Friday, December 26, 2008

Spalted Birch Kitchen Utensil Holder

When I was preparing for the Binh Pho class I turned a thin-walled vase-like spalted birch piece, but misjudged how deep I'd gotten and went through the center of the bottom.  (The wood came from one trunk of a 4-trunk birch tree in our front yard that had died and needed to be taken down.)  Then I thought to to add a weighted base - walnut, with two large steel washers for weight, and a felt bottom - and voila!  A kitchen utensil holder, which made a nice Christmas present.  It's finished with Butcher Block Oil.

Friday, November 28, 2008

3-Cornered Bowl - How do you do that?

At the Chicago Woodturners' symposium last summer, "Turn-On! Chicago 2008," I had the opportunity to see demonstrations by a number of very talented turners. One of them was Barbara Crockett, of Columbus, Ohio, who showed us her technique for turning a 3-cornered bowl out of a cubic block of wood. I decided to give it a try (from a piece of 8" x 8" cedar post), and here is my result. The bowl is about 7 1/2" across and 5" high to the points. It is painted similarly to the bowl in my 02/29/08 post, except here I came over the top with the black after I'd done the red on the inside.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Binh Pho Demo and Class

Two week ends ago I went with another guy in my turning group to the SOFA ("Structural Objects and Functional Arts") exhibition at Navy Pier in Chicago. Most of it (about 75% I'd guess) was glass, but there was a lot of very good and extremely artistic wood turning on display, and some good demos, too.

One of the professional turners represented at SOFA was Binh Pho, who lives just outside Chicago, and who is one of the dominant artists in the turned wood area today. His specialties are thin-walled turning, air-brushing and piercing. His whole website is well-worth a look - he has a very interesting story. To see his work online, just click here - its fantastic! Then click on the "gallery" heading at his web site.

As luck (or shrewd previous arrangement) would have it, Binh came up to one of our member's shops for a 2-day week end program this past week end. The first day was demonstration only - about 25 of us attended that session. He demonstrated how to turn a thin-walled (1/16") bowl, air-brushing technique, and piercing. The second day was a hands on class for only six people - and I was fortunate enough to be one of them! We split the day between working on air-brushing (about 2/3) and piercing (about 1/3). Piercing is a technique using an air-driven drill (about 400,000 rpm) very similar to a dentist's drill, and tiny burrs, to cut decorative holes in thin-walled wood objects.

I'd never air-brushed or pierced before, but I had a great time, and thought I'd pass along a couple of photos. The first is my air-brush project, which was done on 1/16" birch plywood. The second reflects my piercing efforts on objects I'd previously turned (cedar vessel and walnut plate), each of which had walls about 1/16" thick. It was a lot of fun, although I think I inhaled too much wood smoke in the piercing part.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A bunch of bowls

As I mentioned, since late summer, after getting my shop moved to Middleton, I've been doing some turning.   Here are some of the bowls I've done since then:

Spalted maple salad bowl - 11 3/4" x 4 1/4"  Finished with Mahoney's heat treated walnut oil.  I have had this blank for more than four years - collected it from a tree taken down by the city.

Natural-edged spalted birch bowl - 7 3/4" x 3 3/4"  Finished with General Finishes Wipe-on Urethane.  This wood came from a birch tree in our front yard.

Large butternut salad bowl - 12 1/2" x 3 1/2"  Finished with Mahoney's heat treated walnut oil.  This wood came from a raffle at Badger Woodturners.

Cherry burl bowl - 6" x 3 1/2"  Finished with Mahoney's heat treated walnut oil.  This bowl was turned from wood left in a pile by the city after it had cleared a small cluster of trees.

Apple bowl - 10 1/2" x 4 3/4"  Finished with Deft Clear Wood Finish.  This bowl was turned from the same apple tree trunk as the apple bowls pictured earlier in my blog.

Spalted Maple bowl - 11 1/4" x 4 3/4"  Finished with General Finishes Salad Bowl Finish.  Also from a trunk section I collected about four years ago.

The past few months...

