Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wood Everywhere

November is here already. As a matter of fact, it is almost half gone and the stores are all Christmas nutty. One of the things that is happening around my part of the world; Nova Scotia, Canada; is the sudden appearance of wood piles as folks get in next year's wood.

The idea is to get green wood this year to cut to length and split for next year's fires once it is dry. Some folks even go a couple of years ahead. However, this is a woodturner's dilemma. What wood to turn and what wood to burn?

Advice? Keep the best looking stuff. Crotch wood has some great grain but can be hard to dry. So what? If it splits it is fire wood. No loss. The same with twists and turns and burls. Look for some good grain and if you find it while splitting, keep the logs from near it. If you keep your eyes open, there are some great finds in the wood pile.

By the way, keep some of the plainer, straight stuff for some kitchen spindle work and the like. Clean wood is great too.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Bandsaw Cut

One of the most used tools for some woodturners is the band saw. In fact, I would recommend the band saw over the table saw for most turners while for cabinet enthusiasts the table saw is the first choice. However, while I consider the band saw to be one of the safest saws in the shop, safety is still an issue.

In particular there is the cut through a cylinder, not an infrequent need for many projects. Cylinders roll. If a cylinder rolls while being cut on a band saw, chances are excellent that the blade will get crimped and either draw a hand into the blade, snap the blade, weaken it to where it will snap the next time it is used or so damage it that it will come off the wheel. Of course any combination of the above is also possible.

At best, a piece of wood is damaged and at worst a serious cut is obtained with blood everywhere. Incidentally, if a catch happens it is extremely fast and a band saw for turning usually has at least a 1/2 and likely a 3/4 horse motor. There are very few people in the world strong enough to hand the wood and prevent an accident. Safety first.

Lately I had to cut off a section from a cylinder that had two diameters. For safety reasons I wanted a level cylinder. All that took was a shim under the smaller diameter. To keep the wood from rotating I simply took a clamp that rode on the table and used its holding power to grip the cylinder far more strongly than I could by hand. The arm of the clamp prevents rotation and what might have been a catch simply becomes a cut. Take your time through the cut if the wood is green especially.

Band Saw Safety Cut

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Sticking to Woodturning

There is some debate over the most important additions to the woodturner's arsenal in the past century or two. I am not going to pretend to have a definitive answer, just a couple of observations. Tool innovation has really only made small changes to hollowing, cutting and scraping tools. The four jaw chuck has made life easier in holding work but can be worked around by other methods.

I think one of the great advances has been the improvement in glues. Cyanoacrylate or CA glue in particular is used by woodturners on a daily basis. Thin CA can be dripped into a crack followed by fine dust from the same wood and the crack is almost invisible after the finish is applied. Some people use thin CA as a finish on small objects. Thicker CA is used to glue in brass tubing for pens and other projects. It is also unique in that it can make an almost instant bond with wet wood and can be used to hold a green piece to a waste block for turning.

Still, one of my favorite uses for CA is to simply hold wood together for turning. This CA dripped into a punky spot will keep it hard enough to turn. Thicker CA can glue together a piece that would otherwise split off.

CA has helped us to become better users of rare resources, pretty woods.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Thnks to the Old Timers

Maybe "Old Timers" is a poor phrase to use here. many of the old time turners are not old. Some of them have only have only been turning for a year or two. What makes them "old timers" is simply that they have been turning wood longer than others.

However, what sets woodturning apart from most other crafts is the desire to share information. Old Timers are more than willing to bring a new comer under their wing and get them started on woodturning addiction. There is a sense of camaraderie that needs to be extended into more parts of life.

Most of our woodturning meetings have a couple of sharing times. During one, someone who is advanced in a technique shows the rest of us how they do it. Another more informal sharing time is the show and tell. People who have been turning for a few weeks or a lot of years bring in their latest pieces and talk about how they made them. Comments are almost always encouraging and often the old timers will quiz the new guys on how they did something.

questions, encouragement, sharing, friendship, humility

Who would NOT want to be a part of this? Maybe this is why a number of our club do not turn, they just like the meetings.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Another Use for Bottom Jaws

Woodturners have variations on how to turn the bottom of bowls. Most use a donut jig or some sort of chuck jaws such as ones with plans on my web site, Bottom Jaws. However, any of these methods can also answers what has been a problem for many of us, how to save a bowl that has become a funnel.

By this I mean the times that I have had a bowl almost finished to find that a lapse in attention has caused me to turn through the bottom into the waste block I commonly use. I know; using a depth gauge would have prevented the difficulty but so would hove not permitting my mind to wander. However, I do know that I am not alone here, most of us have some pretty kindling with nice bowl sides and a hole in the bottom.

One way to solve the problem is to glue on a separate piece of wood to the bottom of the bowl and turn it cleanly. The difficulty is remounting to the lathe so as to leave everything centered. The answer is a flip.

1) glue the new bottom in place and about 1/4" too thick.
2) mount the bowl in the bottom jaws
3) turn a tenon on the bottom
4) FLIP the bowl over so as to hold the tenon in regular chuck jaws
5) turn the inside, sand and finish
6) FLIP the bowl into the bottom jaws
7) remove the tenon
8) turn and finish the bottom

hope it helps

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Simple Tool Rack

I had a question lately about making a tool rack for woodturning tools. Generally I have seen three variations on the theme.
1) a series of tubes on end to take the tool shafts. The tubes may be in a bucket or box.
2) a box similar to a shallow drawer, sometimes literally a shallow drawer with dividers to keep the tools from rolling into one another and ruining the edges
3) a board with holes drilled into it to accept the tool shafts. The board is usually fastened to a wall or near the lathe.

I like the latter concept as it is quick to make and convenient to use. However, even easier is to pick up one of those tool holders at the discount bin of the hardware store. They seemed designed to hold all sorts of screw drivers and wrenches or the life but the holes seem to fit things life standard lathe tools, knock out bars, tommy bars for chucks, lathe wrenches and the like.