Sunday, January 30, 2011

Woodcraft Woodworking Expo 2011

Yesterday was the 2011 Woodcraft Woodworking Expo at the Woodcraft in Phoenix (Chandler).  Our club had a booth where we demonstrated the basics of woodturning and got people interested in our club and our upcoming symposium.  They also had woodworking contests featuring 4 different categories; woodturning, woodcarving, furniture, and mixed media.

I entered 2 pieces in the woodturning category, this burned trio and the piece below.

This was my second entry.  A bug eaten and spalted Palo Verde hollow form.  The judges were David J Marks ( and Marc Spagnuolo (  They ended up selecting this piece as second place in the woodturning category.

My prize is a new Supernova 2 scroll chuck. This is my 4th chuck, all Supernova 2s.

The demonstrations went well.  I turned 5 bowls (2 natural edge and 3 normal), a small hollow form, and a small 3 axis twisted piece.  There were 2 other club members there for most of the day, one turned a small lidded box and a couple of small weed pots.  The other turned a small mallet.  A very good day with near perfect weather.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Demo and coring

Woodcraft is having a big event tomorrow so I prepared some wood to use for turning demos to promote our local club and our upcoming symposium (

While I was at it I started to work on something completely new for me.  I bought this small piece of curly maple at Rockler earlier this month.  Our club challenge for March is "plates" and I knew what I wanted to do.  I've done a fair amount of coring but this was a different technique.  Normally when I core I'm doing bowls and I core in from the front face to extract a piece that's a smaller diameter than the larger bowl.  This technique is to cut in from the side, this allows you to retain the full diameter, just thinner.

I repeated the process to end up with 3 roughed out pieces all very similar.  Some may ask, could I have simply cut the piece into 3 slabs on the bandsaw prior to turning.  The answer is yes, but that wasn't my goal.  I was testing the coring technique and had there been more arc it would not have been possible with a straight cut, something that may come in handy in the future.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


I picked up some more wood this weekend.  I'm told that it's Ornamental Yew but I'm not sure.  I've turned a few small pieces of Pacific Yew before but this seems quite a bit different.

It came out of a yard in Central Phoenix, the homeowner wanted the wood to go to someone that would put it to good use, for use as something that would last longer than firewood.




Saturday, January 15, 2011

Going burling

First a little housekeeping.  I finished the burning on the trio a couple of nights ago (Thursday, I think).

 Once again, they're Maple, all 3 are 2 1/4" diameter and range from 1 3/4" tall to 2 3/4" tall.

All 3 pieces have been signed with my standard signature, a stylized version of my initials, JTC, that also look like a stylized roman numeral 3.  My name is Jason Thomas, my father is Jeff Thomas, his father was Jack Thomas so I'm the 3rd generation with those initials.  For the record, my son's name is Christopher and his middle name is not Thomas.

Most of my day today was spent picking up and moving my latest purchase.  I found a Maple burl listed on eBay this week and I ended up the highest bidder.  Fortunately it was local (~50 miles each way) so I didn't have to pay shipping.  He had the burl listed as 36" diameter, 40" tall, and 1000 pounds.  I doubted all of those figures but I was quickly proven wrong (except for the weight, I'm still not convinced it's 1000 pounds).  My six year old daughter posing for scale, it's laying on it's side in this photo.

It took 2 of us, plus his teenage son, a come along , a rope, and 45 minutes of hard labor to get it loaded.  I rented a 5' X 9' trailer with a ramp to get it moved. Unload went quite a bit easier.  I lowered the ramp and looped the rope around the burl before hooking up the other end to my lathe.  I then simply pulled forward to leave the burl sitting in the middle of my driveway.  An hour of winching got it inside and with the help of a neighbor we got it upright.

I still want to move it a little bit to get it out of the way but for now it's safely stored in my garage.  As you can see by the 48" level it's every bit of the 40" tall he listed and it's about 38" diameter. It's too big for my chainsaw so I'm considering having it slabbed at one of the local sawmills so I don't butcher it.  That will add significantly to the overall cost but I got it cheap enough that it still makes sound financial sense.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Post #400 - Drips

This is a new burning design for me.  It wasn't quite what I had in mind when I sat down but it's what ended up happening.

My daughter says it looks like lava.  Again, not quite what I had in mind.  I was thinking more like paint or water.

The wood is Soft Maple.  The stipple pattern is made of thousands and thousands of individual burns.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Burning day 3

 2 down, 1 to go.
The middle piece took about 90 minutes to burn, for comparison it only took about 1/3 that that time to do the turning. 
I think they look pretty good as a pair and will even better as a trio. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Burning Day 2

 More burning tonight.  An hour of uninterrupted work allowed me to finish the smallest piece in the trio.

 All 3 pieces in the set are 2 1/4" diameter.  They rest on bases a hair under 1/2" diameter.

This one is 1 3/4" tall.  I've included a quarter for size comparison. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Burning part 1

I started the burning process tonight.  The first step is to divide the piece into sections to make sure thing stay more or less parallel. 

Then the sections are filled in.  I freehand the design as I go, filling in where necessary.

This is a little under an hours worth of burning.  I'm about 30% done on the smallest one.  I think I have about 6 hours left to complete all the burning.

Monday, January 3, 2011

4th time's the charm

I was off today because of the holiday so I did some work in the shop.  I started hollowing the trio of pieces for the DWR auction.  This is the shortest of the 3 and it went very smoothly as did the middle one.

The tallest one was a different story.  This was my 2nd attempt.  It now resides in the recycling bin.

These are the 3rd (left) and 1st (right) attempts.  The first attempt doesn't look to bad in this photo but the size of the opening must match the other 2 so it got trashed too.  The third attempt developed 2 small cracks on opposite sides of the opening and I also got a bit thin about half way down. 

It took 4 tries but I finally had some success.  All 3 are 2 1/4" diameter and the heights range from 1 3/4" to 2 1/4" to 2 3/4".  Each one is 1.25X taller than the previous one.

In this photo the middle one is just a hair too tall, I put it back on the lathe to take about 1/10" off the bottom to reduce the height to the 2 1/4" dimension I listed above. 

Next comes the burning.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Busy work

Another pair of paper pressers for my wife's coworkers.  The top one is curly Purpleheart, the bottom one is curly Maple.  Both blanks came from the bargain bin at the local Woodcraft.  I really hate Purpleheart but couldn't pass up this piece after seeing all of the curl.

I also started work on a trio of small hollow forms in Soft Maple.  They will be hollowed and burned.  I intend these to be included in the fundraising auction at the 2011 Desert Woodturning Roundup,  February 18-20th here in Mesa.