February 13, 2018

Colouring Wood

Filed under: Art, Silver Maple, Wood Lathe — Tags: , , , , , , , — peteblair @ 12:41 pm

I know it’s probably been done to death but here is how I add color and pop to some of my wood turning.
I first start by turning to shape and sanding to about 220.

This piece is destined to have some sort of blow paint applied after the dye and then a shallow bowl turned in the center. I want a dark green for this piece.

Next I apply black Leather Dye.

Once this is dry I then sand it back quite aggressively with 220 grit.

At this point the piece could be complete. Ed Pretty from my Guild has finished at this stage and the piece was wonderful. I plan to go further and on this piece I wanted a little more black so another coat of the Leather Dye.

This is again aggressively sanded back.

I like this better and stopped  here. While most people seem at this point to go with the darker color I sometimes go light first and then the dark. In this case, Yellow and then Blue for the dark green I’m after.

Sanded back again but less aggressively leaving quite a lot of the yellow showing. I then applied the dark blue dye.

Doesn’t look like too much here but after a very light sanding with 400 here is what I have. A Hair dryer is sometimes used at various stages to hurry the project along.

A couple of coats of sanding sealer with light sanding in between.

Then on to my finishing turntable and a few coats of clear lacquer.

Now all it needs is the blow paint. I’m thinking gold iridescent but I might add a little yellow. Sorry no finished piece yet because I am in Hawaii and this piece will have to wait another week or so for me to get to it. I’ll add photos of the finished piece as soon as I have it done.


February 6, 2018

Horizontal spinner for wood art

Filed under: Art, Silver Maple, Tools, Wood Lathe — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — peteblair @ 7:04 pm

Ok, starting over, yesterday I  began this blog and something went wrong I lost the last half of my text and all my photos . . . . . . .

Greetings again from Kauai. Today we did manage to see and sit in the sun for about 2 hours, now that’s progress.

Wow, two blogs in two days (or three now) I often don’t do two in a year!

Killing time during another rain storm and waiting for spuds to cook on the BBQ.

Todays topic has been rattling around in my head for more than a year. Some time ago I decided I wanted to be able to mount finished or partially finished items on a horizontal speed controlled turntable. This I felt would allow me to add color in a more controlled manner than when I do this on the lathe with the wood vertical. I wanted a device that would spin horizontally, be easy to adjust it’s spin speed, be reversible, be cheap and dependable. This is a photo of my first attempt. I’m utilizing a small chuck I use on my mini because it is easy to get threads to match from readily available bolts and threaded rod not like the M33 on my oneway.


I started out thinking that I could use a fan motor and have collected a number of them over time but it soon became apparent that they were not as powerful or controllable as I wanted, primarily because they are not ‘brush’ type motors. I then switched my focus to an overhead fan. Knowing that people remove and replace them occasionally I advertised locally for a free used one but had no luck. There were a few that came available for a small cash outlay but being the cheap guy I am I stuck to my guns and decided not to pay for something I wasn’t certain would work for me.

In the end this all worked out for the best. I am known to peruse and buy on line from several local auctions and wound up with a “tool lot” that had an old beat up cord shredded 1/2″ drill. Ok, this should work fine, it was cheap, easy to control speed (brush type motor), reversible and top speed was about 1000 rpm.

I changed my mind about mounting the a lathe chuck directly on a motor as I did with the fan motors and instead decided to use an old Pillow block I had laying around. I took a section of 1″ 8 TPI threaded rod and turned it to fit thought the bearings of the pillow block on my small metal lathe. I turned a short section on one end to 1/2″ so it would be easily gripped by the drill. I then mounted it to a section of plywood and discovered that with a small piece of rubber under the drill it lined up perfectly with the 1/2″ end of the shaft. As can be seen below this tool will now function as a lathe as well should I want to spin wood while finishing it or ????

By mounting it on the edge of my heavy bench I thought it just might be able to take the shake it might get if the turned piece wasn’t quite balanced. Much to my surprise it spins with hardly a shake.

For now I am just clamping it to the work bench but soon will add some sort of fastening system. As you can see from the photo I utilized a dimmer switch in the supply line to the drill but soon discovered that I needed to be able to control the speed from above the table.

I now have a plug, on/off switch and the dimmer on long leads, these boxes are held together with a couple of magnets which allows me to separate them for storage.

