Find Select Projects Easier

If you're looking for a specific project that I've done, please click here for a categorized list page.

Don't Forget To Leave A Comment

If an article interests you, please click below it where it tells the number of comments and leave one. I appreciate all input.

Get My Blog In Your Email

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Monday, March 25, 2013

My New Angular Pen Idea

I woke up this morning with an idea on my mind that has to do with angles. I couldn't wait to try it out. First though, I had to turn a pen blank I had already prepared that was sitting on the bench. I am not complaining. It was a cocobolo blank. I recently received ten cocobolo pen blanks and have thoroughly enjoyed turning them so far. It is a beautiful wood to work with.
This is cocobolo with satin gold hardware.
Then it was time to turn my idea into a reality. I enjoy these random ideas because you never know how they are going to turn out. I try not to talk about the fancy firewood I sometimes make. Yes, some of my ideas wind up in the fire place.
I am not saying this is a completely original idea at all. I'm sure that someone, somewhere, has tried it before. It's like I always say, there's nothing new under the table saw. I often have these wonderful ideas that I later realize I happened to have seen somewhere before and simply had tucked away in my subconscious.
Anyway, my idea was to play with some forty five degree angles. These are just the first two test subject. I have several more variations of this same general idea to try as well.
The blanks are walnut and pecan. One is a pecan square glued in between two pieces of walnut with matching angles drawn and cut from both sides. The other is just forty five degree cuts made to walnut and pecan and then glued up.
Here is how the blank on top of the above photo turned out. I really like this design and will be trying my other variations soon. This first trial piece made me start thinking of endless possibilities once I seen how straight angular lines make for nice flowing curves on turned pieces. Hey, I bet I could work this idea into some bowls somehow too.
This first one is walnut and pecan with gunmetal hardware.
Here is the bottom blank from the photo above. It is pecan and walnut with satin gold hardware. I think every variation of this I like more and more. So I glued up my next idea related to this before leaving the shop today. Just wait and we'll see how it turns out!

The Tale Of Two Bowls

I wanted to make a nice bowl for my Mom. So I glued up blanks for two bowls. Why two bowls? I have learned the hard way with laminated bowls. You glue up two. If one happens to become firewood for some reason, you have another to work with. If both become firewood in the same day, it is time to go to the house.
I am sure glad I glued up two blanks.
I usually can tell you why a bowl failed. Sometimes it's a catch. Sometimes it's an unseen knot. I don't know exactly what happened to this one though. All I can tell you for sure is that the upper two layers decided they wanted to fly. This reminds me of another lesson I've learned the hard way that I'd like to share with anyone who may turn a bowl. Especially on larger bowls, never stand in the line of fire when working on the inside. Anything can go wrong and they do hurt if something breaks off and hits you. I know this from experience. Let me say that again. It hurts.
Anyway, the way this bowl broke, I was able to part off what little was left of the damaged part and just make the bowl a little shallower than originally intended.
It is made of pecan and sapelle. It is finished with a butcher block conditioner. This has become my preferred finish for bowls until I can find something better that is also food safe.
I still had the other blank to turn though.
Everything went as planned with this bowl. Also, this was the first time I've turned a laminated bowl with the wood in this orientation. The way the grain is running, I was able to sweep my gouges from the rim to the center, as you would a regular bowl turning, or from center to rim, as you would an end grain turning. This gave me much more freedom to hog out the material whichever way I chose depending on where I was working at the moment. This made things go very quickly on it. I will definitely be playing with this type of glue up more in the future. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

More Pens

I don't have a whole lot to talk about today. I turned some more pens. I done something different with them. I don't know how many people would notice much special about them. I am trying some ideas I had though.
Also, I glued up some wood for two more bowls that I hope to turn tomorrow.
In the meantime though, here are the pens.
Two different pens made with birdseye maple. I turned the stock so that the grain runs across the pen instead of along the length of it though. It gives it more of a marble effect.
For this cedar pen, I cut it so the pen material ran across the board, catching both heart wood, and sap wood. Since there is such a dramatic difference in color between these two in cedar, I was trying to capture that contrast in a pen. I could have easily just had light on one end going to dark on the other. By flipping one of the ends though before turning, it gave it a nicer appearance I think.
For this pen, I only had enough blood wood to do one more pen, and I wanted to make it without the metal center ring. It came up just a tad shy of being long enough though. Since this was my last piece of this species of wood, I was determined to make it into what I wanted. So I added a glue in inlaid wooden band of birdseye maple. I am glad I did as I like the look of it better than just a simple blood wood pen.

