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post #1 of 21 Old 03-16-2011, 06:19 PM Thread Starter
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Quite Frustrated

I started to try learning how to turn last fall, and after a multitude of catches and flying blocks of wood, as well as other reasons, put turning on hold. Today I'm cutting some of my stockpile of logs into bowl blanks and thought "I need to try again". I grabbed a piece of cherry and cut a 5" dia. x 4' blank leaving the natural edge on. I screwed it onto my face place, checked for balance and proceeded to try to turn it. After a few minutes, the blank pulled off the 1" screws. Fine, so I put it between centers and tried again. After several catches, the drive center looses its grip in the bark side (softer) of the blank despite repeated tightening of the tail stock. OK, so I cut the natural edge off, put it between centers, and try again. I gain a little ground and then I get a big catch, and so on and so on.
The main thing I think I'm doing wrong (besides maybe trying to learn turning) is holding the tool wrong. The 1/2" bowl gouge is sharp, or at least used to be. I even tried my 5/8" Elsworth bowl gouge, that was worse. I've watched a lot of videos, but maybe I'm missing something.
After you recover from laughing your A$$ off, can someone tell me the proper way to hold and present the tool into the wood? You all make it look so easy, I must be an idiot for not being able to do this.
Thanks
Desperate
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post #2 of 21 Old 03-16-2011, 06:30 PM
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catching

When you are turning inside, make sure toolrest is set low enough.
If you stick tool into blank higher than center, it will want to be dragged into it.
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post #3 of 21 Old 03-16-2011, 06:52 PM
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DJG, Try not to get too discouraged. Turning can be a lot of fun once you get the hang of it.

My first thoughts are that you said you are turning bowl blanks with a faceplate and between centers. In my short time turning, I've found that turning between centers is for small work and spindles. I use a faceplate only sometimes, and even then, only long enough to put a spigot or mortise on the bottom so that I can secure the blank with a four jaw chuck.

How you hold and use your tools can vary depending on what you're turning, what tool you're using, and your personal style, but ensuring that your blank is properly secured to the lathe is of paramount importance.
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post #4 of 21 Old 03-16-2011, 06:57 PM
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Remember the ABC's. "A"nchor the tool to the tool rest. "B"evel; get the bevel riding on the wood. "C"ut; adjust the tool so the bevel starts making a light cut.

I would also recommend that you start on some simple spindle work before graduating to bowls. Try a bead and cove stick for learning the basic cuts. http://rtgleck-rittik.blogspot.com/2...rovo-2008.html

Also, take a class from an experienced turner.

That bowl was perfect right up until that last cut...
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post #5 of 21 Old 03-16-2011, 07:00 PM Thread Starter
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Right now, I'm just shaping the outside. I had the tool rest about 1" lower than the centerline of the drive center. I raised it to just below, and it's working better now. Maybe this isn't right also, but I'm holding the tool on it's side so the "U" is pointing sideways. I've lowered the handle so the tool angle is approx. 30 degrees. I'm holding the side of the flute parallel to the blank so the whole edge of the flute on the bottom does the cutting. Maybe this is more of a scraping action, I don't know. When I try to rub the side of the tool below the cutting edge (bevel?) and then rotate the tool upwards so the cutting edge engages the wood, that's when I frequently get a catch. Am I using too much of the cutting surface? Should I be using more of the point?
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post #6 of 21 Old 03-16-2011, 07:06 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by b00kemdano View Post
My first thoughts are that you said you are turning bowl blanks with a faceplate and between centers. In my short time turning, I've found that turning between centers is for small work and spindles. I use a faceplate only sometimes, and even then, only long enough to put a spigot or mortise on the bottom so that I can secure the blank with a four jaw chuck.
How do you hold a bowl blank on the lathe if you don't use centers or face plate? I've seen some videos that used centers. Thought it would be safer since the face place failed on me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by b00kemdano View Post
.....but ensuring that your blank is properly secured to the lathe is of paramount importance.
That was my exact thought as the blank flew off the lathe and bounced around.
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post #7 of 21 Old 03-16-2011, 08:54 PM
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i really fell like watching alot of videos on youtube helps alot
but i also could not understand to much till i went and watched someone else turn
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post #8 of 21 Old 03-16-2011, 09:17 PM
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Djg,
You really need to get together with another local turner to show you the proper techniques first hand. My first advice for everyone is to see if there is a turning club within an hour's drive. If there is, attend a meeting as a guest and see if you like the group. Easiest way to learn. Second, if you have a woodcraft type store nearby that puts on classes, take advantage of it. The learning curve goes so much better when someone shows you first hand. Then it's actually fun instead of fear. Tool presentation is key to a good turning. Also tool rest location is right up there. Books and videos are good for reference, but not like the real thing. Good luck,
Mike Hawkins
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post #9 of 21 Old 03-16-2011, 09:25 PM
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Ditto what Mike said about finding a club or classes. If you let us know roughly where you live we might be able to help you find another turner, club or classes.
If that's not feasible then I would highly recommend the video by Bill Grumbine on turning bowls. He covers all the cuts from getting the wood out of the log to cutting the bowl to finishing. It's about the best video I've found for beginners.
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post #10 of 21 Old 03-16-2011, 09:34 PM
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Quote:
How do you hold a bowl blank on the lathe if you don't use centers or face plate? I've seen some videos that used centers. Thought it would be safer since the face place failed on me.
Here's a great article about chucks. Make sure you click through all 10 pages!
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post #11 of 21 Old 03-16-2011, 10:04 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks all for your help. I'll look into finding someone who can show me how.
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post #12 of 21 Old 03-16-2011, 10:27 PM
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Just my observations from what you stated and may not be the correct way.
When I use a faceplate I always use the tailstock support until the outside is almost shaped. Then I form the recess or tenon for the chuck. The larger the blank the more likely I am to use a faceplate.