My last post was all the way back in February, and since then a lot has happened. We moved from Madison to Middleton last May, and a couple months after that I moved my shop from Winnebago Studios on Madison's east side, to my Middleton garage.  So I'm in a much more compact space - but very conveniently located, and no rent!  Everything but the lathe is on casters, and at least semi-movable, but so far the space is neither insulated nor heated, and the amount of turning I do this winter may be limited by the chill.  I have done a fair amount of turning since the move, and over the next few days I'll post some photos of what I've been up to.

Last July I went to a three-day turning symposium sponsored by the Chicago Area Wood Turners, in Mundelein IL. While I was there I bought a bunch of nifty stainless steel stoppers, and after I got home, turned a bunch of bottle stoppers - tulip wood, walnut, cherry burl, and a light brown mystery wood. These are pretty elegant, if I do say so myself.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Painted Ash Bowl

Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention. This ash bowl - otherwise quite pretty - developed a nasty crack all the way across the base and up into the sides. While I was able to fill and secure it quite well with a mix of CA glue and sawdust, it nonetheless was quite noticeable and did not, shall we say, lend to the beauty of the piece. So I added a little paint, and I think the result looks okay. The bowl is 9" across and 5" tall. The wall thickness is 1/8".

Small Elm Crotchwood Platter

The crotch in a tree - where the trunk splits into branches - usually has very interesting, and often quite beautiful, figure. I think this small elm platter nicely brings that out in this case. It measures about 9" across and 1" deep. The finish is natural Watco Danish oil.

Cedar Yarn Bowl

Cedar is a good moth repellant (hence cedar chests and cedar-lined closets), and my wife knits using wool yarn. So a cedar yarn bowl seemed like a good idea. The piece is unfinished (except for the colorful stripes) and smells great. It is about 10" in diameter and 4" tall.

Ivy Thin-Stemmed Goblet

Here is my third thin-stemmed goblet. On this one I used a little decoration - an ivy vine - painted on with indelible marker. This little goblet stands 9 1/2" tall; the cup is 1 1/4" across. The oversized close-up photo is a little coarse - like looking at your face in a magnifying mirror (well, my face anyway).

Honey Locust Bowl

This shallow honey locust bowl was turned from the same tree trunk as the bowl in the April 22. 2007 entry. I also had rough-turned this one about a year ago. It measures about 11 1/2" across and 2" deep. I really like the wild figure in the wood.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Thin-Stemmed Goblets

One of our wood turning club members gave a demo last month on how to turn tall thin-stemmed goblets. The secret (other than using very sharp tools and avoiding catches) is to start from the cup end and work your way back to the base (toward the head stock), turning the thin stem only about 1-1.5" at a time. As is usual after such a demo, our "challenge" for February's meeting is to turn a thin-stemmed goblet ourselves. Two of my efforts are shown in the photos. They are turned from maple and from maple and padauk (the red-colored wood), and stand 11" and 12" tall, respectively. The stems are about 1/8"D. I'm also working on a smaller (9 1/2" tall) goblet with ivy drawn on it, but it is still in the shop.

Figured Asian Satinwood Bowl

This small bowl (about 5"D x 2.5"H) was turned from a blank of figured Asian Satinwood (a wood I'd never heard of before seeing it at the store). My wife gave it to me as a birthday present! The figure is not easy to see in the photos (blame the photographer - me), but dances when you look at the bowl itself.

Two Spalted Bowls

These two bowls are turned from different spalted woods - Sweet Gum (the bowl on the right in the first picture and on the left in the others) and White Bay. They are a little over 7" in diameter and stand 3-3 1/2" high.

Multi-axis Cherry Vase

This vase is turned from a piece of cherry (actually half of a piece I'd been saving for a bowl, but which split as it dried), and stands about 11 1/2" tall (not counting the iris). The bottom end was variously mounted on three different centers, resulting in the off-center configuration. (Same techniques as the multi-axis candlesticks posted earlier.)

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

(Yet) Another Cherry Bowl

The chunk of cherry from which this bowl was turned came from a former neighbor's tree and had been in the firewood pile. The wood has a fair amount of burl and figure and also had a branch coming out of it. All in all it turned into a pretty interesting and attractive bowl. 8 1/4"D x 5 1/2"H.

Small Sycamore Bowl

This pretty little bowl measures 6 1/2" across and is 3 1/4" tall. I like its line.