woodbowlsandthings

November 11, 2017

Video Hollowing

Filed under: Wood Lathe — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — peteblair @ 4:03 pm

I know that there are lots of turners who are either already hollowing using video of are thinking about trying this technique. This Blog is meant to be a jumping off spot for those who are still contemplating the process. It’s only the way I do it and not by any means a difinitive way to proceed. I do not plan to share the details of the equipment I use because there are so many choices and I purchased so many years ago the items may no longer be available.

As far as I can remember, the use of video in hollowing became known about 5 years ago when a world renown turner began demo’ing and selling his system.

For those of you how have been living in a cave or on another planet for the past 5 years the technique involves positioning a camera above the cutter and then drawing it’s outline on a sheet of mylar which then appears on the video screen when the cutter is actually in the form. I hope I have explained it well enough but please feel free to contact me should I be able to add anything or help you better understand the technique.

So about 5 years ago and being the cheap SOB that I am, I thought I could hack together my own system. I had an old MS laptop laying around and I had WIFI phones and cameras with the ability to connect to it, but, of course that wasn’t enough for me. I soon was scouring Amazon for cameras etc. I found a very cheap, new I was told, Colonoscope camera. I sure hope it was new!! It had it’s own light but the picture was a problem.
Anyway, to cut a long story a little shorter, I found that the Lap top was a pain to set up and take down and by the time I ran the software to get everything working I could have hollowed several vessels using my laser. In addition, the web WIFI cams all had a short ‘lag’ which drove me nuts!!  This led me to stop trying the process and continue my old ways using a laser.

I hadn’t totally given up though as I discovered that several turners were using Back-Up Automobile camera set-ups which included a small monitor and camera. Yep, a few were even shown with the lines to back between which I apparently were pretty easy to ignore when hollowing.
So of course, I had to try those as well and also found a really cheap video surveillance camera without the monitor and bought that too.

When the part arrived I took a quick look and with all the wires etc. it all seemed way too involved. I’d just rather be turning than messing with all those wires!!

It might be my age or ?? but I have a great deal of trouble remembering peoples names and the turner who demonstrated his video techniques at the last meeting of the Vancouver and District Wood Turners Guild has fallen into that category.
It’s too bad because it was his demo that got me thinking a little more about utilizing this technique.

So the next day I hunted around my shop, it took me about 2 hours to remember that I had stashed all the parts in an old sewing box.

The only easy to hook up was the surveillance camera because it came with a 12 volt brick power supply. The back-up-system was designed to wire directly to the 12 volt of a vehicle. Lucky for me I have ‘bricks’ of all voltages and designs in boxes and drawers. I found a 12 volt one, cut the cord and wired it to the back-up system and hooked up the surveillance camera and quickly discovered that the distortion was way too much at close range to be usable.

So with wires going every which way I connected the complete back up system. Dragged it over to my lathe and with a few minor modification had it up and running in no time. It worked great but the back up monitor is only about a 7″ screen. I need something bigger.

I remember that we moved a cable box from a 17″ tv in our kitchen to a room where one of our grandsons ‘hangs’ so he could use it on a large tv that his dad has left for us to store. My wife was quite happy to have it out of the cabinet that it was in now she has more shelf space to display her ‘stuff’.

Ok, so now I am really on to something. I quickly disassembled the foot that the tv stood on and made an aluminum plate from which I could hang it on my exhaust fan box right at the end of my lathe. With a few quick changes it was up and running perfectly.

As you can see from the photos I hold mylar film on the tv with magnets and draw the outline of my tool on it with a sharpie. One cool thing about using the magnets as opposed to tape or ?? is that I can easily reposition it  should I change the angle of the cutter. In addition I can keep all the old sheets to reuse anytime I am using this system and thus don’t need to keep redrawing the cutter. If I like I could actually leave the TV in place but I need to come up with some sort of cover to keep the dust out so for now I stash it on a shelf. The camera and arm it is attached to simply hang on the wall behind my lathe. The camera does have a small lens cover. I’m not totally convinced that the camera is totally suitable and I continue to search for a cheap replacement. What I believe would work even better is what is termed a ‘closed circuit’ camera.