Friday, March 22, 2013

If I Could Write A Book

Did I say I was getting back to bowls?
Did I also say that turning was starting to seem like an addiction?
I was able to get some pen kits from Penn State Industries to makes some better looking pens that those I made from tearing apart store bought pens.
I never thought I would love doing pens. As a matter of fact, someone suggested I do pens once and I said no way. I thought I would be bored doing them.
I have learned as of late though that pens are fun for me.
  • They are quick and easy, producing quickly seen results.
  • They are challenging if you don't practice proper techniques.
  • There are a thousand different slight variations of the same pen.
  • There are millions of combinations of woods and hardware.
  • I can do them sitting on a stool when I'm hurting.
  • I can do them standing if I start hurting from sitting.
  • And did I mention they are fun?
I think that just about says it all.
Well, actually I think the following photos will say it all.
Aromatic cedar with chrome hardware.
Birdseye maple with chrome hardware on the first photo, and twenty four carat gold hardware in the next.
Box elder with satin gold hardware.
Pecan with chrome hardware.
Cocobolo with twenty four carat gold hardware in the first, and satin gold hardware in the next.
Red oak with copper hardware.
Sapelle with copper hardware.
Walnut with copper hardware in the first photo, and chrome in the next.
Bloodwood with chrome hardware.
So as you can see, I've been on a pen making binge. I don't know what else to tell you about these.
If you happen to have any questions about any of them, please do not hesitate to ask by clicking the comment link below this post.
Any of these pens are for sell for fifteen dollars, except for the cocobolo. The cocobolo pens are seventeen. I have to charge a little extra for the pen made with exotic hard woods because the wood costs me more. 

Back To Bowls, In A Big Way

This turning thing is addicting. I have not posted much lately because I have been so busy at the lathe. After my little adventure into the world of pens, and a lot of practice, and then some more practice, it was time to get back to some bowls. However, I did not set out in the beginning to do the little tiny bowls I have been doing though. Those are great for potpourri or candy dishes. I began this journey though because I remember these large wooden mixing bowls my grandmother used to have. That's what I want to work up to.
My first few attempts at large bowls were glaring examples of what failure is. I don't give up though. I finally felt the confidence to try again.
This bowl is close to five inches deep, and eight inches in diameter. It isn't  a huge mixing bowl, but it is a giant leap towards what I want to learn to do. I was proud of it.
This bowl is made of sycamore. I did not have material big enough. So it is made of three layers of wood, glued up, and then turned as if it was one solid piece. I've seen a lot of other people doing these type of glued up bowls. So I decided to give it a shot and am very pleased with the results.
I wasn't ready to settle there though. Since I was using glue now, I wanted to do something that made a statement. I wanted something that would get attention.
This bowl is the same size as the sycamore bowl, but it is made up of glued up strips of pecan. I used light and dark shades of the same wood, and randomly mixed them up in the glue up. I had to build this up in layers a couple of layers at a time. I had to work quickly as I worked with each layer to get it clamped back up before the glue started setting up on me. I was scared I would sacrifice strength if it was not clamped before the glue started setting.
Both of the bowls are finished with butcher block conditioner. I am not sure yet what is going to be my preferred finish for bowls that are to be used in the kitchen. I'm still researching and testing different finishes. I am trying to find something that gives me the look I'm after, while still being food safe. I have been told, and believe myself, that all finishes are food safe once fully cured. However, in this day and age, where over protection is the norm, I have come to the conclusion that on things such as this, it is better to err on the side of caution.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Turning Something New

