February 13, 2018

Colouring Wood

Filed under: Art, Silver Maple, Wood Lathe — Tags: , , , , , , , — peteblair @ 12:41 pm

I know it’s probably been done to death but here is how I add color and pop to some of my wood turning.
I first start by turning to shape and sanding to about 220.

This piece is destined to have some sort of blow paint applied after the dye and then a shallow bowl turned in the center. I want a dark green for this piece.

Next I apply black Leather Dye.

Once this is dry I then sand it back quite aggressively with 220 grit.

At this point the piece could be complete. Ed Pretty from my Guild has finished at this stage and the piece was wonderful. I plan to go further and on this piece I wanted a little more black so another coat of the Leather Dye.

This is again aggressively sanded back.

I like this better and stopped  here. While most people seem at this point to go with the darker color I sometimes go light first and then the dark. In this case, Yellow and then Blue for the dark green I’m after.

Sanded back again but less aggressively leaving quite a lot of the yellow showing. I then applied the dark blue dye.

Doesn’t look like too much here but after a very light sanding with 400 here is what I have. A Hair dryer is sometimes used at various stages to hurry the project along.

A couple of coats of sanding sealer with light sanding in between.

Then on to my finishing turntable and a few coats of clear lacquer.

Now all it needs is the blow paint. I’m thinking gold iridescent but I might add a little yellow. Sorry no finished piece yet because I am in Hawaii and this piece will have to wait another week or so for me to get to it. I’ll add photos of the finished piece as soon as I have it done.


February 6, 2018

Horizontal spinner for wood art

Filed under: Art, Silver Maple, Tools, Wood Lathe — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — peteblair @ 7:04 pm

Ok, starting over, yesterday I  began this blog and something went wrong I lost the last half of my text and all my photos . . . . . . .

Greetings again from Kauai. Today we did manage to see and sit in the sun for about 2 hours, now that’s progress.

Wow, two blogs in two days (or three now) I often don’t do two in a year!

Killing time during another rain storm and waiting for spuds to cook on the BBQ.

Todays topic has been rattling around in my head for more than a year. Some time ago I decided I wanted to be able to mount finished or partially finished items on a horizontal speed controlled turntable. This I felt would allow me to add color in a more controlled manner than when I do this on the lathe with the wood vertical. I wanted a device that would spin horizontally, be easy to adjust it’s spin speed, be reversible, be cheap and dependable. This is a photo of my first attempt. I’m utilizing a small chuck I use on my mini because it is easy to get threads to match from readily available bolts and threaded rod not like the M33 on my oneway.


I started out thinking that I could use a fan motor and have collected a number of them over time but it soon became apparent that they were not as powerful or controllable as I wanted, primarily because they are not ‘brush’ type motors. I then switched my focus to an overhead fan. Knowing that people remove and replace them occasionally I advertised locally for a free used one but had no luck. There were a few that came available for a small cash outlay but being the cheap guy I am I stuck to my guns and decided not to pay for something I wasn’t certain would work for me.

In the end this all worked out for the best. I am known to peruse and buy on line from several local auctions and wound up with a “tool lot” that had an old beat up cord shredded 1/2″ drill. Ok, this should work fine, it was cheap, easy to control speed (brush type motor), reversible and top speed was about 1000 rpm.

I changed my mind about mounting the a lathe chuck directly on a motor as I did with the fan motors and instead decided to use an old Pillow block I had laying around. I took a section of 1″ 8 TPI threaded rod and turned it to fit thought the bearings of the pillow block on my small metal lathe. I turned a short section on one end to 1/2″ so it would be easily gripped by the drill. I then mounted it to a section of plywood and discovered that with a small piece of rubber under the drill it lined up perfectly with the 1/2″ end of the shaft. As can be seen below this tool will now function as a lathe as well should I want to spin wood while finishing it or ????

By mounting it on the edge of my heavy bench I thought it just might be able to take the shake it might get if the turned piece wasn’t quite balanced. Much to my surprise it spins with hardly a shake.

For now I am just clamping it to the work bench but soon will add some sort of fastening system. As you can see from the photo I utilized a dimmer switch in the supply line to the drill but soon discovered that I needed to be able to control the speed from above the table.

I now have a plug, on/off switch and the dimmer on long leads, these boxes are held together with a couple of magnets which allows me to separate them for storage.

Ok all works great but the dimmer I have, has the off position next to high speed and so I added an on off switch to the plug in box. The only really remaining issue is that I may want to move the reversing switch from the drill handle to the top with the rest of the controls. For now I simply use a small clamp to hold the drill switch in the full on position, and when I want to change the direction of rotation I have to remove the clamp, slide the reversing switch on the drill to the other position and re-clamp the drill switch. When I need to reverse the direction it is never in a situation where it has to happen quickly so this set up may continue to work.

Here’s a shot of my first piece with just a piece of cardboard as a table, I have since added a piece of MDF that screws to my bench top giving me a much more stable work space.

To control the paint/dye splatter I simply cut a couple of slots in a scrap piece of wood and bend a section of plastic laminate into the slots. Easily taken apart for storage. The photo below shows my first try at this when I was working with the fan motor above the bench top. I now have done away with the legs which are redundant.

Here are a few of my first attempts. I don’t consider anything I do a failure just an opportunity to learn. The photo of the unpainted/dyed silver maple was just that. It was easy to remove the unsightly dye and start over.

I am most interested in the ability to have the paint/dye move from the center or other locations in curved line.


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

December 30, 2016

Darn Mould

Filed under: Art, mold, Silver Maple, Tools, Uncategorized, Wood Lathe — peteblair @ 2:25 pm

I have slowly started using the wonderful light coloured, Silver Maple that my friends helped me collect a month or so ago and today discovered my worst fear. MOULD!!! I really should be sheepish about this as I had been warned but I thought if I stickered it and kept it covered I would be ok. Not so! The mould has not gotten too far, just sort of starting to grey a little on the ends of a few pieces but when I uncovered the pile I discovered lots of whitish blue mold, especially on the bark.?

So what to do? I had been told and read that bleach was an option and so I headed to our local shopping market to get a couple of gallons of bleach but when there discovered that it is being sold by the litre.  AAARG!!! While checking the pricing I noticed Tilex Mould and Mildew. Now, have used this product with great success in our former bathroom, it killed mold and mildew with out scrubbing or brushing, easy peasy. I bought a couple or 4 spray bottles, thinking that I would have to put bleach into a spray bottle anyway and thus could kill two birds with one stone, so to speak!

Well, ‘the jury is still out’ as they say. I moved the whole stack on to a cement pad, off the wood chips and dirt where it was before, after of course building a sort of rack with some old dry cedar fencing I had laying around. As I moved the pile I applied lots and lots of Tiles, turning pieces to try to get it on all sides. I should note here that the ends had all been sealed with wax emulsion and it seems that the mold liked the wax and went right through it into the wood. I could for sure see it had penetrated lots of the end grain that had been treated and was sitting on the cedar strips.


I sure found a lot of mold and mildew both on the wood I had used under the first pile and on the inside of the tarp.

img_3467 img_3465

I will report back and update this blog as I turn more pieces to let you know if it worked or if there is any issues!

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