A couple of ideas that were shared at our last meeting that are exceptionally helpful are to place a white or black piece under the turning to provide contrast at the edge which helps to see where the cutter is. Another is if a round magnet is placed on the screen over the cutter and extending outward it provides a means to ensure the finished thickness is easily delineated.

 

 

 

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November 10, 2017

Negative Rake Scraper

Just a quick note to let anyone who might be interested, know that I now use a negative rake scraper with my hollowing rig. Up till recently I was using a tear drop shaped scraper sharpened in the standard manner but found that on occasion it was just a little grabby.
I thought why not make it into a neg rake scraper so I ground it to about a 60 degree included angle.
After changing the angle the center of the scraper was no longer on the center line and to make up for that I just added a small brass shim under the scraper. I think it is still slightly below center but it seems to work just fine for me.
Seems to work just fine for me.

 

November 6, 2017

Update on Bottle stoppers

Filed under: Wood Lathe — Tags: , , , , , , , — peteblair @ 2:45 pm

I am back by popular demand. Actually it was just one turner Dave, who recently took the time to contact me and ask if I was still doing this. I’ve been pretty busy over the spring and summer finishing up work for some very nice clients. I am shutting down my small business at the end of this year and wanted to get as many small jobs done as I could before then.

I have also had some interest shown in the Golf Ball wine bottle stoppers I make and sell at various craft fairs usually this time of year, but I am just too busy to attend any this time around but do want to share with anyone interested in a quick and easy Christmas Gift you can make for a golf nut. Most golfers I know have settled on one particular ball and it is usually a nice treat for them to get a Wine Stopper made from their favourite ball.

This Blog is actually a follow up from:

https://woodbowlsandthings.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=188&action=edit

If you check this out you will see where I started and now I will add a few details for anyone interested in making a Golf Ball wine stopper. Incidentally, most of my friends wonder what these are for as I am told they NEVER have any wine left on which to use a stopper.

I do use a wood lathe but a metal lathe or even a drill press with a means of holding the ball for drilling will work.

I get most my ‘corks’ Widgets.com but have found that if I am just making a few the plastic ‘corks’ that are used in liquor bottles are the best. They use a synthetic cork that fits nice and tight in a wine bottle allowing the user to lay the bottle on it’s side in the fridge if they want. The one on the left is from Widgets.com the other is from Grey Goose Vodka, it’s the type I prefer.

I drill a 1 1/8 hole in the golf ball about 1 1/4″ deep. Be sure to measure the stopper before drilling and I have found a few wine bottles that will not fit into a 1 1/8″ hole, For these I drill two holes a 1 1/8 hole 1 1/4 deep and a 1 1/4″ hole 7/8″ deep, This allows me to set the ‘cork into the smaller hole to ensure it is centered in the opening.

After that, all there is to do is to rough up the plastic end and sides of the ‘cork’ and glue the it into the golf ball. I use JB Weld Plastic Epoxy. I’m sure that any good glue would do the job.

 

One added benefit to this type of stopper is that it will sit flat on a counter or display, most stoppers today need a stand with a hole for them to sit upright in.

June 13, 2017

Off topic – Pressure Washing

Filed under: Wood Lathe — Tags: , , , , , , — peteblair @ 10:34 am

I know this is a little off my usual topics, I do like to blog about wood and wood turning but almost every day in the spring and summer I see people Pressure Washing concrete. Be it a walkway, driveway or a patio. In my books this is a real no/no. I know it looks really good when you are finished but when water under pressure is used to clean concrete or cement washes away the top layer of fine sand and cement. This leaves a lot of tiny nooks and crannies for mold and mildew etc. to grow. If you have unfortunately pressure washed your new cement/concrete already you have sped up the process. Things may not be total loss if the damage is not too great. The best thing you can do for an already damaged area is to try my suggestion below and if you can get it clean then you seal it with a GOOD cement/concrete sealant. To maintain your concrete/cement his whole process will need to be done EVERY year from now on.
Here is a photo of what happens to cement when water was DRIPPED on it from 8′ high over a four year period only when it rained.