Ok all works great but the dimmer I have, has the off position next to high speed and so I added an on off switch to the plug in box. The only really remaining issue is that I may want to move the reversing switch from the drill handle to the top with the rest of the controls. For now I simply use a small clamp to hold the drill switch in the full on position, and when I want to change the direction of rotation I have to remove the clamp, slide the reversing switch on the drill to the other position and re-clamp the drill switch. When I need to reverse the direction it is never in a situation where it has to happen quickly so this set up may continue to work.

Here’s a shot of my first piece with just a piece of cardboard as a table, I have since added a piece of MDF that screws to my bench top giving me a much more stable work space.

To control the paint/dye splatter I simply cut a couple of slots in a scrap piece of wood and bend a section of plastic laminate into the slots. Easily taken apart for storage. The photo below shows my first try at this when I was working with the fan motor above the bench top. I now have done away with the legs which are redundant.

Here are a few of my first attempts. I don’t consider anything I do a failure just an opportunity to learn. The photo of the unpainted/dyed silver maple was just that. It was easy to remove the unsightly dye and start over.

I am most interested in the ability to have the paint/dye move from the center or other locations in curved line.


February 4, 2018

Buffer for Wood Art

Filed under: Tools, Wood Lathe — Tags: , , , , , , — peteblair @ 1:22 pm

I am sitting in Kauai waiting for the rain to stop. I know, poor me, right? At any rate, I thought this would be good time to let anyone who is interested know what I have made to buff my wood art.

I should start by saying my journey started with the Beale Wood Buffing System. That’s the one with the three 8″ buffing wheels. It works like a charm but for me the closeness of the wheels to each other and the fact that I had to use my lathe made the system somewhat less than ideal. I do however continue to use the Beal Balls to do the inside of bowls, this I now do very infrequently.

I often watch local Auctions and saw a really nice two wheel buffer for sale. It had 2 12″ wheels, a 5 hp motor all on a stand etc.  I just had to have it. It was ok except for the fact that the buffing wheels were meant for metal or something and were sewn together in a spiral patters. I took a sharp knife and removed most to the sewing to make them a little softer. As you an see from this photo I had to make a few  modification. The wheels were set up to be in the center of the stand which wouldn’t allow me to access the buffing wheels as much as I needed. Another issue was the the motor needed to be physically moved to a different location any time I wanted to change the speed.

This buffer had 3 step pullys which did allow me with a little fussing to get a speed that worked. The problem was that the stand and set-up was just a little big for the space I have in my shop so I advertised and sold it locally. In retrospect I probably should have kept the parts and junked the stand but that’s water under the bridge.

I kept watching auctions and soon located a older but still very nice long shaft Baldor buffer. Got it home, set it up with my existing wheels but quickly discovered that the 3350 rpm speed was way too fast. I did a lot of research on the net to try to find a way to slow this puppy down without success. I must admit what with the technology available today that no-one (read here the Chinese) have not come up with a cheap speed reducer for a 110 brushless motor.  So once again this one went on the market and was grabbed right away. Oh, in the background you can see the Danish built bench grinder I also got at another auction. I didn’t even know it was included as it was hidden in the bottom of a metal cabinet I bought. Adding to that I didn’t know the Danes made stuff like this but it is a gem! Quiet, powerful and runs as true as any bench grinder I have see.

Before selling the Baldor I had decided that what I need to do was to build my own. Over the past many years I have collected quite a few bits and pieces of tooling and felt confident that with a small outlay of cash for a few items I would have no trouble making exactly what I need.

I should mention that while I had the Baldor I made 3 attachments one for each of the three buffing compounds I use Brown (tripoli), White (rouge) and Wax (carnauba). To make these I simply cut the heads off of 3 3/4″ bolts. I think I use 4″ bolts. I then drilled a 1/2″ hole it the end without the threads and drilled and tapped for a set screw to hold them in place on the motor shaft. By adding two nuts and washer I had easily replaceable arbours for my buffing wheels. I knew that my next model needed to be able to utilize these pieces.

