Sep 20

Milliput inlay bowl

Second bowl finished this week (and by that I mean it was hanging around for weeks and I finally got to it) was a nice sycamore bowl. I saw a photo of a nice bowl a while back with irridescent metallic paints in the rim:

I like the angled rim shape there and wanted to replicate it, but I don’t have the irridescent paints so I wanted to go for a simple inlay instead. Resin would be awkward to pour into an inlay on such a rim because of the whole “liquids flow downhill” thing, but milliput might work so I thought I’d try that.

First use of the new centerfinder toy.

Mounted with a faceplate ring which I’m starting to really like over other mounting methods because I can take the blank off the lathe and forget it for three weeks while being lazy and then remount it and it’ll run true.

It’s got some nice grain patterns there, though that really isn’t the profile below the rim that I was aiming for, but well, every day’s a school day.

Quite happy with the rim though. Then I cut out a recess with a parting tool in the rim and filled the recess with milliput, left it cure for a day or three and then recut the rim to get a nice finish, turned the bowl around on the lathe and hollowed it out (and got to use some of the bowl gouges I got as a birthday gift from the parents for this one, especially a new half-inch bowl gouge with a factory grind rather than an Irish grind and that one makes the turn at the bottom of the bowl a lot easier to do). I managed not to take photos of any of this, until I got to sanding…

But I did get some video of the sanding, mainly to show how bloody loud it is when the dust extractor is running three feet behind you…

Straightforward finish – all of the 80 grit sandpaper, then up the grits to 320, then cellulose sanding sealer (thinned to 50% with cellulose thinners) and then yorkshire grit (regular and microfine) and then hampshire sheen wax.

Then I flipped it again, putting the cole jaws on the chuck to hold the bowl rim, turned the recess out to clean up the foot, tidied up the base and branded it, sanded it and just gave it a coat of hampshire sheen wax, then stopped the lathe, took off the facemask and pulled out the isotunes I was wearing as ear defenders, and heard a hissing noise. I thought it was the air compressor at first, but no, it was the MAP gas canister from the blowtorch; after heating the branding iron with the blowtorch and branding the bowl, I’d set the branding iron and the torch head on a scrap of wood outside to cool as normal, and put the tank away in its storage box, but hadn’t noticed it was leaking because of the ear defenders. Reattaching the torch head and removing it more carefully got the valve to reseat correctly, but I’m rather glad I was turning with the door open now.

Still, came out nice.

Sep 20

Milliput and burl

Work’s been fun and we’re both under a new lockdown and back at school here so non-work’s been even more fun. Hence little posting. But I did finish off two bowls this week, and one was my first burl piece.

It was included in an order of olive ash from homeofwood.co.uk that had been delayed because, well, covid is crazy. That olive ash is also seriously pretty, but it’s much harder to turn so it’s highlighting every mistake I make. I might leave the other blanks for a while (I turned a small rough nightlight holder from one but I’m not happy with it) while I get more practice in. This burl though, was the opposite – very easy to cut, too easy in some places (that’s burl, everyone says). I cleaned and trued up the blank from a faceplate to get to that photo above, and I didn’t have much of a plan from here except to have the largest amount of visible grain possible and I didn’t want to do a straightforward conic section. So ironically, it became a cone…

Opted for a tenon because burl’s not as strong as solid wood so expanding jaws in a recess seemed wrong. Should have made the tenon larger by a few mm really but I was trying to maximise yield (which seems more and more to be a mistake these days). Also, you can see some punkiness on the rim there; some patches were just too soft like that, and rather than resin them like I’ve done before, I wanted to try something new because the next bowl will have a slanted rim that I wanted to do an inlay into with resin and liquid resin would be really hard to do right without cutting a lot away afterwards. Enter epoxy putty.

Specifically milliput, because I’d seen some youtubers using it for inlays to great effect:

(Oh, if you’ve not seen Peter Brown’s youtube channel before, welcome to the internet, you’ll like it here if you don’t read the comments)

And milliput now has a nice light blue colour so I thought I’d try that because blue just works well with light maple and sycamore and ash colours. So I mixed the two parts it comes in until the colour was even (it’s very, very, very similar to mála if you’re Irish), and just mashed it into any spot that was punky (I dremmelled out the punky bits until I got back to more solid material first). Wetting a finger and smearing the milliput seems to work well to get it as even as possible.

Scraped and sanded it back to get to that stage. Then I reversed it in the chuck and hollowed out the center. And now I have “hollower” at the top of my “next lathe tool to make or buy” list. Probably buy because I don’t really have the kit here to heat, bend, quench and temper steel to get the bend in the tool shaft that hollowers have.

Incidentally, that colour that almost looks like the camera didn’t record it correctly, is what it actually looks like. It’s such a jarring colour, it’s very glitch-in-the-matrix when looking at it, especially with the massive contrast between the featureless surface of the milliput and the utterly baroque feature-packed surface of the burl.

I had another punky part in the wall of the bowl which I didn’t see until I was sanding and the inside wall of the bowl collapsed into the wall (and almost popped off one of my fingernails in the ensuing catch).

I cleaned it out (this is a process disturbingly like filling a rotten tooth) and packed it full of milliput (overfull to be sure I could cut it back to a flush surface, and I think I overdid it)

It looks mucky at this point, but it really does clean up well.

I usually prefer a more minimalist sort of aesthetic over the baroque, but burl really is an exception to that. You could stare at those grain patterns for hours. I must try this again once I can look at the price of burl blanks without wincing, but with embellishment (stains, gold waxes and the like) to bring the grain up even more.

Postscript: a workmate in the US does crochet and she put up some of her stuff on Etsy a while back and I bought a piece and it fits perfectly 😀

Fox-in-a-bowl 😀