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Help sanding figured oak burl bowl w/ natural edge

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Forum topic by Brendo posted 03-21-2016 12:02 PM 479 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Brendo

5 posts in 264 days


03-21-2016 12:02 PM

Topic tags/keywords: turning burl bowl oak sanding help natural edge bur

Hi everyone,

I am looking for help with a project I started about 3 yrs ago. It all started with an oak burl I got from a tree my cousin cut down when building his home. Long story short, the burl has some sentimental value to my cousin and he trusted me to make him something nice with it. This was a few years ago and I’m sure at this point he thinks I ruined it and he’s never going to see anything from it. But a few years ago I was (and still am) a beginner and started turning the burl into a natural edge bowl as best I knew how. I mounted the 100 lb burl and slowly started roughing it out. I wanted to use the center saver system to turn multiple bowls but I wasn’t able to core the burl like I wanted to. So I had to improvise. I turned it down to a 18” diameter w/ a natural edge and wall thickness of about 1/2”. I did my best at the time, but there was some tear out and roughness when I set it aside to dry thinking I would be able to finish turn it after drying. I didn’t expect the bowl to change like it did, but of course now I know I should have expected it. So, I have a bowl that has some nice figure, unique natural ridges and grooves in the grain from the drying (not tooling marks), but also has plenty of tooling marks. I have picked up the bowl every once in a while trying to sand it up for finishing. I work on it patiently but eventually I forget about it for a few months at a time, which doesn’t help. I think the end is in sight though, I just need some advice to make sure I don’t screw it up now. I included some pictures to show what I’m working with. But I need suggestions on how to continue sanding this bowl to remove the scuff marks from coarse grits not run parallel to the grain. I don’t want to soften or dull the natural grooves and ridges caused by the warping/drying effect as I think they add character and would pose a challenge to remove while leaving a uniform wall thickness. I know some of you may not find this bowl worthy of the huge amount of time I have invested, but it has sentimental value to my cousin, I promised him something nice, and I now see this as a person challenge. You’ll see a lot of cracks and the solid foot of the bowl etc. – I know! It’s a learning process. So, please give me your thoughts. I would definitely appreciate any help that makes this any easier on me. Thank you!







6 replies so far

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Nubsnstubs

826 posts in 1196 days


#1 posted 03-21-2016 01:59 PM

Brendo, if that was mine, I’d use an orbit sander to clean up the outside. You didn’t post pics of the inside, so can’t say what you could do. Maybe a lot of hand sanding , and you’ve got a good looking natural edge bowl. When you remove the tenon, how deep are you going to go?

Send this to the woodturning forum. You might get more responses. .............. Jerry (in Tucson)

-- Jerry (in Tucson)

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Brendo

5 posts in 264 days


#2 posted 03-21-2016 03:35 PM

Hey Jerry, Thanks for the input. I moved this over to the woodturning category and added some pics showing the inside of the bowl and some pics highlighting the valleys and grooves that I am trying to preserve as they add character and pose a challenge to remove that wouldn’t be time well spent in my book. I am still undecided about what to do with the foot of the bowl. I’m sure people know how it goes, and the shape of the bowl/foot was not controlled by me. I had to improvise on the fly and this is what I came up with. I plan on working away some of the excess material in the center/bottom of the foot. It’s nice to have some weight there to balance the bowl from tipping, but it does make the bowl weigh a bit more than I would like. In hindsight, I wish I had turned the whole bowl down to 1/4” max. So, I will probably use the dremel to hollow out the foot to 1/2” walls max, but I might leave them thicker for the counterweight. Not sure yet.

As for the orbit sander, I want to eliminate all scuff and tooling marks and maybe I’m being too critical by looking at it so close, but I am very hard on myself and can’t leave well-enough alone. A couple of spots look pretty good, but other areas are untouched and it will probably take me 40hrs+/- to sand by hand to my satisfaction. But I don’t have that much free time. I’m unfamiliar with an orbit sander that can fit to the random contouring and really fit my needs. Hopefully you can see the grooves and valleys in the bowl as they might look like a smooth surface with unique grain. But no, these are both changes in the grain and changes in the typography. Sorry if this point is already understood. A good way to look at the surface is by following the growth rings around the bowl. They very much mimic a topographical map to show the elevation changes and undulations in the bowls surface. Some of these notches and valleys change elevation from one height down 1/8” and back up over the span of 1/4”. So they are pronounced when you hold the bowl. Please keep the info coming while this bowl is holding my attention. Thanks

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cdaniels

1311 posts in 967 days


#3 posted 03-21-2016 03:40 PM

I would coat it with oil and run through all your grits with a power sander up to 400, reason for oil sanding would be to fill in the small areas with sanding slurry while smoothing out the “topographical areas” without eliminating them all together. makes for a much smoother feel when you run your hands over all the ridges. I have started filling cracks with colored epoxy to eccentuate them instead of eliminate them. just my 2 nickels though!

-- Jesus was a carpenter... I'm just saying

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LeeMills

271 posts in 767 days


#4 posted 03-21-2016 04:04 PM

It appears that some may need to be sanded more to remove torn grain as in pic 3 and others you may try to follow the natural warping. Vince carries 1” disc which you can use with a drill, the pads are 1” but the disc are 1-1/8 IIRC. The edge of the flex disc will go over the backing so there will not be a sharp edge and holding it at an angle you should be able to just use the edge of the disc for the warped areas. You may lose some of the effects of the valleys and ridges but should be able to keep most of the undulations.
Vince will probably be please to speak with you and he may have other suggestions also.
I use the “blue flex” but he carries other types as well.
http://vinceswoodnwonders.com/
I typically don’t go over 240 with a natural edge.

-- We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein

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cdaniels

1311 posts in 967 days


#5 posted 03-21-2016 05:39 PM

I ordered a pad and a couple discs to try out from vince, then I ordered 50 of every grit in blue discs and gold discs and a bunch of pads. great prices and good quality.

-- Jesus was a carpenter... I'm just saying

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Nubsnstubs

826 posts in 1196 days


#6 posted 03-22-2016 12:57 AM

It’s too bad you didn’t sand this when you first worked it.Those ridges and valleys would look like leather wrinkles, and you’d have been done with it. Now, you are trying to preserve them and I don’t blame you at all for that. They add character to the piece.

For removing the excess wood in the foot, make yourself a plug that will fit most of the inside of the bowl. Sometimes, I’ll get another blank, and turn it to fit the rim, but in this case, you need to make a plug. I don’t know if that’s the proper term, but do what you can to fit the inside contour, line it with that drawer bottom liner, bring up your tailstock with live ball bearing( a little Scott Phillips terminology) center, and remove what material you need from the inside of the foot, leaving a nub you are comfortable with. When you have the inside trimmed out to your specs, remove it from between centers and break off, cut or grind out the nub.

The foot looks to be at least 4” od. I don’t think that would be a top heavy issue, so leaving the foot wall thickness at 1/2” thick would work, unless the bowl isn’t centered on the foot… ............ Jerry (in Tucson)

-- Jerry (in Tucson)

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