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.

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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!


April 6, 2014

Molly’s Influence

Since spending a very delightful day with Molly Winton at a one day workshop I have been busy trying to put a little of what I was shown to work. I love to turn but it is almost as much fun to pyro-texture.

As you can see, from the photo’s below, I have spent several hours with my burning set-up. I must admit that I still have a VERY long way to go until I can pryo something to be especially proud of.Small Maple Hollow form(1) Miniature Hollow form(1) DSC_7860 DSC_7861

March 16, 2014


Friday last was the day I had been looking forward to for a couple of months. My date with Molly!
Well I was not to be disappointed.
After the 1 1/2 hour drive including having my GPS take me to the wrong address I finally wound up at Bow River Woods. I never did find any sort of sign the establishment but those in the know seem to be able to find it with little directions.
There were 10 attendees in all.
Molly started off, after introducing herself, by asking each of us why we were there and what we hoped to gain from the experience. From there she tried to accommodate all interests. She started by turing a miniature hollow form. Molly turns most of her miniature pieces in spindle orientation and really likes to turn green. This is the type of work she is most known for. Her communication and lathe skill are really good although I believe the small hollow form really didn’t let us get too good a look at all her abilities. Through out the turning she would stop and talk about tools, good design and what works especially for her.

She didn’t have a good torch but described the process of making hollowing tools from Allen wrenches, which she used to hollow the miniature form.

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Once the hollow form was complete we moved back to our tables and were coached in burning techniques and preparation of tools. Then were given some time to practice. From there we were shown her method of making the ‘brands’ she uses to embellish her work. Including a ‘basket weave’ brand and a ‘spiral’ brand. She had both for sale but suggested that we should probably save money by just making them ourselves.

She briefly discussed the tricks she has developed in making her own buying hand pieces, pretty cool. I will certainly try to make a few myself. Just cause I’m cheap!
Molly spirit and easy manner made the whole experience most satisfying, it was almost as if it was just a bunch of long time friends getting together to share experiences.
Molly then demonstrated how she carves the tops of some of her forms to make here signature three cornered top. This was pretty cool and she completed it in the wink of an eye.


She followed that up with tips regarding a whole lot of specialized finishing and colouring techniques which I found most interesting.

I had taken a strange burning tool I had bought at a garage sale, manufactured in Columbia, which had about 100 brands, Molly as well as other attendees found very interesting,  toward the end, Molly offered to trade one of her miniatures for several of the brands which surprisingly fit in her burning hand pieces. I was most happy to bring one of her signed pieces home.

All in all it was a great day!

March 8, 2014

Molly Winton – Whoo Hoo!!

Whoo Hooo!!!!

Next Friday I am going to attend my very first all day turning workshop, this with Molly Winton.

Molly is an artist who’s work I have admired from a far for a very long time. Here’s and example of Molly’s work, this is  one of my favourite pieces.


Here’s  a link if  you would like a closer look.


Did I say I am really stoked.

Here are a few pictures of the practice pieces I will take with me in the hope that Molly will provide me with some ideas and techniques to make them really special.

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I’ll be back next week to describe the experience!

March 2, 2014

Candy Dish

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — peteblair @ 4:00 pm

Some of you may have seen this on another site but just in case. . .
It’s a ‘negative space” cherry lid that sits in a small grove in the vine maple bowl. I used vine maple for the handle and inside lid detail as well. The real challenge of this sort of piece is to get the rounded ends of all the rays the same.

Hopefully you can see at least a little of Harvey Fein’s influence in this piece.

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February 25, 2014


Filed under: Uncategorized — peteblair @ 3:47 pm


I am sort of testing to see if the result is worth the effort to join Facebook to help people experience my Art.

Here’s a link


It is a work in progress and by no means complete yet but if you feel like dropping me a note either pro or con I’d sure appreciate it.

Don’t forget if you live in Delta to join us at the Holley Family Market on Sat from 10 to 3.


January 1, 2014

Small Hollowing Tools

Recently I decided I needed some small hollowing tools because I really like to hollow through small holes.

I started to make my own but Christmas came and I was given a  gift certificate to my favourite Toy Store “Lee Valley Tools”. So I decided it might be best to purchase a small set of tools.

I had done a lot of research on the subject and pretty much knew the size I wanted. I was looking for 3/8″ diameter and would like to hollow through a 1/2″ or 5/8″ hole. I bought the Kelton mini hollowing set which has one straight and two progressivly bent cutters. The store didn’t have any on the shelf but had a set on display complete with wax/plastic cutter protectors and I decided buy them.

I was pretty excited, lots of good reviews so I could hardly wait to give them a try. My excitement abated pretty quickly after I got home and when I pulled off the protectors. The ends were very jagged and would need a good grinding to get them smooth and round. They looked very much like a lot of things I see which are made offshore, although I am unsure if this is the case.

After a little soul searching I decided that I didn’t want to grind them round and then find out that they didn’t work well as I would then no be able to return them. Incidentally, every one with whom I discussed these tools rated them very high BUT to a turner they all said the only way to sharpen them was to lightly stroke the bevel upwards with a diamond hone. As well, I was cautioned not to grind them and to never touch the top of the tool as this is where the very thin hardened cutter was and it could be damaged or removed very easily!

So back to Lee Valley to return.

I already have a 1/2″ set of John Jordan hollowing tools and like them vey much especially when used in my Kobra Hollowing Rig, so I decided to order his 3/8″ set. Still waiting for it to arrive.

Now, as I said I had originally planned to make my own and while I was waiting the 3/8″ cutters that I had ordered from JJ arrived at my shop I decided that I might as well make a couple of tools cause I now had all the parts.

First I used my wood lathe to drill 3/8″ holes in the ends of two pieces of 3/8″ drill rod.

