Friday, December 18, 2009

Apple (wood) turning

I have finally got around to turning the apple tree that I had to cut down in my yard. These two bowls are both from crotches.
The trunk of the tree was too badly cracked to use for bowls but I have saved some for boxes and hollow forms.
The wood is typically fruit wood dense and hard - harder than cherry/plum/apricot woods. It cuts well when wet but smells pretty bad, a bit like swampy poplar.
The above bowls are about 12 inches and 10 inches (the bottom one) across. (diameter)
Interestingly the knots in the two bowls above dried quite differently. The upper bowl was dried just by leaving it sitting in the shop. As you can see the knot checked badly notwithstanding the thin walls of the bowl. The bottom bowl was dried inside a paper bag and the knot has not checked at all. This is quite a triumph for apple as it is very prone to check.
I have been at pains to try to get the wood turned quickly - into blanks at least - as it does not last long once cut, before it turns into checked firewood.
The figure in apple is nothing to rave about as it is quite bland. These pieces have some stress wood in them with curly grain but one has tolook carefully to even see it. Certainly not eye poppers. But the wood has a nice feel and should withstand heavy use since it is so hard.
I particularly like the way the wood has moved in the drying process leaving these bowls quite mishapen and warped.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Apple tree down

The tree at the top. The wood at the bottom.
Significant date: 17/11/2009
Hopefully something nice will come of the wood.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Manitoba maple Bowl

I am still doing some turnings from a large Manitoba maple tree that fell down in June in Colebrook north of Kingston.
The homeowner was not interested in the wood as "it does not burn worth a ##**". This tree was literally one big burl from top to bottom, so great for turning.
As you can see in this photo the wood was full of red streaks. And Manitoba maple, or box elder as it is also known, is very nice to turn. It finishes well with a very smooth surface. And contrary to popular opinion the wood is fairly hard once dry. The one problem is that it will not dry in this climate if left outside, which is why it does not burn well as its moisture content remains high. (Most people dry their firewood outside)
Another characteristic of this wood is that it does not shrink much when it dries. Of the local hardwoods it seems to move the least. Good for making natural edge bowls.
Today I cut down a large crab apple tree which looks to have some nice grain. I will try to get some pictures posted later. Apple checks very quickly so I will have to move fast to get some turned.
George, my father in law, passed away last night and this was my way of occupying my time to avoid dwelling on that passage. The tree was pretty old and partly rotten near the bottom so it had to come down. It was situated next to the driveway and would have been a costly accident if it had fallen on a car.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Garden Vision

Some images just jump out at me. This is one. Beautiful water drop magnifiers on an iris leaf.
The Christmas sale is over and I can relax and get on with woodturning again.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Christmas Crafts Sale at RMC Gym in Kingston

Christmas Crafts Sale at RMC Gym in Kingston. Nelson holding the fort as it were. Lots of people and a few sales but not the bigger items.
Ron Oastler was there too with Sawdust and Glass and he looked busy.
On again tomorrow.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Christmas Craft Sale

I will be participating (along with the Kingston Woodturners club) in the Christmas Craft Sale at the Canadian Forces Community Center this weekend - November 14 and 15.
The Canadian Forces Community Center is located on Hwy 2 Opposite to the entrance to Fort Henry just outside Kingston Ontario.
If you are in the area please drop by and say hello.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

John and Nelson visit John Jordan in Ottawa

This is the maple blank he started with.
Lionel enjoying the joke. A man and a platypus walk in to a bar...
Looks a bit like the cross section of a blurry eyeball John.
"I'm not looking but I hope this is not in lieu of the cheque"

November 8 I went to Ottawa with Nelson and we took in a demonstration by John Jordan.
The Valley Woodturners made us feel very much at home as we were both greeted warmly. Nelson said that he was most impressed because people actually talked to him as if he knew something about the topic. Thanks to the folks at Valley Woodturners and John Jordan we both thoroughly enjoyed the presentation, and the pizza was pretty good too.

John started with a slide show of inspirational material plus a selection of some of his work.
This was followed by a lathe demonstration on making a hollow form. Watching the outside take shape was good but since one cannot see what is happening inside it was only thanks to John's informative banter that no-one went to sleep for this process (I don't think anyway)
Some quotes, hopefully mostly correct but I paraphrase liberally so...
"Accomplished turners seem to pull creative ideas out of their pockets - they have spent a lifetime filling their pockets with those ideas"
"ALL problems in woodturning are directly related to the sharpness of the tool"
"Spend as much time as you need to"
"Answer to everything - A sharp tool and finesse"
"Stop the lathe to check on progress. You can't screw it up with the lathe turned off."
"Polish the tool rest"
Finishing: Use spray acrylic from Krylon. Easy fast finish.

