Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Snow and Turning Do Not Mix

Sorry about not getting more turning done and up for you to read. Winter has hit with a vengeance. I am tired of shoveling. Normally I step out my front door to some brickwork. Now I step out to snow and ice. In the spring, summer, fall I can back up to where the door is just about hitting the car to bring in groceries and stuff. Actually I could easily get it to where the door hit the car but what would be the point? Look at this.

Yep. That mess to the left of the shovel is about 20 feet from the house and left by the plow to block the path. No anger at the plowman. He has to put the stuff somewhere. Part of it he put in the front of the path to the shop. It is a good forty feet. Used to be thirty but the snow had to go somewhere. I have shoveled the paths at least 3 times today and some of the snow I carried 20 feet by the shovel full to have a place to dump it. The whole province (Nova Scotia) seems about the same.

I miss my lathe. I miss the shop. I miss the time to turn. However, enough complaining. Spring is around the corner. The snow will go and I can retire the snow shovel for the duration. Wood will be found and turning will go on. Back soon with wood.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Woodturning Design - A New Look at an Old Question

I was looking at an old hard drive and some of the pictures on it, deciding what to keep, when I stumbled on some pictures of the progressive turning of a birch hollow form from some years back. It all started as a sort of mess; a crotch piece with branch growing from it, maybe six inches thick and 7 or so across and about 8 inches long. So it would have two centers from the trunk and two more from the secondary trunk and branch. Each of these is a familiar split area and also a spot of elongation as the piece dries  and settles.

On the other hand it should have some great feathering pattern from the crotch and other patterns around the branch entry and each center. A hollow form should show all of these with a little planning.

I thought this would be a good time to ask those old questions of what makes a good design for a woodturning? So I decided to introduce a section to around the woods. For now it will start with getting from there to here

As time progresses I hope to bravely consider what makes good design and get shot for it or at least to start some dialogue going. It should be fun. I will also link to a few other places where I have commented on the thought processes that go into the pieces I have turned. Some good and some mistakes. One or two have ended up in the fire not because they split or came apart on the lathe but because they looked like crap. Future ones like that I will photograph and we can all pick them apart. Like I say, it should be fun.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Getting the Turning Corner Back in the Workshop

The cleaning goes on and on. If I could only get a couple of eight hour days in there it would all go faster. At least I tell myself that. This winter seems to go on and on and on and I am getting a little shack wacky. Any day I do not have to shovel is a good one. So the dilemma is, I need to turn and if I stop cleaning now I may not get back to it for another five years. But look at this corner of the shop.

Does that not cry out to get turning? I think I may get a piece of apple from a pile of green stuff and turn a little hollow form for a break. I will let you know. Soon.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Few Awesome Tools

So I was going through the shop doing the big cleanup and I came across these awesome tools. Obviously they are awesome just because of the kind of tools, drawknife, froe and hatchet, but especially because of where they came from. Last summer I served as Chaplain (Padre) for the Greenwood Cadet Summer Training Center and the Cadet Padres from the Maritimes gathered for training in Halifax. Quincy, one of the other Padres, had been these tools at home and had not been using them, but we had been talking about wood working at the training during break time and realized we were not only friends but also kindred spirits. A while later he showed up at Greenwood with these for me. Wow! Now I need to find a special place for them so I am reminded of a good friend when I see them and use them.

By the way, I could not say enough good about the Cadet program and the summer camps. They too are awesome.

O, the cleanup is posted up with a few new pages here.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Questions About Recycling, Reusing In the Midst of the Big Clean

As I was cleaning off my old mono-tube lathe and its base, I of course came across my old oil tray. This is just a cookie sheet with a stand off to hold a wire tray. When I turn things like tops, mushrooms, spatulas and the like I dip them into a mix of vegetable and mineral oil and leave them in the tray to drip dry. These oils are not harmful to the environment, edible, an supposed non drying. They get absorbed into the wood and can be renewed easily. People with wooden cutting boards and spatulas or spoons in the kitchen are supposed to re-oil them once a month. It may not happen, but we should.
So now those non-hardening oils have hardened to a solid mass around the wire mesh and congealed to a disgusting slop with wood dust and shavings in the tray.

