I've had a few "everything goes wrong" days. I guess everyone has had one of these at some time or another. I'm talking about days where everything you try and do only ends in failure or frustration. Well, when I have days like that, it always seems to end up being several days like that. So, Sunday, I took a much needed day off.
Now, with saying that, I have to explain what I mean by a "day off" for me. I have a lot of days I don't do much of anything. It's because there are day my health doesn't allow me to do much. When I take a "day off", I mean I took a day that I was actually in good enough shape to do something, and decided to do it away from the shop or home.
Anyway, with the explanation given, I took a day off and went fishing with one of my sons. We had a great time, and caught a good mess of bream. There is nothing in this world like having a fish dinner you caught yourself.
So anyway, I wanted to tell you all about that. Sometimes we all need a break. With that break, I cleared my mind. Then when I got back into the shop, I decided to turn a bowl. That's something I hadn't done in a little while. Well while gluing up the material for the bowl, one of the pieces slipped while fumbling with the clamps, and it was more out of balance than I cared to fight with on the lathe. It looked like my bad luck was still with me.
So today I went into the shop with a mission to fix a couple of problems I've had in the past.
The first problem I had was gluing up materials for bowls. I have been fighting with many clamps in the past. Somewhere on YouTube, while watching a bowl turning video, I seen a brilliantly designed bowl press. I wanted to make one. I couldn't see in that video many specifics on building it, but it wasn't complicated. I took some measurements and went at it.
The hardest thing to figure out was how to take this large clamp I had and remove just the part I needed to use in the press. About the time I was debating on how to do this, my teenage son, James, came towards the back of the shop and said he wished he could help me today. Well, I told him, you came just in time. So I clamped this huge clamp up in the vice, got a hack saw, and showed him what I needed. James is a determined lad. It took him about an hour, but he removed the screw and threaded insert part of the clamp I needed and we were in business.
As I said earlier, it isn't a complicated design. I left plenty of room for gluing up bowls as deep as I would ever have a desire to do. If I'm doing a shallow bowl, just add spacer scrap material between the screw device and the top clamping plate, and clamp it all down. The advantage to this is going to be, with a center point of pressure, there is much less chance of material moving around like it does when I'm trying to wrestle with eight or ten clamps at once. Also, doing it this way is going to be much easier on my back.
Here, I have the first bowl clamped up in the press. There's a couple of things I'd like to note here.
You may notice the wax paper under the bowl. This is so that any glue that squeezes out goes on the wax paper instead of gluing the bowl to the press. Wax paper is cheap and even when the glue does make it sort of stick to something, it peels right off.
The other thing I wanted to tell you is that after snapping this photo, I noticed some cracking starting on my main support for the screw assembly. I quickly unscrewed it, used some three inch screws going through some pecan wood into the cypress I had made the main support out of, and reinforced that area. It was my first time using it, so some modifications at this point I guess could be expected. Other than that though, it seems to be doing great.
Here is a better view of the material clamped in the press. I seen another advantage to the press when I was snapping this photo. In the past, I've had a time trying to keep the mess of the glue squeeze out from these bowl blank glue ups contained. With this press, it all will run down on the wax paper, which simply gets thrown in the garbage when done.
While my mind was on turning bowls, I thought of another little thing I've been meaning to work on for a while now.
I have several different styles of calipers, but none to accurately measure the thickness of the walls of bowls when turning them. I've been measuring them using the guess method. If you don't know what that is, it means you press the sides between two fingers and guess at the thickness. If any of you have ever turned many bowls using the guess method, then you probably also already know how easy it is to guess your way right through the side or bottom of a bowl.
Some time ago, Steve Goode, over at Scrollsaw Workshop, posted some patterns for some calipers that would be perfect for bowls. I had saved them to my computer, but had just not taken the time to make them. Today, since I was tackling problems, seemed like a good day to get it done.
These will be much more accurate than guessing. I made them out of quarter inch plywood. It would have been better to rivet them together, but I had them all cut before I realized I was out of rivets that long. So I opted for some screws and lock nuts instead of making a special trip to town.
If any of you do any scroll work, don't hesitate to go over to Steve Goode's site I linked to above. It is a great site for scrollers. I have gotten a lot of great patterns and good advice from his site.