Sunday, August 26, 2007

Wood Turning at the Exhibition

This last week we had the Provincial Exhibition at Truro. The local historical society has a branch at the Farm History Museum at the fair grounds. -During the exhibit they try to have crafts people demonstrate some of the old crafts from quilting to spoon carving. The last couple of years they have invited me to demonstrate for a day of wood turning. I really enjoy it.
I took along a lathe and turned mushrooms, potato mashers, and dibbers. Part of the time I had various people at the lathe trying it out for the first time or just learning some stuff.
It always amazes me when turners look at the shavings coming off and are amazed at sharp tools. I get them to touch up the gouge edge at the grinder and jig I bring along and then turn. The jig makes it simple.
While there, a fellow from the local paper came along taking pictures of various exhibits, including me. I thought he might put a small one of me alongside of a feeding horse or something but instead I got about a third of a page. Some days they are just hard up for news. :-)

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Wood Turned Lamp

My youngest daughter is moving provinces for college and into her own apartment. She wanted a desk lamp so I turned one for her. We are moving her things up on Tuesday and will be gone for a week so I will not likely have time to get a web page up before then at Around the Woods, but I took some pictures as I went so I should be able to when I get back. This makes a great project involving faceplate and spindle turning as well as assembling a piece after turning. Since it also involves drilling a hole down the center of the lamp spindle, and at the center line of the base from edge to center, it adds a bit of complexity to the process. Besides, they make great gifts.

I turned it out of spalted birch that came from a silver birch I had to take down at my parent's cottage after it got lightning hit and was obviously not going to recover. So it has some special meaning to us as well. I think she will be happy with it.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

turning wooden spoons

Okay, I got the page up on turning wooden spoons. the turning is fairly simple but I put it up as an intermediate project because it has both turning air for the bowl shape and the handle is offset. It needs to be for comfortably using the spoon, which is one of the things I have against the commercial wooden spoons. They also have to have the bowls carved, a page I have not written yet. All in all they make a fun project. Along the way I took some videos too and I will see about getting it made into a project shot like I did for the mushrooms. I turned them with a skew but roughing gouges and spindle gouges would work well.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Wood turning

I got back in the shop today for a while and started turning some cooking spoons for a friend. They are about 13" long with a slightly offset handle. Unfortunately, now that the turning is done, it is time to carve the bowls of the spoons. Not my favorite thing, but necessary. I will eventually get a page up about it but I am also trying to get some beginner pages up on tool selection, sharpening and the like. It is a pleasure to be turning spindles again. Maybe I will put the faceplate stuff on indefinite hold and do some more spindle work. We'll see.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Wood Turning Tools

Lately I have found myself looking at the wood turning tools in some of the catalogs that we likely all get. The range of tools is a bit overwhelming for me and it must be a shock and a half for new wood turners. Still, with the exception of a few of the specialty tools, they all fit a couple of categories: roughing gouges, parting tools, spindle gouges, skew chisels, hook or ring tools, bowl gouges and scrapers. The rest seem to be choices of sizes and steels. There are a few variations in the shape or depth of gouge flute, and the argument over flat or oval skews seems to be in fine form, but really there does not seem to be a whole lot new. Over on the rec there has been a discussion over how many tools a turner uses and for most of us, once you get away from the size issue, we have a couple for bowls,a couple for spindles, and a couple for hollowing. The more I look at them, the more I think that when my roughing gouge, which is the commercial tool I use the most, finally gets sharpened to useless, I will buy another beginner's set of tools. For the price of a rouging gouge I can get a decent beginner's set with roughing gouge and others that, If I have no use for them myself, can be used by students or given away.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Wood Turning Spindles

One of the things I have been thinking about lately as I consider wood turning in general and the art work I see on the web or at shows in particular, is the lack of spindle turning. While I grant you that chair makers and the like turn a lot of the same spindle shapes day after day and consider it more craft than art, what about artistic spindle work? Is all of it architectural? What about lamps and candle holders? Maybe gavels and mallets? Many of us seem to be caught in the grip of the chuck or faceplate and wood turning has become faceplate turning. the exception of course is pen turners today although I find many of my pens are pretty much straight turning. Perhaps I need to return to spindles for a while and see what comes of it.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Roughing Gouge Video

Just as a follow up on the last video I made one on rounding the spindle blank down to a cylinder with a roughing gouge, complete with me forgetting to tighten the tool rest as I began. I think that technically, that is an "oops." Mostly I am getting used to the Windows Movie Maker software and comparing it to Nero. Once I get a voice over, I will get a longer video to the web site. I sort of have a half hour on turning a potato masher which is what I like for a carving mallet. Hey, if it works, it works. The video also shows a few seconds of bouncing the gouge off the square cylinder. One of the things that scares people from woodturning is attacking a square with a roughing gouge and having it shot back at them. If the gouge is first presented at more than 45° it will not cut or catch until the handle is raised and it cuts at 45°. Once a beginner learns this, a lot of the anxiety leaves.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Spindle Block Movie

Thanks to Derek Andrews over at Seafoam Woodturning I now know how to embed a movie in the blog. I like to keep the saw off of a straight cut by holding it at about 60°. With these small electrics I find that the shavings can clog the drive cog to the point where the chain can be crowded off the bar, so clear it occasionally by letting it run clear of the wood. That band saw is only a 10" but it has been with me for over 20 years now and is still going strong.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Spindle Turning

I took a bit of time in the shop today to answer a question from one of my web page readers about getting a block of wood for spindle turning. A lot of us have fire wood handy and a lot cheaper than buying a 3" square of turning wood. He was wondering what to do to get a turning square. Since I start with a chain saw, it was easier to make a movie than to take photos. So I put a movie up on YouTube. The easiest way to find it is to do a search on my name at Youtube. I am working on how to post it to a blog. It is supposed to be easy but I am sometimes techno challenged. This is one of those simple things that will take a while to get used to doing.
It was great to be back in the shop and good to be spindle turning. I have not done enough lately.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Sometimes I Drive Myself Nuts

Some people say I have succeeded long ago and am simply driving faster and farther. I think I have enough wood stashed to keep me turning for about 5 years, maybe longer. People still give me stuff too so the stash just keeps growing. Some of it will have to be fire wood because it is too "spalted" to be anything else, not that there is much heat left in it. Most though will turn beautifully. So why is it so hard to turn a pretty piece? Too often I think that a piece may as well be made from "plain wood" and save the burl/bird's eye/curly for another day. John Jordan, I think it was, said that life is too short to turn boring wood. Man, there is some nice stuff on the piles.