The only way to salvage this is to take it in the house and wash it in the auxiliary sink. There is no way my wife is going to let it in with the dishes and I do not blame her. I had to first scrape out the tray and use a wire scrub brush on the tray. Lots of cleanser later, it looks pretty good.

It must have taken a good hour or more, lots of elbow grease and too much cleanser down the drain. I am a recycle nut. The wood I use is mostly firewood and landfill with a bit of farm grown exotic thrown in for pens. The shavings are used for mulch and compost, mostly compost. Any leftover pieces of wood are kindling and firewood and the ashes go in the compost pile. We recycle plastics and paper and anything else we can. On the other hand, two minutes and two bucks in the dollar store would have replaced this setup easily. Sometimes doing what is right takes time and effort. Looks good though and kind of satisfying. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Winter in Nova Scotia as the Cleaning of the Workshop Continues

While I am still cleaning the workshop, the year goes on and the snow falls. It takes a fair amount of time to write up and post the activity in the workshop and some things are really delayed getting to the web. In this last section I posted I got to the corner of the shop where the lathes live.

This was back on January 27 and I finally got it posted. We had a bit of snow back then.
Since then I have shoveled a bit. This next shot was taken on Feb 15, say two, two and a half weeks later.
More snow coming they say. Looks like winter to me. I need the exercise anyway.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Just Keeping On Cleaning

Man alive there is a lot of stuff in this shop. No wonder my wife calls me a packrat. I would hate to think what it would cost to replace this mass of tools and accessories. Of course they were picked up one at a time or received as gifts. Some of them were inherited from my father-in-law who apprenticed as a lad as a wooden ship builder and was an amazing wood worker. A couple of years ago one of my uncles showed up with 3 lathe tools that had belonged to one of my grandfathers. I have an absolutely sweet double bladed limbing axe from my other grandfather and a peavy that my dad used as a kid. Lots of memories.

As I was looking at the assortment of pictures from this cleaning section I came across this lamp stand.

It is really a general purpose stand. It has a weighted base, a clip on lamp, and a movable platform, threaded for a camera, at the end of an arm. This is really handy and I have to do a better writeup on it for the tip section one of these days.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A Lesson From My Shop Vac

As I was working my way through the workshop cleanup I used my shop vac a lot of the time. It is fantastic for getting at that fine dust that the machines especially kick up. However, I noticed that I was getting less and less suction from it and the motor was obviously working harder with fewer results. I opened up the machine.

Inside I found that the filter was a disaster. Shop vacs like mine and the vast majority of them out there in the real world are wet/dry machines. You can suck up dry dust or wet sludge with them and more than once they have been used to simply pick up puddles of water from the floor. So the interior environment tends to be damp.

My machine like most has a foam filter around the little cage inside around the motor. The filter was so packed with fine dust caked to it that was preventing air from flowing and the motor to work so hard it was in danger of overheating.

Enter your lungs. When you breathe in you pull in that fine dust just like your shop vac. The inside of your lungs is damp just like your shop vac. Fine dust cakes to the lining of your lungs just as it does to the foam filter. The more it cakes the harder it is for your lungs and therefore your heart to work. this is decidedly unhealthy.

I took the filter and washed it and dried it and reinstalled it. This is hard (I hesitate to say impossible with medicine these days) to do with a set of lungs. The better idea is to prevent the cake in the first place. Get a good cartridge mask and use it. Replace the air filters at reasonable intervals. Take care of your lungs, you only get one set and turning wood is a lot more fun if you can breathe.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Really, It's All About the Wood - And the Friends

Some new pages on the great shop clean are up.

