Thursday, May 22, 2014

Steel Floor Lamp - Something Different

As mentioned in an earlier post, I've been taking some Metal Sculpture classes at the Evanston Art Center over the past few months - initially a course on welding mild steel, and more recently a course on oxy-acetylene welding of non-ferrous metals (copper, brass, bronze, aluminum, stainless steel). A couple weeks ago I finished a project I'd started in the first course, namely a floor lamp, pictured here.


The outside ring of the base is solid steel, heated and bent into a circle and welded closed.  The other metal parts are square steel tubing, welded to the outer ring and together. The cord runs through a hole drilled in the outer ring, through one of the spoke tubes and then up the main tube to the lamp part (a three-way fluorescent fixture).  For a finish the steel has been power sanded and then waxed.



Wednesday, May 07, 2014

More Parallam Scratch Awls

I did turn a few more scratch awls - Rockler had the kits on sale again.  The light colored ones in the photos are turned from Parallam (see January post). The green ones are turned from a dyed, laminated material - I don't know which brand.



Spice Storage Rack

I didn't do much wood turning over the winter, since a lot of my focus was on my new-found activity of rock wall climbing at the gym and my metals class - this semester we're doing oxy-acetylene welding of non-ferrous metals.  And for the last month I've been recuperating from a car vs. pedestrian collision in which I was the unfortunate pedestrian.  But I recently completed a project I'd had in mind for quite some time: creating a spice storage rack for our kitchen pantry shelves.  I wanted it to be as compact as possible while providing a lot of storage, and it obviously had to fit and function within the available space.  My final design included 8 spice "shelves," suspended at the ends on a rotating frame system, much like a wide, squat mini-version of a ferris wheel.  The individual shelves stay vertical as the system rotates.  The rack will hold 48 small spice jars.  The wood used is principally cherry.  The only turned parts are the knobs at the ends of the center shaft, which are held by grub screws so I can disassemble the unit if I need to at some point in the future (the cross-pieces at the bottom are likewise screwed in place rather than glued).







Thursday, January 09, 2014

Parallam Scratch Awls

For Christmas I turned four scratch awls from a material called Parallam, which is a composite wood/resin material used in manufactured construction beams.  A good friend of mine who builds houses (and whose shop space I am sharing) gave me some of his scrap to play with.  I turned one awl for him (not pictured) and then the three shown below as presents for my brothers and brother-in-law.  The metal parts came in kit form from Rockler and are also available from other turning vendors.  The wooden parts are turned on a pen mandrel, to whatever shape you like, the only physical limitation being the length of the brass tube (part of the kit) that is glued into the center of the wooden blank.  The hardest part is actually the surface finishing, because the Parallam has frequent surface defects that must be filled with a sawdust/glue slurry so that the outside is smooth.  I also coated these with epoxy, sanded some more, and finished with wipe-on poly.  Next project is to do one for myself.  (Need to order more kits!)







Saturday, November 09, 2013

Streptohedrons (Part II) - Here are 3 more

I have now turned three more streptohedrons, these based on some of the examples and plans in Woodturning Full Circle.

The first of these is a variation of a Four Branched Streptohedron, which has a kind of art deco shape.  It is turned as a series of right-angled "stairsteps" on each side, as indicated in the photos.  (Cherry, finished with Watco Danish Oil.)








The second streptohedron is a Twisted Pentagon.  Because of the additional side there is an additional axis available, giving the possibility of two variations in the final shape.  Here's what it looks like (Cherry; Watco Danish Oil finish):



The third streptohedron in this group is a Six Branched Streptohedron, with its center of rotation through the valleys.  The turning process here is rather more complex, and it is difficult (at my skill level, at least), to make the cuts precisely enough to get a perfect match-up when the two sections are rotated.  Here are some photos showing the overall approach:

Initially the blank (previously divided lengthwise and re-glued with a paper insert) is turned to the desired diameter; lines are drawn on the circumference to indicate the cutting locations;  and a tapered hole is turned in the end, using a template for size and shape:



Then the first of the shaped sections is turned; again a template is used to get the inside angle correct:



Here is the mostly turned blank.  The left (headstock) end is still fastened in the chuck.  The right end, where the tapered hole is shown in the first photo, is simply supported by the live center.



After the shaping is done, the piece is parted off at the headstock end.  It is then reversed into a jam chuck (a wooden block with a hole turned to hold the piece snugly), and a matching tapered hole turned in the other end.



The piece is then removed from the lathe, and re-split along the glue line into two halves.


The halves are then rotated so as to form the streptohedron and glued together.  The piece is then sanded and finished.  In this case I used several coats of black gesso as the finish - it is both dramatic and disguises minor defects pretty effectively.





The smooth outer rim of the resulting piece is continuous, having neither beginning nor end.  Pretty dramatic, I think.






Friday, November 08, 2013

Streptohedrons (Part I) - My first! And what in the world are they?

The cover article of the August 2013 issue of American Woodturner was titled "Behold, the Streptohedron" (by Bob Rollings, with David Heim), and had an elegant and intriguing photo:

 

I hadn't ever seen these forms before, and was fascinated.  I turned the form described in the article (shown below), and then acquired David Springett's amazing book, Woodturning Full Circle, which (among many things!) includes sections on how to turn a variety of streptohedrons of different configurations.

As defined by Springhett, who appears to have invented the term, a streptohedron is a "twisted polygon," that is, a polygon which has "rotational symmetry":  when split along an axis, rotated, and rejoined, it becomes a new shape with "compound-curved faces that seem to flow smoothly into each other." (Rollings)  The beginning polygon can have any number of sides.  To turn one you prepare a blank, split it down the middle, and then glue it back together with paper in the joint.  You then turn the specific shape you want, re-split the piece along the glue joint (and clean up the faces), rotate ("twist") one section in relation to the other, and then glue them back together.  If (!!) the turning has been done precisely, the edges will line up and the streptohedron emerges.  A little - or a lot - of careful sanding also can help.

This is the first streptohedron I turned, based on the AW article.  It has four "sides."  The wood is Claro walnut.

Here is the glued-up blank, turned to shape between centers on the lathe:


Then the turning is re-split along the glue line:



The two pieces are then turned 90 degrees and re-glued to create the new, complex form:



Once the glue is dry, the piece is completed - the extended ends removed, the piece sanded, and finish applied.  Here is the result (finished with Watco Danish Oil):



In the next entry I'll show you the others that I've done so far.



Back in Evanston

We moved back to Evanston IL last May, after an 18 year or so absence. Much has changed, much is remarkably the same. One major change is the appearance of high- and semi-high rise condo buildings in the downtown area. We are in one of the less tall and less voluminous ones - 15 stories. One result of our downsizing from house to condo is that I no longer have any home-based shop space. I've rented shop space before, in Madison, but haven't started that search yet here. For the time being I'm sharing the shop of a woodworker friend, who has kindly let me use some of his space for my lathe and some additional tools, though much is stored in his garage attic. My friend is a highly skilled furniture maker, and I took advantage of those skills to design and build a dining room table with him for our new place. So, in a bit of an excursion, the photos below don't depict any wood turning at all! The table is solid birch, with Panga Panga for the dark accents. The central part of the top (inside the darker strips) is butcher block. The legs also have Panga Panga inserts, and the tops of the legs are set in to create a reveal that suggests the top is floating.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Mason Jar Goblets

I turned two Mason Jar Goblets for the People's Choice table at the Olbrich Show in October.  One attendee liked them and bought them at the show.  She also asked me to make some more for her, so I did, and they went out in today's mail.  The new four are quite like the originals, though not exact copies (I worked from general dimensions and a photo).  I didn't have any more of the dark brown laminated birch that I'd turned the original bases from, so I turned the bases from some solid walnut I had in my shop.  The finish is an undercoat of Watco Walnut Danish Oil, topped with several coats of high gloss Waterlox.  The turned bases on the larger goblets are 4" high, 2 15/16"D at the bottom and 1"D at the top; on the smaller, 3 ¼"H, 2 7/16"D at the bottom, and ¾"D at the top. 


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Monday, November 19, 2012

Tool Handles for West HIgh Woodworking Class

As part of a program by my woodturning club, Badger Woodturners, several of us have been mentoring the woodturning students in Madison's West High School's woodworking classes.  I began working in the program last Spring, and have been doing it two afternoons a week since the beginning of school this Fall.  The school received a number of unhandled Thompson Tool bowl gouges, which have slowly been acquiring handles.  I decided to turn handles for two of the ⅜" gouges, and the photos show the result.  The woods are spalted maple and Padauk.  The ferrules are copper plumbing fittings. 



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Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Birdhouse Ornaments on a Crabapple Branch

Friends of ours requested five miniature birdhouse ornaments for their grandchildren, so I turned the one additional ornament that was required and have hung them all on a little twig from our ornamental crabapple tree.  (The base is a firewood cutoff from a walnut bowl blank.)  They'll get them tomorrow - you see them first today!


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Saturday, November 03, 2012

Miniature Birdhouse Ornaments and Bottle Stoppers - Olbrich Show

Here are some photos of the Miniature Birdhouse Ornaments and the Bottle Stoppers that I turned and had for sale at the Olbrich show.


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