(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
Mid 80s early morning, 94 late afternoon. Some pregnant clouds giving birth in the morning in isolated locations, blue sky with puffs around in the late morning. Towers developed late afternoon to become a wall over the Everglades. A good breeze took away the worst of the heat, but the best of it hung around.... Because of morning wetness, humidity was high. This weather report was brought to you by The City Of Pompano Beach department of Tourism.
We spotted a couple yard sales on the way to breakfast. We stopped at three ini another area we found soon after breakfast before heading home, skipping the couple we spotted on the way to eat. I then headed out on my own.
I headed north, expecting to follow the big loop. Before I got to one of the closer heavily-trafficked cross roads, I drove into a curtain dropped from a cloud giving birth. I headed east and by the time I got about five blocks away, the road was damp and drying. I went through the rich area heading South and away from the weather, and found a yard sale. About a mile farther south, driplets appeared on my windshield as I neared another yard sale. They were very slowly moving stuff out of their driveway and into the garage, while a few people looked a tiny bit bedraggled and not moving anything. They mostly had furnature. About five blocks farther west and then south, the road was bone dry.
Much of the summer showers are from dots of clouds zipping by, where many areas don’t get anything. You have to watch the radar carefully at times to see what you are going to get and where. In the winter, we get fronts where the whole area is covered by one system.
I found another yard sale, where I made my only purchases of the day. I went through a couple other areas without seeing anything beyond a couple signs for places I could not find. I am not as good a yard sailing navigator as my mom is.
Back near home, I stopped at one of the two yard sales we skipped earlier in the morning. The other was a woman who just has clothing and has them out most weeks. The one I stopped at had interesting items I had no need for.
Several of these yard sales had pictures of the same goofy looking guy. I have no idea why they would have gotten that picture in the first place or why anybody would want to take it from them. At the last yard sale, I was told it was a mirror. A mirror? How embarrassing...........
I picked up a tambourine that lights up. Mom had it in her hand the instant I showed it to her. She loves that kind of thing. At the same yard sale, I picked up a set of carving chisels. It is a nice, but not expensive set, mainly used for work in soft wood by an off and on hobbyist. These are not for people who do a lot of projects a month or year.
When I started wood carving, the thought of trying to learn when to use several dozen chisels, felt overwhelming. I made the decision to stick to the knife for just about any carving I do. I figured that it would be easier to master one tool. To know it absolutely.
My dad was in a carving club and one guy in the club would come in with one or two new carving tools each time. The guy’s, and many other rank beginner carvers, have the idea that “this will be the tool that will make me good.” In reality, doing the work with the key tools is what is necessary to get good. That and good instruction helps also.
Some people in the turning club have modified carving tools for wood turning for a specific technique. That originally was where my mind was going when I bought them.
In my carving, I have used chisels periodically. There are some cuts that just cannot be made with a knife. That is when you pull out a chisel. I have like three I have used off and on in my carving. More like a last resort rather than a regular tool to grab.
I did do a couple relief carvings and used one chisel for nearly all the cuts. IT IS NOT THE TOOL YOU USE, IT IS HOW YOU USE IT. These relief carvings were pictures, one of an eagle, and another of a dragon head. The scroll work you see on furniture and building decorations tend to be used with various sized curved chisels to match the curves you are doing. For me, the ease you gain with the right chisel is not worth the effort of learning which one to use and when.......
Dad has a lot of carving chisels. One of these years I might try and do something with them.
There are two kinds of chisels. Palm chisels, like the ones I got today, are to be pushed by the hand, in essence, by the palm of the hand. The other kind of chisel is used with a hammer to drive it through the wood. They each have their use. Ones designed for use with a hammer are for going through a lot of wood. They usually have metal going to the but of the handle so the hammer does not damage the wood.
One can do the same job with either chisel, as one can use great control as to how much pressure is applied by the hammer. Usually, though, the palm chisels are a lot smaller as there is a limit of amount of wood one can push before it takes too much power.
After I got back, I went out back and pulled the lathe out. I took one of the disks I had made last week. I mounted it between the point of the tail stock and the face of the jaws of the chuck on the motor. One turn with the hand showed that one corner was just too prominent. I had to turn it back and forth several times to verify which corner was actually causing the problem and that it was just that one and not two. I took my carving knife out and shaved off a little bit (less than an eighth of an inch) of wood and then it turned all the way around.
I shaped the bottom of the plate first. I prefer to start there as it creates the slopes, the size of the center and the general shape of the sides. I also figure that a slight error on the bottom design is not going to be a big problem as not as many people will see that side of the work.
I first made the outside round first. I was not a really smooth cut, but all the flats were gone. Most of the rim would disappear quickly.
