Friday, December 28, 2007

Time to Turn - Almost

Christmas has gone, I think. At least I am back to work even though the girls are still home on break. We are having an open house for the church on New Years Eve so I will be tied up getting the cooking done for that, but I hope to get some turning in.

There are some plans for the web site in the new year. I expect to get some contributor's pages up for one thing. Some really neat pictures have come to me from some of the readers and people should see some of this stuff.

Also there is more demand for video on the site and I plan on doing more of it. Some of the pages need a real rewrite and on my end the site has grown so much that I need to redo a lot of the organization. Not hard stuff, but it requires a fair amount of time.

In addition, there is a real need for step by step instruction for beginners and I have begun a web book course. the first pages will be up soon and I will announce it here. The plan is to develop the skills needed for turning using a project based approach. I think folks will like it. It will follow the format of Around the Woods but more systematically and will deal more with what it is reasonable for other people to turn rather than what I turn myself. Anyway, it sounds like fun and should keep me busy for the next few years.

Take care in the New Year. All the best to you and yours

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas Giving

Back in May, Arnie had been given a lathe and some tools by his wife Maggie who thought he was too much underfoot and this would be a good birthday present anyway. After all the kids could give him tools and funny woods for the next twenty years. What to give a man who does nothing is always a problem, but a man with a lathe, the local club told her, always needs something.

Arnie was captivated. The shop in the basement was quickly too dusty and too small so the Ford found a new home in the driveway and the lathe set up housekeeping in the garage. Strange logs appeared in the driveway and a chainsaw found its way into the picture. Bowls and candlesticks began to find their own way into the house.

As Christmas neared one of Maggie's problems was solved. Money was tight and presents were going to be hard to come by, but Arnie's turnings had become quite suitable for gifts. There was, however, the other problem.

She had always gotten a turkey from work but this year the company had decided to give an assortment of ecologically correct gift wrap and bags. The idea was the company was going green but she thought it might be that the packages were a lot cheaper than the turkeys.

It turned out that Arnie had a solution to the problem and the answer had sort of just grown. He had shown his old pal Charles (never Charlie), the butcher down the street at the farm market some of his turnings over the last few months. Charles wanted a couple of gifts for his wife and daughter and was not averse to barter.

So a couple of days before Christmas Arnie took a burled salad bowl and an ash hollow form to Charles and returned home with a lovely free range turkey (ecologically correct thought Maggie to herself) and a long link of sausage. Years ago Maggie had started wrapping the turkey with a sausage as it roasted and traditions started are traditions kept, especially if they taste good.

"I don't know, Arnie," she said as she looked at the meat. "Bartering for the turkey is one thing, but I think you should have paid for the sausage."

"Why," asked Arnie. "Charles thought it was great trade."

"I'm just thinking about his family," said Maggie. "The turkey is one thing but Christmas is an awful time to cause a man to take a turn for the wurst."

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year folks.
Keep on turning and may all your finishes be swirl free.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Something good comes along

The saga of the EBay stuff continues. The guy pulled the DVD with my free stuff on it but has put up another one with other people's turnings and woodworking. He does not seem to get the idea that stuff on the web is created by someone and that they therefore own the copyright. I guess he just wants to profit form someone else's work. Why he does not make his own videos is beyond me.

That said, I hope it is in the past. One thing that has happened is a few requests from people for me to put some of the videos together on a DVD and sell it as such. I will think about it. One of the things about the site is that the info is freely shared. Besides which, most of the videos are made to accompany a written page. If I was going to collect and sell them, I would need to reshoot for a more complete package. Time, time, time. Let me know if there is interest. Keep in mind that the same stuff that would on a DVD would also be available an the site. Around $15.00 for a DVD versus free on the site. We'll see what happens.

Appreciate the support.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Notice of EBay Scam

Will the greed of people never cease? I got an email from a great guy who had unfortunately bought a DVD from Ebay. The DVD was just a collection of free videos from folks like me who had posted them on YouTube or our own sites for folks to see free of charge. This guy had made collections and was selling them on EBay. Not only is this a violation of all the copyright laws around but it is also an attempt to profit from other people's work and generostiy.

Trust me, it takes a lot to make even a home video if you want it to turn out decently. But this is fine for me because I enjoy it and I like people to see how I do stuff. Hopefully they improve on it and we share the info. That is one of the great things about wood turners. If you do not share, you have not gotten the idea of turning in the first place.

A while ago at a show I was asked by a turner how I made a particular piece. This is an entirely different question from a wood turner than from a regular customer. He thanked me for sharing my "secrets" with him. There are no secrets in wood turning. Just good techniques and practice.

However, there is a big difference between sharing for free while giving credit where credit is due and the idea of selling free material to people while giving the understanding that this is good value.

Enough rant. I am going to turn.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Sanity of Wood Turning

This seems to be a good day to ramble so I thought I would. As a pastor of a small, rural church, we had regular services yesterday morning and a special Christmas service last evening so there was little time for me to be in the shop. Actually there was none so I decided to at least write about wood turning since I could not do it.

The night service was dedicated as a time of sharing with one another about the people who will not be with us at Christmas. Some have passed away this year, some have moved to other parts of the world, others have new commitments in life that have taken them away, and still others have Alzheimer’s or similar problems that have removed them from the normal picture.

There is a lot of stress in people’s lives today and pastors share it. Not only do we deal with many if not all of the same stresses, but we also try to shoulder other people’s as well. This is not a pity trip. We choose to do this work and most of us either love it or can not picture doing anything else. After all the rewards are fantastic. We also get to participate in weddings, baby dedications, baptisms and great moments in people’s lives.

The simple point is pastors have the stresses that other people have and need to cope with those stresses. One of the thing that has occurred to me recently is pastors seem to have a hard time relaxing. Again this is not unique to pastors and more and more I am observing that people have too few hobbies and interests outside the work place.

I have found woodworking in general and wood turning in particular to be sanity savers for me. They answer two big criteria for me as far as relaxing hobbies are concerned. The first is the need to extend themselves to other people and the second is the capacity to be absorbing.

Wood turning tends to produce a lot of output, especially as I like to turn small objects. Most of the time a small object is faster to make than is a large one although excessive detail can take time on some pieces. There are three choices at least with all these pieces of wood.

The first is to simply accumulate them at home. While we do keep a few around, it seems that they can have the ability to overflow all available flat surfaces in a hurry. Simply having them in a box in the shop does not make a lot of sense.

