As The Lathe Turns #58: Everything Is Experimental

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Blog entry by William posted 11-08-2013 01:58 AM 1680 reads 0 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 57: What I Like Part 58 of As The Lathe Turns series Part 59: Early Christmas »

After posting yesterday’s blog post, I received several emails with questions about the magnet I used in it, and how well it does or does not work. So today I decided to test it out so I could answer these questions with some kind of honesty instead of simply giving my best guess.

If you clicked on the link I provided to watch the video on constructing the tool (video is here), you know that a sphere shaped magnet is what is called for. That was one of the issues I was asked about. I did not have a sphere shaped magnet. I used a disk shaped one in each of the holes. You can see in the above photo the type magnet I used and what I used to put it in with. I dropped a tiny bit of CA glue in each hole, stuck the magnet on the end of a long nail, and stuck it in the hole. After allowing the glue to set, I simply pulled the nail out.

So I needed a test subject. I had this short section of a cedar log setting in the shop and thought it would make a nice bowl.

By the time I thought to snap another photo, I’d already lost several inches of height on the bowl. I’ll talk more on that in a bit. First, how does the sander perform?

I found the roughest area I could find to photograph on the bowl. I knew I could find the same area again because, you can’t see it in the photo, but the plates on my chuck have reference numbers for placement, and this area is even with the number four plate.

I sanded with eighty grit paper and set a timer for thirty seconds. As you can see if you look closely, it still needs more sanding, but it is a huge improvement.
So, in my opinion, although I have never used one with the sphere shaped magnet in it, I think this works just fine for what I want.
Sometime in the future, I plan on buying a commercially made version of this tool. If anyone is interested, let me know and I’ll post my opinion at that time on how it compares to this shop made one.

Now, back to the cedar bowl. I kept losing height. This is one of the joys, and also drawbacks, to turning. You never know what you’re going to find inside a piece of wood until you start turning it. Well, this particular piece of wood had more cracks in it than a three mile stretch of side walk. Every time I got it looking good, a piece would break along a crack somewhere near the rim.

You can see here what I mean.
No big deal. I like to think of headaches such as this one as learning exercises. So what could I learn from this bowl that seems to not want to be completed?
I decided that, with the crack and the brittle nature of very dry cedar, I’d see how thin I could get the walls. That’s something I’ve been working towards is getting the walls of my work thinner.

I got it down to an eighth of an inch and everything was going great. Then the bowl decided that it would like to be shrapnel more than it wanted to be a bowl.

Seriously, a bowl that breaks into many pieces at high RPMs becomes shrapnel.
This is all the pieces I could find of it for the photo.

And THAT, my friends, is why you always, ALWAYS, wear a full face shield while turning.
Of course, I was asking for this one to blow apart. However, you never know when it will happen. In the past, I have had bowls, or parts of bowls, leave the lathe at high speeds when I least expected it.
Until next time, happy turning!


14 comments so far

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2740 days

#1 posted 11-08-2013 02:11 AM

You have convinced me. I DO NOT NEED A LATHE!

But you do seem to enjoy yours. Carry on. (carefully)

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View DIYaholic's profile


19623 posts in 2725 days

#2 posted 11-08-2013 02:55 AM

Great write-up….

I see no reason to go crazy looking for spherical magnets. Your utilization of a disk magnet works great.

Where did you get the “shafted sanding pad” from??? Is it readily available locally?

Bummer on the bowl blow out! Glad you were not hurt in the “explosion”!!!
I DON’T see why a full face shield is needed….
You can’t do any more damage to YOUR mug!!! ;^)

Thanks for sharing your results of the experiment!!!

-- 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 William's profile


9950 posts in 2892 days

#3 posted 11-08-2013 03:06 AM

The lathe can be as safe as you make it Andy. If you don’t take many chances, then the chances are slim for something to go wrong.
Of course, I’ve never been the type of fella to not take chances.

Randy, here is an article to make the sanding attachments.
All you need to make them is 3/4” plywood, a 1/4” carriage bolt about 2 1/2” long, two nuts and two washers, some glue (hot glue is recommended in the article, but I used CA glue), some kind of foam, and some velcro.
Everything can be picked up locally. I had everything for mine lying around the shop.


