Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Thanks, Robo Hippy!

A couple of months ago, a fellow member of one of the woodturning forums that I am active in,,  Reed Grey, aka Robo Hippy, sent me an email asking if I wanted to try some mountain mahogany. Heck yes! He had seen some of my posts on my hand threading successes. A few weeks later this wonderful priority box of Mountain Mahogany showed up on my front porch.

This may be one of the best domestic woods for hand thread chasing. It is very dense and hard as it grows slowly at high altitudes in the dry Southwest. Although a domestic, it is harder for the typical turner to get hold of than English boxwood. Reed had taken a work shop with Stuart and Allan Batty and Allan said it is the only American wood suitable for hand chasing threads.  He detailed his efforts to get this wood in this post a few years ago.

I just sent him my first threaded box of this wood. Here are some pictures.

Thanks again Robo Hippy for your spirit of sharing and generosity.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Internet Can Cost You!

Not sure how I caught the bug. It wasn't exactly a virus but somehow after Thanksgiving I got Big Bandsaw Fever! I do not know whether it was some forum posting or an email ad from one or more vendors, but I caught the fever. I started studying and researching and then studying Craigs List. I posted a couple of WTB classifieds on a couple of woodturning forums saying I was looking for a 16" -20" bandsaw. Next thing I know I get an email from a woodturning associate in Athens, GA inquiring what I was planning on doing with my old Delta bandsaw. I sent him the specs and he said he had been looking for a saw like that for his son for the past six months and would buy it. I found a flyer on my desk from Woodcraft, my favorite local woodworking retailer, with a great deal for a Rikon 18" BS. Unfortunately the sale had just expired. After a long wait and not hearing from anyone (at least two days!) re: my WTB ads and not finding anything on Craigs List, I got an email flyer from Highland. Turns out they had bought a bunch of the Rikons at the promotional price.  Highland was still honoring the big sale price on their current inventory. I lined up a friend with a pickup truck and a couple of woodturning buddies to help me unload. It loaded easily with a fork lift. It could probably have been moved by a couple of strong young guys but it took all four of us, average age just south of 70, to get that 400 pound, 6 ft tall behemoth off the truck and into the shop. Thanks so much to Bill Prater, Dave Martin and Ron Harvey for their assistance!

So in less than a week, I got the fever, sold my old saw, researched my new saw, added a 220 volt outlet, and picked up the new saw and got it set up in my shop connected to my dust collector and cutting wood. I am not sure whether there was some divine intervention or not but I am counting my blessings. God is great and life is good!

I sure like my new big bandsaw. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Ashley Harwood Workshop

I was one of 7 participants for an all day hands-on turning workshop with Ashley Harwood on Nov 13, sponsored by my club, Chattahoochee Woodturners. My wife and I were also fortunate enough to be able to host Ashley for one night before she headed back to Charleston, SC.

Ashley turns utility bowls commercially so is a skilled bowl turner. She makes some beautiful bowls and I got some great inspirational ideas on base and rim treatment.  She uses Mahoney's Walnut oil because the finish is more consistent even after the bowl has been washed a few times.  This is not as likely with some of the other finishes. Her workshop was based on using the traditional push cut techniques favored by Stuart Batty, a third generation woodturner. Ashley did an internship with Stuart so really knows her stuff.  I was fortunate enough to have taken a two day class with Stuart shortly after I started turning almost six years ago.  This was a great refresher and I learned some new things.

One was how to get a good tenon with a bowl gouge. I have usually rough out a tenon with a bowl gouge but generally had to resort to a bedan or parting tool to make sure I got a clean shoulder.  I like the quality of the push cut. The down side for me is that it appears more difficult for me to get the exact outside bowl shape I want.  I also do not like having to turn an expansion opening in the face in order to have full access to the bottom as is required by the push cut.  I will probably go back to a pull cut and push cut combination. But I am inspired to work harder on the tool control required to get a great finish with less for sanding! See her website for more information about Ashley and her work.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Upcoming Demonstrations

January 12, 2013, I will be doing a threading demonstration for the Alabama Woodturners Association, Homewood, Al and will be showing my shopmade threading jig there as well as doing some hand thread chasing.

January 10, 2013, I will be demonstrating on how to turn a threaded acorn box for the Gwinnett Woodworkers.