When using a drive spur make sure you remove the bark and maybe a 1/4" of the softwood. Seat firmly with a rubber/wood mallet. If you have a fostner bit you can flatten the area quickly with the bit. Some people also drill a quarter inch or so deeper so that the head of the drive spur is slightly recessed into the wood. You can also use a bench chisel to remove the bark and excess wood. If using a drive spur with a hard wood you will probably need to "notch" for the spurs as they are almost impossible to drive in.

I would start with something a little simpler. A natural edge by nature will not be flat across the top but will drop down on each side. This means you will be "cutting air" about half the time.

I would also start with something shallower (you stated 4" depth on a 5" diameter bowl). When you do get the outside turned you will probably have a pretty drastic curve from the side to the bottom on the inside. I would practice on something much shallower….maybe two inches…so the curve can be continuous from the top to the bottom center.


To me it seems your tool rest is way too low (1" below center?). You want to cut at or above center. I do use about the same 30* angle up with the tool and cut a little above center. Some suggest a 45* angle up but I find much more of the force of the cut is taken by the tool rest at the lower angle. This if for roughing out.
As others stated, the tool rest height depends on the individual tool, it’s grind/bevel, the cut, and your personal height.

Yes, the amount of the tool edge you have contacting the wood the bigger the bite. I try to use only 1/8" to 1/4" maximum at the tip when roughing. Also the more open the flute (9:00 being fully closed and 12:00 being fully open) the bigger bite you will take. I would try to take only a 1/8" wide shaving with maximum flute opening being about 10:30 (or 45*)

The inside is another saga. Tool rest height and other factors then change.

1+ on Mikes and Johns suggestion on finding someone to work with. An hour with someone will save many many hours of frustration.
1+ on the Grumbine video also. I also highly recommend Lyle Jamieson’s ‘Bowl Basic, The Easy Way" He goes into great detail on the tool presentation and what is happening.
His and Grumbine’s roughout is almost opposite but the cuts are basically the same but with maybe different names.

THE END
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post #13 of 21 Old 03-17-2011, 10:54 PM
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turning the end of a bottle stopper

I hope I can remember how to post a photo on this site. I shot a few quick shots. The first one shows the gouge just a little after starting the cut. Notice the flute is almost straight up. Put the bevel on the wood and then lift the handle until the edge starts to cut. As the cut progresses to the right you rotate the flute toward the right and at the same time lift the handle to keep it cutting. If you lift too fast you come off the bevel and the tool catches. lift the handle too slow and the tool quits cutting. In this case simply back up slightly and lift the handle until it starts to cut. Now just keep on moving the tool to the right while rotating the flute and lifting the handle. The last shot is the stopper straight off the tool. No sanding yet.
Hope this helps. I'm going to try and shoot a video of the whole stopper turning tomorrow but it may take several days to get time to download it. If I don't feel it needs editing I may be able to download it straight to youtube and get it done tomorrow. We'll see. I'll post a URL if I do get it done.
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post #14 of 21 Old 03-17-2011, 11:23 PM
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Turning problems

dgj,
I will offer some advice that may make the purists scoff a bit.

I too had many frustrations early on turning... most of the problems i had was with catches, which sounds like the problems you are having. I would recommend buying a round nose scraper. They are almost impossible to get a catch with. The downside is that the shaping will be slower, you will get more tearout, and you will have to do a little more sanding- but who cares, the lathe does all the work anyhow. The upside is that it will allow you to bring a project to completion, instead of throwing in the towel over frustration (which I almost did). The reality is, this hobby is about enjoyment and satisfaction, not always the purist approach of mastering the gouges. Starting with a scraper motivated me to stick with it, and learn the other tools slowly. I have since moved on to spindles, pepper mills, stoppers, pens, bowls, and some very rewarding segmented stuff..

Just my 2 cents.

