The first in a, likely, long educational series, teaching by example. Poor example. Deliberately. If we don’t try (and fail quick) we may never learn how to proceed. Or reasons why the tried and true, really is.
Several months back (or more) I saw some experimental turnings of Hilary Pfeifer's made from several layers of perforated hardboard, laminated into a block with woodglue. Inspired (and knowing that common wood glue would be brutal to keeping your chisels sharp) I took a bunch of clapboard scrap, and glued it up using hide glue, and set it aside. I also ordered a big ‘ol jug of epoxy to try that out too.
Never knowing quite what I would do with a laminated chunk of glued, pre-primed cedar, I set it aside and awaited inspiration. Today it struck me, figuratively speaking, in the car.
I have never tried any hollow turning. I’ve also never tried turning any laminated material. So why not take a shot at making a laminated bowl? I might get a neat looking cedar bowl to post. It’d smell great, AND id get to try my hand at making my own jigs turn with.
Since I’m still waiting for Santa (or preferably Birthday) Claus to bring me a four jaw chuck, I dreamed up, then tried my hand at making a “four screw” chuck, that would allow me to make a bowl – first by hollowing out the inside, and then flipping it, and using a second jig, along with the tail stock to hold it in place to shape the outside.
First step: creating a wooden face plate by putting a recessed bolt though a counterbored hole in 1” thick ply (two layers of 1/2 inch screwed together with strips added to the bottom to keep the tips safely buried.
Second step: squaring up the laminated block, and mounting it – as centered as possible with screws through the back of the face plate into the corners of the block.
Third step: securing the bolt in the jacobs chuck of my shopsmith. (moving the tool rest into place, making sure everything is safe and secure, etc…)
Fourth step: Firing up the lathe and pretending I knew how to turn a hollow vessel. I’ve seen plenty of demos and articles, so I actually had a pretty good idea of what to do.
The turning was easy, and I knew that as long as I kept my gouge withing the “visible” middle portion of the square block of wood – and avoided the blurred corners – I woulnd’t hit the screws and would avoid any nasty surprises.
I don’t think that all the clapboards (if indeed any of them) were cedar – didn’t get that nice smell, and the tear out was as horrible as any pine turnings I’ve ever practiced on, depite going as slow as possible. The glue didn’t really have as negative effect on the process of turning as my sharpening skills (or lack thereof) did. Sometimes I get a good enough edge and have a fair amount of success, though most of my smooth edges so far have been the result of improper use of the skew and parting tool, and lots of sanding. – only used the gouges today.
The bolt wasn’t aligned at a perfect 90 through the faceplate which the turning clearly shows. The bolt/washers appears to have sunk into the plywood unevenly when tightened. The wobble was slightly obvious in the blur of turning, enough to have the tool cutting air during 1/2 of the time when defining the rim of the bowl.
I was keeping very careful to avoid the square edges of the plate and block, and never even came close to the embedded screws – which cracked the block – they still held very securely. I should have predrilled being so close to the edges of a soft wood.
If I try this method again, I’ll square up the faceplate before I mount anything on it. I could sacrifice my aluminum sanding disk, or I could glue up the base, or use mdf so I can turn it flat. I’ll also try NOT using such a soft wood, or laminated anything for the turning stock for the first trial runs.
Not much to show for my afternoon, but I sure learned a lot, and am motivated to try even more new (and perhaps even unconventional) things.
The moral of todays story:
1. Try ONE new thing at a time
2. Always use SHARP tools. Get, or make the proper jigs.
3. Don’t be afraid to walk out of the shop with nothing to show for your time.