Apr 20

Making tools

So one of the tools we used in the woodturning class before lockdown, was a wide parting tool – about a centimeter or so wide. I don’t have one. And I figured, it’s just a HSS blank ground to shape and fitted to a handle. Machinists make their own lathe tooling as a basic skill, and woodturners as well for some tools (not seen any make their own bowl gouges yet though). So. To ebay, and yes, you can order metal through the post it turns out. One 12x12x200mm lathe tool blank in HSS isn’t even very expensive (though I couldn’t find anything longer than 200mm in HSS, it seems that’s the upper limit for off-the-shelf square bar sections unless you’re ordering metres and metres of the stuff).

The metal detectors says that there’s only 2-3 inches of tang in the parting tool I do have, so that much in the handle gives that length of tool, which is more than enough in a small shed.

Out with the Imp and the angle grinder and the ridiculously small set of metalworking tools I have, and a bit of beech to laminate for a handle.

Not the cleanest cut in the world. But I never said I was any good at metalworking πŸ˜€ I can fine-tune the actual tip over successive sharpenings on the grinder. One more cut on the back side of that bevel, then spindle turning a handle from laminated beech and using a pipe fitting as a ferrule and grinding the tang section of the blank to round for the handle and then lots of epoxy and….

One beading and parting tool.
I’ve used it a fair bit in the last few days. It’s not bad at all, the handle is definitely more comfortable than the others I have, and the tool itself is rock-solid in the hand. The tip isn’t quite right yet though. The bevels need to make a sharper angle, somewhere down between 40 and 30 degrees at the tip. But that’s something I can do over successive sharpenings and sneak up on it.

I’m quite pleased with that now.

So I also ordered a few 300mm lengths of bright mild steel (cold rolled if you’re speaking American) and I have a bit more beech and ash for handles and I’ll make some more, but this time I’ll use some of these…

There are actually a few carbide inserts on the way for this, but that’s not one of them – that’s a CBN insert, you can see it there on the tip on the left hand side. I’m not sure if it’ll work any better, but I was curious πŸ˜€ Give me a few days and I’ll know for sure.

And there are some more, if much thinner, HSS bars also in the post for things like point tools and beading tools and the like. It’s rather satisfying, is toolmaking…

Apr 20

More small practice

So after the last small bowl, I was wondering just how thin I could make those walls before they gave. Another 3″ sycamore blank in and away we go…

That’s not too bad. But it’s a crummy photo. So… new toy πŸ™‚

It’s a cheap 40x40cm photo box from aliexpress. So now, new photo, same bowl…

And suddenly it looks like I’ve actually gotten better at this πŸ˜€
This is kindof a shallow bowl by the way, and bottom-heavy, there’s a centimeter of wood left in the bottom. It’s a jelly-bean dish for Calum πŸ˜€

Lovely pretty wood on it too. Simple poppyseed oil and blonde shellac finish.
And then, in case that was a fluke…

Not as much figure as the last blank, so added a burn line to make it interesting. It’s amazing how important seeing what I’m doing is to this so I had to address the shed lighting again…

Cheap (about six euro) LED floodlight from Farnell and a sewing machine LED light on a magnetic base for task lighting and it’s a massive improvement. And I also put a quick MDF shelf across the feet of the lathe stand and sat the compressor and pillar drill on that instead of on the floor, and now I can horse the entire lathe around about 45 degrees clockwise so I can get better access at the inside of the bowl. Makes things a bit easier.

I think the walls might even be thinner on this one. Fraction of a millimeter, but it just feels a little lighter.

Think I might be ready to move to a 6″ blank now…

Apr 20

Another small bowl

Just practicing at this stage. There are a few things I want to sort out in the shed like dust collection but I’m waiting on parts, and in the meantime I have some miniature blanks and a bit of practice is starting to make things a bit easier with turning (mainly because I’m not doing anything complicated).

Finally took the bait from all of Crimson guitar’s ads for isotunes and bought a set of the Pros (they’re half price at the moment because they’re now the Old Product πŸ˜€ ). Tried them in the shed tonight, have to admit, they do exactly what I wanted them to do; the air compressor can fire up at my feet and the noise doesn’t hurt my ears, and I can wear them with the faceshield easily and listen to music. Spendy by my standards – forty quid for a set of earplugs is twice what I paid for the J-29s which are the only bluetooth earbuds I own, I normally prefer wired headsets and earbuds. But these aren’t half bad.

And I also got a HSS blank that I want to make a beading&parting tool from…

A metal detector says that the tang from my diamond-point parting tool goes in about as far there as the end of that blank, and that tool length is a bit shorter than I’d like but it’s surprising how hard it is to find 300mm HSS blanks online – 200mm seems to be a standard length for making lathe tooling for metal lathes. Oh well. I also have some carbide inserts and bright mild steel bars in longer lengths coming to make some scrapers. I’ll have to laminate up some beech to make the handles, but I might use that to my advantage and cut a rectangular groove in the mating surfaces of the lamination so I don’t have to use an angle grinder to round over that square section to round for the tang.

3″x2″ blank for this evening’s practice. I tried using shorter screws in the faceplate because of how I’ve been having trouble getting rid of the screw holes in rims – this was as bad an idea as it sounds πŸ˜€ First catch and the thing ripped off the faceplate and jumped at the wall. So I swapped the jaws on the chuck for the larger size jaws and grabbed it with that.

Worked quite well. Oh, and I did something about the lighting as well…

It’s not fantastic, but I’ll get a sewing machine light or something soon and that’ll work better. It’ll do for now.

Turned a recess, cleaned up the base of that recess and added a decorative line or two on the base, and roughed out the outside shape. Then flipped it over, changed out the jaws on the chuck to the standard dovetail ones and grabbed the recess and started hollowing out the inside. Love that S-shaped rest by the way, it’s excellent for this.

Just great support when hollowing out the bowl, and when working on the outside shape as well.

That’s the LED strip clamped to the shelf for lighting the inside of the bowl there btw.

Without that, I can’t see inside the bowl when turning at night (by day it’s grand, the sunlight through the window is enough). I *know* I bought a small LED floodlight for the shed a few years ago for just such a thing, and I *know* it’s in the house with us right now, but do you think I could find it?

Need a better way to photograph these really. Did find something cheap on aliexpress for that, it should get here in a month or two πŸ˜€

Not horrible. Walls are getting thinner and more consistent, those are about 4-6mm thick throughout. Still getting toolmarks left over though. Need to work on that. And the finishing is very basic – tung oil, two coats of button shellac and then some briwax used as a friction polish. Some nice endgrain patterns there. Sycamore really is a lovely wood to turn.