The pitted area in the center is the result. Top of the photo is under an overhang of the home which remains nearly as nicely finished as it was originally, the bottom left shows beginning  damage by rain.

As a semi-retired maintenance individual with over 40 years in several fields of maintenance here is what I heartily recommend to get mould and mildew off your cement/concrete.

In a bucket mix the following.

Don’t forget to wear gloves and eye protection!
3 qt warm water
1 qt bleach
2/3 cup T.S.P.
1/3 cup household detergent (ivory, sunlight etc.)

Mix all ingredients together.
Flood Surface.
Scrub
Rinse with clean water.

I like to dampen the surface slightly with a hose then, using a Garden Sprayer apply a liberal coat of the cleaner. With a fairly hard bristle brush give it a good scrub. I use a heavy bristle Push Broom.

If you want it to be easy to clean in the future and to help it age nicely you might consider a good quality Cement/Concrete sealant after each annual cleaning as above.

May 20, 2017

Preparing a Canvas

Filed under: Wood Lathe — peteblair @ 7:02 am

Often when I turn I primarily am preparing wood for further embellishments, such as pyrography, dying, painting, texturing or carving. Over the last while I have been acting as sort of a mentor for a local artist who is experimenting with all sorts of different things including wood carving and painting.

Jordy Johnson is a very interesting individual for lots of reasons which for lack of time and space I won’t go into here. Jordy is very active on Facebook and if you have an account and the will you can check him out there (https://www.facebook.com/1sickdude).

His latest adventure is into carving wood spirits and Japanese wind. Both are cool. He was in my shop a while ago and suggested that he might like to try to carve a turned item. Up to this time he primarily does 2 or three dimensional work but had never tried to carve a turning. I should add that when he carves he has usually been working with red cedar. I’m afraid he found there to be quite a difference between cedar and the Silver Maple I have been preparing for him.

Inspiration is where you find it

I am lucky that I seem to be able to find inspiration for my art everywhere I look but lately I have been trying to use nature’s beauty to embellish my work. It all started last fall while I was exchanging some pieces with the Kizmit Gallery in Fort Langley I noticed that there were some fabric scarves on which an artist (whose name slipped my mind) was using leaves and flowers to enhance her pieces. I was so impressed that I wondered why no one in my art space was doing the same thing. And so it began. I immediately started experimenting with methods to transfer vegetation patterns to wood.
I was lucky enough to have been given quite a large quantity of Silver Maple that for the most part is very light in color and has little character. This of course means I get to add my own embellishment.
Fall in BC provides a multitude of natural color options and I began by trying to ‘pound’ leaves from a small maple tree onto some of my work with limited success. Firstly, the wood I was using was not as light as I would like but non-the-less I was encouraged that I was able to get some crude patterns and colors onto a few pieces.
Recently I have made some inroads and am becoming, at least in my mind, a little bit better at getting a reasonable likeness onto wood.


I use a multitude of aids, mostly various types of paper, from wax to paper bags both brown and white, copy paper and paper towels depending on how ‘damp’ the petal is. Sometimes I get a better transfer to the paper than I do to the wood. I’m sure I haven’t exhausted all paper options but for now I seem able to get a reasonable transfer.
I use a small hammer I purchased from Lee Valley which I believe is Japanese and has on one end a slightly semi-rounded face, which seems to work about the best for me. I have tried tapping and rubbing with steel ball bearings of various sizes, rubbing with a short section of smooth drill rod and I continue to experiment.
Here is a shot of the items that I am currently experimenting with.

The process begins by turning a piece of wood with little color and grain. I think a cup or vase shape works best. I have found that if I leave the hollowing for later it is easier for me to do the transferring on a mostly solid piece of wood. I did discover that the surface that works best for me is one that is convex. I generally sand to about 800 but have had some success with 400 as well. After my recent experiments where I tested on wood from straight from a skew to 600 grit I believe better detail is achieved on the more highly sanded wood.
Next I choose a flower petal or petals, so far, Pansies have worked the best particularly dark ones with lighter highlights.

The process is fairly simple, I place the petal or petal cluster on the object where I think it will look the best. If care is taken a small piece of masking tape on a stem might secure the petal. I then carefully cover it with whichever paper I have chosen, wrapping it around the piece and holding the ends of the paper tightly with my fingers without any wrinkles. Masking tape might work to hold the paper here as well.

