Monday, February 28, 2011

Demo prep

2 weeks until my Prescott demo.  This one snuck up on me a bit with everything going on surrounding the DWR so I'm scrambling to get everything lined up and get my handout done.

I've chosen to do a demo on shop made jigs.  More specifically turning related jigs that you can make with stuff you probably already have laying around in your shop.  I'm planning to do 4 or 5 different jigs, 2 of which are similar to the jig at the left.  I call this a Mark St. Leger style compression jig.  A recess is turned on the face of the jig and a cut is made on the side so that as the jaws of the chuck are closed the wood will flex and compress and grip the piece to be turned.  In this case the recess has a slight concave shape to grip the outside of the ring and prevent it from coming out of the jig unexpectedly.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Potato chips

More madrone tonight.  I think I have 3 more pieces left. 

Tonight I wanted to make a series of small bowls.  I glued the blank to a waste blog and then turned and cored a series of bowls.  The inside of each bowl was turned and then the piece was cored to turn the bottom of the first bowl and give a rough shape to the inside of the next bowl.
The bowls were then each placed on my vacuum chuck so the outside could be finished and the bowl turned to a uniform thickness.  I ended up getting 6 bowls from the blank. 
I ran one sample through entire process, including the microwave, before coring and turning the rest of the blank.  The piece in this photo separate from the other was the prototype.  I neglected to take a picture of the other 5 bowls nested together.
All 6 bowls sent through the microwave for 90 seconds each.  I'll probably give them all another 90 seconds tomorrow morning.

Here is all 6 stacked together.  You can see just how much they warped.  I'm a little disappointed they didn't retain a bit more of the original bowl shape.  They don't really appear to have been turned at all, I think taking thin slices off on a bandsaw would result in a similar effect, be much simpler, and would result in many more pieces, 20 or 30 if done carefully.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Madrone tube

Another chunk of Madrone burl tonight.  I think I have 4 left after tonight. 
Tonight I wanted to turn a thin wall tube.  I didn't get it as thin as the piece from yesterday (which I thought was a bit too thin).  I wasn't sure how this was going to work out as the blank was only secured with a bit of superglue on the waste block - see above.  The first half was hollowed with my bowl gouge, the second half I used my straight boring bar with a round scraper tip.

As I progressed deeper and deeper and then widened out the bottom end the glue surface area became smaller and smaller.  In the end there was only about 1/16" thickness left on the wall at about 2 1/2" diameter.  Very little left holding it in place but strong enough that I had to part it free.
2 trips to the microwave at 90 second each has the piece twisted and warped pretty nicely. 
The top end warped nicely.  The bottom end didn't move quite as much because it was just a little bit thicker.  Now I have an idea in my head for the next piece.  Now we'll see if I can get it done.  I plan to do a test run with some scrap wood to see if it's going to work like I hope.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Madrone Burl

As I promised Christian I got the first piece of the Madrone Burl he left me on the lathe today.  The color in the wood is amazing, fresh cut it was bright red with some brown patches.

I turned it as thin as I could, probably too thin in a couple of spots.  The wood cut very well, requiring almost no sanding.  I might have found a new favorite wood except it's pretty much impossible to get around here.
After turning was completed I popped it in the microwave for 60 seconds a couple of times to start to dry it and to force it to warp. 
We'll see how much more it moves over the next 24 hours. 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Desert Woodturing Roundup Day 3

