Saturday, April 30, 2011

Artists @ the Arboretum

 Today was the 4th annual Artists at the Arboretum event presented by the Soroptimist International Gold Canyon at Boyce Thompson Arboretum near Superior AZ.  I've been there all 4 years and have done pretty well for a small venue with a relatively inexpensive entry fee.  I only had 7 sales selling a total of 9 items but the average sale price was pretty good so it was overall a pretty good day.  I had my 6 year old daughter with me all day so that was also a plus.
 2 more catch up photos.  These are a pair of figured Eucalyptus hollow forms I started working on about a week ago.  They're from a chunk of wood I sourced from a local firewood lot.  The piece looked different, not quite a burl but also not just straight grain.  I took a small gamble and purchased it, I now wish I had gotten quite a bit more.
Hollowing is partially done, when finished the pieces will be 6" and 4" tall and both 4 1/2" diameter.  The outside shape will be refined and changed as the hollowing proceeds.  It's slow going as this is very hard and very dry end grain Eucalyptus.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Chinese Elm

 One of my neighbors lost a Chinese Elm about 6 months ago.  It just died suddenly.  It wasn't particularly large and Chinese Elm isn't particularly interesting but I grabbed a few pieces when I helped him cut it down and section it up.  He came over the other night and we did a small bowl from his tree

He'd never done any turning before but his father had at some point during his school years.  We decided to do a very basic thin walled bowl.  He did most of the roughing to get it into shape and I took over for the finer work and the last pass.  We didn't bother to sand as the bowl is still fairly wet and was just a practice piece.

It could have been a bit thinner in the bottom but is pretty good on the sides.  Thin enough to transmit light even though it's about half dry.  It was moving quite a bit as I was finishing the bottom.  Another reason we didn't bother to sand.
This hollow form is also from their tree.  I've been working on it off and on for a week or 2 and finally have it mostly done. 

I still have to take off the bottom as well as sand and finish the piece.  Before that I have to figure out exactly where the bottom of the piece is.  With an irregular edge at the top it's difficult to know exactly where the bottom of the inside is in relation to the outside.  I'll probably build a jig that uses a laser, something I've intended to do for quite a while.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Opinions wanted

 I need some opinions, please if you're reading this - woodturner or not - leave a comment.  I need to figure out what to do with the voids on this burl.  Many of the voids go at least an inch deep, some of them as much as 2 or 3 inches and up to 1/2" wide.  With a finished thickness of under 1/2" many of them will go all the way through the finished piece, risking it coming apart on the lathe.
 There's also this mysterious hole in one side of the burl.  It doesn't go all the way through to the bark and it doesn't appear in the bowl I cored off the bottom of this blank.
 The 2 options are: 1) leave them alone and leave the voids unfilled and natural or 2) fill them with something; coffee grounds, Turquoise, Chrysocolla, Malachite, or something similar.

This is an earlier set from the same tree to give you a better idea of the color of the wood and how it looks with coffee grounds used as a filler.

Now it's time to let me know what you think.  Fill or no fill.  If fill then with what?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Works in progress

 More work on the Oak Burl set today.  The core was remounted, turned true, a tenon turned, and then the blank was cored again.
I repeated the process 1 more time and I ended up with 4 bowls total.  I should end up with a 5th bowl as I have a small cutoff I cut off the side of the blank before I started turning.  It won't go with this set, but will be from the same blank.
The largest is just under 14" diameter, they step down from there, the smallest is about 4" diameter.

 I also remounted and trued up the outside of the Eucalyptus burl I cored the bottom off of the other day.
This one has a ton of voids.  I have to figure out what to do with them and I don't think I can progress much further until I figure out what I'm going to do.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


I spotted a wood pile beside the road on Wednesday while driving between dental appointments (long story).  The pile was mostly Pine and Eucalyptus but there were a few chunks of Mesquite mixed in.  I don't want or need any Mesquite but I picked it up for fellow club members, likely to be part of the 50/50 meeting next month.  It was already cut pretty much how I would cut it, slightly longer than the diameter (9-10" diameter, 14" long).  Got to love free wood.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Big Burls

I've had this chunk of wood laying around for 4 or 5 years.  It's a Eucalyptus Burl that was cut off of a dead tree that was sitting in an empty lot.  I've debated what to do with it and finally decided on Saturday night to do a natural edge nested set.
The blank was mounted on a faceplate and put on the lathe.  I can swing 20" inboard and as you can see from the next photo I needed every bit of that.

Clearance on this corner was about 1/16".  If the gap in the bed was filled It would have scraped.

The outside was shaped and a tenon turned on the bottom.  While working on the shape I decided that I would core off the bottom of the blank to form a standard bowl and then the rest would be done natural edged.

This also ensured that more of the burl figure ends up on the natural edge set.  Some of the wood closer to the tenon isn't as figured as the rest of the burl.  Initially I was planning to fill the voids with a filler like coffee grounds and epoxy but I think I've changed my mind now.

