Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Dynamic duo

Olive is one of my favorite woods to use, probably in the top 3. On nights like tonight it's easy to see why. It turns well, smells great, and looks fantastic.

Tonight i turned a pair of olive nested roughouts. I haven't cored any bowls lately and it took a while to shake the cobwebs. I had considered demonstrating coring for my January demo but tonight confirmed my decision to do lidded boxes instead.

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Monday, December 26, 2011

Post Christmas

My wife and kids and I exchanged gifts at my grandparent's house on Christmas Eve because my uncle and his wife were in town. My grandparents are the only close family we have locally do we usually spend the holidays with them. That left Christmas day open so I spent a couple hours in the shop.

These Olive hollow forms had their exteriors roughed out a couple weeks ago, the insides were rough hollowed on Christmas day. As with most of my turnings they are now bagged and shelved for at least 6 months.

I'm preparing for a lidded boxes demo next month and saw a left over piece of Banksia pod. Instantly I knew what I wanted to do. One of the boxes I'm planning to demo is this style, I call them pill boxes and they're made with an inlay of contrasting wood; in this case Holly inlay in the Banksia pod body and lid.

These are kind of fun to make, I've done them in Box Elder Burl, Olive, Walnut, Myrtle, mesquite, Honey Locust, and more. Inlays are usually African Blackwood or Holly. Sometimes I make a separate handle, others the lid/handle are a single piece.

The body is mostly round. There is a small depression in the bottom center so it will sit flat and stable. This was my first time making a box out of Banksia, it won't be my last.

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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Finally finished

The engraving was done by another local turner and final assembly was done yesterday morning, not a moment too soon.
A quick sanding to remove some of the smoke residue and a quick coat of oil completed the job.

Assembly on this one was a bit easier, a coat of oil and placing the rods in the base. We thought about drilling holes in the sides of both masks for ribbon but eventually decided against it.

We also turned a heart shaped bowl for my neighbor's wife. I cut the heart shape before turning and the turned it as I would turn a square or natural edge bowl.

Bottom view.

Side view. It was left a little thicker than I would normally turn. There is a slight recurve on the wings to give it a bit more dynamic shape.

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Gift giving.

The presents for my neighbor's sons are mostly complete. The football was turned, hollowed, glued together, turned again, and finally carved. The football is Russian Olive, the base is Magnolia, and the stand is pine.

The masks are Birdseye Maple, turned, cut, and burned. I think the base is Basswood, the metal rods are 1/4" aluminum.

Both bases will be laser engraved with a personal message.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Masks part II

A little more work on the comedy/tragedy masks tonight. The tenon was removed, the bottom tried and turned away and the outside sanded smooth.

The piece was then taken to the band saw and cut in half. I had to make a second cut to even up both halves. They're now within 1/8" of each other in width and length.

The bottom was left thicker than I wanted, the wood was oriented end grain and the dry hard maple was very difficult to cut. On the plus side it leaves us a little more meat to drill the mounting holes.

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Olive the other reindeer

I picked up some Olive from a friend last weekend. Tonight I started roughing out some of the pieces. This is 1 medium sized log cut into 3 sections.

The sections were all mounted between centers and rough turned on the outside. They're temporarily stored in a garbage bag and will be rough hollowed in the next few days.

The rest of my night was spent helping my neighbor with some Christmas presents. They'll both be very personalized to match the personalities and hobbies. The older boy is into drama so were making a pair of drama masks. To do this we turned a modified cone that we'll cut in half to give us the 2 masks that we need.

We talked about leaving them solid but I wanted to have them be closer to actual masks so we ended up hollowing out the form so they're about 1/2" thick. We still have a bit more turning to do then we can sand them and cut them in half.

We're still talking about how to do the faces. I don't think we should cut out the eyes and mouth, I'm leaning towards some relief carving, i think he's leaning towards doing the faces via woodburning.

For the younger son we'll be making a football. We may end up leaving it solid but I'm thinking it should be hollowed in 2 halves as it represents a lightweight ball.

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Monday, December 5, 2011


A chunk of red stained Box Elder I started hollowing yesterday. I got the blank from Mike Mahoney this summer and rough turned the outside a couple months ago.

Everything looks good and hollowing was going along well until I heard the telltale tick tick tick of metal on metal. Investigation revealed that there was a nail hidden on the inside of the blank.

The nail had to have been driven into the tree and then the tree grew over the nail over many years. There was no outward evidence that a nail was hidden inside.

I set about trying to chisel enough wood from around the nail to free it. Alas it was not to be as I chiseled a hole straight through the wall (from the inside). After taking some frustration out (the rest of the marks on the outside) I decided to cut it in half, mainly out of spite.

The most frustrating part is losing a nice piece of wood like this, the second most frustrating part is the I still can't get the stupid nail out.