The block of wood had a knot it and the knot had gaps inside. I ignored it the knot entirely as I worked. I got the bottom pretty good and then flipped it around. It is a best practice to make the bottom of the work as perfect as possible, including all sanding, before you take it off the lathe. Some even suggest to apply the finish to it while it is on the lathe. When you take it off, it does not always align properly when you put it back on. The hope is that you don’t have to ever touch it again once you take it off the lathe.
The proper technique should be that once I finish the bottom, I should take out a rule and locate the center on the face. Instead, being lazy, what I did was to use the center point I used when I drew the circle to trim off the corners off. That is never quite the same center. A sixteenth (or even less) of an inch off will show up big when you spin the wood as it appears to have a really bad wobble.
I had already decided I was not doing finish work this time and was mainly just making it. Flipping the piece around, I missed the exact “crosshair” I drew on the board by slightly and it may well not have been accurate anyway. The piece wobbled as it was not quite centered. I basically ignored that and started shaping the front.
As I worked my way in, removing wood, the stress in the wood relaxed. I got tool bounce, where high points bumped the high wood and the low wood flies by untouched. Since you are applying pressure to the tool against the wood, the tool drops a little in the time it takes for the high wood comes around at about 1000 rpm and it digs in a little before the tool bounces up.
If you look at the first plate, there were ripples across the piece in several locations. I got the piece as good as I wanted to under those conditions and decided I had accomplished something and chose to stop. Most of the knot was gone now. I have a hole to fill. I think I will use the trick of using coffee grounds and super glue. I likely will fill the knot, then re-mount this on the lathe and clean it up before I remove the center posts.
Since I was working out in the sun. and did not know what the later weather would do, I did a rough clean up, pushed everything under cover, and went inside to get my legs up, cool down and rest. If that was all I did I would have been quite satisfied.
I came out later in the day with some energy and decided to try making another platter. I set up another disk. Rounded the outside. This one was where the saw wandered and I accidentally cut into the circle I had drawn. The cut was deeper on the surface I originally intended to start with so I flipped it around so, when most of the wood was removed, the cut would also be mostly removed. Then I made the bottom like I did before. Just a tiny bit of the cut was left when I finished the bottom. A quick touch with the tool on the rim removed the remains of the cut.
I am not making these platters as an exact set. I am allowing a lot of slop in my design and dimensions, along with my workmanship. I am more about just making them, right now, getting the proper process figured out. They can be finished in other ways if desired.
I am using three tools in my turning of these platters. The bowl gouge, which takes out most of the wood. A round nosed scraper for final finishing before sanding, and a skew chisel for creating flat surfaces especially in the flat areas near the center. I make the rim just a little bit bigger than the skew chisel as if fits between the post and the edge of the rim, and use it to scrape the bottom flat and clean. The angle of the chisel is just right for reaching next to the post without my hands being against the tail stock support.
When I turned the disk around, again it was not quite centered, but not as bad as the first one. I used more care, and more of what I learned about wood turning, such as moving your body to make your cuts, not moving your arm. I was more intent on the release of the stress of the wood and took more care of removing the high points before it got bad. That one came out fairly good. I had used some 32 grit sandpaper on both surfaces. While that leaves scratches, it does remove some of the worst tool marks which looks worse.
I still had energy so I grabbed the third disk I had made last week. One of the disks had the knots that reminded my brother of the alien. We intended to leave that square but it got rounded. I might make it into a thick platter and carve the face around the knots for the grey aliens we see pictures of. It is now in safe storage for now.
I worked this third disk like the others. But made some changes on the inside. I removed the thick wood by cutting deep, but when I was working on the finish surfaces. I made the outside edge exactly the way I wanted, then worked my way down toward the center, making the next section the way I wanted it before I went farther. Also I was now looking down the edge of the work to match the inside angles to the outside angle already made. This was something I forgot about on the first two (Like I mentioned above, I am working out the details). Looking down the edge, you can see where you are thick, and can remove excess as you work toward the center. For quite a long time as I was mainly removing wood before I could start the finish. I got the two surfaces visually matched and then worked the finish to where I wanted it to be. Satisfied, I sanded it with the course sand paper and I removed it from the lathe..
Now there are many shapes to a simple platter, depending on their use and what looks good. Gentle curves are nice. Many glass platters will start with a sharper curve at the base and fade out at the top. A standard plate tends to have a gentle straightness to them. One could have the curve start out fairly flat at the base and get steeper to the edge, becoming more like a bowl.
If I make a whole bunch of these platters, I would settle on a shape that was pleasing, useful and would get to where every one would be a match to another. I have not done enough to decide on a good design, nor have done enough of them to accomplish that design every time. One thing I have tried to do was to start with the rim level, then begin my angle. I have missed most of the time on the top when the final work is finished. I get it on the underside but tend to lose the flat as I work the inside due to errors. I have not come up with a good bottom design to follow on the inside either.