View eddie's profile


8565 posts in 2664 days

#4 posted 11-08-2013 03:13 AM

that cedar was looking good too, maybe a little thicker it would have made it ,lots of pretty grain in it , now i remember why i dont have one too ,

-- Jesus Is Alright with me

View DIYaholic's profile


19623 posts in 2725 days

#5 posted 11-08-2013 03:28 AM

Thanks for the link.
That looks easy enough that even I could make one!!!

Keep up the experimenting, learning, teaching and rambling….

-- 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 Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3068 days

#6 posted 11-08-2013 03:50 AM

Red cedar does not turn well when it is too thin. I usually stop about 3/16 to 1/4”. It also splits like crazy and does not take poly well. I usually use tung oil and minwax mixed 50/50. Glad to know the face shield saved your pretty face.

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View sras's profile


4820 posts in 3179 days

#7 posted 11-08-2013 04:30 AM

Your sense of humor is shining through tonight!

I loved “more cracks in it than a three mile stretch of side walk” and “Then the bowl decided that it would like to be shrapnel more than it wanted to be a bowl”

Had me laughing out loud!

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View lew's profile


12143 posts in 3805 days

#8 posted 11-08-2013 04:32 AM

Thanks for the feedback on the “sanding stick”. I’m going to try what you have suggested- using the disc magnet- and see how it works for me.


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View darthford's profile


611 posts in 1974 days

#9 posted 11-08-2013 08:00 AM

gfadvm ditto, the UPS Freight driver delivered my mortising machine yesterday and commented the only machine I was missing now was a lathe, I’ll correct him next time I see him.

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3384 days

#10 posted 11-08-2013 11:34 AM

Thanks for that info on the sanding thingy William. It worked just fine. If you are aware of those cracks before they break apart, you can put a little super glue on them to prevent breakage.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Roger's profile


20929 posts in 2854 days

#11 posted 11-08-2013 01:09 PM

You are right about just being aware of the unexpected. We all need to practice safety to protect ourselves.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View William's profile


9950 posts in 2892 days

#12 posted 11-08-2013 01:41 PM

Randy, check that link out more when you get a chance. There are a lot of tools there that you can make yourself. He also has a lot of videos and articles on things such as techniques and sharpening. That site is well worth exploring for turners.

Eddie and Bearpie. I knew I could have save the bowl at one point. I made up my mind though that I couldn’t get what I wanted out of it so I may as well have some fun with it.

Bearpie, pretty face?
You are either trying to be sarcastic or you need to get your eyes checked pronto.

Steve, I’m glad you liked it. I had to go back and reread it. When I’m feeling good, I sometimes get a little funny (wife actually just calls it weird) without realizing it.

Lew, now all you need is a handle (shouldn’t be a problem for a wood turner) and a bushing. Home Depot did not carry the bushings here. I found mine at a local true value. I used quarter inch bronze bushings.

Darthford, I used to think I didn’t need a lathe either. Now I can’t step away from it long enough to do much else.

Mike, I’ve done that before but it didn’t work so well on cedar. I think the oils in the cedar kept the glue from adhering too well. I have had good luck gluing cedar if I’m able to sand and clean both surfaces prior to gluing, but not so lucky with cracks. So as I said, it just seemed like a good piece to experiment on.

Roger, you know as well as me, I’m sure, that there is no definites when turning. I admit to being lax on some safety measure while doing other things, but not on the lathe. It only took one pecan bowl to the forehead early on to teach me that lesson.

Thank you all for taking the time to read my ramblings.


View Dave's profile


11429 posts in 2890 days

#13 posted 11-10-2013 05:06 PM

William I see you are putting those stumps to use.
Remember to DUCK!

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View Doe's profile


1408 posts in 2880 days

#14 posted 11-10-2013 08:01 PM

William, I always enjoy when you post about things that go wrong. Not that I want you to damage yourself of course. You always take things as they come and share the lessons you’ve learned. I’ve learned so much from your adventures. I had a chuckle reading Steve’s comment, you have such a way with words that’s a delight to read – I guess I like it when you’re weird. My personal favorite is “I’ll try anything once, twice if it don’t hurt too bad” (or something like that).

For anyone that’s concerned about safety, just learn the rules, understand them, and practice. There are so many things that you can make that don’t need a great deal of skill (sandpaper will be your best friend at first). Break the rules only after you know what they are and why. I think William has made rule number one very clear. I’d like to add another one: never use a spindle roughing gouge on end grain. It can break the tool, the tool rest, or worse.

-- Mother Nature talks, I try to listen

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