So the second solution has become to sell some of the turnings. This is great because my wife and I enjoy going to shows together and meeting the people who shop. Most of the time we are at only high end shows and only do a few a year so the events do not become stale. Unfortunately this means there is still a lot of product.

The third answer has been to give gifts to a lot of family and friends. There is a real pleasure in taking a piece of landfill or firewood and turning it into something someone else will treasure. Christmas or birthdays often finds my wife and I going through boxes in the shop, looking for the perfect gift someone special. When the kids are home they often declare it to be “gift time” and hunt for their own. My son’s wife could be a tournament judge. She has an incredible eye for the turning finesses.

One thing that has happened in recent years has been my tendency to donate pieces to local charities who are having fund raising auctions. Not only do I get the satisfaction of turning, but I am also able to help someone else.

Wood turning has been called by my wife my “time machine.” I can go into the shop for ten minutes and come out two hours later, sure that only ten minutes has passed. Some of the absorption certainly comes from the dangers of any woodworking endeavour. After all, anything that cuts maple will certainly cut me and I like having all my body parts, such as they are.

Still it is the work itself that demands concentration. A piece can be ruined by a curve being just a little bit off. Measurements need to be exact even though most measuring is not done with a ruler but rather by feel, experience and intuition. Sometimes the most important cut is the one that is not made but rather left alone after some thought.

More and more I realize that we need these hobbies. They are a release from the tensions of life and yet move us into other realms that touch other people. Art, craft, appreciation, absorption, life.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Roughing a Bowl, Video 7; turning the inside (b)

Here is that second part to roughing the bowl inside. Mostly it is finishing the bottom and removing the tenons including a catch and a flying bowl. Ooops. Any way, hope you enjoy this. I am amazed how many videos I can watch of wood flying in all directions.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Roughing a Bowl, Video 7; turning the inside (a)

I know this is dragging out but it takes ages to get a decent video out especially being the amateur I am. Besides, YOuTube only lets me put up so much in one clip and it is the easiest way to get the stuff out that I have seen so far. I will eventually get some of these on a file for download to a CD or DVD if anyone is interested.
The bowl is continuing on. Unfortunately for me, clearing the inside is one of the fastest parts of roughing a bowl and is also one of the most fun. This five minute clip in real time flips the bowl to remount, measures the sides and bottom for good drying and narrows the tenon for later release. The tools used are a 3/8" and 1/4" Oland. This is likely one of the reasons that I have a lot of bowls waiting to be refinished but that is a later project time and another video.

One of the things I have in mind is a set of short videos on Oland tool cuts, again if anyone is interested. At present I am in the beginning stages of video and pictures of a Wood Turning Basics web book based on the Milton and Wohlers text and I will bounce back and forth from doing that and other projects for the next year at least until it is done.

Anyway, enjoy the video or at least watch it and as always, any comments are welcome.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Roughing a Bowl, Video 5: Mounting on the Lathe

Here is the quick and easy video 5, mounting on the lathe. I like to mount a bowl between centers if at all possible for roughing cuts. It is quick and easy and allows for the wood to be moved later if necessary. The big negative for me is the tendency for the spur bit to pretend it is a spade bit and try to drill its way through.Since this just means tightening the tail stock on a periodic basis, this does not really matter.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Roughing a Bowl, Video 6; turning the outside

I am continuing the video series with the outside turning. It gives an idea of using the Oland tool on some green wood. The video is real time of course. I had to remove about 70 seconds of time in order to fit it to YouTube's length allowance but it gives a good approximation of time involved for roughing a bowl. I will try to get the inside turning up in a few days. I suppose this means I need to shoot the finishing video for a bowl as well, but it will likely wait until after Christmas.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Sunday Greetings

I know it is after Sunday, but I just wanted to tell you what happened at church. One of the guys took his grandchildren home after Sunday School and came in to tell me he had brought me something from home. While he was out he had picked up a couple of maple burls he had cut off his firewood for me that week. They were sitting by my car door. One is about 12" long and the other about 8. These should have some great color in them. There are some great folks in that church and they treat me well. Have a good one folks.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Roughing a Bowl, Video 4: Knocking off the corners

Once the blanks are marked I like to cut off the corners before mounting on the lathe. First of all it tends to give a better balance without all the extra wood. There is also a chance to cut off any extra bits and pieces that might otherwise give balance problems. Second it allows for a bigger bowl to be placed on the lathe. The diagonal of the blank is about 1 1/2 times as long as the diameter of the blank. Actually about 1.4 times for all you fussy mathematician types. Getting as much of the extra wood off the corners as possible allows me to turn a 16" bowl on my 16" lathe instead of only a 10" to 11". Finally, the chainsaw is a bit faster than the lathe at the wood removal.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Roughing a Bowl, Video 3: Marking out the circles

I like to cut away as much as possible of the blank before roughing the bowl. Some turners with larger and more powerful lathes like to throw on the half log and turn but I find the chain saw faster to work with. Also, the better balanced the blank the easier and safer to turn.

Actually, for larger bowls, say 10 inches and over, I usually cut an angle at the ends to match the slope of the sides, but this is a more dangerous cut for the inexperienced so I left it out of the video. Hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Roughing a Bowl, Video 2 : ripping in two

In this part I rip the log sections in two to create 2 blanks per section. This is one of the safest cuts for a chainsaw but also a hard one on the saw. Maintain an angle of about 60° through the log and allow the shavings to clear. Chainsaws are intended for crosscuts and the long shavings of a rip cut can cause the saw to bind. They can also interfere with the oiler so make sure that there is sufficient oil for the chain. I just use a regular sharpening of the chain. The saw buck with a channel here is superior to the "X" shape buck which would cause the wood to bind when the cut is completed and the two sections slid down the sides of the "X" to the center, trapping the bar between them.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Roughing a Bowl, Video !

A while ago I shot some footage of me roughing out some ash bowls. Having come across the film, I decided to edit it and get it on Youtube as well as on the web site. This is the first in what will be 8 or 9, I think. They are fairly short to get them on You Tube but I may have a longer version on the page for download.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Squirrel Distractions

This is one of those days when I can not seem to get any turning done. Wood had to be cut for winter warmth, I have both a church service tomorrow and a friend's funeral to prepare, and the phone keeps ringing. I glanced at the pine tree outside the window just to be thinking of wood when another distraction hit, or chewed.

A squirrel had managed to chew one side of the bird feeder so at to loosen the cap and then get it off so the feeder hung from one side. I got some cool pictures of the we beastie having the meal of his life before I went out and fixed the feeder.

Persistence is necessary if you plan to turn wood. Mistakes teach but only if you take up the gouge or skew or what have you to make another cut or a whole new piece. The squirrel is a good argument for try and try again. I wonder if he could be trained to sand bowls?

We will not mention the cats who are still trying to get the squirrel. :-)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Hanging the Icicle Ornament

So how does one hang an ornament that is only 1/2" in diameter and has the head tapering to 3/16" or less? You drill a 1/16" hole in the end and insert a small screw eye. Which of course begs the question of how to hold the thing in order to drill it. In this video there is jig that answers the question. Actually it is the jig I use to hold pen blanks for drilling and I just drilled another hole for the ornaments to fit. Once you see the video that should make sense. I will have the whole video on the web site with better resolution for downloading some time in the future, but for now these Youtube ones are not bad.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Ball and Icicle Christmas Ornament

I just finished a few of these for a Christmas show coming up this weekend. They are a lot of fun and reasonably quick to do. Most of the turning is done with a straight chisel made from a carpenter's bench chisel. I read about the straight chisel in Peter Child's bood The Craftsman Woodturner some years ago and ground one from an extra 1" scraper that was lying around. These are great.
Some of the head work is turned with a 1/4" round skew made from a tool bit I got from Enco. This one I was shown by Bob Rosand a few years ago at a show in New Hampshire. It is a gem for small work. I also used a 1/4" skewchigouge (sorry about the name, it was not my idea) made from another of those tool bits. In my opinion it is better than a detail gouge.
Unfortunately I have not had time to shoot videos of the process but I will try to get a chance in the near future.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Christmas Icicle Ornament

I am still working on the web page but the video is shot and there is an example here from YouTube. The page will have a full video, about 15 minutes, of the turning as well as the usual explanations and pictures. These are a lot of fun especially if you have a time budget. I tend to have a box of offcuts cut to fit so I can go into the shop this time of year and turn one of these whenever I have 10 minutes or so. It only takes five to turn one but I have to get to the shop and back.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Pen Video

A friend wanted a pen turned for him in the European style (what I used to call Mont Blanc until Cross got upset over a trade marked name). I took the opportunity to shoot some video of it. They are on YouTube and will shortly be on the web site as well. Fitting the center band is simple but seems to give people difficulties. All you have to do is ignore the bushing and turn the thing to fit. A few cuts with a parting tool and on it goes. I find it the same as fitting a ferrule to a handle.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Sharpening a band saw blade

Here is a quick one for all of you use a band saw. Mine is an old (over 25 years) 10" Rockwell/Beaver. With a sharp blade it will cut through 5 1/2" of hardwood. The trick is that sharp blade. Considering the wood we cut which has bark inclusions, grit from the ground where it was felled, and some exotic oils, it is amazing that the edge lasts at all. For most of us the blade dulls long before the end of the useful life of that blade. So I sharpen mine using an idea from Steve Russel.
With the blade still on the machine I can sharpen it and be back to work in about 5 minutes or less. This is for a 3/8" 3 pt hook tooth blade. I get anywhere from 3 to 6 sharpenings per blade. I am sure it is not as sharp as a new blade but it sure is a lot cheaper and it still does a nice cut through 5 1/2" hardwood.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Maple log: ornaments

Well the saga of the bird's eye log continues. I have not found much bird's eye but the wood is great. It varies from a cream sap wood to a dark heart and there is some nice spalting here and there. Because of deep surface cracks most of it will end up as ready spindles. I turned a couple of Christmas tree ornaments to try some of it. It is lovely to turn. In another day or two I will have a page up on making these icicles. Each one is just under 5" long with the largest diameter about 1/2".

Friday, November 02, 2007

More on that bird's eye

I got started on the bird's eye log. With all the cracking in it I decided that it needed to be moved into blanks and boards. The boards are going to be short since I am working free hand with a 16" chain saw and a small band saw. I took a 24" section and began to cut it down with the Stihl and then moved inside to the electric chainsaw and the bandsaw. Just after starting I realized that I had to sharpen the bandsaw and put a quick edge on the blade. After a bit of work I got the log into some blanks ready for spindles. The ends are sealed with Anchorseal and I will leave them indoors to dry a bit more.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Burly Friends

sometime good things just happen. A friend to whom I owe a favor dropped by with a coupe of burls, one spruce and one maple. The small one is about 16" diameter and she wants a fruit bowl turned. The large one is from a friend of hers and she just wants something interesting.The price is later to be determined. Beautiful wood and this should be a lot of wood turning fun.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Craft Fair

Yesterday my wife and I attended a craft fair at one of the local churches. Sales were ok but the day was fun. I always enjoy meeting the people. Christmas sales are looking good. One of the folks there is coming over this week to put some items in his Farmer's Market. I thought you might like a look at the display. You can get a fair variety on a small table.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Sharpening Bandsaw blades

just a quick note today folks. I put a video up over at YouTube on how I sharpen bandsaw blades on the the saw a la Steve Russel's method. It works great. I figure a 3 pt 3/8" blade takes me about 5 minutes including set-up. I will have more info on the web site at Around the Woods in a couple of days.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Wood Turning Friends

One of the great aspects of wood turning is the friends you make along the way. One of the fellows at church was talking about things with another friend as they stood by the wood pile. As the friend commented on how dry the wood was he picked at a piece of bark to real bird's eye underneath. The log was about 12 feet long and around 9 inches at the butt. My friend said I could have it if I wanted. Now the log was 2 years old and had surface cracks but I still said, "sure."

I took out the saw and cut it into manageable pieces and brought it home. Even though the log was 2 years old I Anchorsealed the ends.

One of my intentions is to document the using of this log to give folks an understanding of how you might work with something like this. Everyone does it a little different but it should be fun to compare notes as I go.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

New Project: Whisk Handle

Hi folks. I am attempting to write a new section on the web site for
beginners. Here is a project for it that has a way to center a handle on a
tool while making it. The project is a whisk handle for the kitchen and a
simple stocking stuffer to make.
Whisk handle
One of the great difficulties that wood turners run into is making sure the hole for a handle is concentric to the handle and fits the tang. This method of using a very simple friction drive ensures that the handle is properly on center.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Tools for a Beginner

As I was considering the roughing tool, I was also thinking of the perennial question of what tools a beginner should get, since most lathes come without tools. The following article has a few suggestions.

Wood Turning Tools: getting good ones may be beginner’s Luck

As wood turning has become more popular in recent years the manufacturers of wood working tools have developed a bewildering array of tools for the wood turner. This already bewildering array has become even more confusing for the beginner than for the experienced turner who has a few special tools that are used all the time. Beginners have yet to discover what direction their turning will take them and what tools to use on the journey.

Wood turning is split into two general fields, spindle and face plate turning. While most lathes come supplied with the rudimentary holding devices for the wood, they rarely come with cutting tools. A good, general, beginner’s set would include:

  • a 3/4" or 1" roughing gouge for making spindles round

  • a 3/4" or 1" skew for making those round spindles smooth

  • a 3/8" or 1/4" and a ½ “ spindle gouge for beads and coves

  • a 1/8" parting tool for separating work

  • a ½" to 1" round nosed scraper for some finish cuts

  • a 1" straight scraper for facing off some work

  • a 3/8" bowl gouge for face plate work

Most beginner sets on the market will have some combination of the above although they seldom have a bowl gouge included. Again, most beginners start with spindle turning and become proficient at it before attempting bowls. There is no particular reason for this and a basic bowl is no more difficult to turn than is the typical candle stick. While a 3/8" bowl gouge may cost as much as some beginner’s sets, an Oland tool suitable for the beginner and advanced turner alike is easily made in the home shop and a simple on-line search will bring up the directions for construction and use.

One of the greatest changes in wood turning tools in the last hundred years or so has been the metal used to make the tools. Unfortunately it has also become a source of confusion for inexperienced turners. There are three main groups of steel used for the tools; carbon, high speed, and powdered. The best buy for both beginners and experienced turners is M2 high speed steel, usually written as M2 HSS. Since this is also the most common type available it is easy to buy and a good deal. Carbon steel is harder to sharpen without losing its temper and powdered steel is likely overkill at a premium price.

The important thing to do is to get the tools and start making shavings. Some experience will develop a preference for certain tools in certain settings and will also develop a lot of enjoyment.

Once again feel free to post the article elsewhere as long as due credit is given.

&copy;Darrell Feltmate,<a href="">Around the Woods (</a>; used by permission

will work well in the html code or just

©Darrell Feltmate,, Around the Woods, used by permission

in straight text.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Roughing Gouge: getting started

I am beginning a section on the web site about Wood Turning Basics. Here is an article I wrote about the roughing gouge which will be updated with pictures and video for the site. Any comments are appreciated.

Wood Turning Tools - Roughing Gouge

The wood turning tool first reached for by most beginning wood turners is a roughing gouge. While it is obvious that most things produced on a wood lathe are round, wood tends to arrive in a more of less square fashion. Even it comes to the shop in the form of a log, it is generally cut more or less square before mounting on the lathe so it must be roughed round. Hence the use of a roughing gouge for the first wood turning tool.

It should be pointed out that the roughing gouge is a spindle turning tool, not for bowls and other face plate work. As most lathes come with a spur center and a tail center for spindle turning and most beginner sets of wood turning tools do not contain bowl gouges, most people begin their wood turning obsession with spindle turning.

A roughing gouge will look semi circular when viewing it from the tip. It should have a deep flute and even thickness walls. For normal turning needs seventeen or eighteen inches from handle end to cutting tip is good and a 3/4" or 1" width should made a good general purpose tool with the 1" more versatile for most turners.

The tool should be sharpened straight across with a 45° angle. Every part of the edge can be used by rotating the tool. In past years the wood turners would continually roll the tool and found that there was more time between sharpening sessions because the work was distributed over so much of the tool tip. With the advent of modern high speed steels this is not as great a need because they stay sharp so much longer than the old carbon steels, but it still gives a greater length of time between sharpening the tool.

For your first cuts with the roughing gouge

  1. a wood block about 10" long and 2" to 3" square is mounted securely on the lathe

  2. you are wearing a face shield

  3. the lathe is set to a low speed, between 400 to 600 rpm

  4. with the lathe OFF, place the shaft of the tool against the tool rest with the tool nearly vertical and the tip of the tool well above the top of the wood

  5. rotate the wood toward you with your left hand while holding the tool with the right

  6. notice the tool does not cut the wood

  7. continue to turn the wood as you slowly raise your right hand pivoting the tool on the tool rest. When the tip of the tool is about 45° to the floor, the tip will begin to contact the wood and cutting will start.

  8. repeat the motion with the lathe turned on. The tool should be approaching the wood about 1/2" from the right side of the wood.

  9. as the wood begins to cut, roll the tool to the right while slightly raising the handle and the wood will cut

  10. continue with another cut beginning a bit farther left and a bit farther left and so on until you are about 1" from the left end of the wood

  11. repeat the motion but rolling a bit to the left starting from the left end of the wood

At this point you will likely find that the wood is not yet round but is a bit far from the tool rest for comfort. With the lathe off, move the tool rest closer to the wood and repeat the above exercise until the wood is round. Very likely the surface of the wood will be fairly rough from the roughing gouge. While experienced turners can get a fairly smooth surface from the tool, it is better at first to use the roughing gouge as its name implies and quickly get a round albeit rough surface.

Feel free to use this article as long as acknowledgment is given.

&copy;Darrell Feltmate,<a href="">Around the Woods (</a>; used by permission

will work well in the html code or just

©Darrell Feltmate,, Around the Woods, used by permission

in straight text.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Wooden Spoon video (7)

One of these days I have to get my life in order. There are too many things to fill too few hours. Finally I got the last video up about turning the spoon. Next I have to get some prepared on carving the bowls, maybe. Along with sanding, this one has the parting off of the spoon from the lathe. I like to do this with a skew and I like to part from the drive spur. Simply, once the piece is cut from the spur drive it stops turning whereas, if the spur has forced into the piece too far or hard and you part from the tailstock, it keeps turning and you have an awkward moment of trying to turn the lathe off while holding the turning piece or of pulling the piece from the turning spur center. I am awkward enough without working on it to be more so.

Lately I have been turning a couple of whisk handles. This is a great beginner's project and I will get a page up soon.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Wooden Spoon Video Part (6)

As I continue on with the wooden spoon, the handle is finish turned and decorated with a couple of burn lines using a wire. Interestingly,as I look at the video again I realize that I have used the chuck for this spoon and somtimew "forgot" and simply turned between centers for others. What can I say, both methods work well. I often get asked by beginners about what chuck to buy, given the high cost. Generally, I point out that the chucks are very recent additions to at least a 3,000 year old craft and not really necessary. Nice but not necessary.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Ready for mallets

So lately I have been turning mallets. Yesterday I took out the chain saw and cut a few pieces of maple for some more. I want to do up a project page on mallets and like to practice a bit first, especially if I decide to video the turning.