Then using the John Jordan bent tool as an example I proceeded to heat and bend the both bars, one with a slightly less bend than the other. I do find that with the JJ tools I have trouble getting back up near the opening and hoped by creating one tool with a little more bend it might help me.

As you can see from the photo, I installed a small set screw to hold the cutters and if you look close you will see the the tip of the cutter lines up with the centre of the shaft. I would have like the bends a little closer to the end of the bar but because I had already drilled the holes for the cutters I couldn’t bend past the end of my hole.

Bent tools
The problem I was dealing with was how big a hole to drill in the 3/8″ rod to hold the cutters.

As you can imagine the larger the whole the less material is left to support the cutter and to thread for a set screw.

I had been told the easiest way to attach the cutters is with CA glue but I have made a little jig to sharpen the cutters and need them to be removable in order to use my jig.
Looks a little like this but can be modified to change the sharpening angle.
JJ Sharpening jig
JJ tools come with square cutters that have the end that is inserted into the bar turned round to enable it to fit in a 3/16″ hole.

I quickly found a short section of 1/2″ aluminum round stock. Drilled a hole in the end to hold 3/16 square. Drilled and tapped a hole for a screw to hold the cutter in place and found it pretty easy to mount in a drill and run against my grinder to round the end.

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Now all I have to do is try them . . . .

If you have any questions please feel free to post here or email me.

October 18, 2013

Beeswax Wood Finish

When I began turning I exclusively used my own concoction of beeswax and mineral oil.

Over time I began experimenting with many different wood turning finishes but when I make a bowl or other item intended to be used for food I always fall back on ‘old faithful’.

As a matter of fact I like this finish so much that I have begun, in a small way, to market it. I currently sell a 3oz. bottle which will last a long time if just refinishing a few bowls or other kitchen utensels.

I just dab my finger into the finish and use my hands to spread it on the utensil. It is really great for salad bowls, cutting boards, wooden spoons, wooden spatulas, spurtles, honey dippers or any other wooden item you might use in the kitchen that has dried out.


It smells wonderfully and actually softens the skin on your hands as you apply it, you can even use it as a lip balm.

The container is 3 imperial oz and sells for $4.00 including taxes plus shipping.

If you are interested in purchasing this great wood finish, It is now available on Ebay.ca.


Just search for “Beeswax wood”.

March 17, 2013

Mostly a success

My recent attempt to create something different with my wood lathe was a partial success.

The holder worked as planned but it is way way too much wood for my small high speed tool to remove.

In reality it will do exactly what I designed it for. My plan was to use it to trim the small ends of my negative space designs uniformly and it will do that and lots more BUT it will not aid me in the actual fabrication of the negative space design pieces I enjoy making.

Here are a few photo’s of the results of this experiment. Took way too long and was way toooo hard on my high speed tool. If you look closely at the right hand side of the first photo you can see my high tech method of tilting the fixture. I use washers in some of my other router accessories to adjust height.

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Here are two shots of the piece, closer to completion. I dyed it blue after dying the grooves black but still have to decide just how I am going to finish it.



So, back to the drawing board where I need to come up with an attachment that will allow me mount a router and move it:

1. Toward and away from the head stock in small increments, possibly with a hand wheel or screw.

2. Vertically up or down and then be able to lock it at whatever elevation I decide on.

3. Allow me to angle the router toward or away from vertical

4. Allow for easy rotation while cutting with very little play. This may have to be accomplished again with a hand wheel or screw.

5. Provide adjustable stops to enable me to either start or stop where I want on the piece I’m working on.

March 3, 2013

Life can be a beach

I was walking my favourite local beach last week and noticed a rather large ‘root ball’ when I went to examine it I found that someone had beaten me to it and had taken most of the larger sections that would be good to burn BUT then had left the very best sections for turning, close to the root ball. It has been raining her so much that I had just about forgotten about it but when the sun came out yesterday I decide to load my trusty Husky chain saw into my suburban and go see if what was left was in fact any good to turn. I believe it is some sort of Maple but am not entirely certain. The curlies are quite white or light and it gave off a slightly sour almost farm like smell as I roughed out the blanks. It has been a while since I had the pleasure of turning really green wood and I gotta admit it really is fun.

Read wood gloat. Here is what I was able to cut yesterday from the remaining sections. Sorry I didn’t get any photo’s of the root ball on the beach  . . .

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I brought it home and today I rough turned the majority of what I had gathered.

I decide to to a semi controlled experiment with the bowl blanks. After roughing them to about 10 percent thickness to diameter.

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This is all that will eventually be put in the burn pile.


I cut 9 bowl blanks, one hollow form blank and a few chucks that can be used for spindles.


I also wound up with lots of cur lies.

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I rough turned them all between centres using a 3/4″ bowl gouge and a round carbide cutter.

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Here is what I did the day after I harvested them:

1. I placed one in a paper bag with wet shaving and will keep it in my heated shop

2. I waxed one and placed it in a paper bag which I will keep in my heated shop

3. I waxed one and stored it outside under the cover of my deck, up off the ground

4. I waxed one and placed it in a paper bag under the cover of my deck, up off the ground

5. I boiled one for two hours and will place it in a paper bag in my heated shop

6. I boiled on for two hours and will wax it and place it in a paper bag in my heater shop

7. I placed on in an ice cream bucket filled with DNA.

I put the rest of the haul in my deep freezer and plan to rough out a couple more, one I will try to dry gradually in a micro wave oven and another I plan to boil for 2 hours and then place under the cover of my deck up off the ground.

I started working on them today at about 08:30 and was finished and playing hockey with my grandsons by 1:30.

Over the next four months I will check on them and report what happens and see if my non-sientific experiment provides any clues as to what works and what doesn’t work as far a getting them dry enough to finish turn.

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