May 21

Flamed Olive Ash

I have a few blanks of olive ash I got from Home of Wood back before Brexit made a hames of shipping stuff from the UK to here, and they can be a bit of a pain to turn because they’re so hard, but they always make up for it by looking spectacular. So…

Some really lovely grain right on the corner where it’ll be turned away. Le sigh. Also an odd crack that I’d circled in pencil there and a void on the far side. This wood really doesn’t want to make your life simple. I wanted a shape that fitted in the hand well, and wound up going down the amphora road a bit again. I’m not sure this really works that well, but for some reason I keep on cutting it.

Hollowing out that shape is a bit of a pain because of the undercut being half-way into the bowl. But at least the nice bit of grain that I liked is still present.

Also, wow, that figuring. That’s going to look spectacular when it’s done. Assuming I don’t muck it up. So, sanded to 220 dry, to 400 with danish oil, then yorkshire grit and then four coats of hampshire sheen wax, each left for ten minutes to set up before being buffed.

The grain came out nice but it’s the figuring that’s the star here.

I’m guess this must have been from under where the branch was and this is all stress-related figuring but it’s really pretty.
So, reverse the bowl and hollow out, which went well but was a lot of small cuts and grumbling about tearout in odd spots and stress cracks opening up. I really need to get a bottom feeder bowl gouge to handle that transition from side to base and to do a bottom cut rather than a scrape. But it turned out okay. Poppyseed oil and hampshire sheen for the inside so it’s foodsafe.

Then reversed the bowl onto a pushplate and shaped the foot and a bit more danish oil and wax there.

Totally forgot to brand it, I’ll do that later on. For now, it’s done and it fits in the hand well and it’s pretty, so I call that a success.

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 😀

May 20

Fire Pretty!

Yes, okay, I admit it, having a propane torch is a constant temptation after you’ve seen a shou sugi ban video on youtube 😀

You really do need the safey kit for this one though, and to stop before you light up and vacuum up the cubic foot of shavings that are all over the lathe and everywhere else. Small fires in an 8×6 shed that has several litres of various different solvents don’t happen. Large infernos, on the other hand, are something worth avoiding 😀

The nice people at The Carpentry Store gave me a few blanks when I bought my lathe from them “to get going on with” (thanks Patrick if you read this, that lathe’s been a load of fun) and one of those was an ash bowl blank about 6″x2″.

Ash is a hateful chippy wood when dry I’ve found, I don’t know where all these stories come from about it being pleasant to work. I suppose it’s a different animal when air-dried or when green, but when kiln-dried it’s like a Jacobs cream cracker. But it does have a lovely white colour combined with a nice open grain, so…

I finally found dovetail faceplate rings for my chuck (the viper 2 stuff from charnwood fits the xact 2 chuck) and mounted the blank that way. There’s a nice bowl shape I’ve had in my head for a while where the rim is basically a 45 degree bevel down from the flat top to the curved bottom, and I tried to get that shape here but missed. But I got it to a nice enough shape, turned a recess, ran up through the grits from 80 to 320, sealed it from the foot to the lip, and then used some yorkshire grit to polish and carnuba wax to finish.

Then I reversed the bowl, trued up the surface a bit, then cut a shallow chunk out of where the dish would be, and then I got out the propane torch (not the MAP torch, apparently that burns too hot).

And of course, vacuumed up and cleaned up the wood dust and shavings at this point, before lighting the torch and then burning the beveled part of the rim. Took my time here, burning lightly in a lot of quick passes until I had a fully charred look, then I took a steel brush to the wood in the direction of the grain (happy accident this, I wanted to use a brass brush but couldn’t find mine). The steel gave a sort-of-sandblasted look to everything which is nice, if subtle. Wiped everything up with kitchen paper (this bowl used a lot of kitchen paper), then burned it all again, and then cleaned it with kitchen paper and 320 grit sandpaper. Got it smooth and clean, then sealed it with two coats of cellulose sealer, and then put on a glove and rubbed gold buff-it as embellishing wax directly into the grain on the rim, and then removed the excess with kitchen paper and 320 grit paper, then put a final coat of sealer over the top of all of that.

Then I got out the bowl gouge again, and cut out the inside dish of the bowl, though by the bottom I was having to switch over to the half-round scraper because the bowl gouge’s bevel wasn’t steep enough for the turn I was trying to make. Then sanded up through the grits and then sealed the inner dish, then yorkshire grit over the whole top half (inner dish first, then the rim because I thought I could pull soot into the pores otherwise). And then carnuba wax all over, and then two coats of spray lacquer from a can. Which of course, I got a drip on with the last coat, so I may need to finish that properly later.

But overall, I’m not too unhappy with this, even if the shape isn’t exactly what I wanted:

I have no idea what you’d use it for mind 😀
I just had this idea in my head to try a few ebonising methods after that bowl I stained a week or two back, and this was next on the list (and I like the gold-in-black look from the embellishing wax, though I think silver would work even better. I must get some later and try it).

The next method though, should be even more interesting, but that’s a few days or so away yet…