Mallets, in my opinion, are a great beginner project. They allow for lots of expression in a tool that has a definite purpose and hence a definite set of restrictions so you do not turn something that simply does not work. A mallet with a 10 pound head and a thin handle is just nuts. But a mallet with a head that fits the handle may have decorative beads and grooves and the handle could have all sorts of turned decoration without removing its sense of "handle."

Plus this is spindle turning. I see a lot of turners moving from spindles to faceplate stuff and a whole set of skills is being lost. Most wood turners start with spindle turning and then leave it under the impression that faceplate is where it is at. A lot of turned objects are spindle work, handles, newels, mallets, pens, gavels to name a few. This is also a lot of fun.

On the other hand, while I was cutting the maple I found that it was spalted to the point where another winter will not be good for it. Maybe I need to rough a lot of bowls before I lose the whole pile.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Free wood turning advice

A while ago I took a text book on wood turning that had been written in 1919 and reformatted it for the web. It is available for free down load from Project Guttenbergbut works better for the web with a little tweaking (ok a lot but it was fun). Lately I have seen it for sale on the web as the greatest thing since sliced bread for learning wood turning. There is some great stuff in the book and it is a good read for turners both experienced and beginning, but it is a text book. It requires someone to show you some of the dos and don'ts of turning as you go.

In fact, I think the value of the book is twofold. One is to give us an outlook on the history of our craft in the early 20th century and two is for the wealth of line drawing projects in the book. Many things are dated but they are still good. Some of the projects are things like chisel handles for chisels that have a tapered socket and for boxes to hold hat pins. But a good handle is easily adapted and a nice box is a nice box.

One thing the book is not is a primer for modern turning. Bowl gouges were not around when the book was written, nor were 4 jaw scroll chucks nor High Speed Steel tools. Sharpening jigs were virtually unknown, certainly not in the forms we now have them. Many of the modern finishes and for that matter abrasives did not exist.

This is a good book and a lot of fun, but not the be all and end all of learning to turn wood. With a good instructor and some editing it would be a good text today. Gradually, I hope to have the projects presented on the web page in some form as I did for the table lamp.

Presently I am working on the pages for a mallet based on those in the book. Some of the differences include using a set of auxiliary jaws for a scroll chuck to be sure the handle is centered correctly and making one with an oval handle. Over the years it would be good to have all the projects with pictures and at least some with video. I am also working on pages for the use of the various tools now available. It is a lot of fun, and I intend to keep it free. It seems more in the spirit of wood turning.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Wooden Spoon Video Part 5

It is Sunday morning as I write this. In a short tome I will be at church. Yesterday I conducted a funeral for a man only three years older than myself. Thoughts of faith more than wood are part of today's picture.

As I got to the bowl of the spoon, most of the wood turning became air turning. You have to have an idea of line and turn for it even though most of what is whirling there is air. The "ghost" of the object is all that can be seen. Once the idea is formed and the path of the skew is committed, you just cut and trust that learned skills will carry you through to an appropriate end.

There is an expectation of result here as well, watching the wood spin. All that the cutting will do at this point is leave the outline of the bowl. It is not deep enough for the cuts to reach the bottom so all it does is outline the bowl with hopefully pleasing symmetry. A lot of carving will remain to remove the rest of the wood and leave, finally, a working example of a pleasing spoon.

Sometimes wood turning is just wood turning and sometimes it is faith. Every time I turn it is an exploring of creation and Creator. Life is good.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Wooden Spoon Video Part 4

The wooden spoon continues as I get farther along the shaft and start the transition from the shaft to the bowl. This is the place where the whirling bowl can do some damage if you are not careful. On the other hand, this is the sort of thing that makes turning fun. It is also the first place where you realize that the handle is not on the same centerline as the bowl. When this comes off the lathe, the bowl will have the handle raised off the table when sitting. This simply makes the spoon easier to pick up. There is not a lot of need for huge diameters here either. 3/8" or 1/4" will certainly work although you could leave 1/2" because people think it is sometimes needed.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Wooden Spoon Video Part 3

So far this video stuff is becoming quite an education. Anyway, I have the third part of the spoon up now. This is just roughing down the shaft. As I have been doing this I realize that most of the wood turning is done with the skew.
This is one of the simplest wood turning tools we have. All it is is a straight piece of steel with a handle on one end and a cutting edge on the other. No fancy curves or flutes. Still it allows for lots of plain and fancy cuts. It is the easiest tool for a smooth cut on spindles along with beads and reasonably long coves.
More and more I find myself reaching for a chisel as I turn spindles, either a skew chisel or a straight. The spindle gouges are there but they seem more awkward than my chisels. Maybe I am just lazy and hate to sand. Hope you enjoy the video.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Wooden Spoon Video Part 2

I have posted a second part of the wooden spoon video. When I get it all edited I will put it up on the page for a download to CD (free of course). The interesting thing here is my using a spur center in the chuck to turn the handle fit the chuck itself. This is a regular, Morse tapered center. There is no need to purchase a special center for your chuck, the usual one works fine.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Garden Dibber: Oval Handle

I was fooling around making garden dibbers with tapered oval handles and put up a page on the site. This is an intermediate project just because the handle needs to be turned from three centers and becomes offset. In other words, a lot of the time you end up turning air. A dibber is used in gardening and this time of year some people use them for planting bulbs. Oval spindle turning is not difficult but seems to be something we have left out of our present turning vocabulary. Basically, if you can turn a regular spindle you can also turn an oval. Just be sure the wood is held strongly between centers as the tool will rattle it with every revolution.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Wood Turning Tool Thoughts

One of the few "standard" tools that I use a lot is a roughing gouge. For all you who turn spindles, this is likely a standard for you as well. One of the considerations for lathe tools is simply cost. The rise of high speed steel (HSS) in recent years for the manufacture of wood turning tools has elicited the development of powdered metal tools and cryogenically treated tools and likely some that have people doing strange dances in the light of the full moon over weird alloys and configurations. All this seems to be either in pursuit of the tool that never needs sharpening, that cuts the wood on its own, or makes a lot of profit for someone.

I turn wood and some of it has embedded rocks, the occasional nail, once or twice a bullet, and often grit and grime that along with various silicas in the wood oil itself, dulls a tool. Smacking a nail at speed with a tool ruins an edge whether the tool is old carbon steel, new HSS or one of the fancies. Never mind searching for the elusive never sharpen edge, make or buy a sharpening jig and get back to turning.

