As The Lathe Turns #61: Fixer

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by William posted 11-18-2013 02:05 AM 2192 reads 0 times favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 60: Pens And Tools Part 61 of As The Lathe Turns series Part 62: Turn A Turner »

I called today’s post “Fixer” because the last few days it seems I am constantly having to fix something. So the title seemed fitting.
Everyone seemed to like the cypress flower pot I made a while back, so I decided to try making a cypress bowl. I got the outside turned fine with the tail stock supporting it. Soon after I switched to hollowing out the inside though, the double sided tape I was using to hold on a waste block with a tenon cut into it to fit my chuck gave way and the bowl took flight. So I decided to use my bowl press to glue the waste block on before continuing. I let it set over night.

Of course I had to retrue the outside the next day and then the hollowing went along without a hitch.

As you can see, this one was going to require a lot of sanding. My powerless sanding tool I made a while back was working wonderfully, then….......

I knew that the thin sides seemed a tad brittle to me. I didn’t think they were that brittle though.

So I turned it down to a shorter bowl and went at it again.
Before I could even get back to sanding though, well, you see what happened before I could even get back to sanding.

So I turned it down to an even shorter bowl.

Here, after sanding, I decided I had better snap another photo before something else went wrong, like maybe while turning the waste block off the bottom.

The waste block removal happened without incident. Well, almost.
I noticed a crack on the sides while I was checking my progress at one point. Once you get past a certain point of no return though, all you can do is finish the waste block removal and then take it off the lathe to see what you have.

After all I had been through with this bowl, I really did not want to scrap it. So I used CA glue to fix the crack in it.

I think it turned out ok. I can’t gripe about all the wasted material making this tall bowl short. I try to look at things like this as opportunities to hone my skills.
That’s what I tell people anyway. Never admit that you just messed up.

Next, ever since Ms. Clause sent my the gift package last week, I’ve been looking at one of the pieces of mystery wood that was included. If I was correct it was going to be box elder burl. I used elder burl on the Civil War pen a while back and thought it was one of the most beautiful materials I’ve ever turned. So I was anxious to turn this to see what I got.

If you read my blog, you know I always refer to burls as like unwrapping presents. You never know what surprises await underneath. Sometimes you are greeted with the most fabulous gift a fella could ask for. Well, sometimes you are greeted with a box of rock.
No seriously. You know you have an Uncle Joe who lost his pet rock collection. In his demented state of mind, he has mistakenly wrapped it up and gave it to you for your birthday about three and a half months after your birthday.
Ok. Anyway, the beautiful wood, which did turn out to be box elder burl as I suspected by the way, revealed a knot about halfway into it. It wasn’t one of those pretty, interesting knots. It was one of those knots that, if I’d continued, would have flown out and left a huge hole that would have been near impossible to fill with my usual slurry method.
So what to do? Well since the CA glue had worked for my bowl repair so well, I decided to go back to the well again. I really wanted to save this blank.

And I think it worked out real well. Who says you can’t turn a gift of a box of rocks into something nice?
This is a .50 Cal. pen with box elder burl, and a, now pretty and interesting, knot in it.
So what else could I tear up and fix?

This is a hunk of cedar I had back in the corner of the shop. Actually it is half of a split bowl that I tried turning some time back. I decided to try to turn it into one of those interesting looking things I seen somewhere on the internet some time ago. I would tell you what it is called or where I seen it, but unfortunately, I can’t remember either.

Things were going great. I was having fun. The wood was cooperating fine, and I was sure I could complete this project.
Then a hunk off one side decided it wanted to go bye-bye. Luckily, it flew away from me. However, this large hunk all of a sudden leaving the party threw the rest of it out of balance at high speed. Well, let’s just say that I’m not sure those pants are going to ever come clean again.
I had not idea that a three hundred pound lathe could hop like that.
I decided to not try fixing this one. This same hunk of wood has caused massive failures on the lathe twice now. I haven’t been hurt, but I do not wish to test that three strike rule thing.

Also, something in the back of my head told me to check the alignment on my lathe after all the excitement died down, my heart rate returned to normal, and I smoked as cigarette or ten to calm my nerves.
I’m glad I did. This is the disadvantage to having a lathe with a rotating head. Something like that out of balance hopping dance it was doing earlier throws things off.
So I felt it was a good time to do a lathe tune up. I cleaned it up, realigned everything, oiled everything, and generally made sure it was ready to safely go again.
Then it was time to climb back on the horse and go again.

The deer antler pens, especially the .45-70 pens I’ve made before, seem popular. So I decided to make one for my display case.

Then, since Ms. Clause had sent me a few .50 Cal. pen kits, I decided that, since people seem to like the bullet and deer antler combination, I should make a .50 Cal. pen with deer antler.
So, the lathe is back in fighting shape. We’ll just have to see what I can mess up next. Remember though, it’s not mistakes, it’s learning opportunities.
Till next time, happy turning!

Before I go, you may remember I made a bamboo pen for my kid’s karate instructor a few days ago.
For my readers that always ask about my family, my son done his rank test yesterday. He passed and is now a yellow belt.
Oh, he’s the little fella on the left in this photo.


20 comments so far

View Sandra's profile


7207 posts in 2103 days

#1 posted 11-18-2013 02:32 AM

When things fall to pieces, you keep going! Nice pens and bowl. Any thoughts I have of getting a lathe are cured by your stories of wooden missiles shooting through the shop.

-- No, I don't want to buy the pink hammer.

View DIYaholic's profile


19623 posts in 2702 days

#2 posted 11-18-2013 02:41 AM

Perseverance and a positive attitude saved the day!
A blow out, a little realignment and you are good to go!!
Glad you weren’t hurt!!!

