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?

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.

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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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”.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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.

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