The thought of having a tool that cuts wood on its own destroys the whole process for me. I turn because I like to. There are easier ways to make money (my hats off to all you pros)and cheaper sources for bowls and pens and the rest of the stuff we make. Not better and most of the time not nearly so good, but cheaper sources are out there.

I understand people making profit and long may the wood turning supply people do so. It will keep them in business and our supply of tools available. However, you need to ask yourself what tool is reasonable to buy? Remember, every tool and every purchase is a compromise of sorts.

For me, tools of M2 HSS make sense. They hold an edge that is both sharp enough for efficient cutting and easy to sharpen. Carbon steel takes a sharper edge that may be better for final cuts but I sharpen them on the same grinding wheel so the difference is minimal. HSS holds the edge a lot longer and is much more forgiving in sharpening. The other metals are more expensive than I need.

Back to that roughing gouge. I bought it as part of a set from Record. Nice tools all. It has a good shape and sufficient metal thickness for wear and use. I replaced the handle because I like a longer one than the one it came with. When I replace it in a couple of more years of sharpening I will likely get another set. Most sets have roughing gouges and for a little more than the price of a roughing gouge itself I will likely get a couple of spindle gouges, some scrapers and a skew to play with. All of them will be HSS and good value. It does not take a lot of money to have nice tools to play with.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Wooden Spoon Video Part 1

I have been playing some more with the video camera and put up a bit of video over on YouTube dealing with mounting a blank for a wooden spoon. It is a nice piece of offset turning for anyone who has not done it before. Basically it is just a matter of lining things up so that the part of the handle that contacts the bowl is above center. This lets the handle be at an angle when the spoon rests on a work surface. While I define the lines of the bowl while at the angle I have a friend who turns these things commercially and he turns the bowl on center and the handle off. It remains to carve the bowls after the turning is done.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Wood Turning Project: Table Lamp in Spalted Birch

Vacation is sort of underway. I anticipated doing a lot of wood turning for vacation including a 2 hour drive to see my folks and pick up an oak tree that a friend had to cut down. His description is of 2 foot thick and long blocks, but it has been down fo a while and it may be cracked. None the less, good wood is good wood and I do like a piece of red oak on the lathe. Shavings, wood lathe, turning, now that sounds like vacation time. Of course there is reality as well.
Does driving a van load (and I do mean load) of furniture 21 hours from Nova Scotia to Ontario and setting up my daughter's apartment count as vacation? While we were there my son got me to visit his kung fu school. I had to wring out my t-shirt after the workout.
Vacation? Now I am redoing a room in the house (remove the wall paper, mud and sand the walls, paint, remove the carpet, and put down laminate). Then there is the garage roof to shingle. Vacation is where you find it. Anyhow, I managed to get a page up dealing with turning a lamp for my daughter's apartment. There are no links to it as yet from "What's New" or the contents page but it is at Lamp Project
As always, any problems with the pages would be appreciated to be reported.

Monday, September 03, 2007

New Wood Turning Challenge

The vacation trip is going well. We have moved my daughter into her new apartment and she has a cat, which I am told is necessary in order to have a true home. I have had little time to see any wood turnings except for a few which my daughter and my son have. I am amazed to see the pieces and realize that I have turned them. Often they look better after I have been away from them for a while. At one of the hotels we stayed at I saw an interesting lamp in some sort of mass produced porcelain. I think it will make a nice wood turned lamp when all is said and done. The body could be a hollow form to reduce weight and the top and base could be turned in contrasting woods. I think I will make the base round instead of square. Comments?

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.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Stronger Pull

Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love.

Rumi(13th Century Persian Mystic on Creativity)

Every piece of wood is a mystery. Sometimes the mystery is less as we work with debarked and smooth boards, but often it is a wonder as bark is removed and color and texture are revealed. We are also a solitary people most of the time, working alone to uncover the secrets of a piece of wood, itself a mysterious thing created to enrich the world.

This sense of mystery itself generates a sense of wonder and of love. That love may be one for creation itself embodied in the amazement of the wood, or an expression born of oneself for the recipient of the piece. That recipient may not even be known to us. It may be a buyer or for that matter the receiver of the gift the buyer has gotten. Yet there can be a love that reaches out to the unknown person, themselves part of God's creation.

Sometimes of course the person is known and the love is obvious. But what of the time when the person for whom the piece is destined is known but not loved in the classic sense? Then is there not a love for the wood, for the work, and for the integrity of creation that fills the piece? Or is this something to be sought, time and again?

Friday, July 20, 2007

wood turning out of confusion

"Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty, find opportunity."
A. Einstein

I am in my annual or semiannual or whatever, 'clean the workshop' mode. As you can see I am also at the computer, fighting the mode well. At times the clutter is overwhelming and it needs to be cleaned. Sometimes it leads to more than a clean shop. A while ago it meant more turning when part of the cleaning was the intention of moving some wood out of the way. You might call it a bit of simplicity from the clutter and some harmony from the discord of walking through the mess.

I wonder how much turning results from the thoughts of cleaning a messed up shop and finding another log to work with or saying "I thought I was going to make a ### with that?" How many shapes have we just put in drawers or on shelves before picking up a piece of wood to move and seeing a curve just like the one on the pliers handle and saying "aha!"

Then of course there are the 'oopses' in turning. A side too thin or an intended bowl that is now a funnel. Design opportunities from accident. Opportunities in difficulty. Neat stuff. Einstein had a lot to say to a wood turner.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

craft thoughts

Phyllis George, founder of the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft and an avid folk and traditional arts collector said:
“Crafts make us feel rooted, give us a sense of belonging and connect us with our history. Our ancestors used to create these crafts out of necessity, and now we do them for fun, to make money and to express ourselves.”

One of the threatening philosophies in our culture today seems to be an attempt to rewrite history. While history is the domain, generally, of the victors and is told always from a biased viewpoint no matter how objective the writer attempts to be, it is still an attempt to present facts as well as interpretation. Crafts have always been a part of our history no matter where we are in the world.

At first craft was done from necessity. People needed weapons for defense and implements for hunting, fishing and gathering. Later farm tools were needed as well as tools for various other crafts that developed. Homes and furniture were needed as well.

Then as things got more settled and urgency for the finished product diminished to allow for more production time, art got confused with craft as decorative work was added. The history of craft is also the history of art especially as it affects the things that people use every day.