Sunday morning I chucked up another big piece of burl, this time an Oak Burl.  I neglected to take a before photo.  This burl also has a number of large voids.

Top view, I used my new Stebcenter to drive this blank, I don't think I'll be doing that again, it should be very useful on spindles and small bowls but on something this large and hard it didn't work very well.  Perhaps the 1" version would be better (mine is 5/8").

Tuesday night I decided to start the coring process on both blanks.  The Oak Burl was up first.
I decided to leave the blank thicker than normal because of all the voids, I didn't want it to fly apart.  It's just under 14" diameter.
 I still need to sand it inside and out as well as remove the tenon.  The core removed also needs to be cleaned up, I think I can get another core out of it, leaving me 3 bowls from this blank.

Next up the bottom of the Eucalyptus was cored off.  This photo is a pretty good representation of how that was accomplished.  The curved blade cuts in from the side rather than the top.  This is made a little more difficult because the tool support gate has to be held back from the entry point.  Normally the gate would be as close to the blank as possible to minimize overhang and maximize tool control.

 I wasn't sure how well I was going to like this bowl, I was thinking it was going to be much plainer than this, I like the way the straight grain runs through the middle of the bowl, almost dividing it in half.

In this photo you can better see how much straight grain there is on the outside of the burl, especially on the right hand side.  This one is slightly larger, just under 16" diameter.  It was also left slightly thicker for the same reason, I didn't want it flying apart on the lathe.

 The core out of this bowl (the natural edge from above) will be turned and cored and will hopefully produce 5 or 6 bowls.

The 2 bowls together, the lower right on the Eucalyptus is a partial natural edge, not a chunk missing.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Catch up II

Our club is submitting 1 piece to this summer's "Turning 25 - A Celebration" exhibit in Minneapolis-St. Paul.  This was one of my entries to our club's selection competition.  I'm happy to report that it was the selection and will be included in the exhibit and in the exhibition catalog.  It's titled "Relic I" and is made from a Desert Ironwood root salvaged from a lot being cleared for a new retail development.

After ruining the first hollow form I decided to give it another shot, slowing down just a bit so I don't ruin it.  I started off at exactly 4:05 PM

The finished piece (including a very quick sanding to 320) at 4:20 PM.

It was also cut in half to check the wall thickness.  It's  the one on the right and is quite a bit thicker in the bottom than I'd like and the opening is larger than I'd like but overall it's not bad.  The one on the left was my 10 minute attempt from earlier.

 Last night was a prototype for a new multi axis box.
 The inside is turned prior to the outside.  The outside is done on 2 parallel axis.  One Axis is turned as a large bead, the other is turned as a large cove.  The top and bottom are then turned using a jam chuck.
 There was a significant defect in the wood, making it perfect for a prototype.
Open view, showing the pinched oval cross section.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Catch up

 A bit of catch up and picture dump tonight.  This is going to be a long entry with limited notes.

This blank is Chinese Elm from my neighbor's tree.  It died last fall and had to come down last week.  This is the top part of the trunk, it split into 4 branches at this point.

 Alternate view.
I only took it as far as shaping the outside.  It's been coated with Anchorseal and set aside for the time being.
Alternate view.  The shape will be refined as work progresses.

Ahead of my Tucson demo I decided to do a little practice turning.
A simple spindle turned on 2 parallel axis.  This gives a pinched oval shape to the piece.

Next was another parallel 2 axis piece.  All 3 sections have a circular cross section, only the center section is offset.

Saturday was my demo for the Southern Arizona Woodturners Association in Tucson.  This was my first visit to this club and I did my multi axis demo.  Over the course of 2 1/2 hours I did 6 multi axis projects.  2 parallel axis spindles to warm up, a Mark St. Leger style multi axis final jig, a 3 sided lidded box with a twist, and finally a pair of multi axis pendants.

While there we stopped into the local Woodcraft, my only purchase was a Woodriver brand Stebcenter.  I've been playing with it for the last couple of day and I really like it so far and at $20 it's a bargain.

Sunday morning started with a small Olive hollow form. Approx. 3 1/4" X 2 1/2".
Top view.

Profile view.

That got me thinking, how fast could I turn a similar piece, start to finish.  I started at exactly  2:00
 At 2:10 I heard a somewhat familiar noise and stopped the lathe to find that I had cut through the sidewall near the bottom as I was shaping the outside.  I needed about 2 more minutes to finish shaping the outside and give it a quick sanding.
 Finished off the bottom but not yet sanded, no point sanding it at this time.
I wanted to check how I did inside, a little rough but pretty consistent down to the point where the inside gets bigger than the outside.  I could have gone a little deeper in the middle but a little more meat in the bottom isn't a bad thing as it helps keep it upright.

More tomorrow.