As The Lathe Turns #12: Turn, Turn, Turn, And Learn, Learn, Learn

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Blog entry by William posted 03-11-2013 12:56 AM 1627 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 11: A Good Day Part 12 of As The Lathe Turns series Part 13: The Trouble With Turning »

I don’t know if anyone has noticed, but even though I’ve been getting better, I’ve only been turning out an average of about one small turning a day. The reason for this is that, being left handed, and with a bad back, the awkward way I have to lean over sometimes to take those hollowing cuts made me have to take frequent breaks. It also was leaving me hurting a lot of times.
Then today a light bulb went off in my head and I wondered how anyone could be so foolish. There is a reason the head of my lathe rotates.

I started this bowl yesterday. I had friends over to the shop yesterday though and had forgotten it was still in the chuck on the lathe until I went into the shop this morning. So I finished it. It is made of sapelle and finished with boiled linseed oil.

Next, I’d seen some of these rectangular shaped turnings on the internet and decided to give it a try. I figured that, if nothing else, it would be more practice at turning with a lot of open air.
Actually, it seems that most everything I’m turning now I see as a learning opportunity more than anything else. Some of it may not be great, but with enough practice, I beleive I’ll get there.
This is made of sycamore and finished with boiled linseed oil. I’ve used a lot of sycamore with flat style wood working. I thought it would be a great wood for turning. Based on what I seen with this one though, I’m not so sure it is a good wood for turning. I may try it again one day with something that doesn’t have so many open areas in it.

Then this last bowl I also done just as practice. I am having problems sometimes when I get into tight posts while hollowing. On things a tad larger, I have no issues. If my angle of approach on my tools isn’t right, I have plenty of time to correct myself and ride the bevel in. However, in tight spots, there is little time, if any, and it is easy to get a catch if you don’t go in correctly and swiftly turn the gouge a bit to ride that bevel.
This bowl is only three inches wide. That made for a nice small area to work with repeatedly to get it hollowed out all the way in.
This one is also sapelle, and is also finished with boiled linseed oil.

All this brings me to a question, or a few, for you wood turners out there.
What type of finish do you all use?
What is best for bowls?
What finish will allow one to use a bowl for liquids, such as soup or milk in cereal, be washed in water, and still hold up over time?
Will the finished bowl still wick up liquids and constantly expand and contract?
What is the best way to get that shiny, almost wet look on finished pieces?
I guess the simple way will be to just say I need all the finishing advice I can get. I know I need more sandpaper. I have no where near the grit selection I know I’m going to need if I want the best results. As soon as I’m able to afford it, I will get some sand paper. In the mean time, I want to start learning all I can about finishes. I hope to soon make some pieces that can be in a finished state and be used in my own kitchen, and I have a few friends I wish to make finished bowls for.


10 comments so far

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3304 days

#1 posted 03-11-2013 02:02 AM

wow….your doing some really good turning, i can see that grasshopper has progressed…i cant help you with your question, i have heard of finishes that are for the very reason you stated, but i dont remember …im sure you can find that out with no problem…the bows are beautiful william..i hope you feel better tomorrow…grizz

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2843 days

#2 posted 03-11-2013 02:10 AM

Thanks Grizz.
At least I know what has me today.
I stood too much yesterday.
Dave, Eddie, and Marty came to the shop.
I knew hafway through the day I was standing too much,
But I was having such a good time I figured I would just pay for it later.

I hope to get some answers here,
If not, I’ll just have to do some research.


View Kreegan's profile


1452 posts in 2147 days

#3 posted 03-11-2013 02:41 AM

Man, I have a small box of finishes that I use for my turnings. I’m still experimenting with them. For things that I want to be food safe, I use either Howard Butcher Block Conditioner, which is food grade mineral oil, beeswax and carnauba wax, or a mineral oil and beeswax combo, where I put a coat of mineral oil on the piece, let it soak in a bit, put another coat on and then immediately cover that coat with beeswax to seal it into the piece.