Today the effects of the industrial revolution allow us even greater freedom for art in craft as most utensils, furniture, wood work and fabric can be readily produced as a consumer item by machine. The craftsman woodturner? Following for instance the bowl turners of yesterday we may still attempt to craft a fine salad bowl out of beautiful woods. Yet the person buying could get as functional a bowl for less than a tenth the price at the local big box store.

Instead, we all become a part of the ongoing history of craft. The turner makes a bowl for the sheer joy of crafting a piece out of wood in the same manner as turners a thousand years ago. The buyer buys not for the salad, but for the pleasure of using a beautiful object on a regular basis. They purchase not a salad bowl but a gorgeous piece of wood lovingly crafted in the manner of a long history of craft and civilization.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Fun and creation

The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.
Carl Jung (1875 - 1961)

Now here is a thought for the day or so. A lot of the time at the lathe is more fun than creative, at least for me. I tend to turn a lot of things the "same." You know the way, twenty or thirty pens, a dozen spatulas, a bunch of bowls or whatever. Sure, each one is slightly different, but they are really not "one of a kind" except in the manner that every piece of wood is different.
Still, there is a feel of creation going on. In fact, this side of God, we always see what no one else has seen as the bark peels away and a new face of wood is revealed. A glimpse of creation as it were. Perhaps if we let this gel along with the shear fun of turning, creativity results in some new pieces. Sometimes we just need to play.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


Not a burl but a piece of spruce log I had to drop a couple of months ago. I turned it into a mushroom to cover the plumbing outlets I had put in a while ago. This way I can find them easily. I will turn a few more to keep this company and have a family grooping. This one is 20" tall and 11" diameter. Man o man the shop is a mess.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Spruce Burl Dreams

While I was at Summer Camp last week as spiritual director, my wife got a call from a fellow I have never met who had had some work done in his back yard. He had a "couple" of spruce burls if I was interested in them. He and his wife were going to their cottage for a while but they were in the back yard so I could just go get them if I wanted them. So I backed my van into the driveway this morning and looked. There were 29 burls ranging from 6" to about 24" by guess. I loaded them into the van and brought them home. It amazes me that I can back into someone's driveway, load the van, and leave with no one saying anything. These burls look like a lot of fun and I will see they get one back.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Sharpening thoughts

HI. Sorry it has been so long since last post but things have been busy. At the moment I am in a bit of a quite time before I go to camp next week. I volunteer to do spiritual direction for a week each summer at Camp Pagweak in Pugwash, Nova Scotia. A lot of fun but a tiring time. This year it is day camp with a bunch of 6-9 year olds and counselor trining in the evening.
I have not been turning a lot lately. I broke a bone in my foot a couple of weeks ago and standing for a while is a literal pain. It has been getting a bit better and I got a garden mushroom done from a piece of spruce log.

Anyway, I was reading on the newsgroup a message from a guy who has figured out the fun of turning. When the edge starts to feel a little dull, sharpen. The shavings come better and the effort disappears. I know you can lean into a cut and force the wood, but how much time does it save in the long run. When would bother to force a dull plane hoping it would make as nice a cut as a sharp one? So sharpen. I like a jig although I do some freehand. It only takes a few seconds to sharpen and the work is a game with sharp tools. Relax and cut.

I have some ideas on how I sharpen over on the sharpening pages If you do something different I would like to know.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

the Apple is done!

I finally had a chance to finish the write up for the dried apple hollow form I started posting so long ago. The finished work is at Apple Hollow Form Page 8+ Any comments and criticisms are welcome, not only on the piece but also on the write-up.

The curl in this section is amazing. I think it was caused by stress during a branch growth.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

My wood Turning Lathes

I have put up a page or two about my wood turning lathes over at Around the Woods Lathes. Partly this is in response to questions about what I use, partly in response to other turners who own "Cadillac" lathes saying "You use WHAT?" and partly to give beginners and idea of what they might buy. Plan "a" is for this to be the beginning of a beginning wood turning book on the web.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Wood Turning News

I am intrigued with what happens in wood turning around the world. It is one of the things that keeps me coming back to the web. It has become one of the most important turning tools of the 20th and 21st centuries with its ready exchange of news and views on wood, wood turning, and just about every thing else. So I added a news page on wood turning over on my site at Around the Woods. It is surprising what turners are doing and at the acceptance of wood turning in the art world as well as crafts. I hope you find it interesting.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

the green apple wood

So I have gotten this far in the shaping. When I took the bag off the form it was soaked this wood is so green. If you look at the bottom of the piece, I have made a small groove to mark the screws. At the top is a flat just above the line of the pith centers. These should help my eyes as I design around the piece. At the moment the intention is to round over the top to the line of pith and to round down the sides with a gentle curve to the bottom leaving about a 1" bottom and hollowing through a 3/4" hole. I need to get a web page up with more information and thought but this is good so far.

Monday, May 21, 2007

wet apple hollow form

Is this not cool? I will get back to posting about the other piece soon but I got a chance to start this one from a wet log of apple I have in the shop. Soon I will have a series up about playing with this log but this is just fun. It is like turning in the rain the wood is so green. I am going to lose about an inch off the bottom of this and I think I will have to pull the top back some to fit the new curve and to adjust so the majority of the piths will be on or close to center. It should move dramatically as it dries. I still have to mount it to a face plate, final turn and hollow it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Hollowing out

With the outside designed and pretty well turned it was time to hollow the piece. Dry wood now meant brittle. Keeping the sides intact turned out to be a challenge, but I guess that is what keeps me coming back. It certainly is absorbing. Now I find myself asking if I like wet or dry wood more? Especially when I consider the dried burls I have sitting around. The work is up at hollowing underway Take care and keep turning.


Thursday, May 10, 2007

more design questions

As I was thinking of design, not having had time to update more web pages for the apple hollow form, this piece and such like it came to mind. Being a hollow form of green ash it required first of all to consider the orientation of the pith. The wood will oval in the line of the pith so for a uniform piece the pith had to be parallel to the ground when standing. You can see here where it has ovalled. However, as it dried during turning (it was one of those that should have been turned at one sitting and could not be) a crack developed. This is always a possibility with pieces containing the pith but hard to anticipate.

While the first thought was something along the lines of having lots of ash and this would be good kindling, I decided to work around the crack. Design time. I stopped it from spreading with some thin CA and finished the piece as far as I could on the lathe. Then I took a wood burner and burned along the crack. This looked good so I added some leaves and more stems and leaves, this time on either end. I think it was a reasonable solution. The piece is extremely stable and the crack is not noticeable unless you know it is there.