Now comes the difficulty/exciting part. With the small hammer or other tool, gently tap tap tap the petal trying not to pound too hard while still tapping all parts of the flower. It is easy to pound too hard and wind up with a sort of mushy mess. In the end, the petal or flower part is stuck to the turning and I gently pick it off with a pair of fine tweezers.

Sometimes it doesn’t all come away cleanly, in those cases I don’t scrape it with the tweezers I just leave it to dry and then gently rub it off with a finger or paper towel.

I would still like to be able to add leaves etc. but to date have had little success. I think this is mainly because leaves are too moist. I am presently experimenting with drying them a little in a microwave or just letting them sit for a while before using them but with little success.

If you decide to try this technique please let me know about your successes and failures.

A good way to test this process is to turn a cylinder of the same or a similar wood to that on which you want to transfer and do tests on it. Take notes and then you can later refer to this sampler.

It is quite easy to re-sand and start over and I’m certain that you will have quite a few failures. Keep notes with details such as time of year what wood and which paper you used especially for the times when you are able to get it just right.

Here is a shot of the ‘aftermath’ of my experiments yesterday. I did get some good results and after I let out Pansies produce few more flowers I will be ‘imprinting’ on a few more pieces.

Incidentally, last fall I discovered that I had to hit the item a lot harder to get it to transfer than I am doing this spring. I suppose the colors have set or at least have lost some of their moisture.

 

April 17, 2017

Gravenstein Apple Wood

A few days ago my wife pointed out that someone in our small community was trying to get rid of some fresh cut Apple wood. The party was offering it for free as fire wood. I contacted the seller and asked if she still had the wood and if I could come and pick a few pieces to turn on my lathe? At the same time I offered to make her a small item from the tree as a token of my thanks. Fruit wood is one of my favourite wood to turn. Its dense and hard and turns like a dream when wet. A few of the pieces were too large for me to lift and get to my truck and the yard was suffering from all the rain we have had and was pretty muddy and slippery!

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Early today I began cutting the 9 sections of the tree that I had hauled home. Below is a photo of the last three pieces in the bed of my truck.

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I just love cutting turning blocks from green wet wood. My chainsaw seems to just melt through it as long as I cut with the grain (rip) and don’t try to cut across it.

In a few hours I had processed it all and was ready to coat the end grain with a lumber sealant to try to minimize checks and cracks. Fruit wood is notorious for cracking so badly it is at times almost impossible to use.

Apple often has a really dark center or section surrounding the heart wood of the tree with provides a nice contrast to the light outer wood. This tree had been growing almost parallel to the ground and as a result had the heartwood way over on one side. I have never seen a tree with the heart so much off center. This worked to my advantage as it allowed me to get larger pieces with out the pith!

After I had coated both ends with Log Sealer I put it all under a small deck in my back yard and covered it with a sheet of plywood. I am having a lot of trouble with mould on wood that I cover with a tarp so decided to try the plywood instead to see if it would let a little more air inside. If you look closely you may see that most pieces now have a sort of orange bloom. Not sure what that is about.

Was able to find a little time today to spin a few small pieces. The plan was always to make a couple of small items to give to the family in thanks for sharing their tree with me. Never know how green wood, especially green fruit wood will dry and if it will crack or not and as a result I never know what I will give back to the Tree owners until a piece is complete.

The top three photos are a small bowl and the last three are of a ‘cup’ shape which I hope to try dying. I turned them pretty thin about 3/16 or a little less and set them on my boot/wood dryer to speed up the drying process and to see if blowing air inside a form will help it dry without splitting.

The apple is almost dry and has not split but has chosen a really nice organic shape that it wants to be. I found it interesting that as it dried the dark centre or heart wood became quite light colour. I’m hoping that when a finish is applied it will darken again.

I then made a small handle and a sphere which will be joined but a string to make a game of skill where one tries to swing the ball up and catch it on the handle. I am making this for the young lad who lives at the home where I got the wood. Apparently he was really attached to the tree and I’m hoping that this game will give him some pleasure.

