May 20

Every day’s a schoolday

So I thought I’d move up to a 6″ blank from the 3″ ones I’ve been practicing on so far. I had in mind as well to do some colouring work – been watching too much of woodturning Youtube I suppose. It went to plan right up until gouge touched wood for the first time, which is pretty good as these things go.

The plan was to have an ogee curve on the outside of the bowl, rising to a narrow lip and then on to a slightly wide rim with a downward sweep into a bead that the main bowl interior would cut down through. Then the outside and the rim would be stained black with bronze gilt cream in the pores to liven up the grain, and the inside would remain the natural wood colour.

It didn’t work, but you can sortof see it from here, if you squint hard enough while staring somewhere other than the screen…

I mean, the ogee is starting there. It’s just not aggressive enough on the concave portion of the cut. And the lip is twice as thick as I wanted and there’s tearout on the bead at the start of the main bowl. Problem was, after I flipped the bowl over and chucked up the recess, about twenty seconds into squaring up the face, I had a nice catch and it ripped the bowl out of the chunk jaws and flung it at the wall and it bounced back at my face. You can see the damage it did to the foot.

So after that I stuck with less aggressive cuts 🙂 But the outcome suffers for that.

The colour is also disappointing. I put on the gilt cream first, which was a mistake; should have stained it first, then sealed it (though I don’t have cellulose sealer which I might need to rectify), then done the gilt cream. But the colour of the gilt itself isn’t half bad. Like I said, I can see what I wanted to get from here, I just didn’t manage it this time.
Oh well. Next time!

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 😀 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 😀 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 🙂

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 😀
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 😀

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…