Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A few things from the woodshop

We've been a little busy in the shop this week.

Beastly has been turning bowls, mostly small stuff on the Jet Mini Lathe, but yesterday I made him do something a bit bigger:

Beastly Turning

This was a large piece of wet birch heartwood when he started. Unbalanced and heavy, it damn near shook the lathe apart until he got it rough turned to round. He manage to break a tool rest and maybe his nose in the process - that's what turners consider a bad day, not because he might have broken his nose, but because he broke a tool. It's okay though, we had a replacement on hand and had the lathe fixed in minutes. The nose? Well, that has zero impact on shop operations so it's not my problem (Kidding, I'm kidding. Beastly breaking his nose is a regular occurrence, he doesn't get worked up over it). The end result is looking pretty spectacular this morning, however, as you can see in the above picture.

Me? Well, I turned a large bowl too. Then hosed up the finish work, which I have to remove today and redo. Sigh. Like broken noses, it happens.

I also completed a couple of displays for the Air Force - which I'm very happy with:

Bear Stand

The bear is ceramic, I sculpted the base from Sitka Spruce and mounted the statue, coins, and the plaque. This is the third one I've done for the Air Force, and I've got an order for at least two more. These are turning out to be very popular going away gifts for departing Colonels.

Soldier Base

The soldier statue was a major effort. First, that statue is massive. It's about 18" tall and over a foot in diameter through the long axis. It's cast from bronze and weighs about seven pounds. Oof! I sculpted the base from a large piece of spruce, which I cut from the largest dried stock log I had on hand. Then I cut it to oval on the bandsaw. I cut a recess into the top so that the original wooden base would slide into it, merging the two pieces together. I would have liked to completely remove the original base, but there was just no way to do it without damaging the statue, so I incorporated it into the new base. Beastly helped me hold the base steady on the multi-function drillpress while I cut recesses for the coins - seriously, you want aggravation? Try cutting those coin slots - all varying size by the way - into an oval surface, all at uniform depth, equally spaced, and describing a cord of the oval equally around the front of the piece. Oh yeah, that was fun - fortunately both Beastly and I, being Navy vets, knew the proper sequence of cursing necessary for the job. I finished the base in a mahogany stain and poly-acrylic, then glued the statue and coins in place. The little brass plaque came with a self adhesive backing, so I just had to get it centered and level. The completed project weighs about twelve pounds, woohoo!

I also spent most of yesterday playing around with the Leigh dovetail jig, building a couple of wooden boxes with dovetail joint corners.

And now, I've got to get back out to the shop. Back in a bit.


  1. That's some amazing work. I don't think a lot of people realize all of the different things that are possible using wood.

    Have you seen the wood hat guy? (www.woodhat.com) I profiled him for an article last year. He does some interesting stuff with wood.

  2. Everything in your post that didn't involve "broken" is awesome. (Well, not that "hosed" part either)

    All the wood stuff. Yeah, that's it. All the wood stuff is very awesome.

  3. Matt, I've actually met Johannes Michelson - the wooden hat guy. He's an amazing craftsman and an incredibly skilled turner.

    Shawn, actually we considered it fairly awesome that Beastly broke a toolrest - those things are made from heavy cast steel and the mere fact that he managed to break the mounting base off the kingpost without breaking his hands or more importantly the extremely expensive Robert Sorby roughing gouge that he was using at the time was pretty incredible. I don't think I've ever seen that type of equipment failure before - we took pictures and Beastly is emailing the manufacturer, we'll see what they have to say. I suspect they'll replace it straightway at no cost, they're a damned fine company and very customer orientated - which is, of course, why we buy their equipment.

  4. So will they replace Beastly's nose at no cost as well?

    And I thought we'd get some broken nose pictures? What's up with that?

    More seriously, those are some pretty amazing pictures.

  5. Beautiful work (as usual).

    the proper sequence of cursing necessary for the job*

    Huh. I thought that was a trick from my family. I guess Uncle Bob learned it from the Navy...

    *It's true! I can never get the oil filter off my Toyota without swearing at it with the proper words in the proper order. I've had that truck, and been swearing at the oil filter, for 22 years.

  6. I think you just take on these tough jobs (varying coin depressions in an oval base, for example) just so you can give those cuss words a work out. What's the use of knowing them all (and the proper order) if you don't use them?

  7. Well the nose is broken (number 15) but it's really no big deal the damn thing is like paper anymore. Good news is that after the blood clots came out I can breathe through the left nostril again. YAY! As for the cursing thing, Jim is misleading you again. There is no proper sequence and it is perfectly acceptable to mix and match cuss words to suit the moment. I say the more variety the better.

  8. Action Hero....your work is amazing! I'm thrilled with watching your skill photos on projects. Love your turned bowls. Someday, I'll do the same with clay.
    What a dream. Retire to do what you want to do....
    Nathan's GF

  9. Anonymous Nathan's GF,

    You know, you have excellent taste. Just saying.


Comments on this blog are moderated. Each will be reviewed before being allowed to post. This may take a while. I don't allow personal attacks, trolling, or obnoxious stupidity. If you post anonymously and hide behind an IP blocker, I'm a lot more likely to consider you a troll. Be sure to read the commenting rules before you start typing. Really.