On to the build. From Princess Auto I purchased two 1/2″ pillow blocks and a 5′ section of 1/2″ steel rod. I already had the bench, I wanted to share with the Bench Grinder so all that was left was to put a motor on the lower shelf, cut a slot for a V-belt and mount a length of 1/2″ shaft and the pillow blocks. I had a motor (1725 rpm) I had saved from a clothes dryer and also had a couple of 1/2″ pulleys. I didn’t take a photo but I do keep all three buffing heads in plastic bags to ensure I don’t add bits of metal or other items that might scratch my turnings. I raised the pillow blocks to get a more comfortable height for me and hinged the motor to allow it weight to tension the belt automatically. The pulleys are the same diameter providing me 1725 rpm but should I find the need to change speeds a simple pulley switch will do the trick.

Please don’t hesitate to ask or make suggestions for future posts or to comment on this one.

November 11, 2017

Video Hollowing

Filed under: Wood Lathe — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — peteblair @ 4:03 pm

I know that there are lots of turners who are either already hollowing using video of are thinking about trying this technique. This Blog is meant to be a jumping off spot for those who are still contemplating the process. It’s only the way I do it and not by any means a difinitive way to proceed. I do not plan to share the details of the equipment I use because there are so many choices and I purchased so many years ago the items may no longer be available.

As far as I can remember, the use of video in hollowing became known about 5 years ago when a world renown turner began demo’ing and selling his system.

For those of you how have been living in a cave or on another planet for the past 5 years the technique involves positioning a camera above the cutter and then drawing it’s outline on a sheet of mylar which then appears on the video screen when the cutter is actually in the form. I hope I have explained it well enough but please feel free to contact me should I be able to add anything or help you better understand the technique.

So about 5 years ago and being the cheap SOB that I am, I thought I could hack together my own system. I had an old MS laptop laying around and I had WIFI phones and cameras with the ability to connect to it, but, of course that wasn’t enough for me. I soon was scouring Amazon for cameras etc. I found a very cheap, new I was told, Colonoscope camera. I sure hope it was new!! It had it’s own light but the picture was a problem.
Anyway, to cut a long story a little shorter, I found that the Lap top was a pain to set up and take down and by the time I ran the software to get everything working I could have hollowed several vessels using my laser. In addition, the web WIFI cams all had a short ‘lag’ which drove me nuts!!  This led me to stop trying the process and continue my old ways using a laser.

I hadn’t totally given up though as I discovered that several turners were using Back-Up Automobile camera set-ups which included a small monitor and camera. Yep, a few were even shown with the lines to back between which I apparently were pretty easy to ignore when hollowing.
So of course, I had to try those as well and also found a really cheap video surveillance camera without the monitor and bought that too.

When the part arrived I took a quick look and with all the wires etc. it all seemed way too involved. I’d just rather be turning than messing with all those wires!!

It might be my age or ?? but I have a great deal of trouble remembering peoples names and the turner who demonstrated his video techniques at the last meeting of the Vancouver and District Wood Turners Guild has fallen into that category.
It’s too bad because it was his demo that got me thinking a little more about utilizing this technique.

So the next day I hunted around my shop, it took me about 2 hours to remember that I had stashed all the parts in an old sewing box.

The only easy to hook up was the surveillance camera because it came with a 12 volt brick power supply. The back-up-system was designed to wire directly to the 12 volt of a vehicle. Lucky for me I have ‘bricks’ of all voltages and designs in boxes and drawers. I found a 12 volt one, cut the cord and wired it to the back-up system and hooked up the surveillance camera and quickly discovered that the distortion was way too much at close range to be usable.

So with wires going every which way I connected the complete back up system. Dragged it over to my lathe and with a few minor modification had it up and running in no time. It worked great but the back up monitor is only about a 7″ screen. I need something bigger.

I remember that we moved a cable box from a 17″ tv in our kitchen to a room where one of our grandsons ‘hangs’ so he could use it on a large tv that his dad has left for us to store. My wife was quite happy to have it out of the cabinet that it was in now she has more shelf space to display her ‘stuff’.

Ok, so now I am really on to something. I quickly disassembled the foot that the tv stood on and made an aluminum plate from which I could hang it on my exhaust fan box right at the end of my lathe. With a few quick changes it was up and running perfectly.

