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

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.

February 16, 2016

Pro-forme Hollowing tool

Last week while I was hollowing an 8″ tall cup form I decided it was past time that I tried the Pro-Forme Hollowing tool that I bought about 5 years ago.

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It has been sitting mixed in with the rest of my hollowing tools and every once in a while I would take the plastic cover off of it and then put it back. I had read that it was especially nice in end grain and even better if the wood is green. Today was the day for a trial. I put it in my Kobra Hollower, but before I started to hollow I drilled a hole with one of my modified spade bits to the depth I wanted to go. The Pro-Forme was set at the factory and worked like a charm. With practice I’m certain I could get as good or better finish inside than is possible with a scraper. I did notice that as I got beyond about 6″ the 1/2″ bar I experienced a little vibration but I was able to go the full 8″.
Thinking about how much I liked the way the tool worked and seeing that I had a spare cutter I felt I should do something to help with deeper hollowing. My first thought was to ask a friend of mine if he could make me a 1″ bar with the end modified to fit the Pro-Forme but this of course required me to buy a 1″ polished steel bar and seemed like it might be more work than it was worth.
I realized I already had a 1″ bar for my Kobra and all I needed was a short extension that could be installed in that bar to which I could attach the Proforma.
Luckily I have a few pieces of drill rod hanging around my shop and was able to find a 2 1/2″ long piece of 1/2″.

I clamped it in a vise and proceeded to notch it out with a zip cut blade my cordless grinder.

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After some grinding, polishing and filing I completed the adaptor and hopefully can now go up to about 14″ deep.

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December 17, 2015

Seed pods

Filed under: Wood Lathe — Tags: , , , , , , , — peteblair @ 4:01 pm

After spending some time in the presence of a really wonderful person and great turner
Betty Scarpino. I decided to try my hand at making seed pods.

Here are a couple of pictures of one I made in which I found a stowaway!!

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April 28, 2014

Molly Winton’s Influence

Filed under: Art, Wood Lathe — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — peteblair @ 2:30 pm

I have become enamoured with turning miniature hollow vessels after the full day Workshop I took with Molly Winton, see earlier post. These very light, small turnings are textured with a burning pen similarly to how Molly does hers. I would be flattered if her influence can be seen in my work I just adore what she does.

I am not totally pleased with this piece but I do believe it is a good beginning. I plan to incorporate a more West Coast theme in my future work.

These are turned from green Cherry, about 2″ tall and 2″ wide with my rendition of Peace Doves flying around the top.

To view more of my work please visit my website woodbowlsandthings.com.

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March 16, 2014

MOLLY WINTON – WORKSHOP

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.

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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 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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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.

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

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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.

February 25, 2012

Steam

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — peteblair @ 8:45 am

Hi all. Any Wood turners out there?

I am trying with only partial success to dry rough turned green bowls, platters etc with steam.

Until recently I thought I was on the right page but I am now turning some green Cherry and it seems that everything I steam cracks. It appears that I am drying them rather than steaming them.

Has anyone tried this method with success?

Here are a few shots of my system. I am using a wall paper steamer to inject steam in to a pretty rough cedar box.

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