Saturday, December 18, 2010

Paper presser

I made one of these a couple months ago for my wife, one of her coworkers saw it and requested one of her own.  I'm not sure of the wood, I think it's quilted Sapele but I'm nowhere near 100%.  It came from the bargain bin at Woodcraft this summer.  I didn't really want to use it for this project but it was the only piece I had handy that was the right size and shape.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas Ornament, Birdhouse

My daughter's class was supposed to build birdhouses in class yesterday but she got ill Thursday night and stayed home from school on Friday when the build day was planned.  She was very disappointed that she didn't get to build her birdhouse so I promised her we'd make one today.  I'm not a cabinet maker or carpenter, I'm a turner so this was a bit out of my element but I think it turned out OK from a quick sketch.  I had to incorporate some turning into it somewhere so I turned the small perch out of some maple.  The rest is built out of pine and it's spray painted with grey primer.
 While I was out in the shop I decided to turn my Christmas ornament for next week's ornament exchange at the annual Arizona Woodturners Association holiday luncheon.  I had a different one in mind but was unable to find a necessary part locally.
The globe is turned out of redwood with the finial and icicle out of walnut.  I chose these because they're both very lightweight which is imporant because this is intended to hang on a tree.  The outside of the globe was textured with a wire brush to provide visual interest. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

Mesquite Burl

 I've been sick for a week now, the only time in the shop was to split the Boyce Thompson Arboretum Mesquite burl I got 2 weeks ago.  As I suspected it doesn't have the eyes and extreme figure that burls sometimes have, but it's certainly got some curl and some interesting growth.
I also have 4 pieces that are mostly straight grain, they should end up between 10 and 12" diameter and will probably end up going back to the Arboretum when finished as "payment" for the wood, but that's only if I get over this cold.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Weekend haul

 This weekend was the Fall Foliage Finale out at Boyce Thompson Arboretum.  I was there both Saturday and Sunday hocking my wares, educating the public about woodturning via demonstrations, and promoting our club and the upcoming Desert Woodturning Roundup (  Sales were brisk on Saturday and almost non existent on Sunday due to the weather.  It was cold and windy with some rain and hail in the morning.  We moved from outside to one of the buildings after the weather turned bad but the damage was already done, attendance was down because of the weather and everything else was down because of it.  Sales Sunday were about 5% of what was sold on Saturday, it was that bad.

The good news from Sunday is that I received permission from one of the staff members there to salvage a large Mesquite burl from the area near their burn pile.  I spied it on Saturday as I was leaving and managed to track down the Director of Horticulture on Sunday and secured permission to come get it this week.  Part of the deal is that either 1) finished pieces are returned to the Arboretum or 2) a percentage of the sale price is donated to the Arboretum.  I've had this deal with them several times in the past and it's worked out well before. 

I went out there this afternoon to load it up.  Another staff member helped me load it up (after cutting off the smaller piece shown behind the burl).  It took both of us plus a 3 ton floor jack to get it loaded in the back of my SUV.  I'm guessing that it weighs in the neighborhood of 250 pounds as it stands tonight.  For scale the piece in the background is 12" diameter and approx. 14" long.  The burl is quite a bit bigger, probably 20" diameter and close to 30" long.  It's Honey Mesquite and I've had my eye on it for a while, it hung over the entrance to their Demonstration Garden.  The staff member that helped me load it up says he's been watching it grow for the last 25 years and is curious to see what's inside.  This is my first Mesquite Burl and I'm not quite sure how to cut it for the best yield, unfortunately it's not really possible to know the best way to cut it until after the first cut is made and the figure (or lack thereof) can be seen.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Burning and Turning

This twisted box was one I did as a sample for my demo in Prescott earlier this year.  I decided to do some burning on it but I didn't want to do it all over the box.

 This is the design I settled on.  I think it emphasizes the twist.  I've taken to calling this one Kudzu because of the bottom and how the design on the bottom is only connected to the sides and the top in 3 little spots, like kuzdu vines slowly growing over a building.

I also had to find a different place to sign it.  I ended up signing it on the inside of the joint so the signature can only be seen when the box is open.

Tonight I started working on some bowls for next weekend.  I've been invited to demo and sell out at Boyce Thompson Arboretum next weekend.  The wood for these bowls is Visco Acacia and came from BTA earlier this year.  I like to have bowls with a local connection whenever possible.  These are small, only 4-5" diameter.  I have some that are bigger but I don't know if I'll have time to get them done.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Back on the horse

The last time I did any turning was Saturday October 23rd.  I know this because it was the date of my Flagstaff demonstration and I never unpacked my tools.  They were still sitting in a 5 gallon bucket just inside my door when I opened it this morning.

The piece on the right is a multi axis box from my Prescott demo earlier this year.  I spent last weekend doing the burning on the outside inbetween sales at the art tour. 