As you can see from the photos I hold mylar film on the tv with magnets and draw the outline of my tool on it with a sharpie. One cool thing about using the magnets as opposed to tape or ?? is that I can easily reposition it  should I change the angle of the cutter. In addition I can keep all the old sheets to reuse anytime I am using this system and thus don’t need to keep redrawing the cutter. If I like I could actually leave the TV in place but I need to come up with some sort of cover to keep the dust out so for now I stash it on a shelf. The camera and arm it is attached to simply hang on the wall behind my lathe. The camera does have a small lens cover. I’m not totally convinced that the camera is totally suitable and I continue to search for a cheap replacement. What I believe would work even better is what is termed a ‘closed circuit’ camera.

A couple of ideas that were shared at our last meeting that are exceptionally helpful are to place a white or black piece under the turning to provide contrast at the edge which helps to see where the cutter is. Another is if a round magnet is placed on the screen over the cutter and extending outward it provides a means to ensure the finished thickness is easily delineated.




November 10, 2017

Negative Rake Scraper

Just a quick note to let anyone who might be interested, know that I now use a negative rake scraper with my hollowing rig. Up till recently I was using a tear drop shaped scraper sharpened in the standard manner but found that on occasion it was just a little grabby.
I thought why not make it into a neg rake scraper so I ground it to about a 60 degree included angle.
After changing the angle the center of the scraper was no longer on the center line and to make up for that I just added a small brass shim under the scraper. I think it is still slightly below center but it seems to work just fine for me.
Seems to work just fine for me.


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!


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.


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.

img_3186 img_3657 img_3658

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.


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.

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.


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.




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


img_3223  img_3224


I was able to get four bowls from this blank.

img_3227 img_3230

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.

March 6, 2016

Oneway Easy Core Laser aid

I have and love my Oneway Easy Core System. Before I purchased it I watched a video on the Oneway website which really got me going in the right direction and help me decide this was the coring system I wanted.
In the video were instructions to make several spacers that enable the user to position the cutter appropriately for whichever set of knives were being used.
I made dutifully made the spacers

IMG_2228and labeled them although they worked as advertized they never really worked as well has I had hoped, primarily because I often use different chucks and sometimes want to position the cutters off center.

Whenever I would use a different chuck or a different location for the cutter I was mostly guessing what the core would look like and exactly how thick the bottom would be.

At first I would position the system where I thought it should be and by holding the cutter over top of my wood, sort of swing it back and forth and look down from the top to try to guess what I would wind up with.

Next I made a pointed stick with a metal rod attached that I could position over the cutter and adjust it for each size of cutter. This actually gave me a better idea of where the cutter would cut, but still not quite what I was looking for.

I soon realized that I wanted a better ‘mouse trap” and realizing that I could easily adapt the laser from my Kobra Hollower to accurately position the cutter without the concern that I might cut too thin a bottom or even go through and hit my chuck.

Here is a photo of the set-up I am now using, it’s fantastic! Quick to set-up and adjust no matter which size cutter I’m using or how I have the blank mounted.


I simply measured from the center of the pivot to the outside edge of the cutter and scribed these distances on the arm of my Laser. I have the three smallest cutters. Measured from the center of the pivot to the outside edge of the cutter they measure 5″ – 6 1/8″ – and 7 7/16″.



I am lucky that I use a 1″ threaded bar to adjust a router table when I use it on my oneway and was able to utilize it on the end of my Kobra Laser.


While taking these photos I thought why don’t I also do a mock-up that could be utilized  by turners who either don’t have the same laser set-up I do or don’t already have a laser.

Here is a similar design that anyone with the Onway Coring System can easily make and use to take all the guess work out of the process.


If you decide to make this tool, don’t forget to make the upright long enough for the biggest bowl that you can turn on your lathe.

Here are the components. First the bar to hold the laser and enable it to be adjusted for each cutter. I left mine a little long just in case I ever get a larger lathe. I drilled a hole for my laser a little smaller than it’s diameter, cut a slot with a hole at the end to allow the bar to open and gently pinch the laser. I then drilled holes for a screw to allow for the adjustment for each cutter as described above.


These are all the components. I suggest that if you are following this design you fill the hole in the end of the upright with superglue to strengthen it(don’t insert the screw until the glue has hardened the wood around the hole). This will allow you to use it many times without stripping the screw hole.

IMG_2225In use, both designs work wonderfully. Here are a few photos of them in action.

One other major advantage of this design is that if a blank has bark or a natural edge it is easy to see exactly where the cutter will cut relative to that.


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