I picked up Richard Raffan's book "Turning Wood" over the week after Christmas and decided to start small. Pens and spinning tops. This of course required a quick trip to my mecca (Lee Valley) and I picked up the mandrel and 5 slimline pen kits.
Not being satisfied, I stared looking for something more challenging. A bowl. I didn't have any blocks big enough to make one. Nor did I know of any tree cutting going on to try green wood turning. Finally, I didn't want to buy a blank for my first try. They tend to be expensive mistakes if you screw it up. So that left me with a segmented vessel. If you're interested in learning more about the process and learning more about turning in general, go to Wood Turning Online. They have a great section of projects from beginner to advanced.
I chose to make a 6 sided bowl to minimize the number of pieces I would have to cut and glue up. Total, it was 18 pieces plus the base which was solid. Wood selection was walnut and maple. Yes, I've made a number of projects from these 2 woods, but that's what I have in surplus. I chose the following to make my bowl:
- For the base, I chose a piece of walnut that had some cool grain that I also hoped would have some glimmer when finished.I cut it to 5" in diameter;
- For the first ring, I chose maple for the large segments and cut a strip 2 1/4" wide, then into wedge shaped segments on the mitre saw with 30 degree angles on each side. I opted for 3/8" walnut spacers for in between the maple segments. These had to be cut cross grain so that the I wouldn't be creating opposing grain movements which would cause the bowl to split in the future.
- The top ring was chosen to be walnut again with straight grain to make up the rim. 6 segments again at 2 1/4" wide by 4 1/2" long.
- All pieces were 3/4" thick
The middle ring on the other hand presented some problems that caused me to have to go back to the drawing board. Titebond glue has a water component to it. After applying it to a wedge of maple and then to the 3/8" walnut spacer seemed to be okay. But the moisture absorbed into the fibers and caused the spacer to warp so that there were gaps you could park a semi in once the glue dried.
I ended up cutting off the spacers and making new ones. This time 3/4" thick and the glue up went flawlessly. It did have the effect of making the ring a little bigger, but I'll keep that in mind for next time so that I can make the top ring bigger as well.
Once all the glue ups were done, I flattened the rings (and took the corners down) and glued them to each other and onto the base which had been fastened to a glue chuck.and mounted to the lathe using a faceplate.
There were a couple of close calls where the entire project almost ended up as kindling, but in the end it worked out. It measures 6 7/8" across, 1 3/4" tall and he sides/base are about 5/16" thick. Got to say I'm happy with how it turned out. Oh, and the base didn't disappoint with some very interesting figure!
It will be auctioned off in a silent auction happening in February in support of the Mississauga chapter of the Army, Navy Air Force club which supports local veterans (different from the Royal Canadian Legion).
Turning is fun, but there's still a lot to learn about how to best use my gouges.