November 10, 2012 I will be doing a demonstration for the Bi City Woodturners in Columbus, GA on box making and will include some demonstration of hand chasing threads. You can download the handout for this demonstration by clicking here.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Monday, September 17, 2012

Turning Southern Style

I had a great time at the Turning Southern Style Symposium XVIII at the Unicoi Lodge in Helen, GA. The symposium was a sellout several weeks before the event. Sid Snow, President of the Mountain Laurel Woodturners and fellow club member of Chattahoochee Woodturners lives about 10 minutes from Helen, and invited me and another turner, Terry Smith to stay as his home. I was camera operator for several of the demonstrations which was a new experience for me.  I operated the camera for Nick Cook and he gave me this very cool spindle lock gizmo for my 3520b. Looks to be the same spindle lock device that now comes with the Powermatic 4224.  Peachtree Woodworking was one of the vendors and had a great sale on Trend Air Pro powered personal air purifying  respirators. I was fortunate to sell a couple of the pieces I had in the Instant Gallery display so my resistance was low!  Jim Hardy did a great job as the new symposium director and I think everyone had a great time. Next year the event will be held in Dalton, Georgia since the Lodge will be closed for renovations.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Highland Woodturner

Some of my work was featured in the August issue of the Highland Woodturner. You can link to it by clicking on this link:

All Screwed Up

My article on making a threading jig will be published in the April 2013 issue of the American Woodturner. Here is a box I threaded with my jig. I submitted it to the AAW July Box contest. Alas, not a winner but I did get some nice comments. This is made of ash.

I just picked up another set of hand thread chasers, Sorby 20 tpi, that I am beginning to use. They are easier to use than the 16tpi but I think more suitable to smaller boxes.  I was given some Mountain Laurel and much to my delight discovered that it takes hand chased threads very well.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Donuts and Coffee Article

On June 7, I demonstrated how to turn one piece coffee scoops using a doughnut chuck and the two piece style for the Peach State Woodturners. On June 14, I did a similar demonstration for the Mountain Laurel Woodturners.

You can download my article on doing these with emphasis on making the chuck published in the August 2012 issue of American Woodturner by clicking here.

Feb 8, 2013 updates: I discovered the versatility of the Nova Live Center system. The cone that comes with the system is perfect for supporting the ball end while finishing the handle.  I love the versatility of this high quality live center system. It has three bearings compared to one for most OEM live centers and two in the Oneway or Powermatic live center.

Here is a shop made captive ring tool I made from an inexpensive HSS tool bit blank from Enco. It is 8" long and 1/4" in diameter and costs less than $3. You can also use it to make a round skew, Drozda Vortex tool, pyramid tool and more. Order more than one blank! Flatten both sides and then cut the "cat's claw" with the corner of the grinding wheel or a rotary Dremel style tool with a stone bit.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Success with Threads!

I played around practicing threading on Bradford Pear and discovered it threads fairly well - about like osage orange and dogwood. So I have been able to actually make a few little boxes with a threaded top! Here is my proof. The first box is osage orange and the second box is redheart. Hand thread chasing is very satisfying when you finally are able to cut good threads and get the parts to actually fit together. Click on the images to enlarge.
Osage Orange is one of my favorite domestic woods for threading
Threaded box of redheart

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Hand Thread Chasing

I have wanted to be able to add threads to some of my projects like lidded boxes. I have been working with a couple of fellow turners on making a threading jig which may be the way to go. We have acquired all of the parts but the project has been on hold for almost a year due to higher priorities with the rest of the team. This reminds me of a saying attributed to George Washington commenting on military staff, "What one man can do well, two can do less well and three can scarcely do at all." I may have to go it alone on this threading jig. But meanwhile, I decided I might try my hand at hand chasing. A friend of mine, Peter Lamb, actually gave me an opportunity to try it out and it looked like fun. I watched a bunch of Youtube videos by Sam Angelo on hand chasing which were all good. You can find them here Peter directed me to Mark St Ledger, a US turner who actually makes and sells hand chasers. Unfortunately, he is out of stock and won't have more til late summer.

So I picked up a set of Sorby 16 TPI thread chasers. I decided to make the tool armrest and a relief tool shown here.

The relief tool is an 1/8" allen wrench cut back a little with a flat on both sides. The tool armrest is designed to cradle the female thread chaser as it extends over the tool rest. I got the idea from Richard Raffan's book, The Complete Illustrated Guide to Woodturning. It is made from a 1/4" carriage bolt 9" long I picked up at Lowes for a couple of bucks. Easy enough but it did take some grinding. So I practiced on some Osage Orange and on some Dogwood. I was able to get some threads cut. There is a learning curve to hand chasing so I will have to get back to you with the final results. Stay tuned.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Southern States Symposium 2012

I just got back from Southern States Symposium. A great time as always. I got to hangout and talk turning with lots of old friends and make more friends. Visiting the Instant Gallery is always inspirational. A special treat for me was to be able to host one of the demonstrators, Lyle Jamieson. This was a unique opportunity to get to know a big name turner and have have him make a shop visit. I also got some great turning and finishing tips from him to improve my work.

Chattahoochee member Wes Jones is shown here demonstrating. Frank Bowers is the camera operator. The symposium is such a great opportunity to actually meet with some of the vendors/tool makers we read about and actually touch or use some of the tools we might be interested in.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Elegant Awls

My article on "Elegant Awls" was just published in the June 2012 issue of Woodturning Design magazine.
You can click here to read or download the article. Any feedback is welcome. Since I wrote the article I have become aware of the "bird cage" awl I wanted to mention. Instead of rotating the tool when sharpening, you sharpen only on four sides tapering to the point. This gives you 4 cutting edges and allow the tool to easily drill a hole in wood. This is useful in making a starting hole for a screw. The name comes from the tool birdhouse makers used for drilling holes in rattan or bamboo when making birdhouses. Someone else mentioned the benefits of a longer skinnier handle design that makes it easier to spin a bird cage awl in your hands to make a hole.
A reader brought to my attention a typo on drill size. I actually use a 11/64" for a 5/32" shaft. A general room of thumb is to use a 1/16" larger hole than a gouge shank when making a handle for a gouge but adding 1/64" is probably right for an awl shaft hole. Your best bet is probably to simply try a few size holes in a scrap piece of wood and see what is the best fit. You do need a little bit of room to accommodate the glue. 3/16" is not a bad awl shaft size either. I think 1/4" is too big for an awl. I find that I am enjoying writing for publication, although it takes some patience as the lead time from submission to publication is so long. Unlike the instant gratification one gets with turning, it takes about a year and a half to see the results of an article in a magazine!

July 11, 2012. I was gratified to get the following feedback from a fellow turner in Australia:
I too make such neat little things such as awls as well, needless to say I cut the steel point to length and buff it with stainless steel wool and sharpen it on a linisher attached to my bench grinder, to accomplish this I put the cut rod into my cordless drill and use the underside of the linishing belt.  The top side has the plate which the belt runs over, well that side is too harsh, so I always use the underside as it has a bit of give and by adjusting how you hold the drill and steel rod you can make a nice point at whatever angle you require. "It works for me".

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Video on Wood Chucking

Here is a video produced by the Gwinnett Woodworkers of my demonstration on how to hold wood on the lathe. I hope you find it useful. Click here to view or download.

This project took several days to prepare, video and edit. Thanks to Bob Brokaw for the idea and production management, Jim Myrick for the expert videography, John Eaton for the superb editing, and Rob Austin for the use of his shop and assistance. Rob Austin's shop is large enough to be a TV studio! We got to use his 50" TV hanging from the ceiling in the middle of his shop as a teleprompter!

When I was approached about doing this I thought it would take a lot of effort - and it did. But it was fun. Also, it was another another opportunity to practice for a similar presentation for the Classic City Woodturners, Athens, GA.

The goal is for these GWA YouTube videos to attract more younger visitors to Gwinnett Woodworkers.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Functional Woodturning

I know a lot of woodturners who tend to fixate on one type of turning. And that is ok since turning is a hobby for most of us and we tend to do what we enjoy. I like a variety of turning projects.
This past week my brother Robert gave me a very nice collapsible umbrella he rescued from someone's trash because part of the handle was missing. So it was a challenge to try and come up with a way to mount a new handle and turn one that would be distinctive.
I think I succeeded. This was turned from a scrap of walnut and textured with a Sorby spiraling tool.