Good luck!
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post #15 of 21 Old 03-18-2011, 12:34 AM
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Along those same lines, you might consider a carbide tool like the Easy Wood Tools. There are other threads discussing their ups and downs. I started with them a few months ago and turned out stoppers then bowls and even some small vases with few failures (depending on who's definition of failure you use). Now I'm learning to use gouges but still fall back on the EWTools when I need to.
I'm sure hands on instruction is the best way to go, but if you are determined to go it alone then a simpler tool might get some finished projects in your hands. That's just my perspective as a fellow beginner.
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post #16 of 21 Old 03-18-2011, 12:58 AM
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John's pics show it as best I've ever seen and the description dead on. Also, you don't have to ride the full bevel, just enough to support the cutting edge. If you haven't done so yet, go back to spindle turning and get comfortable with the technique John describes before you try bowls.

Tim
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post #17 of 21 Old 03-18-2011, 07:31 AM
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Although I think a lot of people are falling back on scrapers I think it is a mistake. Not saying that you shouldn't have fun and the scrapers do allow you to finish a project. The problem is that you don't learn to use the cutting tools and they give you many advantages.
When you use a scaper you simply don't get the fine finish. So you have to sand with 80 grit which is OK to a point. Sanding with course grits does 2 things. It makes the work lumpy where you have hard and soft spots on the wood. This is especially true when you have punky wood like spalted maple. Then you have 2 problems, more tearout which requires more sanding and then even more lumpy. Second, it's very hard to get really clean crisp details. The courser you start sanding the easier it is to round over these details. Now on something like this wine stopper where there isn't any fine detail other than the deep V between the bead and body. The wood was very hard and will scrape quite well. It this case it could have been done with a scraper.
Using cutting tools properly allows you to start sanding at 220. when you start at that fine grit you can keep the fine details and you save money on sandpaper and you save time. In this case I could have started at 320 but trying to cut properly with a tripod and camera between you and the lathe made it difficult.
Find someone to work with you to learn to use cutting tools. It's worth it. There are lots of clubs around the comraderie and sharing is worth it. You learn to really enjoy this hobby.
If scraping gets you the final product your happy with well that's what it's all about. I do urge you learn the cutting tools. Put scrap on the lathe and practice. Don't put an expensive piece of wood on the lathe and the stress out over getting it finished. Take a piece of firewood and just have fun making shavings. Toss it in the fireplace when you've turned it down to scrap. You will learn a lot and eventually be able to use the tools properly.
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post #18 of 21 Old 03-18-2011, 08:00 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks John for the photos. I can see a few things that I was doing wrong. I would start with the flute turned on it's side and then lower it into the wood. Also the angle between the tool rest and the tool was closer to 45 deg. You appear to be holder the tool just a little off perpendicular to the tool rest. I think I was using too much of the cutting edge.

The other day was just a bad day for other reasons and I should have just stopped for the day. I tried yesterday and things went much better. The blank I'm using is from a 10" dia. cherry log (branch) that has been laying around on my firewood pile for a while. It's practice wood as you said. But it's near dry and that's also contributed (I think) to my problems. I resharpened and raised the rest to just below centerline and watched my tip more closely. I managed to get the outside roughed out (between centers), fixed a tear out on the bottom and then turned a spigot for my chuck. I even started to hollow out the inside.
I do plan on looking for a club in my area because I don't want to get locked in on bad habits. I do plan on using my gouges and not just my scrapers. I think the each have their own use. So thanks everyone for your encouragement.
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post #19 of 21 Old 03-18-2011, 09:12 AM
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Go here to see if you can find a club in our area.
http://www.woodturner.org/community/...alChapters.asp
Another option is to actually Join the American Association of Woodturners. You get the magazines which is great. You get access to all the previous magazines online, and you get access to the names and locations of all the members. This way you can find someone close to you and maybe start your own club or at least find some other turners to hand out with. You are also automatically entered to possibly win something given away each month and a lathe once a year.
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post #20 of 21 Old 03-18-2011, 10:08 AM
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djg, I echo John on the joining a club. I'm also a huge proponent of taking a class or attending demo's. Classes are better because you get the hands on time, but sometimes just seeing someone do it is good enough. One of my favorite sayings is an old Confuscian thing: "If you tell me I'll forget, if you show me I will remember, if you let me do it I will learn". I know classes aren't always cheap, but if you plan on doing this for a long time, consider it an investment and treat it like you would a tool. I don't know where you are or what stores are nearby, but my local Rockler does turning demos about every 3rd week. My local Woodcraft does different turning classes all the time. And the big schools/turners offer different level classes all the time. I've been fortunate enough to attend a 5 day beginner woodturning class with Dale Nish through Craft Supplies USA. This was one of the most rewarding woodworking experiences I have ever had. 5 straight days of 8 hours in front of the lathe with 2 of the best turners in the world giving you all the feedback you could ever want. By the time I was done, my skills had gotten so much better and I was more confident with not just turning, but sharpening and finishing too.

Anyway, I'll stop blathering now, but you won't regret a dime you spend on a good class.

That bowl was perfect right up until that last cut...
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