Earlier this week I ended up with some scrap baltic birch ply, and cut it into squares with the band saw. I sanded the faces a bit and glued them all together overnight with Titebond III and a Bessey K-Body clamp:
A little turning later:
And I was starting to get a wine glass shape:
That’s probably where I should have stopped. I knew that going thin-stem with the plywood in this orientation was asking for trouble, but I just kept going anyway, mad with power:
I knew, as well, that I should have turned the inside of the cup before doing the stem, but I got myself confused. I was still turning between centers, and felt that switching to a chuck would make turning the stem too difficult, and also that once the inside of the cup was gone, turning between centers wouldn’t be possible. I think both of these conjectures was wrong, but it took some learning the hard way to get here.
I switched to a chuck, and then threw together this makeshift support structure, which actually did work. The brackets were slippery enough that the piece rattled around between them without really getting any marks on it.
Here it is in action:
It was actually wrapping blue tape around the stem to help support it that caused it to break at its weakest ply:
It was a clean break, and fits back together perfectly:
I’m going to glue it back together, then drill a hole straight through the cup and into the base, through the center of the stem (carefully!), then insert a thin dowel through the stem and glue it in tightly. That’ll shore it up against finishing up the turning, which I still want to do.
Just for fun, I failed a bit more on turning this small slice of ficus into a plate. I had made a groove in the back for the chuck jaws, then accidentally turned into it once it was chucked. I knew it was going to be risky, because it was very thin, and I’m very inexperienced still, but I’d hoped for the best. It’s times like these I wish I had x-ray vision.
In retrospect, it was a pretty deep groove. I had to turn a bit deeper than I wanted there, as that side of the wood was angled significantly. Until I got that deep, the groove stuck out one side of the bark, and the jaws wouldn’t be able to hang on. An alternative would have been to flatten that face with a sander, plane, or with another careful resawing, then to glue on a block the chuck could hold, but I’m unsure about gluing onto wet wood yet, and this was just a small scrap of a junky wood, and not worth it to me to go through all of that. At least I was getting some pretty good control on making the face of the plate. It gave me hope for future, successful turnings.
In other news, I gave sharpening my tools on my WorkSharp 3000 a try finally. I haven’t had a good home for it, so setting it up always requires dragging it out and clearing a space for it. Being lazy, this means it’s been sitting under a table, collecting dust. I definitely need to find a permanent place for it now. With the slotted wheel, which lets you see the edge straight on as you’re sharpening it – it was very easy and fast to bring my bowl and spindle gouges back from just rubbing against the surfaces to smoothly creating shavings again.
-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator