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

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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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 8, 2016

Don’t you just love a new Journey?

Filed under: Art, Wood Lathe — Tags: , , , — peteblair @ 4:32 pm

Well I sure do, especially when it starts and ends with turning on my Oneway wood lathe.
Recently I decided I wanted to see if I could find a way to turn a wooden spoon completely or nearly so on a lathe.
I made a few attempts and got some advise along the way but in the end I discovered that the inside of the scoop of a spoon can only be turned from the end of the spoon. As far as I know there is no other way to do it.
I tried turning the scoop part first as and ‘inside out’ turning where one turns a piece then takes it apart and uses the first turned part as the inside and then finishes the outside.
Sounds like it would work but nope, at least not for me.
Next I tried glueing two spoon blanks together. I left the spoon end square and drilled a hole then held the blank in a chuck with extra support for my steady rest and hollowed the inside of the spoon. Well I sure found out in a hurry that my hollowing skills are not the best. When split the two blanks apart the spoon ‘bowl’ was not quite what I had planned.

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I soon decided that I needed glue the two blanks together with a filler through which I could hollow the spoon ‘bowls’. Once again my hollowing technique let me down.

Back to the drawing board. I realized that all I need is spacers on the ends of the two blanks. This allows me to see the line of the bowl through the space as it turns and now I can shape the bowl good enough that all it takes is a little sanding and its done.

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I discovered that drawing the shape on the outside of the blanks was not the best so I made up a bunch of different size oval patterns and drew it on the inside with a felt pen.

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With this new found knowledge I can easily shape the bowl of the spoon, remove my steady rest and re-support the blank with a ball bearing tail center which then allows me to shape the outside of the spoon bowl.

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The next step was to try to get the handle of the spoon offset from the bowl part. I wanted to make the relationship between these parts more like a kitchen spoon.

I next cut the spacers in half with my bandsaw.

I then mount the spoon blank back on my lathe with the center of the handle in my drive spur and offset the handle near the cut line where I split the spacer.

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I wind up with a nearly finished spoon which only takes me a few minutes with a belt sander etc. to complete.

 

I’m quite happy with the result. What I have discovered is the depth of the spoon ‘scoop’ is relative to the thickness of the spacer and the width is affected accordingly.

One other benefit from this journey is that my wife is most delighted with all the spoons that I made along the way but which I was not quite satisfied with.

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She now has them having in the kitchen . . .

January 11, 2016

Spoons

Filed under: Wood Lathe — Tags: , , , — peteblair @ 7:13 am

I’m trying to find a method by which I can turn a complete spoon on my lathe. presently I am turning the shaft and outside of the bowl but can’t get my head around where centres need to be to allow me to turn the inside of the bowl in spindle orientation.

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Here’s a shot of a couple of spoons I am working on. Right now I use a Foredom and course burrs and sandpaper to finish the bowl but it is sooo dusty and a pain I really want to find another way. I do have a router setup for my lathe and wonder if that might be the way to go . . .

June 28, 2014

Re-cobbled

The continuing saga of my path to discover an ‘easy’ way to sand the inside of hollow forms.
If you read the previous post and are following along then here is the next edition.

I previously purchased a rock tumbler at a garage sale this is a much faster turning devise than either of the BBQ motors I was trying earlier.

With the increase in speed I can in two days get the same revolutions I was getting in 2 weeks. I do realize that at some point if it spins too fast the glass will just cling to the outer walls and not tumble or grind the inside of the hollow form as I intend to.

The rock tumbler uses a 1725 rpm motor connected to a 1.5″ dia pulley which is then connected with a vee belt to a 9″ pulley. Please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong but by my calculations this devise now spins my hollow forms at  287.5 RPM. I wondered if it might be too fast but I can hear the glass and marbles (yes I have included marbles this time around) sliding and grinding as it spins. I am certainly not a machinest and the part that is in between my chuck and the shaft of the pillow block is not a tight fit and as a result the chuck ‘wobbles’ a little which i believe may add to it’s ability to sand.

Here’s a shot of my ‘re-cobbled’ devise.

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I tip it slightly toward the bottom and alternately the top in an attempt to get the glass and the marbles working more on the ends where the torn grain is. I try to tip it about about 2″ and run about half time with it tipped each way.

Here is a comparison shot of one piece before sanding and after about 300,000 rotations.

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And a closeup of the one on the right.

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I think you can see quite an improvement as far as sanding and removal of ridges goes but as you can see it hasn’t cleaned up the torn end grain.

If I was to do a finished Hollow form I would spend a little more time with my tools to try to minimize the torn grain prior to using my sanding devise.

Please feel free to email me if you have any comments or questions.

June 16, 2014

Sanding the inside of a Hollow Form

Occasionally I really want a really good finish on the inside of a Hollow Form no matter how big the opening is. An example would be when I want to pierce the form with some sort of art that would allow people to get a good look at the inside. Another might be when I make a Hollow Form influenced by harvey Fein. His work frequently has openings in the shape of slits or slots that go all the way through the piece.
To this end I read somewhere that if pieces of broken tempered glass are put inside and slowly rotated they will eventually finely finish the inside.
I am presently experimenting with this process and have rough turned the inside of a couple of blocks of Birch. I used my Kobra hollowing system and made no attempt to get a smooth interior. I did perform a final light cut with a freshly sharpened cuter. The intention was to leave some roughness and some ridges.

The blocks are about 3″ square and 5 1/2 long.
Here is a photo of the devise I cobbled together with parts I had laying around.

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It enables me to angle the turning if I want more finishing done towards either end. The original BBQ rotisserie motor turned twice as fast as my current one. I had planned to turn a week with it slanting towards the top and a week towards the bottom but during the process I decided I needed to keep track of revolutions rather than days/weeks.
Here is a picture of one of them prior to beginning the process.

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Here is a photo comparing the one on the left (unsanded) and on the right the sanded one.

This was accomplished in about 8600 Revolutions.

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As you can see the section on the left does have a much nicer finish and actually feels as if it has been sanded quite well. It did not however remove much of the ridges. I think I will devise a faster turning model and give it a try again. Sanding with more revolutions this time.

On another thread someone suggested the addition of marbles along with the glass and this I will try next.

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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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.

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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.

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