 Today was the 3rd and final day of the 2011 Desert Woodturning Roundup.  There were 3 rotations (our term for a 90 minute demonstration).  2 before lunch and one after.  I spent the first hour of the morning, before the first rotation started, verifying that all the video equipment was setup and operating correctly.  I intended to attend Mike Mahoney's hollow form demo and did end up attending about 2/3rds of it but had to put out a few small fires here and there as they popped up.
I spent the rest of the day in Christian Burchard's room.  First at his 'Baskets and Gourds' demo and then at his 'Spheres and Spherical forms'.  I didn't know much about Christian prior to the DWR and now that I've seen him in action he's one of my favorite demonstators.  Unfortunately it seems he doesn't demonstrate very much, his last demonstration was the AAW convention held in Portland in 2007.  His work is almost exclusively Madrone Burl, it's turned green, turned thin, and the dried in the microwave to accelerate the drying process and to cause it to warp substantially.  Madrone is among the most unstable woods in the world and is known for extreme warping as it dries.  Christian emphasizes this in his work.
At the conclusion of his 'Baskets and Gourds' demonstration he had several inquiries about purchasing some of the finished pieces he had for use as examples.  I managed to purchase this piece from him for just $35.  A very fair price.  It's not very big, probably 2 1/2" diameter, just under the size of a baseball.  The texture of the piece is emphasized by sandblasting before the finish is applied, the pieces are never sanded.  This will be added to my small but growing collection.  My collection now includes pieces by J Paul Fennell, Christian Burchard, Al Stirt, Hans Finsterwalder, Molly Winton, Loren Fisher, and Brenda Behrens.
At the conclusion of the DWR he asked me if I'd ever turned green (wet) Madrone before and if I wanted some.  He'd shipped some extra pieces just in case something happened to one of his demo pieces.  His one condition is that it needs to be turned this week because one face on each block is not waxed and will start to dry and crack very quickly in this area.  Obviously I wasn't going to turn down such a generous offer.  He also included several glue blocks, the only way that he turns.  Now I have to figure out how to use the wood.  I don't want to copy his work (I may have to try 1 or 2) so I'm trying to think of something a little bit different, I'm leaning towards thin wall tubes, open at both ends.  Richard Raffan turns tubes and it's something that I've been wanting to try for a while, this may be the perfect opportunity.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Desert Woodturning Roundup Day 2

Yesterday was the official first day of the 2011 Desert Woodturning Roundup (DWR).  I'll post about it in a couple of days, after things settle down a bit.

Today was day 2 and the start of the demonstrations.  The one demonstration I knew I wanted to see today was Mike Mahoney's McNaughton coring demo.  I have and use the Mcnaughton set on a regular basis but I've always admired his work and knew I could pick up some pointers.    I ended up running the video camera which meant I was on stage with him and assisted him at various times.  The second half of his demo was coring this piece of Honey Locust Burl.  It was only about 10" diameter but he managed to get 7 pieces out of it.  Using my current tecnique I would have been lucky to get 3.  I learned quite a bit and got to interact on a personal basis with one of the turners I admire the most.  Pretty tough to beat that -

 Part way through the banquet we honored a couple of local turners.  What I didn't know is that everyone had gone behind my back and decided to honor me as well.  It was a complete surprise and very humbling.  I wish my wife could have been there but there was a camera taping everything so I should get a copy eventually. 

After the awards were handed out the live auction took place.  I ended up winning 2 items (I bid on a couple more that I didn't win and if I'm being perfectly honest I expected to be outbid on both of the items I won, but I'm happy that I won them).

This turned, carved, and painted square platter is by Al Stirt.  He's one of our demonstrators this year and donated this piece to the auction (as did several other demonstrators, Mahoney, Sfirri, Burchard, and Hatcher). 

Surface detail.  I might have to check out one of Al's demos to see how he does this technique.  I also won another chuck, I don't really need another one (unless it's a Nova Titan) but the price was too good to pass up, I didn't really intend to win it but that's the way things end up sometimes.

The backside of the auction piece I won.  I donated 2 items to the DWR, a framed lightning photo that went for $75 and the trio of burned hollow forms that were featured earlier this year.  That trio sold for $150, both were very fair prices.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Completed trio

I finished up my trio of plates last night.  I still have to sign them but all the hard work is done.
They're not quite as identical as I'd like but they're darn close. 

The three of them together are a bit under 1" tall when stacked, each one is just over 1/4" tall and right at 1/16" thick at the rim.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Plates part 3

 More work on my trio of plates last night.  I had to clean up my mess from Sunday as I have another turner coming over tonight and decided to do a little work on the plates.
The piece on the right is pretty much finished.  I'll add another coat or 2 of oil and buff it out but the turning portion is complete.  The 2 on the left still have a bit more turning left to do but I ran out of time.  These are being secured on my lathe with a 4" diameter vacuum chuck.  With my vacuum pump set to pull about 8 PSI (~16" of mercury) there is close to 100 lbs of force securing these to the lathe so I have free access to the bottom.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Punky wood

 Alviti asked me the other day in the comments about punky wood.  It wasn't my intention for this post to focus on punky wood but things took a turn for the worse on this piece.