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Friday, December 2, 2011

Ash spline box

Tonight was my first night back in the shop for quite a while. I've spent some time out there recently but mostly cleaning and organizing (not that you can tell).

This is a small semi spherical box I turned tonight out of some Ash. It's turned side grain rather than end grain so I can use the grain lines to help hide the joint. The joint also isn't straight as it was cut to match the contour of the grain.

This requires a completely different joint as it's not possible to turn the usual tenon and recess on the curved surfaces. Instead I have to turn 2 recesses and join them with a spline. I chose to use another piece of the same wood, a contrasting wood could also be used.

The outside was then textured with a wire brush to further hide the joint line in the grain lines. If I had a sandblaster I'd use it to do the texturing as I believe it would be more uniform and I think I could go deeper into the softer grain.

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Monday, November 21, 2011


Next month is our club's annual holiday party. As part of the festivities we have an ornament exchange. Everyone wanting to participate brings in a wrapped Christmas ornament and exchanges it for a raffle ticket. The last couple of years we've done white elephant type exchanges where stealing is allowed. This year I chose to do one out of Banksia pod and Holly. I did a rough sketch this afternoon and then headed to the garage this evening to make it a reality. It's very close to what I had envisioned and should be pretty popular.

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Art festival prep

I found out on Tuesday that I was a late addition to an arts and crafts festival that's taking place this weekend. Now I'm scrambling to get a few extra pieces completed.

This 4 piece nested set in oak burl was tonight's effort. I've had this piece of wood for 5 or 6 years and finally got around to roughing it out about 6 months ago. Since then it has been kicking around the shop waiting to be finished.

I'm ecstatic with the results. I think it's probably the best nested set I've ever done and should be well suited to this event. It will undoubtedly have a prime spot in my booth and I need to take some quality photos in case it sells.

Next up is a hollow form I've been working on for a while. It's mesquite with sapwood and the natural edge surrounding the opening. I had a near disaster with this piece last night. I don't have time to go into detail.

Suffice it to say I was able to salvage the piece, even after being within 30 seconds from tossing in the bin. In truth I would nave cut it in half before tossing in the recycling bin to see how consistent the wall thickness is and where it could be improved.

Last is a hollow form I started a while back. I finally got around to turning the pedestal, lid, and finial. The lid and finial are 2 pieces, the pedestal is one solid piece. Both the pedestal and lid/finial are made of Macassar Ebony.

Overall size is 7 1/2" diameter and 17" tall.

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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Spherical box

This morning i turned a near perfect spherical box in Box Elder with natural red staining. Roughly 3 1/2" diameter.

The walls could be thinner and the joint could be tighter but overall I'm pretty happy. This was turned this afternoon without any templates or other guides. The inside was not sanded and was turned completely freehand.

The outside was also turned freehand using a set of wooden cup chucks I made myself. A fun little project that can be done in about an hour and requires only a couple basic tools (bowl gouge, spindle gouge, spindle roughing gouge, scraper, parting tool).

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Friday, November 4, 2011

Collared vase

I finished my portion of the collaboration piece. I did a little more hollowing, then finished off the bottom. I did decide to put a decorative collar around the rim.

Top view. The collar is made of some Katalox I've had sitting on the shelf for 6 or 7 years. It was the right thickness for this purpose and the color should provide a nice contrast to the Magnolia body.

The collar removed and turned upside down. The joint is tight enough I don't think glue is necessary. This is a similar process but a little different than the collars I made for my recent hollow form and the foot on the Birdseye maple bowl. In this case the recess is on the inside of the ring, not the outside. Requiring a rethink and a different approach.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Trick or Treat

 The President's Challenge for January is "Collaborations".  I was contacted by another club member the other day, he was looking for another member in his area to collaborate with and it turned out that he wasn't that far from my house.  He brought over this piece late last week, it's a piece of Magnolia he roughed out a few (5-6) years ago.
 It's end grain from a whole log section and had a significant amount of tearout near the rim.  It was left nice and thick when he roughed it out so there was plenty of left to play with to improve the shape and get it down to a reasonable weight.
 After finishing most of the hollowing I started working on shaping the outside.  I might remove a little more on the inside near the bottom.  It's currently 9 3/8" deep and about 4 1/2" at the widest point.  I'm considering adding a contrasting rim to help dress it up a bit.
 Last night between trick-or-treaters I chucked up this chunk of maple and went to work.  It's turned on a total of 4 axis and has my normal 120 degree twist.  
 3 of the axis are on the outside to give it the triangular shape and the twist.  The 4th axis is the true center used for the top, bottom, and the inside.
I wish the base were a little smaller, it would make the piece appear lighter and more delicate than it truly is.  Realistically this piece will never be very light because of the thicker walls, particularly in the corners.  I'm also considering adding a collar or lid/finial combination to this piece to help dress it up.