As I was cleaning through the shelves, a long and reflective happening, I came across a bunch of flat pieces. Some of these were small sections of well grained log that should make decorative plates. Others were pieces that I will likely use for glue plates and the like. Some I will possibly thread as faceplates. Regardless, these are all hardwood sections and now well dried. These would come at a cost as there are more than a few board feet here.

I was reflecting on how good it is to have friends and how fortunate I am. I buy very little wood. Most of this came from friends who were going to dispose of it somehow and thought to call. Some others came simply because friends who cut firewood for a living found too nice a piece to be burnt and thought of me. Big or small, the thoughtfulness makes it worth a lot.

Friday, February 06, 2015

More Cleaning, More Wood, It's Coming Along

 I am continually amazed at the amount of wood we throw out in the province of Nova Scotia every year. The great stuff that get burned as firewood is at least firewood but still there is a great deal of wastage. I once watched a pallet mill make some bird's eye into pallets for shipping because that was the next wood in line. They would not let me buy the wood or the pallets.

As I continue to clean up the shop I continue to come across gems in the woodpile. Some of it is beautiful wood while other pieces teach me about the wood itself, how it moves and cracks and adjusts. We are privileged to play with such wonderful material.

I have found a super hoard on the next shelf as the clean up goes on.

There is everything from butternut to maple to ash and even some basswood to carve. Too bad I have to wait to use it until I am finished the great clean.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

New Beginner's Project - Make a Mallet

I am getting tired of cleaning the workshop, which is not to say I have stopped, just gotten bored with it. However, it does go on, and on and on and - you get the picture. Sometimes I think I could be a hoarder, but then the whole thing gets to me and I clean up whatever I can.

Anyhow, as I was looking through some of the stuff on the computer, I found some pictures I had taken a while ago on making a woodworker's mallet, one of those things we keep around the shop for swatting the piece of wood that won't move and that sort of thing.

Anyway the project is up at Workshop Mallet. This is one of the exercises in Milton and Wohler's book but there it is just a measured drawing. It is a good beginner's project although I find it a useful thing in the workshop as well. The jaws I make for my OneWay chuck are a neat rig for getting the handle set right in the head. Take a look.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Beginning Woodturning: Four Tips Before You Get Started

As you look at a bewildering display of turned wood objects and an even more bewildering display of woodturning tools, it can quickly get discouraging to consider getting started turning wood at all. However if you look at the wide array of people who turn wood you quickly realizes that woodturning is an accessible hobby for just about anyone. The real question is how to get started. Here are four quick and easy ways to begin the entry into the world of wood turning and working on the wood lathe.

1.First take your time. Do not rush out and buy the first lathe you come to just to find out it is not suited for the objects that you would like to make. Read a few books on woodturning. Most libraries have one or two and maybe even a video to watch. It may be for a more advanced turner but will certainly give you some ideas of what you are getting into. Look for the basics such as what tools are needed and what kinds of wood lathes are available. Remember that you are starting out and all the bells that whistles that the pros like are probably not necessary for you.

2.Once you get a feel for the basics, consider what you might like to make for your own purposes, be they gifts, table legs for other projects, pens or whatever. Think of what accessories you might need other than the lathe or turning tools. Budgets start to come into play here. You might be able to find specialized books on your choices or even classes at the local community college or school dealing with this particular interest.

3.Consider taking a class in woodturning. Many woodworking classes in night school will have a lathe available and may have an instructor that knows how to use the machine. In addition look for a woodturning club in your area. A lot of communities have them and most have a fair number of watchers and even members who do not turn but are considering getting started. As a rule, woodturners like to demonstrate their skills and introduce others to the art and craft.

4.Stay safe as you start. Get a face shield and dust mask and use them. Hearing protectors are great too. While most lathes are fairly quiet wood shop tools, most wood turners will use chainsaws, band saws, planers, drills and the like with all the noise they provide. Safe woodworking is by far the most enjoyable.

