(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
86 degrees early morning, 91 by noon. Very early morning radar showed a squall line heading towards shore. I assumed I would get mid morning showers. We got some puffs, a whole sky full of feathers and spilt milk. No showers in my area until about dark. This weather report is brought to you by the City Of Pompano Beach Department of Tourism.
The turning club rescheduled our meeting for this week. We had a good turnout, though nowhere near our best.
We had two demonstrations.
One of our members has gotten orders for the handles for beer taps (you pull the tall handle to fill a glass). The brewery company is called LauderAle. They are located in Fort Lauderdale, hence the play on the name. Their logo is the power plant chimneys that were a regular feature in the city for many decades until they were removed about four or five years ago. The demonstration showed several methods of making the pieces to be very close to the same. If you have many feet between them, they don’t have to be as exactly the same as if they are side by side.
He told us about a duplicator he has, where a feeler follows either the actual piece you are copying or a hard board pattern you make for it. His problem is that the duplicator doers not get in tight in the corners so you still have to do some hand cutting to make crisp square corners.
In this demonstration, he used a pattern to measure where the walkways were and used calipers to measure the diameters. One end of the pattern hooked on the base of the rod and all measurements were from that end.
Working between centers, He started out measuring the diameter at both ends and then cut the taper between the two spots. That gave him the maximum dimensions along the entire piece. Then he used the center points to drill the holes the taps need, one on top for a logo plate while the bottom took the screw assembly. He held one end in the chuck, and he used a shortened drill in the Jacob’s drill chuck to bore create the holes. He has a Drill Doctor drill sharpener so he simply broke a drill bit and sharpened it. The shorter the drill bit, the less it is going to wander or bend when cutting into the wood.
Mounting it between centers again, using the holes as the center, He then measured and cut a groove at each spot for the smallest measurements between the walkways and then cut between them. Because these were to be handled by bartenders, he softened the edges of the walkways a little so not to bother the bartender’s hands. and also explained about painting them on the lathe.
The masters do make it look so easy. My experience is that doing everything right, they are not going to match.
The second demonstration was on how to create a vase with an integral handle. This is where the handle is actually part of the wood of the vase, not glued on as most people do.
In many of our lines of skills, we are like a child with a hammer. Everything looks like a nail. If you have a lathe, everything must be spun fast. You dare not make a rounded object any other way. I have seen a video where a guy used a table saw and a drill-powered jig to make bowls. I have also seen where people regularly make bowls using chisels or drills, grinders. This is to show that the lathe is not the only tool that will make something round or hollow. In some ways, it is the easiest way to do it, but not always.
Also there are other ways of using a lathe. It is a great device to manually rotate an object to get to all sides of it. We have had demonstrations where the lathe was as a platform for cutting grooves or piercing in a vase or bowl for a decorative effect.
There are also ROSE ENGINE lathes (demonstrated at the club a couple years ago) where the head is designed to rock side by side. A feeler follows a pattern shifting the head side to side. The cutting is done by a little spinning bit (like in a dremmel) that bumps into the work to create a pattern, depending on the pattern the feeler is following.
Tonight’s demonstration was great to open up other possibilities. He had a router mounted on an arm style tool rest support. He took his piece of wood and mounted it onto the lathe. He said that one must make sure the lathe is unplugged as it is so easy to reach for the wrong switch. That can damage the work or equipment.
He placed a piece of blue tape on the work to show where he wanted the handle, and, as something new, he placed a second piece of tape out of the way but ahead of the handle tape as a warning. He said that second piece of tape made a big difference. When he saw it approach, he was ready to stop.
He turned on the router, placed it against the wood and rotated the work around to the tape. He then spun it the other way to the tape, a little deeper or to the side a little until he reached the tape again. He simply rotated the work back and forth, removing wood. He would cut down till he reached the vase shape he was after. He would then daylight the handle for the hand.
He said that the completed vase he was showing took almost longer to hollow out as it took to shape the outside. If you did not know that he worked the vase in this method, one would have never been able to figure out how he got such a good vase shape with a handle that had no seams on it.
We have a turning challenge for next month. The turning challenges are designed to get people to make something they would never make or don’t make very often. It helps expand the skills of the club.
When we first started these challenges, we had skill categories. There was always a question of who was of each skill level. The same people seemed to always win.
Now we simply draw a raffle ticket and four tickets are pulled and the winner gets a gift certificate. We show what we made, tell a little about it and see what others did.
With this challenge this month, we are to make finials. Those are the spiky things on top of ornaments or decorative containers. Some of us will just make finals, while others will make a container with the finals on them. The proportion of the finial to the container can be important.
We had a few examples of finials in our instant gallery. One guy made a finial with multiple centers, so it looked like a bunch of off centered disks. Another made a bunch of different shaped finials and had them in a board for display.
We had a line of storms approaching on the radar so I figured there would be few people out. After breakfast, we went to a yard sale of a friend. I picked up a wine box. A few weeks ago, I had made a donation box out of a cigar box. When I was looking for it, I was actually looking for a wine box rather than a cigar box as the wine boxes are larger. I did not realize it at the time. I am positive we had a couple but I could not find them. I have no idea what I will do with this box but I got it anyway.
After a stop at Walmart, Mom decided to stay home. I headed out on my own for yard sailing, heading north. I found one other yard sale. The two things that they had that was interesting was a rocking horse that had a plush body. They also had a carved horse on a platform with wheels. I had seen pictures of these pull toy horses. I would have gotten them but I don’t know anybody with children that young. I never even asked a price. If I ask the price and it is within my range, It is hard not to grab it. By not asking, I don’t know what I am missing.