A new piece seems to mean more questions regarding design including "Is it kindling?"

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Design questions

As I turned for the design I had chosen, this incredible section of curl appeared. Now I hit a dilemma. If I kept with my original plan, a lot of this grain would be turned away. On the other hand, the design fit the piece well. John Hunnex claimed that the wood should not determine the final figure. On the other hand John Jordan, I believe, said that life was too short to turn poor wood. I think that implies that the figure and character of the wood should determine the final form to some degree. The concept of the wood speaking to me has never been a strong one for me although it certainly happens.
Anyway, I decided to remove some more of this wood and pause frequently to determine the shape of the piece from here on in. I think there are lots of forms that look good and quite a few would do justice to this wood. I think it was Stockdale who claimed that potters had been stealing his designs for thousands of years. Good design will either remain or come back in cycles.
Till next time, keep turning.

There are a couple of new pages up about the apple form at Ongoing Project.

Let us know how you design. Do you plan and stay on plan or are you a seat of the pants kind of designer?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Continuing to "peel" the apple

So now the yard is a mess and the garden by the door is not, but I did get the plants moved and heeled in to move back as the time comes. We can flush and brush in safety and the rat's nest of pipe has been replaced. The plumber and backhoe guy are both happy with me.

I have placed a couple more pages of the apple hollow form on the web site. Most of this is old hat except it never is. Sometimes I do repetitive turning and it can be boring although it has its own rewards. This stuff with odd wood is never the same even if I do the same kind of form again and again. I can see where just keeping it in one piece is a challenge, let alone seeking a good form and curve to show off its beauty. I also like the design challenges at this stage such as

  • should I turn until the cracks are gone?

  • Is that possible or do the cracks go all the way through?

  • How far up do the screws go in the piece? I want to miss them when I later turn the bottom.

  • Should there be holes (negative space) where there are incurves or should I turn them away?

Granted that these are physical questions as much as artistic design, but one does influence the other. This is fun to reflect on as well as to do physically.

The new stuff is over at the apple form page 3.

Monday, April 30, 2007

The Start of the Dried Apple Hollow Form

The saga of turning the hollow form in dried apple begins. This wood was dry and split and had a great character to it. It has been grown for fruit so there are all kinds of stresses in the wood because of pruning and so on. There are also a lot of grain and color variations, so it is a lot of fun and has a lot of character. Even to get as far as mounting it on the lathe took a bit of work and design to consider everything that went on. I have started putting the work on the web, likely a couple of pages at a time since good old time has run away with me again, starting at Apple Hollow Form over on Around the Woods

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Back to Wood Turning

Ok guys and gals, enough about plumbing, besides, it is time to call in the pros. The royal flush is not so royal except for a royal pain. Anyway, here is the log that started all the fun with the apple.

It has cracks and checks and all that neat stuff that makes great firewood, but I just did not want to burn it, soo... The idea was to make a natural edged vase with neck, but I thought I would try a fair curve first and see if it stayed together. I will gradually get the whole thing on the web site (note the word gradually) but is there not a lot of dreams in a log like this?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I got to turn!

When I had the toilet off and snaked the lines, I of course wanted to return the toilet to use. Remember the broken flange? I got a new one only to find that it needed to be about 3/4" shorter than stock length. The old one had obviously been cut to fit the fitting in the concrete floor. Ever try to tell a store you need a fitting shorter than the other ten thousand they sold? We call this laughter, so I needed to cut down the flange. I had had to get an adjustable because of the drain size and availability so there was hardly anyway to hold it to cut it. I made a scrap wood jam chuck and turned it to fit the opening. Turning, turning!! Not much and some of it was not wood but it was all fun. I'll stick some info on the web site because some one else might need to do it some day.
Take care and turn safely.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Aaaah! Plumbing!

Is not plumbing fun? Especially when it makes no sense?
I have a problem with water flow and gurgling in the down stairs toilet, sink, and shower. It sounded like a vent problem. So I snaked the vent. No go. I snaked the line thinking it was a partial clog. No go. To snake the line I had to remove the toilet (don't ask). The toilet flange broke (don't ask). I got the old piece of flange separated from the fitting, now I have to get a new one and reinstall the toilet. Then I need to install a new pump and tank. This is called a day off. Turning sounds like fun.
Tonight I visit a family where the husband/father just died. Bad plumbing is not that bad.
Take care and turn safely.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Still Plumbing

Ok, I still have to go and get the oak. Maybe Wednesday. The plumbing is a disaster. I still have no idea what is causing the gurgling, but the vent seems open. The pump and tank both need replacing but that is no big deal. Monday afternoon looks open for now. I have not had any time on the lathe but a while ago I turned a piece of apple about 10" high and 7" diameter. Dry as dust but hard as nails. I plan to gradually get it on the web as I took lots of pictures. Sort of a work in progress even though I have it finished. It will simply take a lot time to write up. Here is a picture of the finished work.
Tomorrow is Sunday and I am preaching on the conversion of Paul on the Road to Damascus. Hopefully I will get in some turning as I prepare the sermon tonight.

Friday, April 20, 2007

(Not) Running Interference

Life can interfere with turning. There are only so many hours in the day and they do get taken up. Work is one thing but lately the plumbing has taken the rest. We have a well here but town sewer. The bladder has gone on my water tank and the pump is old so I think I will replace both. Meantime I have bubbling problems in one of the toilets and am trying to fix it. I think the vent is clogged but I can not seem to break it. Once I get off the roof I have to turn something. Unfortunately or fortunately Saturday will disappear for me this week. A friend a couple of hours from me had to take down a big oak so me and the chain saw have to clean up some of the wood for him by getting it to pile in the yard. Ain't life tough :-) He says the oak was about 18" across. Sounds good to me. I will post a couple of pictures of some apple I have been playing with soon.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Easier Navigation

Sorry to have been long posting to here. It has been a while and a lot has happened. I will try to be more active on the blog in the near future. Over on the main site I have worked at making it easier to get around. Really I had no idea how vast the site had gotten but there are over 200 pages now and lots more to add and to alter. So I made a table of contents page which I think is a lot easier than a site map. As I made it I realized that some things need to be in two categories and some new categories made up. I was not aware of how many video clips I have posted but I realize that they need a menu of their own. One of these days... Any way check out the new contents page at Around the Woods - Navigation and while there you may want to see the pages on making a Quick Oland tool.