Nice turnings there.
Please give your son my congratulations, on his achievement!!!

Carry on…

-- 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


9949 posts in 2870 days

#3 posted 11-18-2013 02:44 AM

Sandra, from what I understand, most people do not have as many wooden projectiles flying in their shops as I do. I have the worst luck, or I take bigger chances, or I let my inexperience get the better of me sometimes. You can pick which one of those excuses you’re willing to except. Thank you for your comment.
Randy, thank you.
I will let my son know what you said.


View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3045 days

#4 posted 11-18-2013 02:47 AM

Glad it was only your shorts that got messed up and not you! I remember while sanding a bowl some time ago, it split apart on me much the same way yours did. I came to the conclusion that it was the heat that did it from the sanding. Some woods do not take excessive heat rapidly well and will prone to crack/break. Red cedar is notorious for that! It is a beautiful wood but I dislike working with it! Hope knowing heat could have been the cause, will make you more aware and alert for possibilities of it happening in the future.

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2870 days

#5 posted 11-18-2013 02:59 AM

Thanks for the advice Bearpie.
I am always picking up little lessons here and there as I go. I have learned that I have to be quite aware of how thin I go with some woods, and cypress and cedar seem to really be in that category. I don’t think I’m even going to attempt another cedar bowl anytime soon.
Actually, I’ve been thinking of taking another shot at segmented bowls like you and I talked about when you visited. To be honest though, the only thing that has stopped me is that lately it has been hard on me standing in one spot long. I’ve been using my stool a lot while turning. So standing at the table saw cutting all those little pieces just hasn’t appealed to me lately. As soon as I can get to it though, I think it has to be safer than the ones I’ve been doing.
I still have one more piece of that rose wood for a bowl as well. I’m trying to think of something different than what I’ve been doing though for it. It may be a long while before I have wood large enough in something that is that beautiful. So I want to make the best of that piece.


View clieb91's profile


3520 posts in 3962 days

#6 posted 11-18-2013 03:07 AM

Nice finished projects. Glad to hear no one was injured. I had a flying projectile in my shop about an hour ago, but it was still being prepped for the lathe and went flying off of my miter saw. Still not sure where my hold down stick went that I was using… Called it a night shortly after that.

Congrats to your son my daughter gets her 2nd belt this week.


-- Chris L. "Don't Dream it, Be it."- (Purveyors of Portable Fun and Fidgets)

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2870 days

#7 posted 11-18-2013 03:25 AM

Yes chris, those unexpected flying objects sure can make you call it an early day, or at least decide to sit for a long break.

You said second belt, what color?
There is this girl that tested later in the day after my son. She is thirteen years old, only been in the class for two and half years, and is fixing to get her black belt. The girl is good. Her grandmother though told me that she eats, sleeps, and breathes karate. She is now my example to my son when he doesn’t want to practice at home. Karate is all about practice, practice, practice.
I wish I knew more about karate so I could help my son more. Unfortunately, the most I know about karate is that Bruce Lee made karate movies.


View lew's profile


12102 posts in 3783 days

#8 posted 11-18-2013 04:47 AM

Sorry to read of all the troubles you’ve encountered but glad to know there were no serious injuries and most things could be fixed.

Congrats to your son on his advancement to a Yellow Belt!

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

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3362 days

#9 posted 11-18-2013 09:14 AM

Some guys just sell their broken bowls as art William. Congrats on your son’s yellow belt. It takes good self discipline to advance.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Roger's profile


20929 posts in 2831 days

#10 posted 11-18-2013 11:46 AM

Wow, those centers were really off. Those 50cals look awesome, just like the rest o your projects. :)

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

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2870 days

#11 posted 11-18-2013 12:51 PM

Thank you all very much.

Mike sent me a very good private message.
Mike, when I make it back to my laptop tonight, is it alright if I copy and paste it here so other might offer suggestions if they have any?


View StumpyNubs's profile


7604 posts in 2828 days

#12 posted 11-18-2013 03:09 PM

Nice to see a fellow Harbor Freight turner in action! Best deal in it’s class, hands down!

I was turning a 16” disc on mine once. It was going to be a wheel for a band saw. The head was obviously turned to the side and I had the disc attached with a small flat face plate. It came loose, flew straight down to the floor and sped toward me, right up bare leg much faster than I could move. I still have the scar. I tell people it was from a great white attack. Chicks dig it.

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

View boxcarmarty's profile


16303 posts in 2387 days

#13 posted 11-18-2013 06:34 PM

William, Why did you start off with so much wood if you wanted a short bowl???

-- My mind is like lighting, one brilliant flash, then its gone.....

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2870 days

#14 posted 11-18-2013 09:26 PM

View Doe's profile


1403 posts in 2857 days

#15 posted 11-19-2013 12:42 AM

You didn’t mess up. On the fly design changes are a fact of life when turning. The result is very, very nice. Thanks Bearpie! I never thought about heat affecting the wood. Are there other woods that are likely to have the same problem?

I think you’re scaring the other children with your bowl adventures but they’re extremely helpful to understand what could go wrong. I like to stay small to avoid heart failure resulting from massive projectiles. Mind you, when I have flyers now, I’m more concerned about what it hit just in case the wood got damaged beyond saving. Thanks for the alignment reminder, I haven’t checked it and it’s something that you should do regularly.

The box elder turned out really well. I’ve had promising pieces of wood that ended up with butt ugly warty knots that I didn’t know what to do with.

I really like the first bullet pen. It’s kind of pretty in a bullet-y sort of way—I don’t know how to explain it other than I really like it.

Congratulations to your son on his yellow belt.

-- Mother Nature talks, I try to listen

showing 1 through 15 of 20 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics