woodbowlsandthings

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

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.

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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.

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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!

January 5, 2016

Straw/Blow Painting on Turned Wood

Filed under: Art, Tools, Wood Lathe — Tags: , , , , , , , — peteblair @ 3:51 pm

I find I am much like a butterfly, flitting from idea to idea and technique to technique. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

The latest ‘flower’ is Straw or Blow Painting. I’m always looking for something new to entertain me and this is yet one more way to add interest to my turnings.

I saw a couple of beautiful wooden cups that had been embellished this way and immediately thought that I just had to try that. If you google straw or blow painting you will find it is often undertaken by young children. To me the meant that it probably was something that I could do if a 3 year old could, why not me.

 

Below is my first attempt. I seldom practice any new technique, just usually jump right in but there were lots of ideas going through my head and thus a practice piece. Turned out pretty good I think.

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My next experiment was to see how it would look on the outside of a bowl. This particular bowl was from some wood that I was given by a fellow woodturner. It’s about 9” in dia. It was turned green and dried in my microwave it has a nice gentle organic shape. On this one I wanted to try come color.

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I like it but being on the outside of a bowl it is sort of hidden.

Next was a nice Vase from the same wood I was given. I had plans for this and the practice was aimed at this piece. In Montana there is a wonderful lady who for some reason or other really likes my turnings and is in need some pieces to go along side a beautiful sculpture in her entrance way. She likes green and this is what I have come up with.

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I emailed her a photo and she is excited to see how it looks in her home.

 

July 23, 2015

Have you ever seen one of these?

Filed under: Tools, Wood Lathe — Tags: , , , , , , , , — peteblair @ 8:44 am

Cleaning up my shop yesterday I realized I have a bunch of OLD tools some of which I don’t know what they were even made for and others that are just plain old and which I have never seen anywhere else.
Here’s a couple of shots of what must be one of the first battery operated collet tools ever made. It is marked ‘Japan’ on the bottom.

If you have any information about this tool I would love to hear from you!

Several years ago when I was doing a lot of work with a jig saw I used this guy to drill small starting holes for my saw blades. It is quite cool as the collets are small enough to hold a much smaller drill bit than just about any of my other tools.

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October 29, 2014

The best wood lathe drill . . .

I’ve been away for a while and am very pleased to see that I am continue to get a few hits on this site.
As a wood turner who generally uses a drill to set the final dept of many of my turnings I have always struggled with the center hole and the square sides that most drills leave at the bottom of a hole. Another problem I was always dealing with was the heat build up from friction and the difficulty in removing bits once the hole was complete.

I have now developed a way to make a nice round bottomed hole by repurposing a wood drilling “Speed Bit”.

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These reshaped bits drill really well and easily with very little heat,to just about any dept a person could want to drill. There are lots of extension available which allow holes as deep as one would want to go.

The cutting action is smooth and clean in hard and soft woods when these bits are held in a chuck in the lathe tail stock. They cut beautifully in end and side grain.

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I currently make them in three sizes 1/2″ – 3/4″ – 1″.

If you ever use a drill bit to set the depth of a bowl, box or hollow form you must try this bit!

Should you wish to try one, please email me for pricing and shipping costs.

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