Year 11, Week 42, Day One (week 616) (January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.) 10-29-11 Saturday
76 degrees in the morning, 85 degrees in the afternoon. The Weather radar shown a front passing through. I expected a lot of liquid sunshine all day long. The liquid sunshine never reached us, it appears like we were between two bands all day long. I did hear a few large drops on the awning, but I did not feel it when I went out from the awning to have a look. There was some blue sky between ripples at different time and I actually saw a bit of sun for a moment. There was a light breeze, enough to move the leaves around well. I was not actually out in the wind much so I really did not notice it. This weather report is brought to you by the City of Pompano Beach department of Tourism.
Last week, Mom got high speed internet. I called her last night and this morning and was told by the machine that her number was not available so leave a message. I got to Mom's house and we found out her phone was down completely. After a few calls, we went out for breakfast. The phone guy came, replaced her phone line which was old, then found that the problem was in the line down the block. She should have phone by now, hopefully.
I dashed and picked up two eight foot long sticks of two by two whitewood and two bags of mulch. The mulch was for Mom. I spent a whole seven bucks.
I cut one of the sticks into twelve inch long pieces, the length of the throat of my band saw. I dragged out the lathe and mounted a stick into the lathe. I mounted it a full centimeter off center toward one corner and then turned it. The off center is to make the face and body stick out from the neck. One corner really sticks out giving me plenty of room to work in shaping the body. By setting the wood a whole centimeter off, it will make the neck really small which is the effect I am after. I am really only turning the neck, going almost straight in beneath the chin, and then tapering up fairly evenly until about half way to the bottom of the section.
Showing set off center for turning the pole cats.
I was making blanks for pole-cats. These are cat ornaments that are tall compared to other ornaments. I made each one six inches tall, or there about. I did trim the top and bottom so they weren't quite that tall.
Snow men on lathe
With one, I got a catch and ripped chunks of the wood. I globbed on glue and put it into the vice to glue up. I pulled it out too soon and turned it again and it broke out even worse. Now I was making two out of each stick. I cut the broken end off and tossed that, and kept the other one. I just have to do more carving to get ii down to size.
After making several sticks of them, I then made two sticks of seated snow men. These were set off center half a centimeter, again toward one corner. The proud corner becomes the feet of the sitting snowman.
After I was done turning, while still watching the pregnant grey clouds, I put the lathe and cleaned up, I dug out all the ornament blanks I still had left. I had a pair of light bulbs and thread spools I made and painted. I had one bulb I had started carving so I tackled finishing that first. It was one which broke, split off a piece, while carving it. It was good enough. I carved it, then added red paint. I need to use white paint on it now. The beard and hair will be white, but the skin will be wood colored.
I have several swan blanks I had cut and never finished. I should finish them also.
I took one of my seated snow man blanks and carved it. he has his hands in his lap and I carved a face on him. I need to finish his feet, which I might use the dremmel for to avoid the wood splitting out on me. I then have to paint him. He is the kind of carving that will likely be completely painted. I just thought of something. I should do a snowman wearing a hood and have his face wood colored while the rest of him is painted. I might try one tomorrow and see how it looks.
I carved one of the cats. Mom says I have the ears too far out. They need to be almost over the eyes. That is what I get when I try to keep all the wood that is there. I will try to correct that on the next one.
carved figurines and blanks
Pole cat and blank
Snow man and blank to be carved
Santa face light bulb and un-carved light bulb.
I still have to come up with new carved ornaments to make. I try to make them out of two by twos if all possible. I like the ones I got. they are square cornered, not finished with round corners like most I get. there are different grades of white wood. This is the easy one to carve.
Wood has several properties. One is the length of the grain, the fibers, that run through the wood. Another is the binding material that is between the grains. Then there is the composition of the binding and grain materials.
When the grains are long and the binding material is not as strong as the fibers, you get a wood like Cedar or Redwood were it will split out over long distances very easily. When the grains are short and are nearly the same consistency as the binding material, you get Basswood which is almost, but not quite like working in a material that is the same no matter what direction you cut.
The composition is important. some materials are very weak like in Balsa Wood, and some materials are very strong like in iron wood. The combination of consistency between the fibers and the binding woods is what dictates the nature of the wood you are dealing with.
Good whitewood cuts as easy as basswood but splits a bit easier. I have had the noses of several carvings come off because of an accidental twist of the knife.
I found that generally, the best carving whitewood is in the two by twelve boards. a lot of the two by two boards are a harder consistency and that makes for strong wood but not easy carving. The two by twos I got are like the wood in the two by twelves. the knife loves it.
When I carve, I am not afraid to use splitting to remove wood. It is not really the way to do it but I do it when it works, especially if I make the cuts to control the splitting.
When it comes to carving, there are purists that believe one should never use power tools. Austria master carvers will certify that no power tools were ever used on a piece of work.
I am not a purist. I will use anything to get the job done. These ornaments are carved by the knife. I will use the lathe, sanders, grinders, bandsaws and so on to remove the excess wood so I can spend my time actually carving. I don't use many chisels, but will use them when they will give me the effect I need. I have not learned the proper selection of chisels so most of my work is with the V tool only. I guess I am not a chiseler.....
