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Friday, July 20, 2012

Some Things are Turning

The Oddblock Station has welcomed a new arrival.

Fresh out of the box a few minutes earlier and no parts missing. I haven't even plugged in the cord yet to see if this works. That machine weighs just over 100 pounds! A few days earlier I had to reinforce the work area to prevent any possible vibration or bouncing.

Lathe levelled with wood squares cut and ready. The lathe has now been tested. No vibration or bouncing at all. From this angle all the wood looks the same. The large square on the right is Rad Oak. The other 4 squares are Ash. These woods came from Woodworker's Paradise in Rumford, Maine.

Here is another view of the same squares. Ash and Oak do not look very different from each other aside from the colour. Their grain patterns are almost identical. If the block on the left was turned the other way, the grain would look the same as the other four squares

Why wait for later? After setting up and levelling the lathe I put it and me to work. Hard to believe but 35 years have passed since I last used a wood lathe or any type of lathe. I hadn't completely forgotten how to use it including the wood set-up, but I was quite rusty using the tools. Anyway, no scratches, cuts, bruises, injuries or deaths so far...and the first turning is cut, ready for sanding.

Quite a few woodchips later...the completed nostepinde finished with linseed oil. After a day or two for drying out, Kie can put this to use to wind her wool. Prior to last week, I had never even heard of or seen a nostepinde before and now I have made one. This was supposed to be a test/practice piece but it turned out okay...literally.

The Oddblock Station Agent

Addendum: May 19, 2013 

Not yet a year later and a lot (really a lot) of wood chips later a few things have been turned out.

Practice piece made with Alaskan yellow cedar with one coat of linseed oil added.

Addendum: November 09, 2015 - Lilac 

Lilac was never a source of usable wood/lumber that I ever considered until three years ago when I had a conversation with Mike Chase, a professional wood turner displaying his skills at the Farmington Fair. He enthusiastically spoke to me about the merits of lilac as one of the best woods for turning and suggested I give the wood a try.

Three years intervened before I was able to revisit Farmington, Maine, and have another conversation with Mr. Chase. In our subsequent discussion about woods and wood turning, I mentioned our previous conversation about lilac but had been unable to source a piece. 

Upon hearing that, Mr. Chase generously offered me one of the two lilac squares that he had with him. I accepted his kind gift and promised to get back to him with the results, which I have since done. This said, I decided to add this update to my previous post, simply because lilac is unusual.

Surprisingly, to me anyway and flowers aside, hundreds of images and posts appear on Google relating to lilac wood itself... meaning that I am not adding anything new or profound.

Lilac is indeed an excellent wood for turning. Yes, wood from that same bush/small tree that flowers every spring.

The square that I accepted had a couple of cracks and soft spots so I allowed it to acclimatize for about a month before working with it.

The checking cracks did not extend deep into the wood and one soft spot (embedded decay) is the only remaining unusual characteristic. Most may simply label that soft spot a defect but I prefer to see it as an unusual characteristic unique to this piece of wood. True, some spots may cause problems or tear-out, but in this case it did not, as the above photo shows. 

I've since completed turning the piece round just to try the wood but haven't decided what to do with it. I suppose in the back of my mind I'm thinking about using it in a walking stick; I make those and this piece will be ideal for that.

Conclusion: lilac is indeed an excellent wood for turning, one of the best I've worked with. 

Addendum: September, 01,2017

The idiosyncrasies of glued-up stock...

Soft Maine maple and black cherry matched up.

This piece shown was turned to 3/4"

One of the exasperating challenges that turning longer thinner pieces presents is bouncing or chattering against the chisels; no matter how sharp. The results of course are tear-out or flat surfaces and often both together.

I know that stabilizers are available to address this problem, however, I've not yet been able to find one on the market that will fit my mini-lathe.

Anyway, these small pieces were glued-up like a shish-kebab on a 3/8th inch maple dowel running through. I'm not sure if that assembly helped or hindered the flexing while turning issue but I'm leaning toward the latter.

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