Not as Easy as it Looks - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 11 Old 01-24-2010, 08:27 PM Thread Starter
djg
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Not as Easy as it Looks

I'm attempting to turn my first vessel, what I'll loosey term a bowl, from a blank made from some of the green red oak I talked about below. Stable so far. I just wanted to say to those of you who are experienced in the "Art", it's not as easy as it seems. There seems to be so many variables involved. Had a bunch of catches until I figured out what I was doing wrong. I've got Raffin's book to go by, so progress is slow (have to look things up - not the quality of the book). Anyway, I got the outside form roughed out and now I have to cut the recess for the chuck, after I read up on it. Hopefully, this will become second nature the more I practice. It's fun to see the grain pop out. Just wanted to say my hat's off to you guys who's posted pictures of your beautiful work. It's a talent.

P.S. Nobody told me there would be so much sawdust!

Last edited by djg; 01-24-2010 at 08:32 PM.
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post #2 of 11 Old 01-24-2010, 08:56 PM
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If it's green keep it wet while your turning. If you have to quit for the night cover it with a plastic bag so it will not dry out. Turn it fairly thin to reduce the chances of it checking. It's very important to turn all of it to the same thickness so it will dry evenly. If you leave the bottom much thicker than the sides it will increase the chances of checking.
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post #3 of 11 Old 01-24-2010, 09:03 PM Thread Starter
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I probably won't get to turning the inside of the bowl tonight; with all those catches, I have to re-hone my gouge first. I did coat the outside with wax, but thanks I'll put it in a plastic bag also to be sure. Keeping the piece wet while turning, like with a sponge?, I guess keeps surface cracks from forming?
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post #4 of 11 Old 01-24-2010, 11:30 PM
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If you turn green wood bowls to their final thickness they will almost always crack or check as they dry and distort. Best you leave the walls 10% of the final diameter of the bowl, let it dry for a few months then finish turning it. Enjoy your new hobby, its addicting.
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post #5 of 11 Old 01-25-2010, 08:45 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply. I had planned on leaving the walls 1/2" thick until dry. And yes I sure I'll enjoy it, once I get over the fear of catches.
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post #6 of 11 Old 01-25-2010, 09:46 AM
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If you leave them 1/2" or thinner and store them so there's not a lot of air movement for several day to a week they usually won't crack. That is on a large bowl 8" or more. Thinner is better. I turned several 19" bowls to 1/2" with not problems. Smaller bowls should be turned thinner. I turn a lot of natural edge bowls to about 3/8" thickness and rarely have one split.
A lot of it has to do with where you cut it from the tree and what you do with the bottom and the lip. I actually turn the bottom of the bowl a little thinner so that the foot is closer to the same thickness as the walls. You can make the bottom the same thickness if you reverse turn the foot so that it's more like a ring sitting on the bowl.
For reverse turning methods go to this website and look up my tip on reverse turning bowls. http://www.cumberlandwoodturners.com/htm/tips.htm
Rule no 1. Don't leave the pith in it. You can if you know what your doing and can turn thin but if your not up to that you will almost always get a check. As a new turner stay away from the pith. If you leave the pith side up try to turn away at least an inch or more from the really small rings around the pith. The same is true for the bottom. It just reduces the chances of checking.
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post #7 of 11 Old 01-25-2010, 09:48 AM
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My friend John Jordan who teaches all over the world told me that most bowls check because the checks are already there. The woodturner did not start with a solid piece of wood. Cut your wood longer than the bowl. Then take a slice off the end. If you can break this easily cut another 3/4" or so until you reach solid wood. Then cut your bowl blank.
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post #8 of 11 Old 01-25-2010, 10:23 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks John
I've filed away your link in "my favorites" so I can keep all this information handy. I did stay away from the center of the log when cutting the blank. I worked at a local sawmill for a while sometime ago and I know that lumber from the center of the log usually has a lot of cracks it in. This was always sawn into blocking or construction lumber. As I said before, this blank is from a section of the log as the one posted in the "Forestry" section. Today I'm going to cut a blank out of the piece in the picture using as much of it as I can for a large salad bowl. One I cut it down to size, I'll seal the end in wax and store it in a double brown paper sack in the basement until my skills improve enough to tackle a larger project. But for now I've got to today turn some type of foot to accept the jaws of a chuch on the vessel I'm currently working on. Then I can rough out the inside down to say 3/8". If I remember correctly, I use a skew for that. Have to look it up though. The outside of the vessel was pretty rough yesterday when I stopped so I sure I need to re-hone my 3/8" bowl gouge still.
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post #9 of 11 Old 01-25-2010, 12:55 PM
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I hope you said use the skew for the foot. Personally I don't use the skew for anything on a bowl. I do it all with a bowl gouge or possible a spindle gouge for some details.
If your roughing a bowl to be turned later leave it thicker. Bowls warp into an oval and if you leave it 3/8" it will warp to the point that you won't be able to put it back on the lathe. The general rule for roughing bowls is to turn them to 10% of the total dimension. For example a 12" bowl us usually roughed to 1" wall thickness. Then I coat all of the endgrain portions with end grain sealer and put it face down on the floor of the shop. If it's a wood that I know checks easily then I put a paper sack over it for a month of so.
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post #10 of 11 Old 01-25-2010, 02:43 PM Thread Starter
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John,
Yes I did mean use the skew on the foot of the bowl. I was told that is how you get the undercut so the jaws hold the piece from the inside out. Since the bowl blank is from questionable (stability) material, I decided to turn a rim (?term) on the outside the the foot. The jaws will grasp the piece from the outside and should exert pressure inward. Thought it might be safter that way; maybe help hold the piece together. When it's dry, I could remove this rim when refining the outside. The question is, it only takes ca 1 month to dry enough to be ready to finish? I heard 6 mos.

I know you must be getting tired of replying and that I'm problably beating this subject to death, but I value your advice.

Thanks

Dan
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post #11 of 11 Old 01-25-2010, 03:49 PM
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Dan A skew layed on it's side is a good way to cut the dovetails for the chuck jaws.
Drying time is a much variable thing depending on where you live, the season and how thick the wood is. In Tennessee a 1" bowl will dry in 6 months or less. I move them from the floor to the top shelf if I'm in a hurry and it takes a little more like 4 months.
A 3/8" thick bowl will dry in about a week or to 10 days. A 1/4" thick bowl will dry in about 2.
The best way to check is to weight them. When they stop losing weight they are dry enough to work with.
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