|Project by David Craig||posted 01-24-2011 05:23 AM||3126 views||1 time favorited||11 comments|
A couple of months ago, Mike (jockmike2) gifted me with half of an Osage orange log he purchased from Raven’s farm. I set the piece aside for a little while as I get a little too self conscious when I work on a piece of gifted wood. For starters, I realize that a person more skilled than myself is putting their own pleasure in second to my own, and they are showing a great deal of faith in me by entrusting me with a piece that is a little special and not of the every day sort. So I sat on it for a little while until I had the time and courage to proceed. Immediate goals were to use as much of the log as possible (sometimes I feel like my smaller turnings are a result of way too much sawdust hitting the shop floor) and to make it something that exceeded or at least became a pinnacle that set the bar for me as a current skill set. I hate to brag about my own work, but I feel that both goals were met and I think this is the best piece, yet, that I have produced on the lathe.
Osage Orange is a challenging wood. The grain goes in every which direction and it is the densest wood on the North American continent (no exaggeration, it is a documented fact). The unpredictable grain makes it lovely when finished but it does not give its beauty away freely. My skills in turning, sharpening, and design were all put to the test. When starting the hollow, I found that it took two hours on this log to take out two inches of depth alone. The interior had two knots that surrounded the pith of the log making it extremely difficult to make any progress with the existing chisels in my collection. The picture below demonstrates the challenging interior -
Knots alone are challenging enough. I can honestly say from personal experience that knots in this piece were very much akin to cutting solid concrete. Mike had given me an old skew chisel that he converted into a bit of a bowl scraper. I ground the edge of it to knife like sharpness and attacked the knot from the side. The spinning of the vessel allowed me to slice it by starting at the center and then angling the blade towards the interior wall. This allowed me to gain about another 3 inches of depth that I would not have been able to obtain otherwise.
Again, embarrassed as I am to toot my own hone, this piece challenged me in hardness of wood, sticking to design, and modifying tools to confront the challenge of the time. Cracking within the log was handled using CA glue and sawdust from the turning. The piece was finished using clear coats of shellac with 800 grit sandings in between.
My thanks to Mike for his generous gift of the wood.
-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.