For tomorrow, I will have to see how the weather is going. I have a large number of projects I can work on, either with the lathe out of the awning or sitting down beneath the awning. My main project is the ornaments. I am making a bunch of ornaments I am out of, before I really start thinking about new ornaments.
One turning project I need to do is to finish the spout on my tea pot so I can get close to finishing it completely. I have to drill the hole through it, turn the rough shape, and then carve it to the final shape, before I can attach it and the handle to the tea pot. I also need to finish the bottom of the tea pot that still has the tenon it.
I have a dragon to carve on, and a couple vases to carve. I have loads of wood that needs to be made into saw dust. I have some crochet hooks to make and some metal to machine.
I will see what I actually do tomorrow.
Year 11, Week 42, Day Two (week 616) (January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.) 10-30-11 Sunday
76 degrees, fast moving pregnant clouds with a higher cover of some sort. A fine mist, a drip here, there, kept the ground wet but it was not enough to pay attention to. there was one bout of liquid sunshine but that as done before I had time to react. A really strong breeze blew aluminum shavings all over the place. They were about as heavy as wood shavings. This weather report is brought to you by the City Of Pompano Beach Department of Tourism.
The day looked miserable so I decided not to do anything out from under the awning.
I dragged my equipment out of the truck and shed, setting up for the afternoon when my brother arrived, along with my morning projects.
I got an idea for the piece of aluminum that my brother gave me last week. He and my nephew had melted aluminum and put them in a muffin container. They gave me one and a half of the aluminum muffins. Last week, I cut a piece from the half and turned it a little bit to see how it worked.
Today, I took the aluminum muffin and after checking it on the little lathe, I decided I needed to make a tenon to hold the metal in place.
I measured carefully on the diameter I needed to have. it is kind of difficult as the chuck has three jaws and when one is at the gauge, the second one is on an angle away. The way I solved this was to adjust the gauge, spin the chuck and make corrections until the chuck jaws did not touch the gauge other than a nick which I assumed was because of my holding it by hand.
The jaw on my lathe can hold the whole aluminum piece. Using my wood turning tools, I scraped both faces somewhat flat. I then cut the smaller face (bottom of the muffin) until I had a tenon that would fit in the small lathe.
aluminum muffin blanks, one is cut in half to see if there were bubbles.
I learned something about aluminum. My brother explained it to me. Aluminum is a sticky metal and will stick to other metals. I was running at the highest speeds and the aluminum would built up in a glob on the cutting edge of my tools and would stop them from cutting. I scraped the stuff off regularly. Near the end, I slowed the lathe down and found it cutting easier and more effectively. I am thinking that the metal was heating up too much at high speed. I do know that the cutting edges get hot enough to burn me at times.
I did one miscalculation in the process. I was thinking that the metal working chuck had an edge or tooth or something to hold the metal, so I gave an inset on the tenon for the tooth to hang onto. I then found out that it was flat and was not going to put it back onto the big lathe to correct that. That little error made for a bit of work to get it holding tight, flush and square.
I finished the big surface and then made a few passes on the side, removing some of the rounded side.
finished front, nearly finished sides
side nearly done side, showing tenon gripped by chuck.
Finishing the back and tenon
Later, my nephew came and he finished machining the sides. The piece was small enough and he turned the jaw around to hold the work on the outside and then machine my tenon and that face to be clean and square. They rescued a baggy of aluminum shavings which they will melt next time they are ready to cast aluminum. We figure it might be a few tablespoons of aluminum but that is some they won't have to get someplace else.
We found that there were tiny bubbles in the metal. it is not a problem for just about anything we are doing, but if one looks really close, one can see it. We think that vibrating the mold as soon as we pour the metal in would get rid of them.
I am not sure what I will do with this piece, but it proved I can work it with normal woodworking tools and can also work. The idea of a face plate did cross my mind. Making it mount in the either lathe requires some planning.
aluminum shavings to be re-melted
I just did come up with an idea I can check out next weekend.
I might make it into a face plate that fits into the jaws on my big lathe. I would cut a groove and reduce the diameter on the back end of the piece a little so the chuck can hold it firmly. I can then cut in my holes and thread them.
There is a drive-spur type face plate available that has adjustable pointed screws. The wood is pushed into the pointed screws and it will hold wood really well because of the distance between the points.
My idea is to thread for some screws and machine the ends to a point so I have what is essentially the same thing, just that it is held in the chuck rather than mounting directly onto the lathe. I
I will have to explore this idea a little.
Between the time I did some machining on the metal and my nephew showed up, I carved a little on a seated snow man. I have not formed the face and have to work the feet, but the basic carving is done. I never got a chance to do much more than that. We were watching the metalwork going on and chatting.
I now have a cat, a light bulb and two seated snowmen roughed out. they all need details, clean up and painting, but I have a good start. Not a great start but a good start.
Next week, I have scheduled a visit to the antique shop. I may have to do that Saturday since I may end up working all day Friday.
Ornaments are my main focus next weekend. If I can make a big dent in the ornaments I need to make, that will be fantastic.
I will see what I actually do next week.