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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

How NOT To Turn A Bowl

In the last entry, I had left the first bowl to ever be pressed in the bowl pressed drying for today. Well I unclamped it today and am glad to report that the press applied plenty enough pressure and I am very happy with it.
So I went to chucking it up on the lathe and went at it. I love turning bowls. You may notice it is a little shorter than what was shown clamped up in the press yesterday. I turned about an inch off the top when I messed up. That's one of the luxuries of turning bowls. If you make too big a mistake, you don't ruin the top part of the bowl. You just wind up with a shorter bowl.
I was happy with the way things were going. With the new bowl thickness calipers, I was able to get a more accurate measurement of the side walls and was much more comfortable about going thinner than I have in the past. Maybe I was a little too comfortable. If you read the title of this entry, you already know that a huge mistake is about to be told.
As I was getting near the bottom, I slipped with the gouge and made a nasty tear out section in the bottom of the bowl. So with some careful measuring, I figure I could go at least another sixteenth to an eighth inch deeper with no problems. I started doing that and quickly realized maybe that a sixteenth of an inch was about a sixteenth of an inch too much.
You see, when I thought back to see where I made the mistake at, I realized something. I did have enough material to go deeper about an inch and a half from the side where I measured at. However, since I, for some odd reason, like to cut a concave profile on the bottom of my bowls so they are sure to sit flat on a table, that meant I had less material than that closer to the center. Apparently, I had less than a sixteenth of an inch.
This is what happens when you turn clean through the bottom of a bowl. This is how NOT to turn a bowl. It doesn't hold things too well with a large hole in the bottom.
I also ran into another problem today. Well actually it is an ongoing problem that I am constantly learning to deal with. My lathe is actually underpowered for turning a bowl this large. It doesn't matter how light I make my passes, the lathe is under a stain turning this kind of mass. I feel there has to be a way around this problem, since there is no way I'll be able to afford a more substantial lathe anytime in the foreseeable future. So I am, as I'm able, working on a few ideas on that front. I am determined to be able to turn bowls.
I changed the grind on my gouge today to a steeper angle. That seemed to help a tiny bit, but I also plan on trying a ring, or hook cutter, sometimes in the future.
I'm also playing with speed on my lathe. It turned smoother at high speeds, but also seems to bog down easier. So I'm thinking of turning slower until the final passes to clean up rough areas.
I'm also thinking of ways to take some of the work load off of the lathe. If I remove the middle of the rings I glue up for blanks, that would eliminate the need for the lathe to have to turn that much weight in the beginning while I'm roughing everything out. This still would not help me if I'm turning a bowl from a fallen tree though. So that one is still a concept in the works.
I've done some research. The best answer would be to get a larger lathe with more horsepower that can handle that kind of mass. The thing is, when I look at the prices of such lathes, all I can think of is the fact that my kids need something called food more than I need a bigger lathe. So I don't see that happening.
So where does all this lead? Well, in the past, I've built my own tools when I couldn't afford large enough to do what I needed to do. It'll take some time. I've been looking for parts. The largest obstacle will be finding a large enough motor. I do see sometime in the future though that I want to build a heavier duty lathe than my wallet would ever allow me to purchase from a name brand supplier.
One day.  

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