woodbowlsandthings

May 20, 2017

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.

 

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.

img_3553 img_3554 img_3555

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.

img_3573 img_3572

img_3571

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.

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.

IMG_2198

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″.

IMG_2218

IMG_2197

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.

IMG_2210

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.

IMG_2227

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.

IMG_2224

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.

IMG_2208IMG_2209

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.

IMG_2093

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.

IMG_2095

IMG_2099IMG_2098
After some grinding, polishing and filing I completed the adaptor and hopefully can now go up to about 14″ deep.

IMG_2097

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.

IMG_1692

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 . . .

January 5, 2016

Straw/Blow Painting on Turned Wood

Filed under: Art, Tools, Wood Lathe — Tags: , , , , , , , — peteblair @ 3:51 pm

I find I am much like a butterfly, flitting from idea to idea and technique to technique. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

The latest ‘flower’ is Straw or Blow Painting. I’m always looking for something new to entertain me and this is yet one more way to add interest to my turnings.

I saw a couple of beautiful wooden cups that had been embellished this way and immediately thought that I just had to try that. If you google straw or blow painting you will find it is often undertaken by young children. To me the meant that it probably was something that I could do if a 3 year old could, why not me.

 

Below is my first attempt. I seldom practice any new technique, just usually jump right in but there were lots of ideas going through my head and thus a practice piece. Turned out pretty good I think.

IMG_1605

My next experiment was to see how it would look on the outside of a bowl. This particular bowl was from some wood that I was given by a fellow woodturner. It’s about 9” in dia. It was turned green and dried in my microwave it has a nice gentle organic shape. On this one I wanted to try come color.

IMG_1675 IMG_1676

I like it but being on the outside of a bowl it is sort of hidden.

Next was a nice Vase from the same wood I was given. I had plans for this and the practice was aimed at this piece. In Montana there is a wonderful lady who for some reason or other really likes my turnings and is in need some pieces to go along side a beautiful sculpture in her entrance way. She likes green and this is what I have come up with.

IMG_1682

I emailed her a photo and she is excited to see how it looks in her home.

 

September 5, 2015

Bark Bark

I’m not sure but taking a fairly quick look on the internet I can’t find anyone else who has used a wood lathe to turn bark.
I just love a stroll on the beach where I frequently pick up material for walking sticks, and sometimes even find a newly washed up tree that I can salvage for my wood lathe.
Lately I have also been collecting tree bark. I believe it is from Fir trees but it is quite possible it is from Spruce or some other closely related species

183 – 11 x 3 x 1 – Cedar bark shallow bowl turned with bowl on outside of bark -$60.00

.
Here are a couple of shots of my first attempts at turning it.

182(3) - 11 x 3 1/2 x 1 - Cedar bark - shallow bowl with two ring details. This was turned with the outside of the bark as the bottom of the piece - finihsed with Rattle can Lacquer- $75.00

182(3) – 11 x 3 1/2 x 1 – Fir or Spruce bark – shallow bowl with two ring details. This was turned with the outside of the bark as the bottom of the piece – finihsed with Rattle can Lacquer

183 - 11 x 3 x 1 - Cedar bark shallow bowl turned with bowl on outside of bark -$60.00

183 – 11 x 3 x 1 – Fir or Spruce bark shallow bowl turned with bowl on outside of bark

I am now in the process of taking this experiment further.

Stay tuned for the next step, laminated bark pieces of art.

October 29, 2014

The best wood lathe drill . . .

I’ve been away for a while and am very pleased to see that I am continue to get a few hits on this site.
As a wood turner who generally uses a drill to set the final dept of many of my turnings I have always struggled with the center hole and the square sides that most drills leave at the bottom of a hole. Another problem I was always dealing with was the heat build up from friction and the difficulty in removing bits once the hole was complete.

I have now developed a way to make a nice round bottomed hole by repurposing a wood drilling “Speed Bit”.

IMG_3283

These reshaped bits drill really well and easily with very little heat,to just about any dept a person could want to drill. There are lots of extension available which allow holes as deep as one would want to go.

The cutting action is smooth and clean in hard and soft woods when these bits are held in a chuck in the lathe tail stock. They cut beautifully in end and side grain.

IMG_2935 IMG_2936 IMG_2937

I currently make them in three sizes 1/2″ – 3/4″ – 1″.

If you ever use a drill bit to set the depth of a bowl, box or hollow form you must try this bit!

Should you wish to try one, please email me for pricing and shipping costs.

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.

IMG_3203

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.

IMG_3210

And a closeup of the one on the right.

IMG_3208

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.

Great Store

Filed under: Art, Wood Lathe — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , — peteblair @ 2:20 pm

I have just reached an agreement with Cathy Goodman to sell some of my pieces in her new store here in Ladner at the  “Muddy River Landing”.

She has a wonderful store offering BC Coastal Curios and Bling including lots of local artists work!

If you live in the lower mainland of BC and would like to see or purchase any of my work this would be a great place to see it first hand.
Cathy has also kindly offered to exibit some of my whimisical wooden walking sticks.

Older Posts »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.