I was still expecting to get caught by weather so I only went a little south of mom’s area and checked out the area near the diner we had breakfast. I saw a sign but did not find the yard sale. I headed home.
Mom decided that some YUCCA trees in front had to go. They had gotten tall and she topped them. The flowers were pretty, but the trees were really dirty. She had hacked off one of them a while back and a new truck came out from the side. She wanted them gone. I am better with the tools than Mom is, so it came to me to remove the rest of the trunks. To do this right, I should dig out the trees by the roots, but me and shovels do not get along.
I am not great on the ground, but this needed to be done at ground level. Bending over in a chair is even tougher on me. I started with the electric chain saw since in the tree I did last week was wider than the blade was long. The trunk at the ground was almost as wide as the chain saw blade. I cut level to the ground, as close to the ground as the chain saw could go, I cut from above in a few places to speed the process. Mom pushed on the trunk to keep it from binding.
After removing the big stump, I turned to the three smaller stumps. Because of my position, I accidentally pulled the plug on the saw several times with my foot. Then while part way through one trunk, the saw bound a little and then then I saw smoke from the plug. One prong of the saw was melted at tip. I think it was not in all the way and got overloaded. I believe the prong will have to be replaced and will have to check the extension cord to see if it is all right.
Mom swapped extension cords and I finished the job with the Saws-All. Mom had me level the big trunk which had a chunk sticking up where I had cut down, then she had me score the tops of the trunks so weed killer can soak into the trunks.
Mom went out back and brought forward a tree she had in a pot and put it in place, along with a potted plant she already had out front. Looking at it, with the potted plants in place, one does not see that anything was taken out of there.
We sat and talked, and cooled down a little in front of a fan, then Mom went in, happy she got that project done. Yucca is a fibrous tree and the chain saw was packed with the wet fibers. I cleaned that out before I put the saw away. It took some doing as the mass stuck to everything in the saw chain slots. I also had to do a little cleaning on the Saws-all while I was at it.
I was still not sure what the weather would do, but It looked like I would at least have an hour to work, so I pulled the lathe out. I put the drum sticks in place. I had messed up one of the ends last time, so I decided to try to make both ends the same, and since they were longer than needed, I would shorten it. I used my bullnosed scraper to shape the bulb on the end of the drum sticks, and then used sandpaper to make the sticks a little thinner and to remove any tool marks. I cleaned up both ends of the sticks. They are thin enough to go into the hole of the chuck. I can close the chuck to clamp on the sticks to hold them. When I put the striking end into the chuck, the stick went almost half way in. I sanded the end to clean it up. It still has the center hole that the tail stock point made, but that is not a problem. I also sanded the other end of the drum stick.
The sticks are not quite right, but useable. They need finer sanding and while I gave them one coat of motor oil as a finish, I figure I will add a few more coats rubbed in and then dried. I am not going to varnish them as I found that if left in the car, the varnish sometimes will get a little sticky. I will now have to teach them the songs.....
I had time, the weather was still cooperating, and I was feeling good, so I took out one of my platter blanks. This blank has a big knot running through the thickness. It had been several weeks since I had made a platter so I was able to see what I had learned and what I forgot.
I tried mounting it with a faceplate, which as a flat surface, but the wood wobbled too much. It was too small and even a little knob would throw it off. I put the chuck back on. Just the face of the jaws touch the wood and there is a lot of space around them. There is less for flaws to mess with.
Shaping the inside went easy. It is harder to judge the thickness at the very bottom without using some form of guage and I was too lazy to measure it. When I thought I was deep enough at first, I decided to go deeper it looked like there was plenty of room. When I had the surface about right, I then turned it around.
The backside went well. It seemed to take longer to remove the wood. I kept getting the shape about right, then deciding it was too thick and cut some more. I did not get a lot of bounce this time, but there was some tear out that I could not quite get rid of. The tear out is where the end grains are shoved to the side or pulled out rather than cut. It opens little holes in the wood. Sanding helped but it will need more work.
As I am typing this, I am thinking I need to take my tools to the grinder to fix the shape. Stropping or honing with a diamond plate will clean the edge, but after a while, the metal dulls until it gets too thick to touch up. The shape on my round nosed scraper is a little wrong. I am positive I can do better with the bowl gouge. It really comes down to a decision of which is more important at the moment, sharpening or cutting. There comes a time where the decision is made for you. I read something recently where it said that if your tool seems dull, you should have sharpened it half an hour ago.
To sharpen some of the tools right, I need to make some jigs to hold them at the proper angle. My grinder has a tiny platform at the stone that is way too small for cutting some angles I am after. I can make wooden sharpening jigs for the grinder. It really would not take that long. Just a couple small pieces of 2x4s would do most of it.
After I cleaned up, I was done for the day and it was just After Twelve. I did a lot of work even with the rest times in between. I was also dirty and wet. Out in the heat, that is not a problem, but you feel it when you get into the cool air conditioning.
The weather I expected on Saturday, arrived on Sunday. Other than two minutes of hand-sanding on the drum sticks, nothing got done.
I question whether the storm out there will wipe the state off the map by grinding it down to sea level. Either that or make it an island by cutting through the upper part of the state. All I know is that according to the weather fairies on TV, we are all going to die.
I will see what I do next weekend.
examples of finials
the wine box I got. I could leave the lettering in place or sand them out to have a different design.
A pair of face plates I picked up at the turning club meeting
The large yucca trunk
The small yucca trunk.
One problem of wood turning on a hot day. Sawdust sticks.
Note the platter on the lathe behind the arm.
face side of platter
Back side of platter
the drum sticks. Just needing sanding now.