The piece on the right was from my Flagstaff demo.  It had a problem during the demonstration that prevented me from doing as much as I had planned.  Today I decided to finish turning it and I'm leaning towards sending it back to them to do with as the wish; auction, raffle, or winter heating.

The burning on the first piece was more marketing than anything else.  Prospective clients could see me working on a piece and have a better understanding of the process, particularly with this design as it's all done freehand with almost no planning ahead.

I still have to finish and sign the Flagstaff demo piece.  Some readers may notice the photos are drastically improved.  We upgraded cell phones this week and the new one has adjustable focus and higher resolution.  A vast improvement.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The month from Hell.

Not really Hell, just extremely busy, hence my lack of posts.  Over the course of the last 30 days I've had an art show, a woodturning demonstration, Halloween, a son in the hospital, a poker game, my wife had 3 quilting events, my Mother visited for 3 weeks, and our dog had puppies.  Add on 60+ hour work weeks for the last month and I haven't set foot in my shop for more than 10 minutes total in that time.  

The show I participated in was the Artists of the Superstitions Studio Tour.  I was one of 2 artists that were hosted at the shop of another artists.  All 3 of us are woodturners so I'm somewhat convinced that our individual sales were lower than the would have been had we not been competing against each other.  It turned out not to be a bad event all things considered and I will definitely think about adding it to my calendar for next year.  I only sold 8 pieces total over the 2 days but the average sale price was just over $50, pretty good considering.

Now that this 4 week period is over my lack of shop time should be over too.  I'm hopeful that I can get back to work soon, this is almost certainly the longest period I've gone without turning in the last several years and I'm itching to get back to it.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Sorry for the lack of updates, I've been swamped with work lately so my shop time has been dramatically reduced. 

I've only been in the shop turning 3 times in the last 2 weeks.  Bernie was over a week ago to rough and core a piece of the Olive I got recently. 

Saturday I turned and cored this set of Olive.

The biggest bowl in this set is 11 1/2" diameter.  I'm undecided about the voids, I may end up filling them in or I may end up leaving them natural.

On Sunday I roughed and cored this set. 

The biggest bowl is 16 1/2" diameter. 

These 3 also have big voids that I'm undecided about.  I've got a while to think about that, it will be at least a year before I get back to finishing these.

I'm headed to Flagstaff to demo at the Peaks Woodturners on Saturday.  I'm going to do the same multi axis demo I did earlier this year in Phoenix and Prescott.  This will be my first trip to the Flagstaff turning club, I'm looking forward to heading North on Saturday morning. 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sunnyslope Art Walk

Last night was the Fall Sunnyslope Art Walk.  It's a small 1 night show from 5-9PM in central Phoenix.  Things started out pretty slow but a flourish at the end of the night that culiminated in 2 big sales made it more than worth my while.

The pieces below have now found new homes.

Desert Ironwood and Holly

Desert Ironwood

Douglas Fir Burl (set of 2, smaller bowl not pictured)

Central Avenue Olive

I also sold a few other smaller pieces including some magic wands, some pendants, a small burned hollow form, and a lidded box.  A very successful and profitable show.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Warped Olive

A small Olive hollow form I turned yesterday.  I turned it green and quite thin and put it through a couple of microwave cycles to speed dry it.  This piece came from a small burl like area near the bottom of the tree and the stresses in the wood caused a significant amount of warping as it dried.

I'm not sure how much you can see the wood movement.  It's pretty easy to see that the piece is no longer round, what can been seen is the leather like look and feel of the surface.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Weekend work

In progress picture of a 17" Olive platter I roughed out on Friday night.  To start pieces like this I sometimes jam the blank against the jaws of my chuck.  This ensures that the top of the blank is relatively flat and I can easily adjust the position of the blank if it's off center or heavily out of balance. 

The blank is only held in place by pressure from the tailstock, it's driven just by friction.    The underside of the platter has been roughed out and the tenon has been formed.  I neglected to get any more in progress photos.  From this point the blank is turned around, gripped in a chuck, and the top side turned so the whole piece is a uniform thickness.

This piece will end up with a partial natural edge on both sides.  It's right at 17" now and will spend the better part of a year or more drying.

Saturday I spent several hours working.  First I had to sweep up all the shavings from this week.  Second I finished up 10 seam rippers for my wife's quilting groups.  Next I cut up some more of the Olive from earlier this week.  Last I roughed out some lidded boxes from the same Olive.  I convinced my daughter to try some turning.  I had control of the tools, she was holding on for dear life.  She's now certain that she doesn't want to be a woodturner when she grows up, she's currently got her heart set on being a Kindergarten teacher.

3 roughed out lidded boxes.  They're cut in half and hollowed to about 1/2" thickness.  All 3 were tossed in the same paper bag and placed on a shelf. 