These simple tips will get you started as you begin the interesting and compelling art and craft of woodturning. Soon you will be giving tips to someone else with the same interest.

For more tips and instruction, check out my website

Memories of the Past - Carvings Surface from the Boxes

As I have been going through the shop I have been finding all kinds of things. One of the things that occupied my time before the turning bug bit was wood carving. I still have a lot of the stuff around including some finished and unfinished carvings.

One of these days I have to get back to it or them or whatever. For now it is back to the massive cleanup. Maybe to find more memories.

Today's Postings

Start of the Cleanup

Monday, January 26, 2015

As with many things in life, it takes longer to write about them than to do them. The shop cleaning is farther along the path to results than is the writeup, but it is interesting to me do this exercise. I hope it holds some interest for you. I have added a few more pages as I have found some boxes that I have not opened for ages and projects that have laid forgotten for a year or more. There is a lot of work to be done and a lot of work to get to be able to do it.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Cleaning of the shop has begun! Notice the nice, clean cabinet top, cleared of all the mixed stuff and ready to be used.
Ok. So the table saw is already being used. Sometimes a table saw is just a table. Still, some progress has been made. This is going to take a while. Hopefully not as long to clean up the mess as it was to make it. Sort of like going on a diet. The fun is in putting on the weight, not taking it off. O well, once more into the breach dear friends.
Take a look over at the web site.
I will be adding more pages soon.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

There's gold, or at least burls, in them there trees.

A wood cutting friend had to drop a dead spruce for a customer. There are over 20 burls in this pile, various shapes and sizes. The largest look to be about 14 or 16 inches. There should be some great grain in these and an amazing amount of fun. I have got to get the shop cleaned and start turning some of this beautiful wood.

Spruce burls are our most common ones in Nova Scotia, I think. Some times I have taken over 30 burls from one tree. My family have grown Christmas trees since forever, it seems, and there is always a spruce in the way of the balsam fir. Balsam fir are beautiful Christmas trees, spruce are not. The needles are too sharp if you have children, the needles drop quickly after cutting, especially indoors, and the smell is not anywhere close to a balsam fir. 

On the other hand, spruce sometimes burl amazingly and they are great lumber trees. Look for the burls off of limbs in particular. The largest burls are usually found around the trunk, but they will generally have less grain movement than the ones around the limbs. They should be very good for pyrography though. Maybe I will try one.

Monday, January 12, 2015

The cleaning goes on. One of the big hassles with cleaning and one of the great reasons it does not get done more often, is the projects that come up or the gorgeous wood that is found which needs to be turned or worked on. Somehow the demand is made by that wood that it be done right now. Could it be that it is more fun to turn than clean?

For instance, in the middle of all that mess, fuss and confusion is a lovely bowl on the lathe. All it really need is a bit of final turn and sanding and finishing. Of course, the shelves around it and the floor in front of it are covered in shavings and sawdust, most flat surfaces near it are covered with stuff that should be put away, and cleaning has been stated as a priority. Grit your teeth, leave the bowl that is not going anywhere, and clean.

Sometimes I hate it when I am right.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Aaaah.. it is five years past time for the annual cleaning of the shop, as you can see from one corner (the others are just as bad and maybe worse). In order to use the table saw or the router table or anything else, I have to clear off any flat surface. Some af the not so flat surfaces are just as bad. How did I manage that? Oh well.  Mess and pack rats will find a way.

Most things are lost under a layer of dust. projects are waiting to be finished, Some are five years plus overdue for turning or carving or... The wood stash is growing. OK that's no bad thing but it is growing. Time to get out the dust mask, clear the debris and get things in order. Keep an eye out. This is going to take some time. I will post here and over on the website because this will take a while. I am interested to know what the archeological dig will uncover. Besides which I have a bunch of stuff to write up for the website on other stuff too and a woodturning course to get online. Should be fun.