This is African Sumac I picked up back on June 1st 2010 -

There didn't appear to be any major issues on this blank from the outside.
The blank was chainsawed round and a faceplate attached.  I had to do just a bit of trimming to get it to clear the bed of the lathe, final clearance was under 1/16".

Well balanced and safely spinning at 294 RPMs.   This may not sound very fast but at nearly 20" diameter the outer surface is spinning at about 17 MPH.

Here the outside has been roughed and the blank is read to be flipped so I can access the inside.  I didn't think the bark inclusion in the middle of this photo was going to be a problem, it turns out I was wrong, very wrong.
Now the blank has been flipped and is held in a chuck.  The outer edge of the top face of the blank has started to be trued up so I can start coring.  I use my live center with a 60 degree cone on it to support the other end of the blank during coring.

 I skipped the photos of the coring process and went straight to the blank after the inside has been turned true and the walls to a consistent thickness.  The finished diameter of this piece is just under 18 1/2".  Following this step the core that was removed is threaded back onto the lathe, the outside of the core is cut true.

The core was then mounted on the chuck and the center of this piece was cored out.  Near the bottom of the piece the coring went fast and easy and the piece broke free earlier than expected.  Removing the core revealed the problem.  The inside of this piece was too far gone, rotted from the inside out.

A closer view of the decay.  This is extremely punky wood, all structural integrity is gone, the wood can be pulled apart by hand with minimal effort.

The inside of the core cleaned up decent enough, there are some areas that will need to be strenghtened and/or filled but most of the wood is solid.  The medium brown areas are lightly spalted and slightly punky but nowhere near as bad as the rest of the piece.  This ended up at 14" diameter.

Here's the bottom of the piece that was cored from the inside of the blank above.  I put it back on the late hoping that I could turn away the punky wood and get back to good solid wood but that wasn't going to happen.  This piece ended up in the recycling bin just after this photo was taken.  A famous turner once said "Life is too short to turn crappy wood".  I tend to agree.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


A little more work on a couple different projects today.  I started this set of plates about 3 weeks ago,  They're not done yet but I did make some good progress today.  The backs still need to be finished but I'm happy with the progress so far.

I also continued work on my pie.  This and the next 2 photos are actually from yesterday.  The strip were cut from some 1/16" thick pieces of Basswood I picked up at the local hobby store.  At this point they still need some cleanup and some additional fitting.

The inside was turned, sanded, and a coat of oil applied.  This piece of Mesquite turned out to have quite a bit of character, much more than I originally thought.

The bottom was then turned and finished utilizing my vacuum chuck.  As I've stated here in the past I'm a big believer in vacuum chucks.  They don't work on everything but neither do most of the other methods for finished the bottoms (donut and longworth chucks, jumbo jaws, jam chucks, etc).

I still have a bit more fine fitting to do and I still have to decide if I'm going to oil the lattice pieces.  I experimented with burning on some scraps trying to give the strips a baked and browned look but the strips are so thin they burn before they have a chance to brown.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Piece of pie

Longtime readers may remember my "Mesquite Pie"  Hard to believe it's been almost 18 months since I first made that piece.  I started on another one tonight, I might end up putting this one into the Instant Gallery depending on how it turns out. 

The wood ring is parted off the top of the bowl.  It's then trued up and sized down before the recess is cut in the top of the bowl.  A groove is turned into the ring for the lattice pieces to fit into and everything is smoothed and sanded.  I still have to finish sanding inside and out and turn the bottom.  The lattice pieces also need to cut and fitted. 

I also finished turning the Olive burl from the other night.  I still have to finish filling in the cracks on the inside as well as sand and finish.  I hoped toget this set done in time for the DWR but I'm now thinking that's not going to happen.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Instant Gallery

I'm not clear what posessed me tonight but I decided to begin the finishing process of a chunk of Olive burl I've had for the last 8 months.  This was the piece of wood from the "guessing game" entry back on June 9th 2010: and made another appearance on July 22nd entry:

I've decided I'm going to try to get this set finished for inclusion in the 2011 Desert Woodturning Roundup Instant Gallery.  I have 10 days to get them finished.

Tonight I trued up the outside of all 3 pieces, filled the voids on the outside of the largest piece with coffee grounds and epoxy, and started to turn the inside of the largest piece.  I'm planning to turn them fairly thin, between 1/8" and 3/16".