A year ago, a limb of a maple tree fell on a friend’s home in a storm. He gave me some of the wood for woodturning. From the wood, I turned two natural edge bowls.
The first bowl I turned all at once, finished it, then let it dry. I posted its video then. Since then, it has warped a little.
The second bowl I rough turned, waxed it, and put it away to dry. While drying, it has lost over 30% of its weight in moisture loss. It also warped.
The difference is that I have now finished the second bowl. Having left the walls a bit thicker allowed the bowl to warp and still have enough wood to turn it round again.
It is difficult to see the difference in a photograph. However, the first is a little oblong while the second is perfectly round. The irregular rim from the natural edge disguises the difference. Most of the wood was removed while still wet and soft from both. Sanding is more difficult on wet wood because it gums up sandpaper in a flash. Turning dry wood is a little more difficult than wet wood. Each process is fun, each has its challenges and benefits. The biggest difference for the second bowl is that it is hard to wait while the wood dries but the bowl is perfectly round.
While at a break between exhibits, a man came by offering some time to woodturn at a lathe. I said ok.
Later I learned that it was a timed competition including many of the professional presenters including Richard Raffan, Michael Hosaluk, and Matt Monaco. This made me nervous. For each round, two people came to identical lathes with identical tools. We had some time to mount a square block of maple, test the lathe, inspect the tools, (spindle gouge, bowl gouge, spindle roughing gouge, and parting tool) and get the lathe up to speed.
In the first couple of rounds, at least three of the maple blocks went flying off the lathes. With the time to replace the wood, they did not finish. This made me even more nervous. I decided I had no chance of winning against Richard Raffan. So I focused on finishing my spin top without it flying away and within the five minutes allotted.
There was not time to make a decent tenon or to check for round. Time was flying by. I did some things that cost me time that I would change and my design was slightly more complex than necessary.
In the end, I finished in three minutes and thirty-five seconds and won my round. I was nowhere close to winning the competition since Richard Raffan finished in 44 seconds with Mike Hosaluk right behind him at 45 seconds. A couple of the fastest tops were not quite round. But the only test was whether they would spin.
It was fun despite my nerves.
The tailstock on my full-sized Powermatic 3520A is heavy. I have to remove it from the lathe to hollow a bowl or a hollow form. It’s so heavy that I worry about dropping in on my toes or straining my back. If I leave it on the lathe, I risk banging an elbow. Ouch!. It was time to fix this “Health & Safety” issue.
I searched for solutions including commercial solutions. They’re nice but expensive. A fellow woodturning club member used an electric lathe. Another viewer made a hinge to swing his tail stock off to the side.
I needed it clear out of harm’s way.
I purchased a wire cart and made an extension to the lathe bed ways. A short piece of plywood aligns the extension to the lathe.
With all in place, I easily pull the tailstock off and move it out of the way.
When I need it again, I push the cart against the lathe, it automatically aligns to the lathe and I push the tailstock back onto the lathe.
No risk now for dropping it on my toes or straining my back. No excuse now for moving the tailstock away to save my my elbow.
Several years ago I rough turned a beautiful 13 by 6 inch bowl from a green or wet piece of ash. I promptly waxed the rough bowl, put it in a paper bag, and placed it on a shelf to dry. I intended to leave it for about a year.
More than the allotted time has passed. You could say that life interfered. In the meantime the bowl cracked severely while drying.
What a disappointment! I don’t want to burn it now that it is dry.
I decided to fill the cracked with a series of plugs from different hardwoods: Apricot, Walnut, and Maple.
After re-truing the tenon and smoothing the rim, I drilled one inch holes at the top of both cracks plus another to provide symmetry. After inserting a turned dowel into this first set of holes, I returned to the drill press to drill another set overlapping the first set. I repeated this process for a total of five sets of plugs.
Then I proceeded to remount the bowl, turn the outside and hollow the inside. The bowl is finished with walnut oil.
Instead of cracks I have a symmetrical design and a very nice, large ash bowl, much, much more than firewood.
I pruned a branch off my apple tree last winter and rough turned a small goblet. I had to dodge a lot of rotten wood to form the goblet. Then I waxed it, put it in a paper bag, and put it away to dry.
In the mean time, it has lost 34% of its weight while drying.
Now it’s dry and it’s time to finish this cup for valentine’s day treats. The cup is about 5″ tall and 3″ in diameter. CA glue has stabilized the rotten wood. The cup is finished with shellac friction polish. It was turned in stages: cup interior, cup exterior, and finally the stem and base. The wood was sanded and finished with each stage. Otherwise, vibration from the thin wood would have inhibited good turning.
I’ve been using wood faceplates instead of metal faceplates with wood scrap blocks. A wood faceplate eliminates the risk of hitting a screw while turning. I can have as many wood faceplates as I want and keep it on the project until the project is complete. I can make any size faceplate that may be needed.
