Apr 20

Busy day

Well, I’ve never clamped anything to this side of the vice before….

I couldn’t move the boxes beneath the bench out of the way because there’s nowhere for them to go, and I didn’t want to spin the piece around because I was using the nailgun and I’m not quite ready to point anything at myself that has the word “gun” in the title just yet. But this worked well enough.

It’s just scraps of pine – that base was actually a board that was in the living room for the last four years and I’d forgotten about it because it was up on top of a bookshelf. Some glue, a few brads and on we go.

Again I didn’t have brads of the right length here so glue and screws provide the holding strength and the brads just pin everything in place long enough for me to get the screws into it. The posts don’t make it up to the top of the edges this time; not all offcuts are long enough. Oh well.

It’s very rough-and-ready and I don’t think it’ll last more than a year at most, but welcome to making do in the Lock-in. It’ll be grand. I slathered it with some BLO so I’ll fill it with compost, coffee grounds, eggshells and plants tomorrow.

Did get a bit of turning in as well today.

I didn’t use the big jaws after all, I wanted to get this piece done quickly so I skipped the experimental bit and just repeated yesterday’s process.

I was a bit more aggressive with the hollowing out this time, with the result that the walls are a bit thinner than the first bowl. And it went pretty well, with almost no catches (and I could recover the one I did get), though I did find myself wondering for a good 20-30 seconds what was wrong with my scraper when cleaning up the bottom of the bowl before I realised I had the sodding thing upside down.


Still, turned out nice.

I like the burn line beneath the rim as well, I only put it in on a whim and it came out well.

It’s only a little thing but it’s grand for use as a salt pig. I like that urn-like shape as well, though the hollowing out with a bowl gouge and a scraper is a bit awkward. I’ve sent away for a few bits and pieces to make up my own carbide scrapers, they might help with that. But for now I’m having fun with this, and I have a few more blanks to get through, as well as an entire green log to break down and make things for Fernhill with. Maybe a bowl would work for that, it could act like a natural birdbath….

Dropped it off with some shopping to Mom&Dad who’re cocooning away at the moment. Who of course immediately picked it up bare-handed, so lots of handwashing all round required. Next time I’ll disinfect it before putting it in a box…

Apr 20

Using up offcuts

So with the lockdown in Ireland now extended to May 5 – or The Lock-in as we ought to be calling it the way WW2 was The Emergency – garden centers are closed (apparently the Greens asking us to feed ourselves from our window boxes full of lettuce didn’t make Woodies an essential business 😀 ). I ran around one before the Lock-in commenced and got a lot of seeds and potting compost (and we already had a general-purpose liquid fertiliser and tomato feed and for high-nitrogen stuff like Basil, well everyone knows that trick of mixing eggshells and used coffee grounds with their compost, right?); but I thought we had more planters than we had. Seems I threw the ones we did have in the bin a few weeks ago because the UV had finally mangled them past maintenance’s hopes. Oh well.

I do have a shiny new brad nailer…

And I also have every woodworker’s inability to throw out wood combined with a large timber storage box 😀

Why yes, those are a lot of bowl blanks, and yes, my first bowl is all finished off and put to work as well, thanks for asking 😀

So I found some of the cedar T&G lengths I had which I have literally no other project in mind for but I still had a single three metre length in the house and three or four metre lengths in the box, so those are obviously the sides, and I can do the ends with some plywood bits and pieces and use some 1×3 scraps of deal to tie them together.

For rapidly knocking something like this out, that brad nailer is a bunch of fun. There’s glue providing the actual long-term strenght but a few 50mm brads act as temporary fixings and clamps all in one.

Then an offcut of poplar which was, to be honest, so scraggly that using it for anything proper would have meant a fair bit of work getting it straightened out, but for something that will live outside and be full of earth, this is grand. It acts as the base, and it was about 3″ too long so those 3″ get cut up into feet.

I didn’t have brads in any size bar 20mm and 50mm so I had nothing that really held the sides in place; the 20mm ones pinned them in position long enough to drive longer screws into the 1×3 battens though. Need to buy a few more lengths.

And that was it really. Very quick and dirty, handsaws and brad nailers and even the pillar drill with a fostner bit for the handles (along with a rasp, some sandpaper, a block plane, and some tidying up with a chisel). But it does the job and kept us at home, so that’s fine by me.

Filled with potting compost mixed with eggshells and coffee grounds, then transplanted our basil plants into it and watered with some liquid fertiliser.

Slightly less ghetto than previous solutions 😀

Apr 20

Thank you Tom!

Tom Murphy was the mad eejit who got me to try woodturning first, when I was perfectly happy making stuff like boxes and tables. He’s been into it for quite a while now, and was always telling me I should try it. Though he also did the Jackie Chan end credits thing of pointing out the times it went sideways on him, and constantly scaring me into always wearing a faceshield…

First up today, I had to sharpen the lathe tools. I was lucky enough to get a cheap wolverine jig clone (which is well made to be fair) before we locked down and I found my original 80 grit gray wheel for the grinder as well, so today I put that back on where the wire wheel had been. Had to elevate the grinder as well with some oak offcuts, and then fitted the new jig.

From this:

To this:

Still hangs on the wall, which is nice.

For the record, yes, I know this is horrible for turning tools. Gray wheels just rip off way too much material, these should be 100 grit white aluminium oxide wheels at least, and preferably this should be a Sorby Pro-Edge, or a Tormek T4, or (and this is what I’m planning on because it’ll fit the shed better) a low-speed grinder with CBN wheels. But we’re in lockdown, so for now we’re in Teddy Roosevelt territory (“Do what you can, with what you have, from where you are”), okay? Cool.

So with that done, I reground (“sharpening” seems too fancy a word for what I did to them) the lathe tools.

On the upside, they’re now sharp and my bowl and spindle gouges are now midway between a factory grind and an Irish grind. Of course the spindle gouge got clamped in at an angle in the holder so that’s going to take a few sharpenings to sort out. Oh well. I also need to knock up a quick setting jig for these. The lines on the board and the scrap of wood I used to record the settings for the gouges are just temporary…

So then I cut off another chunk from that log (total yield: four pieces) and put it between centers. I tried to put it just a bit off-center to try to get a nice natural-looking mushroom this time.

Doesn’t look like much I know, but it’s enough to convince the lathe to vibrate a lot initally. Slow speed cutting to start.

Mostly I just wanted to get some mass off the piece and rough part of it down to balance things so I could speed the lathe up here. Doing this in green wood’s hard enough, this must be a fair chunk of work in dry wood…

Nice shavings at least. Thing with the offcenter turning is it feels like you’re cutting something that’s invisible – I’m constantly stopping to see where the most off-center bit is, remembering that spot on the rest and in space, then spinning up and feeling for the surface with the heel of the bevel on the gouge, then rubbing the bevel and trying to cut smoothly. And it went well enough for a while and then something blurred past my face and bounced off the far wall…

Well, poop. But maybe I can salvage what’s left, it seems in reasonable shape…

This time, there was a loud bang and some things hit me in the chest, shoulder and rattled right off the faceshield. I managed to find some of those parts…

Sharp enough to cut yourself on. I’m rather glad I had the faceshield on now. So thanks Tom, the paranoia about faceshields saved me a trip to the dentist 😀

Looks like the live center acted like a wedge and the piece just couldn’t hold. I guess that’s why you should turn these with a tenon. Well, I have two more pieces sawn up and sitting on the bench for tomorrow, so I guess I’ll do that with them. I must also see if I have anything that can record video and which I can mount up by the lathe, I’m irked I didn’t get video of today’s kablooie, it would have been fun to watch 😀