There are wood workers who do just one thing, like I saw a guy who just does bowls. They try to improve their skills in them, trying to get the exact shape they are after every single time no matter what the wood wants to do. I tend to work on whatever excites me for the moment. Making the platters was what excited me this weekend. I might carve something next weekend, or work on some old project laying around unfinished (I cannot say half finished as many are not that far along) Unless I do something to these platters such as painting something inside, they are not worth all that much.
I was hurting enough to where the thought of cleanup was a bit much. I settled down under the awning with a stand fan blowing on me (that is my greatest fan in my art..... I should make a club and put the fan on it so it would also be my fan club). I was not willing to go inside just yet as I had no idea what the weather was going to do. I knew that if I was outside, I could react quickly, if needed, no matter what my physical condition might be at the time. My reaction time to a change of weather when inside is always after the fact.
After about an hour rest, I cleaned up and put everything away. Two platters of sawdust adds up to a nice pile. I have a shop style dust pan that is almost like a small bucket. It is designed that when full, one can detach part of it from the handle and it will dangle while you carry it so nothing falls out. One platter of sawdust filled that thing up!!!. If you think about it, I am taking a two inch board and making it a quarter to a half inch thick. That ends up being a whole lot of wood.
When everything was picked up and put away, I had some cut-off pieces of wood laying around by the work bench. My mind said, “Don’t leave them for mom to pick up.” My body said, “Absolutely not, forget it.”
I spent the rest of the afternoon until it was time to leave, with my legs up and resting.
I have no idea what I intend to do tomorrow. I have no idea what condition I will be in.
I will have to see what I do tomorrow.
Year 16, Week 21, Day Two (week 855)
(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
High 80s late morning, 96 early afternoon. There was a light breeze but it did not help too much. I did not notice the sky at all until I was making sure everything was put away. Then I saw that the sky was cloudy all around, but the sun was shining through it. That was a surprise. There were a few lower recognizable puffs here and there away from my area. This weather report is brought to you by The City of Pompano Beach Department Of Tourism.
When I got to Mom’s house, my brother was fixing the latches on a flat box he had stuff in. He had brass hardware and pop rivets to fix it. I took out the Saws-All and set three of my blanks in the vice on the work bench. Last week, I more cut the corners off square creating an octagon. That was why I ran into problems when one of the corners on my first platter hit the lathe bed yesterday. Today I cut along the curve of the circle. I tend to be a little proud, but a whole lot less than what I had when I had made an octagon. When I was done, I had three more blanks to work from next time I decide to do some platter turning. I have three more squares to work with. If it were not so hot, and yesterday had not made me quite so miserable, I would have done those also. But as it was, three was enough. I much doubt I will be making three in a day again. That is a bit hard on me.
I had more chunks of wood that had joined the ones from yesterday. I got smart. I used that big dust pan and a long broom and swept the chunks into it, and then dumped the chips, along with a little sand, into the garbage can. Job done. No bending over, which was what my body said no to yesterday. One slowly gets smarter over time.......
We went in and not long after, had lunch, talked and then headed home.
Much of what I do is weather related. Our traditional summer weather pattern is where the morning and noon weather is pretty good. In the late afternoon, the towers form and water the plants in the area. The past two years, the weather has not followed that pattern. Right now, we’ve been getting some in the morning, then the afternoon towers develop. It is not predictable this way.
The way our usual weather works is that you have prevailing wind is to the North-West off the ocean. The general high altitude winds for our latitude is heading to the east. The land winds and ocean winds meet over the edge of the Everglades. Towers develop, then is pushed west. In the summer, the west winds develop strength in the late of the day, they will shove the towers east over the ocean. This usually happens like between three to six. Right now, most of what is developing late in the day, the towers form and “Go west young man..”
I noticed that I have the start of a sunburn on the back of my neck. When I was working yesterday, the sun was and behind to above me, as I am facing west in the morning and early afternoon. I am wearing a face shield but not a hat or anything to protect my neck. After several more weeks of working out in the sun, I will be sunburn protected. My arms (I never wear sleeves) are a lot darker than my covered body.
I will see what happens next weekend.
palm carving tool set
first disk about to be turned
back done. see the knot being hollow.
first finished disk. Knot is empty
bottom of first disk. :You can see a friction caused ring by the chuck inside the base ring
Another disk about to be turned.
showing how thin it is now, before I work on the inside. also shows the slope I created.
Inside about done.
faces of the three platters the one on the right was the first one.
bases of the three platters
this is the space alien disk.
two platters of sawdust. those are 12"x12" patio stones.