I’ve also used friction polish, both the premade Hut stuff and a homemade one that I learned from Cap’n Eddie called OB’s shine juice. That one is a mix of equal parts BLO, DNA and clear shellac. I like that one a lot for small things like bottle stoppers.

I also have some General Finishes Woodturner’s Finish, which is food safe. I only used it once and don’t think I applied it right because it just stayed kind of flat looking. I’ve seen other people that use it and theirs come out nice and shiny and wet looking.

Another thing I’ve used for bowls and other things I want to be food safe is Mahoney’s Utility Finish walnut oil. That’s a nice easy wipe on finish. It’s a bit shiny looking, but not quite what it sounds like you’re looking for.

There’s always the classics: Danish Oil/Tung Oil, wipe on Poly and Lacquer. I think pretty much any finish can be used as though it were food safe once it’s cured properly. Just experiment and find one that you like.

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2843 days

#4 posted 03-11-2013 02:55 AM

Thanks Rich.
It appears the options are aplenty.
I finish is one thing. The thing I don’t know about is sealing the wood so it’ll be sealed completely.
My grandmother has some mixing bowls made of wood. She’d had them for years. She used them for everything, washed them in soap and water, dried them, and kept using them. I never thought much about it when I was a kid. Not I know more about wood though, and it seems I’m even more confused. I’m trying to figure out how one can continuously wet wood, I’m talking soaking in water, and it not damage the wood as it dries over and over again.
It seems it must be sealed properly somehow. I guess I just need to experiment with how.


View DIYaholic's profile


19620 posts in 2676 days

#5 posted 03-11-2013 03:14 AM

It is clearly obvious that your are learning alot and able to put that new found knowledge into practice. Nice looking practice runs ya got there!!!

I’m almost afraid to set up my lathe…
for fear of becoming as addicted as you!!!

Love your ramblings, err sharing of new knowledge!!! Rest up and turn, turn, turn….

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3335 days

#6 posted 03-11-2013 09:24 AM

Hi William. Woods which will be used for foods should be chosen for their neutrality. That is, some woods impart a taste of their own to milk and foods. This may be ok for hickory BBQ, but not good with a lot of other foods. I like to use birch with food serving articles for that reason. It also has some bacteria resistance. Those articles can be finished, but I think it is a waste of time, since the finish disappears quickly anyway, so I leave these pieces unfinished. The washing and drying doesn’t hurt them a bit, but I wouldn’t wash them in the dishwasher. I have read up on the toxity of the various finishes and they all say that the bad stuff is in the thinners, and that when it dries out all finishes are food safe. Don’t take my word on that, you should read up on it to satisfy yourself with such an important safety issue.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View JL7's profile


8662 posts in 2966 days

#7 posted 03-11-2013 10:57 AM

Looking good there William…....great progress!

-- Jeff .... Minnesota, USA

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 2857 days

#8 posted 03-11-2013 12:49 PM

William your really getting the hang of it.
There are lots of finishes availible for hot liquids and as many opinions on
which is best
My preferred finish for a utilitarian piece, is putting it into a deep pan chip
fryer with sunflower oil.
If it is wet wood be careful as it is the same as wet chips/French fries
Once cool I use a Beeswax Caranuba mix.
This is not for looks it is for use.


-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2843 days

#9 posted 03-11-2013 01:33 PM

Thanks guys.
Somewhere around here I have a thick book that details different properties of woods, such as stability, strength, and toxidity, among other things. It looks like I need to pull it out, dust it off, and put it besides the bed for my new bedtime reading material.

Randy, go ahead and set it up. It’s not addicting at all. I can stop anytime I want. Now, I must finish up this reply. I hear a lathe at the shop calling my name.


View William's profile


9949 posts in 2843 days

#10 posted 03-11-2013 01:34 PM

Oh, one more word on finishes. I asked about the “wet” look because that seems like what everybody seems to be into these days. I personally like a finish that protects wood but leaves it looking natural as possible. I think most woods are beautiful in their natural glory.


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