The finished hollow form made in Ottawa

Top Making - My Spin on the topic

This is what I start with. 3/4 X 3/4 inch by four inch long (oak) glued (with epoxy in this case) to a 2.5 X 2.5 inch by 3/4 inch thick (maple) piece. The grain on both pieces runs along the axis of the lathe. The chuck is an Apprentice brand 4 jaw with pin jaws.
Using a wide flat spindle gouge the bottom of the top is shaped.
After removing the tail stock support...
..complete the point on the bottom of the top.
Replace the tailstock and attack the top and handle. Using a smaller but thicker spindle gouge.
See the next post for completion of the project.

Making Tops - My Spin on this topic

Trimming the handle using a spindle gouge.

After using a vibration tool to make a pattern on the maple the entire top is sanded.
Adding colour with a pink Sharpie. After a friction polish has been applied.
Parting off with a small skew chisel.
The finished product. Takes about five minutes to complete one top on the lathe but add on preparation time and each top takes about ten minutes to finish. Spiral line is put on at slow speed.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


This is where it all starts. I am working out a new table design. Making the leg attachment point a bit bigger to accommodate the biscuit joiner. And playing with the pedestal design to avoid the "too thick" for the size of the table look.
I also have a different leg design which has a concave curve rather than the convex curve that I used on the last table. (See previous posts) However the concave leg will require a different style of pedestal too as it is more of a Georgian design I think. I will have to look up some furniture design books to further my education about these table designs.
More research is required.

Monday, October 5, 2009


Finished three "pipes" in oriental elm today. The tallest one is about 18 inches. The tops are carved to follow the grain of the wood. They were turned green and allowed to move as much as they liked, which they did.
I posted some of these in an earlier blog post which explains a bit about the process of making these. They are fun to do but I always worry about making too much of a particular item as I do not want to be "stuck" with an armload of woodturnings. My house is already creaking at the seams with stored wood never mind stored turnings.

All Growed Up

Here you see the grown up frog in a pond in my garden. The pump has been shut off and the water can get quite warm in the sun. This frog seems to like that. The frogs are looking for winter hideaways and I have seen a few in the garden. One was quite large and I suspect probably a three year old leopard frog. This one is smaller and probably from last years crop of tadpoles.
For information on raising tadpoles I have an early post on that with an incorrect picture but the info is still good.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Finally Finished Pedestal Table

Well it is done. One coat of wipe on Polyurethane. I will apply another later after a little finish sanding. But we have a Minwax finisher presenting to-night so I will wait and see what he has to say.
The top is quite nicely figured tiger maple. Slightly marred by dark streaks at the glue joins as I was too miserly to cut off enough of the wood to get rid of the weather darkening.
It seldom pays to be cheap with material use.

This picture shows the unfinished table outside.
And there you have it. I still have another table to make but will wait a bit before starting that as I have an order for many bowls which needs attending to.

Pedestal Bottom Finish

This picture above shows the tenon left at the bottom of the pedestal.

This is the "saucer" with a hole drilled the same size as the tenon.
I inserted a small walnut piece with some inset turquoise.

This is the piece finished on the lathe.
Here I am fitting the saucer onto the tenon. This will cover all the leg attachment complex and give a little visual unobtrusive "extra" to the table.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Pedestal Table Leg Attachment

Well I glued the legs using 2 inch dowels and epoxy glue. The picture shows the elementary clamping technique using a hold down strap to exert pressure on the legs.
Of course with four legs the table does not stand perfectly flat so I will have to trim off a bit off two legs. The clamps on the legs just stop the strap from sliding off.
Here are some of the things I will do to improve the next one:
  1. Change the leg design slightly to allow for holding the bottom of each leg with an attached saucer under the column.
  2. Lighten up the column. This one looks a bit heavy (3 1/4 inch diameter) for the size of the top. I think 2 1/2 inch will suffice for a 17 inch top.
  3. Use three legs. Thus avoiding the "rocking table" syndrome.
  4. Improve the dowel drilling jig with metal inserts, a clamp down hold on the lathe bed and a larger clamp to wood for holding the legs at 90 degrees.
  5. All that said I still have to make another table of the same design as a "matching pair".
Well now to complete the finish saucer under the column and then finish sanding the table and apply a final finish.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Pedestal Table Leg Attachment Technique

This picture shows how the legs were drilled using a wood jig. The legs are clamped onto the jig and the jig is clamped to the lathe bed - for want of any free space in my tiny workshop.