Since I've really been enjoying the learning curve that comes along with learning to turn, I have been wanting to try something else that seems to be popular with some turners, pens. I looked at several different catalogues and websites though, and pen kits for turning are high. I just couldn't afford to even attempt it right now. I put some thought into this though, and had an idea.
I went to Wal-Mart and bought a ninety eight cent pack of ink pens. It's those cheap ones with the white plastic tubes. Then I pulled the head and ink tube out of them to use as inserts. I drilled some trial and error holes in some scrap wood until I found the perfect size hole for a snug press fit. With this, I was able to turn some cheap pens. They may not be quite as nice as ones made with the fancy pen kits I see as being so popular, but I think they turned out pretty nice.
First though, before I was able to make them, I had another problem. I needed to drill holes perfectly straight for the inserts to go into.
I know that doesn't sound like too big a deal, but this photo shows what happens when you try to turn a pen with the hole drilled at even the slightest angle. The hole has to be perfect or you will have problems.
So I looked again in the catalogues and seen a nifty vice jig that would do the trick. The problem is it too was more than a broke man can afford. It was not more than a thinking wood worker can make though.
The only difference between mine and the expensive one I seen is that my squaring jaws are made of wood instead of plastic. Also, in addition to what the expensive jig offered, I attached mine on a board such that I have infinite adjustability forward and back, and side to side. So, I can still use this, with it's adjustability, to center and drill things other than just pen blanks.
On day one I was just learning and experimenting with ideas. Here's the results of day one though. The first two on the left are made of pecan. The next one is sycamore, and the last two are sapelle.
Day two was even more productive. The first five are pecan. The next three are oak, and the last two are sycamore.
I think they turned out good. If I can ever get ahead and afford it though, I would still love to make some of those with the fancy pen kits from Penn State Industries.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Turn, Turn, Turn

I had a great time yesterday. I had three wood working friends at my shop from three different states. Dave is from Brandon, Mississippi. Eddie is from West Monroe, Louisiana. Marty hails all the way from Indiana. The coffee flowed freely. The BS flowed even more freely. We swapped stories, woodworking wisdom, and poked jabs at mutual wood working friends. I pray I get the opportunity to do this again one day.
Now on to the wood turning I've been doing. I've been trying a lot of different things lately on the lathe. Some are successful. Some are, well, not so successful. I'm enjoying it greatly though. I have found that wood turning has a steep learning curve. Anyone can do it, but it takes practice to get good at it, and it takes mistakes to in order to have something to learn from.
Today though, I had one of those moments that made me feel just plain stupid. The biggest obstacle I've been dealing with is that I've been limited by health with how much I could do in a day. The reason for this is, being left handed, I've been having an awkward time with my handling of the tools and leaning over the bed at times to get the correct cut that I needed. Then today, in an instant for no reason, it hit me like a ton of bricks. That's why the head on my lathe swivels.
After remembering this, and turning the head ninety degrees, things fell right into place. It all seemed so easy all of a sudden.
Now that I did not have to lean so much, I could do a lot more. I finished this bowl today, and also turned two more pieces. Before today, I was doing good to turn one small piece in a day. Then, with the head turned on the lathe, I completed all this in one day? I'd say that is a huge leap.
I started this first bowl yesterday morning before my friends showed up. I had such a good time yesterday that I'd forgotten it was still mounted in the chuck until I went into the shop this morning.
It is sapelle and finished with boiled linseed oil.
Next, I had an idea to turn something rectangular. Up until this point, everything I've turned has started as either square or round. I'd seen some interesting pieces online made rectangular and decided to give it a try. Besides that, I thought turning this form would be more practice at turning a piece with a lot of air, and lately I take every opportunity to practice technique I may be having problems with. Now, these open air turnings haven't necessarily been a problem for me, but I could tell I could use all the practice I need.
Besides, it's fun to do as well.
This is made out of sycamore and finished with boiled linseed oil. I have used sycamore in the past and it is a very strong wood for straight type wood working. I thought it would be a good wood to turn with as well. Based on my opinion of how this piece reacted on the lathe though, I doubt I'll be using sycamore for turning again. It left a lot of open grain, and to be honest, is sort of a boring wood to look at after it was done.
Lastly today, I turned this little bowl. This bowl is only three inches wide. I had a reason for turning a bowl this small. I've been doing extremely well with larger bowl with plenty of room to work from the sides to the bottom. Sometimes though, I do have issues in between the two. I thought I'd turn a bowl that is even smaller than normal as practice hollowing in tight quarters.

I think they all turned out nice enough considering I'm still learning a lot. Each time I start to turn I try to learn something new. I think that's what I like about turning. Just when you think you have some technique down good, you better not get to lax in remembering everything you learned. If you do, the wood is apt to catch your tool just enough to let you know that you're wrong, and you still have a lot to learn.