Monday, October 29, 2012

Christmas Cubed

Michael Poorman was the closest (and only) guess to the technique.  Here's the answer with the trick.  The blank started out as a cube.  I sanded off 2 of the corners of the blank to give the drive center and live center a flat spot to register.

The blank is then mounted on the bias, essentially corner to corner (except I've sanded the corners off to make it easier).  The 6 remaining corners will be the corners on the ornament.  3 on the top wing and 3 on the bottom wing.

With the lathe spinning this is the shadow of the blank.  You can more easily see how the 3 corners on the top and the 3 corners on the bottom are aligned.

The upper surface of the upper wing is turned first.  I also shape a small tenon that will be used later.

Then the under side of the upper wing can be turned.  I've left it a little thick at this point, it can be thinned and refined later.

Next the blank is flipped end for end (I'm VERY right handed and always prefer to work from the tailstock side) and the process is repeated for the lower wing.

Now the shape can be refined a bit and a tenon formed on the bottom end.  There are now 2 tenons and the wings are basically formed.  They may still be refined slightly but most of the work is done.

The tenon formed above can then be gripped in a chuck (I'm using a Supernova2 with a set of Pin jaws, they'll grip a tenon between .4" and 1.22" diameter.  This gives free access to finish off this wing.

To finish the other wing I had to get a little creative.  The smallest vacuum drum I have is 2" diameter, it was slightly too large for this piece.  What I decided to do was to thread on one of my drilled and tapped jam chucks, round over the face, and then apply some closed cell foam (yellow).  With the center cut out of the foam I was able to get just enough pressure to finish off the piece.  The other tenon was removed and the wing thinned and refined. I then drilled a hole through the middle to receive the cap and the drop finial.

And the finished piece.

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Take 2

My second (and final) attempt at this ornament. This one is significantly smaller, thinner, and lighter. I reused the same cap and finial. This time the body is Madrone burl. The cap and finial are still Ziricote. I think the color of the Madrone works well with the Ziricote.

One of the cool things about this technique is that the top and bottom curves are both triangular but they're offset by 180 degrees. This is due to the shape and orientation of the blank, it's all turning, no cutting, no carving, all one piece.

I did a sequence of photos showing the technique. Here's one from late in the process, have you figured it out yet?

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Monday, October 22, 2012

A little bit biased

Every year my club does an ornament exchange at our holiday party. Every year I try to do something unique. Last year I used a banksia pod, the year before that I used textured redwood, 3 years ago I turned and hollowed a multi axis Christmas tree out of Holly:

This year I wanted to take a completely different approach, something I've never seen before and using a technique most turners have never tried, let alone heard of.

I'm not quite ready to reveal the technique I used. I will eventually, perhaps when I make the final one for the exchange. This one is primarily a proof of concept; the final one will be smaller, probably about 1/3 smaller than this version. Until then leave a comment below if you think you know how it was done.

A few hints. The body is all one piece and there was no cutting, carving, or anything else. What you see is what you get; straight off the lathe. There's also another hint hidden in the post, if you know what you're looking for.

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Friday, October 19, 2012


It's October, that means it's time for the Sunnyslope Art Walk. A 4 hour show held each on a Saturday evening each April and October. I've done this show 8 or 9 times now and have started to develop a few repeat customers. Turnout was good but sales were a bit slow. Still well worth it.

Maple burl hollow form. All of theses forms have been hollowed through the bottom and the plugged. The hole in the top is a illusion. Large enough to have the appearance that the hollowing was done from the top, but also small enough for people to be impressed. This one is basically flat across the top, not something I usually do.

Bottom view.

Figured Myrtle. This one has a top that curves slightly inward, requiring a slightly different approach when hollowing.

Bottom view.

Last one, red striped Box Elder. This has a more typical shape, curving up slightly at the top around the opening.

Alternate view.
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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Back to the drawing board

The club challenge for October in inside-out. I had an idea to incorporate my multi axis turning on the inside face. So I chucked up a piece of Home Depot redwood and turned a prototype.

I had to leave the ends square so I had some area to glue once its turned inside out. Normally I would turn all the way to the ends of the blank. Because this is only a prototype I didn't do the preliminary glue up.

Instead i turned it as a solid piece and then quartered it on my band saw before turning the sections inside out. The results weren't what I had in mind so it went in the recycling bin and I went back to the drawing board.

My second idea was more successful and closer to what I had in mind as my concept. I started by gluing 4 pieces together with a paper joint and turning a wide cove.

The paper glue joints were the split apart and the 4 pieces turned inside out and glued together permanently. I opted to turn on 4 axes with a 90 degree twist to match the 4 diamond shaped openings formed by the inside-out process.

It's not perfect but it proves the concept. The glue joints could be much better; that's one of the reasons I'm not a segmented turner. I'm also not sure how this concept could be incorporated into a finished piece. For now I'm just happy that I was able to get my proof of concept done.

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Monday, October 8, 2012


I've had this idea in my head for quite a while. In fact I did a small prototype a couple years ago. Today was the day to do it for real. The basic idea was to do a donut shape but have it hollow as well. The sketch above was drawn on a napkin at lunch to explain to my wife what I was thinking and how I thought I could get to done.

I ended up changing the plan and the method a bit to accommodate a larger blank but the results are pretty much what I had in mind.

The wood is red streaked Box Elder. The blank started out at 9.5" x 4" and ended up around 9" x 3".

Alternate view.

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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Production run

A production run of 6 Mesquite mortars and pestles.

Raw Materials.

Pestles complete.

Mortars & Pestles complete.

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Clamshell box

Walnut clamshell box.

Turned for the "Walnut" President's challenge.  Each half turned from a 4/4 walnut board roughly 3" wide.  4/4 isn't thick enough to turn a traditional box so I cut 2 pieces from adjoining sections of the board.

Side view.

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Catch up

Acacia with spiral branding.

My new license plate.

A storm downed tree that I passed on. The tree was about 14" diameter but was cut into lengths about 8" long.

Mesquite, Palo Verde, & Ask headed to my club's 50/50 raffle.

Palo Verde burl rescued from a firewood pile.

Olive stump/burl rescued from the same pile.

The remains of the Chinese Elm from my front yard. It died suddenly and had to be removed. We'll replace it eventually.

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