This is a view of the drilling jig. The "L" shaped wood piece is what the legs are clamped against when the legs are drilled. Here the jig is set against the pedestal for drilling the holes in the post.
To ensure that the holes are drilled at center I used a mallet to mark the holes against the live center in the tailstock of the lathe. The legs are attached to the pedestal with 3/8 dowels. Since the jig was a little sloppy I used epoxy glue to attach the legs to ensure filling any small imperfections. I intend improving the jig by adding a piece at the bottom to allow clamping the jig to the lathe bed and enlarging the cheek block for clamping the legs. I also ordered some steel inserts to add to the jig to make the holes more accurate.

Pedestal Table Legs

Wood was cut into lengths at 45 degrees. Then these lengths were stacked and the leg template used to cut the legs on a bandsaw.

The top attachment point of each leg was cut into a concave using the circular saw and an angled fence.

Pedestal Table continued

Thought I had better put a picture of the pedestal in to better explain the shape. This is actually mounted on the lathe and then turned "upright" for a better view.
I said before that there were four beads. Actually there are only three - one and a half on top and one and a half near the bottom. The top beads were made a little smaller to give a better proportional look.
If you look closely you can see a tenon near the bottom which will be used to mount a small finish saucer which should cover the bottoms of the legs and spindle.

Pedestal Table continued

So I turned the top. Now I need the post and the legs. Here I have several (10) strips of hard maple glued together to make the pedestal out of. Actually this will make two pedestals since I am planning on making a matching pair. I made these pieces 27 inches long since the legs will lift the pedestal 4 inches off the ground and the table will add 3/4 inch that leaves a little extra to make a table that will be 29 inches tall when completed.

Here is the lamination turned into a cylinder.

Once I have the cylinder turned true I marked out the space to mount the legs and the space to provide the attachment tenon for the top - both essential. The top of the leg attachment will have a ridge to butt the legs against. This ridge is important for layout to mount the legs evenly and of course to establish the correct finished height. In between these two components -leg attachment and top tenon - I can insert the decorative part which will consist of four beads sandwiching an ogee curve.
The picture above shows how the layout is marked with coloured pencils. Red is left high and green is cut into first with a parting tool just to establish the depth then with a skew to create the beads. I also used a large spindle gouge for a lot of the curvey parts.

Pedestal Table

A customer asked me to make a "candlelabra" from some highly figured maple that he had. I figured it would take about 24 hours to make including jigs and fixtures as needed so the price was a bit high for him.
However I decided that since I already had a few pieces of curly maple all glued up and ready to make a small (17") table I would just need to make the pedestal and legs and stick them all together.
At first I thought I would try to make a dovetail joint but the jig to cut one on a round leg was a bit too complex to make and I changed to joining the legs to the pedestal with dowel joints.
I wanted to also write an article for a magazine to help defray costs so I have documented this as I went.
I started by turning the top from curly maple and attaching a plate under the 3/4 inch thick material to make a better join.

Here is the bottom of the table top with the glued on plate to act as an attachment point for the pedestal.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Fall Fair picture

Captivated audience of school children at the Kingston Fall Fair.
Lots of fun turning for these tykes.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Kingston Fall fair

Made umpteen tops today for children as they came through from schools.
The tops were very popular at $1 each so I reckon if I have a chance tomorrow they will be a little more money.
I will try to post some pictures later.
Ken Waller was there in the afternoon and he turned several key chains, pens, bottle stoppers and a tipsy top. he is quite the consummate artist.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Fort York

Did a little historical research at Fort York.
Took in the play at Fort York which Tanya was a part of.

Of course all the wood from the fort archaelogical digs has rotted away so artifacts were china and glass mainly.

The play was excellent and gave an historical perspective.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Golf Trophy

I just completed this golf trophy base for a golfing customer. He supplied the wood and the Irish cut glass decanter.
This will be presented at an Irish Canadian tourney held at the Lookout Point Golf club near St Catharines Ontario.
The wood is a piece of highly figured birdseye maple from northern Ontario.
I am quite pleased with the results and the customer said he was too.
Alls well that ends well.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Thanks Arbre Care

Got two small burls from Arbre Care in Kingston on the weekend. This is a picture of one being turned.
The shavings are flying and the camera flash has frozen them in midair.
The burl has some amazing figure and will make a beauty of a small bowl.