woodbowlsandthings

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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January 23, 2017

Freeze Drying Wood

Filed under: Wood Lathe — Tags: , , , , , , — peteblair @ 4:49 pm

I know this will not put all the questions about this method of drying wood to bed but I may answer a few of the questions.
My wife decided that she would rather have an extra refrigerator than an extra freezer. So I was charged with emptying the wood I have been storing out of the freezer.

I am not really good at keeping notes and as I age my memory hasn’t seemed to improve and as a result I am guessing about the length of time the wood has been in the freezer. There are lots of different sized pieces of Vine Maple, Big Leaf Maple and Cherry. The best I can do is to say that all pieces have been frozen for at least 3 years and I suspect more like 5 years.

I have 2 x 2 spindle blanks, large cut pieces about 8 or 10 wide by 8 to 14 inches long. In addition I stuck a few uncut pieces of the main trunk of a vine maple.

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I do need to qualify that a year ago we had a mishap and the freezer was unplugged for a week in which we lost a lot of frozen fish.

Some of the pieces of wood were actually frozen in the bottom of the freezer in the water from the mishap. Some pieces seem to have spalted during their time in the freezer.

I moved all the pieces out of the freezer to begin to thaw. It should be noted that the weather in here has been cool from about 0 and night to 8 or 10 during the day.

Removing the wood from the freezer the only checking I saw was in two of the larger blanks where the wood in two blocks has split on the annual rings. img_3570Absolutely no checking was seen on the ends of any of the whole log sections, these all still have bark on them.

Today I took a number of the spindle blanks and turned them round. I coated half of the rounds with Anchor seal, at the same time I coated about half the rest as well.

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Time will tell if either the coated or untreated will check and/or crack.

I did notice when turning the spindle blanks that the wood while still partly frozen seemed quite dry and the curlies felt dry. Quite unlike some other wood that I have been turning that was cut recently and frozen as a result of our cold spell. That wood all felt wet and the curlies did as well.

I am keeping most of the wood outside on a concrete pad, sitting on some cedar strips under a tarp.

Tomorrow I will bring a couple of pieces into my shop and weight them to allow me to judge exactly how dry they are after the freezer treatment.

If you have any questions or comments, please leave me a note.

I have since turned and finished two of the pieces from he bottom of the freezer. These both have lots of salting. I noticed they were VERY hard, such harder than any spalted maple I have ever turned. The were absolutely dry as a matter of fact they were so dry it was difficult to turn them without a very sharp gouge and very light cuts.

I have lots more to turn but believe the freezer dying, if the wood is left in it long enough is a very good way to dry wood.

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!

November 23, 2016

Coring Silver Maple

Filed under: Wood Lathe — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — peteblair @ 4:10 pm

I have been really lax and haven’t blogged in a very long time and it’s about time I got back to it.
A few weeks ago a friend let me know that he was having a huge Silver Maple removed from his yard and told me I could have as much of it as I wanted. Oh boy! problem was I had just had a hernia repaired and was out of commission for several more weeks. Luckily for me I have some good friends and a strong young and willing grandson who were able to cut the large pieces into small enough chunks that they could load in my trailer.

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As I began to feel better and after a talk with my surgeon who said I was able to begin lifting and with the help of my wife I was able to slide the pieces one at a time, a few a day, onto a furniture dolly and push it into my shop where I was able to cut them into more suitable pieces with my faithful electric Poulain chain saw.

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After they were cut we moved them with another dolly to the back of our yard where I coated the ends with Anchor Seal and covered them with a tarp.

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This past Monday I brought one of the larger sections into the shop and prepared it to be cored by cutting it mostly round on my band saw.

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Next it was mounted on my lathe and I began to core.

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I was able to get four bowls from this blank.

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Coring is the process by which little wood is wasted as the center of each bowl produces a smaller bowl. If the wood is dry more bowls can be cut, but because this wood is wet I have to leave them thicker to allow me to turn them to final thickness when the are dry.

I am now in the process of Microwave drying them, the biggest is 12″ in diameter and will be a great salad bowl.
Upon coring them I discovered a small amount of ‘birds eye’ which is most predominant on the second largest bowl.

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