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Olive platter II

Another quick Olive platter tonight, this one is a little over 15" diameter.  It's bagged and on the shelf now.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Olive platter

I roughed out an olive platter tonight.  It's just under 17" diameter and is approx 3/4" thick at this point.  This piece was slabbed off of one of the olive pieces from Monday night.  I'm planning on doing this with the other 4 pieces as well.  The slab was about 2" thick which left plenty of thickness for a big bowl from the remaining portion of the log.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Holy olive!

Olive from my friend Larry.  He called me up this morning and said his tree trimmer friend was doing some cutting at a local apartment complex and wanted to know if I wanted some Olive. 

I didn't expect anything this size, I was hoping for 8-10" logs, possibly as large as 12".  When I talked to him this afternoon he said 20" diameter but I still had my doubts.

I was blown away when he opened the garage.  18 pieces with more than half in the 16-18" diameter range and 22-24" long.  I took him a 19-20" African Sumac crotch in return but I think I still owe him after this haul. 

Friday, September 24, 2010

Offset goblet

More Flagstaff prep tonight.  I'm going to do a multi axis goblet and due to time limitations I turned the inside and outside of the goblet cup ahead of time.

The piece on the left is similar to what I'm going to do during my demo.  It was from my Phoenix demo back in February and is from Maple.  The piece I worked on tonight is Mesquite.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Flagstaff prep

I've been invited to demo at the Flagstaff woodturning club (Peaks Woodturners) next month.  We're still working on an exact date and time but it looks like it's going to be one month from today.

I'm going to do the same multi axis demo I did in Phoenix and Prescott earlier this year.  It's both basic enough for beginners and advanced enough for experienced turners. 

Part 3 of the demo is a lidded box done on 3 centers with a twist.  I roughed out the box tonight out of some scrap Shoestring Acacia.  I don't have time to do the inside of the box during my demo so I do that portion ahead of time.  This allows me to turn the outside of the box (turning the inside is pretty standard) to completion in the allotted time.

I'm probably going overboard doing this a full month ahead of time but I'd rather do it now than have to rush it at the last minute and things are going to get busy.  I have a birthday, an art show, and a club meeting on the 3 Saturdays preceeding the demo.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Copper and Eucalyptus locking box

More mixed media tonight.  I made a similar box earlier this year or late last year.  This one is a little bit bigger and is made from Eucalyptus with copper wire accents.

When the 3 inlays are lined up the box is locked and the lid is secure.

Rotating the box 90 degrees so the 2 inlays are aligned will allow the box to be opened.

The inlay on the lid is actually a pin that goes all the way through.  The pin runs in a groove that was cut into the body in order to secure the lid in position.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mixed Media

Sorry for the lack of posts.  I've been pretty busy lately without much to show for my efforts.  Tonight I started to work on a new style of pendant.  The president's challenge for next month is "mixed media".  Mixing wood with other materials such as metal, stone, shell, or acrylic.  I twisted 2 pieces of copper wire and then turned a recess around the perimeter.  I saw some small bowls several years ago in an art shop in Jerome that used this technique.  I decided to try it with a pendant.  This is more of a proof of concept than anything else, the splice in the wire is very well hidden, you have to look very closely at exactly the right angle to see it.

Saturday was the September meeting of the Arizona Woodturners.  Local club member Dale Gillaspy ( was our demonstrator.  He filled in on short notice after we had a scheduling conflict and did a fantastic job.  After the meeting I headed north to Anthem to play in a poker tournament.  The host had a black light flashlight so we headed out back during a break to look for scorpions.  It didn't take long to find 3 or 4 along their back wall.  My son has a birthday coming up in about 2 weeks and I'm going to get him a flashlight of his own.  I'm sure he'll get a kick out of it.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Candlesticks, etc.

A bit more work on my candlesticks.  The top were drilled for the candles and the bottoms finished off.

I wasn't able to drill very deep so I had to cut off the bottoms of the candles, this makes them pretty unstable but this was a learning experience, not a production piece.  I still need to apply a finish.

I also spent a couple hours redoing the rim of my crucifixion bowl.

I also made a couple of pendants tonight.  I found a local source for some more shells and decided to make a couple tonight.  The 2 on the right are tonight's efforts.  The one on the left is an older one with paua shell.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Hidden joint spline box

I might (empasis might) have a how-to magazine article in my future so I decided to do a practice run tonight to iron out some of the kinks. 

I grabbed a piece of Alaskan Yellow Cedar from a local craft store and went to work tonight. 

I'm going to save the details and the step by step for the article.  I'm not sure the Alaskan Cedar is the best choice of wood but it's not the worst either.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


I've had this chunk of Eucalyptus Burl for about 3 years.  It's been buried on a shelf for most of that time and I finally dug it out tonight.  I'm not entirely sure what I want to do with it yet, it's approx 17 diameter and as much as 9" thick at the thickest point.

The underside is cut as a big wedge so some of that 9" thickness will go away.

Closeup of some of the burl figure. 

My gut tells me to do a large natural edge nested set similar to the set below (and from the same tree) but I'm looking for other opinions.