 

I next put the ‘cup’ form back on the lathe and dyed it black. When dry I will sand most of the black off and apply a blue dye which I hope will highlight the grain!

Here’s what it looked like before I started to apply the final finish.

It was pretty cool when I began spinning this piece as I was surprised with a ? mark. Could it be the wood wondering what I was going to make?

March 15, 2017

Drying Wood

Like many if not all wood turners I often get lucky and am able to turn green wood. Of course this means that we need to find a way to get it dry after we either rough turn it or turn it to finish. Sometimes I turn hollow forms so thin that they are almost dry when I finish but more often there is still some moisture that needs to be removed without the piece cracking.
Some turners let it dry by gradually allowing exposure to the air by many means such as bagging, boiling, putting in shavings, setting on the floor and gradually moving them higher in the shop. Most of the methods take a while and we really want to hurry the process.
Most turners agree that if the inside of a piece dries faster than the outside the wood tends to sort of compress and limit cracking. Some people wrap with the outside with plastic wrap, some coat with paint or a wax in emulsion. This lead me to my new method.
This winter has been pretty damp with lots of snow and rain and we were often drying boots and runners etc with a relatively cheap ‘Boot Dryer”.

The one I have is adjustable as to time it runs and has the option of using heat or not.
By adding hollow sections of plastic pipe etc to allow the air to get into and circulate inside the bowl or hollow form the drying process is sped up.


I am not a scientist and have a very limited knowledge of it’s principals and as a result I am unable to actually quantify the results of my method. All I know is that pieces treated like this tend to dry in about half the time of pieces left on their own.
I have only been trying this with fairly thin hollow forms and bowls that I will return to the lathe to sand and finish.
I have no experience with twice turned pieces dryed with this method.

By using the weight of the item I now am confident that the pieces I dry this way dry twice as fast as they do if just left to dry on their own.

I now have a little more information. The week before last I used my boot dryer to dry some small fairly thin bowls made from Gravenstein Apple wood and again the wood dried about twice as fast as a piece I left on its own and I had no cracking. At the same time I dried a small cup shape, it can be seen on the other blog (https://woodbowlsandthings.wordpress.com/2017/04/17/gravenstein-apple-wood/ ‎) about Apple it was dyed and then sanded. I sort of messed up as I didn’t manage to get the bottom as thin as the rest and after about 12 hours on the dryer I noticed some small cracks on the inside. I stopped using the boot dryer and the cracks mostly closed up and never made it to the outside. d

February 16, 2017

To Brand or not to Brand

Filed under: Art, Wood Lathe — Tags: , , , , , , , — peteblair @ 7:49 pm

I wonder how many other artists have wondered if a ‘brand’ might be a good idea? I know there are a lot of Artists whose work can easily be identified but for artists like myself this is a real long-shot!
I really like to identify my art with my name and a number. The number primarily for me to keep track of where my art winds up and to be able to keep a data base of information.
The problem for me was that on occasion I make smaller things to sell and often don’t have the inclination or space to actually sign them.
For about the last 2 years I have been adding a ‘brand’ it is a stylized icon combining my first and last initials. P and B. i have been burning my ‘brand’ with a pyrography pen which is a real pain if I am ‘branding’ 20 or 30 items at a time!
Here is a shot of the ‘brand’ I just bought on line. I was able to purchase just the branding end as I already have a Weller soldering iron I wanted to use.
I am now using on all my art work. I still sign my better pieces, and add the brand, but for craft type items I can now brand a bunch in a very short time.

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February 10, 2017

Cut and Paste

Filed under: Wood Lathe — Tags: , , , , , , , — peteblair @ 6:42 am

This is part of another piece that I can’t seem to get finished. I needed, I thought to post them here so I could use the photos on a turning site but I can’t get it to work. At any rate, the first shot is the sail which I cut from a platter of Horse Chestnut the other photos are the sail boat assembled. The hull started out life as a bowl from the same wood, all of which I was given by John Spitters, the end grain was so punky I was unable to cut it cleanly so I removed it and glued the two remaining sides together for the hull. Hopefully, one day I will get my act together and finish the piece.

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