15
Apr 20

Little vase

So two of the miniature blanks I have are quite small (well, the clue’s in the name I guess), and are less than 3″ in diameter – they’re about 2.5″ or so. I was thinking I could try to turn them into very small vases, by drilling out the inside. So that’s what I did this evening.

Too small to put in the faceplate, that one. It’s almost small enough that you could fool yourself that it’s a spindle, but that’d be a mistake, you’re seeing endgrain come round at you there. Even at that size, that’s no fun for a spindle roughing gouge.

So first off, parting tool, and turn a tenon on the base, and chuck it up. Then out with the jacobson drill chuck on the MT2 arbour and a small fostner bit…

Very much pecking with the wheel on the tailstock. Two turns, blow out the dust with the air compressor, two more turns and so on. You can get about 30mm of travel that way, then wind the quill back into the tailstock and move the whole tailstock 30mm forward and repeat, checking the depth with a vernier caliper.

And done. That’s about how deep you can go with those bits as well (70mm). Need a bit extender to go any deeper and I don’t have one. Next up, turn a nice profile into it.

This is kinda belt-and-braces, but, hey, that’s okay. Lots of careful bowl gouge work later (and also some on the inside of the lip after retracting the tailstock) and…

Yikes. I never even saw that splinter on the lip of the vase (it’s the remnant of a knot just off that point on the blank I think). Broke that off by hand.

Bit more gouge work and sandpaper needed for this.

That’s better.

Yeah, this idea didn’t work either. You can’t get a solid grip with these jaws (or my other set). One catch and it’ll be out of those jaws and boucing off my faceshield if I try. So back to centers it is.

And a bit more turning on the bottom to get a nice undercut base and a better curve.

And a bit of work with the parting tool to try to minimise any bandsaw work cleaning this up. Won’t lie, every time I use the parting tool that close to a drive center, I’m just waiting for the loud bang as I shove a tool into the spurs and the lathe tries to push it through my face. But got away with it this time.

Tung oil today, followed by two coats of lemon shellac and some beeswax.

And a nice little burn line to hide a ridge where the two downhill cuts met imperfectly 😀

It won’t win any awards, but it turned out okay and I still have all my fingers and no bowl gouge through my neck. So I’m calling it a win.

That’s spalted sycamore in case you were wondering, by the way.


13
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.

Sigh.

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…


09
Apr 20

First bowl!

So the woodturning course I was taking was cancelled because of Covid19 before we got to the bowl turning part of the course. But I had a large variety sack of bowl blanks arrive from homeofwood.co.uk at the start of lockdown, and I’ve been wanting to try bowl turning for a while, so I read about a dozen books on bowlturning (like The Practical Woodturner and others), bingewatched about thirty hours of youtube intruction from a dozen different turners, set the pucker factor to maximum and picked out the smallest minature blank I had…

That’s a three-inch blank on a three-inch faceplate 😀 But we can still do more overkill…

Tailstock support on a three inch blank 😀 Well, first bowl, might as well do belt and braces. So I turned the tenon (and it didn’t look too bad I thought), then I took off the faceplate, chucked the blank up, realised I’d skipped a step, put the faceplate back on and turned the outside of the bowl.

I didn’t have any plan for the shape by the way, that was just something that felt right as I was doing it. Then I took off the faceplate and chucked it up and immediately found that the chuck itself was vibrating because the tenon wasn’t exactly central. A quick pass or two with the spindle gouge cured that, and then I started hollowing out the bowl with the bowl gouge and quickly discovered a few things:

  • I need a lamp in the corner of the shed pointed at the headstock. I had to jury-rig a torch to be able to see inside the bowl to see what I was doing. Daylight might help, but this was after dark here.
  • I really need to remove the tailstock to do this, it’s way too scary having your hands near a live center when worrying about catches in a bowl.
  • Being able to rotate the lathe stand in the shed would be a major bonus on any larger bowls. Happily it’s not bolted to the floor; less happily, the compressor and pillar drill would have to be moved which is awkward. Maybe I could put a shelf down at the feet of the lathe stand when I can get more plywood after the lockdown ends.
  • Bowl turning is a bit scary.

But after a while of taking small bites with the bowl gouge and then a final scraper pass, I was able to move on to sanding. Up from 120 to 400 grit, and then burnishing with a handfull of shavings – and doing that inside a bowl with just two fingers at high rpms is hilariously scary. I wanted to keep the colour light so I gave the bowl a coat of poppy seed oil (also food-safe, which is nice because I think this would make a good salt bowl).

And then a single coat of blonde shellac and I called it finished.

I’m rather pleased with that 🙂
I mean, the walls are too thick to be elegant and too uneven in thickness to be able to call the thickness a design choice, and I didn’t even get the bottom of the screw holes from the faceplate out of the rim, but for a first bowl, I’m happy with that 🙂

Now for that 11 inch by 4 inch blank in the timber storage box…