Tuesday, June 21, 2011


 This interesting chunk of wood was sourced off of Craigslist last night.  I saw and ad for a shelf full of burls.  Unfortunately I was too late for that ad but they seller said he had a few more I might be interested in.  A Buckeye burl (below) and a large "Basketball sized" Oak burl.
 I was interested in the Buckeye, not as interested in the Oak burl but I took enough cash with me for both.  The Oak burl was closer to 20" diameter but it looked like it had been sitting exposed to the weather for at least a decade and was rotten right through the center.  On the far end of his woodpile he had this piece.  He wasn't sure what wood it is but I knew I had to have it.  The price he quoted was quite a bit less than what I was willing to pay so it was loaded up.  He also had an older 110v Gast vacuum pump that I picked up.  I'm not certain what I'm going to do with it but I couldn't pass it up either.  It's very similar to my 220v pump but this has the advantage of being able to be used anywhere with standard power, a huge advantage for demos and travel.

 This is the Buckeye piece.  It's about 14-15" diameter and 9-10" deep with quite a bit of grey color.  Surprisingly light for its size.
This will probably end up being a natural edge nested set but that will have to wait, I'm headed out of town for vacation soon.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


Some spheres from Thursday and Friday night.  The smallest one at the top was made when I made the kendama and is made out of Cedar.  The 2 below that on the left hand side are both Eucalyptus.  The lightest colored one is Olive, the dark one in the bottom middle is Desert Ironwood.  The large one on the right is Mesquite.  The bowl is one I did a couple of years ago, I think it's Cottonwood.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Fun with spheres

I've had this idea in my head for a couple weeks now.  Tonight I had to give it a try.  I started by turning a sphere.  The blank was cut slightly longer than the width (3 5/8" long, 3 1/4" wide) and mounted between centers.

The blank was turned to a cylinder and layout lines were made.  The important line is the one in the middle, the others were no measured, just drawn on as a guide.

The corners are knocked off back to the center line.  This is where the bulk of the material will be removed.  Almost no material will be removed at the center line as that is the largest diameter of the sphere.

Each side is then turned to a half sphere shape.  I prefer to do the left hand side first because it's my weak side and I can better match the curve on the right hand side.

A couple more cuts and the basic sphere shape has been formed.

The blank is then rotated 90 degrees and put between wooden drive centers.  If you look at this photo closely you can see the "shadow" of the nubs left by the drive center on the original axis and the rest of the wood to be removed to make this a perfect sphere.

The sphere is repeatedly repositioned on 3 axis (X, Y, and Z) so the entire surface can be trued.  Here you can see that the sphere is on the Z axis.  The X axis is noted by the single line on the top.  The Y axis is the double line on the near side.  The blank is turned on eash axis about 3 times, each time smaller and smaller cuts are taken.  If a cut is too deep the entire surface will have to be turned down to that new depth. 

Once turning is complete the entire surface is sanded with each grit. Once per axis per grit.

Next the sphere is moved off azis and a groove is turned.  The was repeated after rotating the sphere 90 degrees.

There are some flaws. Chipout on some of the edges where the wood was unsupported during the cut and a couple of areas where the soft wood was crushed by the wooden drive centers.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Mega catch up

 It's been a busy week, time for another catch up post.

First up is some prep for an upcoming demonstration.  I'm headed to Idaho for vacation in about 3 weeks and will be doing a demonstration at the Woodcraft Guild in Idaho Falls on 7/7/11.
 I'll be doing my multi axis demo, the main feature being my multi axis lidded box with a twist.  As always I prepare the blank ahead of time by turning the inside.  This is primarily to save time but is also because the accuracy needed for the tenon would be hard to do with an audience.
 Next up are a few birdhouses.  The last couple of posts have been their construction.  Here are the finished products.
Some may notice that the 3rd one (Ornamental Yew) is missing.  It had an unfortunate accident while doing the final sanding.  I forgot how thin it was near the bottom and when I tapped on it to seat it on a jam chuck I broke the bottom out of it.  I made this body as a replacement on Friday night and gave the woman that ordered it her choice of the 3.  She picked this one and it's now living happily in her living room.

 This piece was boxed so it can be delivered to the 25th annual American Association of Woodturners symposium in Minneapolis-St. Paul.
 The President's Challenge for June is "Toys".  I'm working on a couple of things, first is a multi axis magic wand.  Next is a Tippy top.  This top is supposed to flip over and spin on the stem.  This one doesn't quite work right but I'm not sure what's wrong.  I'll probably do a couple more to see if I can figure out what went wrong.  I suspect it's too top heavy.
 This afternoon I turned a Kendama.  Kendamas are like the old ball and cup toy but a bit more extreme.  There are at least 4 surfaces to catch the ball one, each of the 3 cups and the point.
xAll pieces were turned out of Red Cedar.  I didn't have any plans and I couldn't find any dimensions on the internet so I had to base my design on a couple of photos.  I'm sure that the dimensions are incorrect. I can now see from additional photos that the cups on the side should be different sizes.  I also had some extra wood so I turned another sphere (above).

Last I had a custom job to turn a spindle and a drop finial for a music stand.  The customer supplied the wood and a poor quality photo to use as the template.  The photo was similar to the photo at left.  I didn't have to copy it exactly but it was used as inspiration for the piece.  The drop final was inspired by the bottom 2" of the spindle only in reverse and slightly different because it needed to taper down to a very small diameter in a relatively short distance.