I apologize for not supplying measurements here as I've lost the pad I wrote them on). Here in this photo you can see me drilling a hole exactly in the center of the whorl with a forstener bit:

This is the whorl after it's been turned:

Before I took the parts off the lathe, I sanded them very smoothly so yarn won't snag and I finished it with spray lacquer. Lastly I screwed in a small eye hook and opened it slightly with a pair of needle nose pliers and it was finished.

And this is what it looked like:

This is a very simple one-if you have other types of wood, especially colorful exotics, this would make a really lovely present.

Ok, since the next project is in progress I'll talk about that in a separate post.


*Which Spindle Spins the Best? Copyright March 2007 Amelia of AsktheBellwether.com

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Wedding Bowl continued...

Hi Everyone,

Well, I've taken the bischofia bowl out of the dry box and it looks good. It's still round and there are no cracks:

The foot of the bowl did shrink a little and the Nova chuck didn't quite fit into the recess you see in the photograph so I got one of my carving gouges and gently whittled away a bit until the chuck jaws fit inside:

So I finished hollowing it out and turned the exterior of the bowl a little and began sanding it and here it is at present:

It has the usual end grain problems to deal with and since it's a coarse wood, it will need a fair amount of smoothing which I'm going to mostly do today.

I'll be back in several days with completion photos and final notes on the project.


Freezer Jam

Hi Everyone,

Yes, you read it right: freezer jam! I enjoy cooking and I love to make pickles, jam, etc, in the summer time and one of the best recipes for jam that I've come across is a very simple recipe on the cooking blog Recipe Girl. There is a recipe for peach freezer jam that I've made lots of time and since I had a large bowl of blue berries in the fridge I took part of the day off from turning to make some.

Here's a photo of part of the batch I made:

This is a low sugar jam that requires only 1 cup of sugar. I also used Ball Low Sugar-No Sugar pectin and got a really good set on the jam.

So that's what I did yesterday afternoon! Ok, back to the wood shop and the bischofia bowl.

See you later,

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Pet Urn: Final Notes and Completion Photos

Hi Everyone,

The pet urn is done and here are a few final thoughts and photos:

This is the urn with the lid on top. It's made from black walnut with a lid out of rock maple. The volume of the urn is approximately 1 1/2cups (US) and it was made for a friend in the Netherlands who recently lost a much loved cat:

I used pvc plumbing fittings so the cap will screw on tightly:

This is the underside of the cap. You can see how it will screw into the body of the urn:

And this is the bottom of the urn. I drilled a 1 1/2" diameter recess into the bottom to accept a small round wooden disc with the cats name and birth and death dates inscribed in ink on the surface. An artist friend of mine is currently doing this for me and the disc hasn't been delivered back to me yet:

This is how the disc will fit into the bottom of the urn:

And this is a disc. When the inscribed disc comes back to me, I'll epoxy it to the underside of the urn and then give the entire bottom another coat of varnish:


Well, it was an interesting project and one that I hope will help my friend over her loss. The pvc plumbing parts were the most challenging part of the project as well as drilling the recess on the bottom. I think if I ever do another one of these I'll plan on placing the opening in the bottom of the urn instead of the top so I can use a larger diameter pvc fittings instead of the small ones I did use for the top. There was also some trial and error cutting down the fitting that I used for the lid but as these fittings are less than $1.00, it wasn't a disaster for me when I messed up the first fitting. If you have standard lathe tools, you'll find shaping the plastic very easy to do as it's rather soft. Do be careful of the threads as they are not very rigid and they can be easily damaged. As for the wood, it was very stable and a joy to turn and shape so I'm not foreseeing any problems with that in the future.

As soon as the inscribed disc comes back, I'll be mailing this to the Netherlands.

What's next?

Well, I have the bischofia bowl to complete and I'll go down to the wood shop later today and take a look at it and get that finished. And I have to do something about the mosquitoes in my shop. I got clobbered by those little monsters yesterday and I'm scratching like crazy today. I'll get 'em!

And as for today, I'm in a cooking mode so I'm going to make homemade chili and some freezer jam.

Ok, see you later with the bowl posting.