In a recent video making a segmented bracelet, I used two wood faceplates to build up the segment layers from both top and bottom at once. For that project I also used a reverse chucking alignment adapter to hold one faceplate in the tail stock with the other mounted in the head stock. With this mount, I was able to glue in the last middle layer to both at once on the lathe.
In this video, I turn a 6 inch wood faceplate.
- Mount a blank (poplar) on the face of a scroll chuck.
- Rough turn the blank to round and smooth the face.
- Cut a dovetail tenon.
- Flip the blank and mount to a chuck with the dovetail tenon.
- Bore the thread hole – 1 1/8″ in this case.
- Thread the hole – A Beall 1 1/4″ x 8 tpi tap
- Relieve hole 1/8 for the spindle base – on both sides. One the face so the faceplate can mount to the spindle in order to cut the relieve on the spindle side of the faceplate.
- Face off the chuck and it is ready for use.
I’ll still use metal faceplates for green bowl and large bowl turning. I like the safety of steel or aluminum in these cases.
Otherwise, I’m building my collection of faceplates.
In my last video I turned a segmented bracelet using my new home made bracelet chuck. It is an expansion chuck using basic engineering principles with lathe components. It uses 2 tapered end plugs, 8 tapered side slats, 2 automotive band clamps, 4 latex tubing rings, and a little duct tape.
One end plug is fitted to the lathe spindle. As originally designed, I would have drilled a hole in the plug sized to a spur drive center. However, I decided to thread it to hold it more firmly in place. This is escpecially nice when assembling a bracelet onto the chuck. I used a tap that matches my lathe spindle from Beall.
The other end plug is fitted to the lathe’s revolving center. Again I decided to tap it to match. This time I used a carbon steel tap set from McMaster Carr (Price $27). Carbon steel should be good enough for the number of times I’ll use this tap especially in wood.
The slats are out of straight grained wood, in my case Baltic birch, 10″ long by 1.25″ wide and 5/8″ thick. I cut a taper from the middle of the 10″ side to 1/4″ from the other side. One slat was my template for turning the tapered end plugs. After turning the end plugs, I ripped the slats to 1″ wide and sanded a taper on the opposite sides. (4 tapers: 2 sawed – 2 sanded)
The chuck works by the lathe tail stock forcing the tapered ends together. This expands the side slats until they are constrained by the bracelet to hold it in place.
Theoretically, the bracelet could be the only thing holding the slats in place.
Practically, however, and with safety in mind, band clamps are also used in case the bracelet breaks. If that were to happen without the band clamps, parts and pieces could fly all over and possibly injure someone.
With metal bands now on the slats, they should not explode but now the band clamps pose a hazard. They have bumps where the screw mechanism is and a trailing band of metal. To counter this risk, the slats are 10 inches wide (otherwise, they could be shorter), the band clamp is always positioned so the trailing band trails opposite the rotation of the lathe (so it cannot dig in to a hand), and latex rings provide a final layer of protection. A piece of duct tape also holds down the trailing part of the band clamp.
The latex rings are cut from standard latex tubing. The ends are glue together on a short piece of wood dowel with medium CA glue.
This chuck avoided having to flip the bracelet from side to side and having to fit it to a jamb chuck to finish the outside of a bracelet. It made my turning job much easier and with better results.
Last summer, I turned some wood bracelets for my granddaughters. Afterwards, a viewer send in a question about how to turn the outside of the bracelet without flipping the workpiece over. With that in mind, I designed an expansion chuck on which to turn bracelets. With the chuck, I can now turn bracelets more easily.
This bracelet is made from tiny wood segments. Three closed segment rings have 12 segments each. Two open segment rings have 24 segments each for a total of 84 segments. Since the wood is left over from a previous project, I’m not sure what the redish wood is (Not Padauk). The light colored wood is maple.
Recently Steve Ramsey on his YouTube channel made a wooden train whistle out of square pine. Immediately, it occurred to me that a train whistle must be round. So I made this whistle out of poplar with walnut end caps. It is about six inches long with a diameter of about two inches.
There are four whistle chambers in this train whistle. Varying chamber depths determine the different pitches when you blow on the mouthpiece. The longest chamber is nearly the length of the body. The shortest is about half that depth.
One end cap is only decorative with a small finial. The top end cap contains a mouthpiece and an air distribution chamber to the four whistles in this project. The tricky part is the opening in the side of the whistle body and getting the reeds just right.
The project is finished with a mix of mineral oil and beeswax. Tools used were a bowl gouge, skew, spindle gouge, parting tool, and a bedan.
Both were turned from scrap offcuts: one is russian olive, the other is aspen.
Before turning, I drilled holes to match the bottom of the LED light. Then the bottoms were turned first to make a recess for the magnet and recess to use to remount onto a chuck. They are finished with a mix of mineral oil and beeswax. Tools used were a bowl gouge and a bedan.