Today has been a long day. As a matter fact, I can’t even believe I made it to the shop today. I couldn’t help myself, and will probably be paying for it in the morning, but those blanks I glued up yesterday were on my mind and driving me nuts.
First of all, my wife has been working some crazy hours because her company was short handed. They finally hired someone though. She was able to come home early today. It’s been so crazy lately that I’ve almost felt like a single parent to my boys. We took off for a day away this morning and spent over half a day just enjoying ourselves. You can read about that here if you’d like. It felt so great having my wife home today. As long as the new employee works out alright, Lisa will start having weekends off again. That is the best news I’ve had in a while. I have missed my wife lately.
Anyway, that covers the fist part of the day. After I came home and laid down a while, it is the second part of the day that may be of more interest here.
What I want to talk about now is safety.
I have had a habit, even though I’ve been warned against it, of using rags to dust off and apply finish on my lathe. I knew it was wrong but I kept neglecting to restock paper towels at my shop. I’ve read toilet paper was good too, but I kept neglecting bringing that to try as well.
I’m sure some of you experienced turners already know where this is headed. This is for you beginners like me. Don’t be stupid. It is a wonder I did not lose a finger today when a rough piece of wood grabbed the rag, twirled it around my finger, and snatched it. Luckily, my finger snatched out of the rag just in time before it was pulled around the underside of the spinning stock. All I got was a scare, but it could have been much worse.
I shut down the lathe and fixed this up before doing anything else. From now on, it is a rule written in stone. NO RAGS ARE TO BE ANYWHERE NEAR MY LATHE. I suggest all turners agree to the same rule. I was lucky today. This no rag rule suggestion, I’ve seen it in more than one place today for a reason. To win this game, you still need to be able to count to ten without removeing your shoes.
Now, I started thinking of other potential safety violations I may be committing.
I have developed another habit already that I’m not sure is a good idea. When I’m working on the larger lathe, I have started sticking the tools I’m using under the bed tube of the Ridgid lathe. This has not been a problem so far, but I’m wondering if it is a good idea. It keeps my tools close, but still out of the way, without me having to stick each one back in it’s tool holder each time. How do other turners keep tools close at hand while working on a project? I’m open to suggestions on this one.
Anyway, back to the bowl blank. I started with the sycamore blank. I done it for no particular reason besides it was just the nearest to me when I stepped up to the table where the two blanks were sitting in their clamps.
Everyone says I’m growing as a turner in leaps and bounds. However, I am still a newbie. I mustn’t forget that. I still am not confident enough to start out with solid blanks of this size just swinging out there for support. So I always remember an important lesson I learned a while back. The tail stock is my friend. I keep the tailstock helping to support my work as long as I can. This allows me to take away most of the weight before I have to remove that extra support. I think of it as training wheels. I see plenty of turners online go straight to open work at the end. I’m not quite ready to do that yet. While I’m getting better and seldom have a catch, they do happen to me from time to time. I learned the hard way I don’t like flying bowls.
This is immediately after removing the piece sticking out of the middle that the tailstock was holding. I simply turn it down real thin near the bottom of the bowl. Then I break it off. I turn it thin enough that it breaks very easily across the grain. Then I just take my gouge and start cleaning things up.
He was not the first, but a couple of days ago, Lew told me about burnishing my work with shavings from the turning. I tried that today. I’m glad I did. It really did a good job of polishing things up after moving through to my finest grit of sandpaper.
This wood is sycamore. There is a tiny spot at each side of the bowl that it seems no matter how much I sand, it is just a tad rougher than I would like. I worked with it as much as I had time for today. I may go back later and work on it some more somehow. It will be at least next month before I can ship this out to it’s destination in Alabama, so I have time to think and consider that option.
The recipient of this particular bowl, I hope he can use it for his chili, salsa, oatmeal, and corn flakes. Don’t worry if any of you don’t get the joke. I know he does.
Anyway, I am still learning about finishes for this sort of thing. I was looking in Home Depot a few days ago, just browsing. I came across this butcher block conditioner. I wasn’t sure about it, and had never heard of it. However, since it says on it’s instructions that it’s good for wooden bowls, I decided to give it a try. Remember, I am new to finishing food safe items, but with practice, I think this stuff has the potential to be a real nice finish option.
The finished bowl wound up being a little over seven inches across, and four inches high. I have never met Grizzman in person, but his personality makes me think he may be a hearty eater. I wanted him to be able to get enough in this bowl that he would actually use it, from time to time at least.
So there is is, my first bowl that is actually meant to be sent out to someone to use. It may not be perfect, but I am mighty proud of it and hope that Grizzman is happy with it as I am.
Grizz, it has taken me a while to get there, but I FINALLY have completed you a bowl. Now, I am sorry my friend, but it will be April at the earliest before I can ship it. The kids have this nasty habit of wanting to eat and all you know. I’m afraid you’ll just have to eat corn flakes out of something else until then.