Monday, December 26, 2016


Here is a bowl turned out of second Growth Redwood sitting on a Old Growth Redwood Table.  This piece caught my eye because of the color and the large growth rings.  

Redwood is soft and brash, the spring growth rings are harder than the summer growth rings, over sanding will cause the summer wood to be lower than the spring wood, this is because the summer wood is soft.  Sometimes this is a nice effect.

Note the pitch pockets, Redwood generally does not have much pitch but when it does it is nasty and will continue to ooze through your finish. The way I solved this problem was to warm the bowl in my kiln and then blow the pitch out with high pressure air and wipe the pitch off with paint thinner.  You may have to repeat this process until the pitch is gone. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

My First Turning - 1961

I was digging around in a closet and found this goblet, a real blast from the past.  Turned this goblet in 1961 high school shop class. The wood is Apple and the finish as best as I can remember is peppermint oil and tooth paste power, applied in multiple coats with the lathe running and rubbing each coat until dry. The finish has been very durable.

I have tried without success to duplicate the finish.  Powered tooth paste is no longer on the store shelves.  Have tried rotten stone and some other things but no results.  I have since found powdered tooth paste on the internet, will have to try again. 

Monday, December 5, 2016


These bowls are commonly call Dizzy bowls.  Fun to make, look very nice and will keep your mind limber.
Start by glutting block of multi colored wood of various thickness. I usually start with a 12" by 12" by 2.5" thick block. You can use any size and type of wood you chose.
Here is a block,  I leave the middle unglued so I can use a band saw to cut the rings.
Cut boards on a band saw some were between 3/8" and 1/2" thick. You will need 4 broads, tape the boards together. 
Draw the rings with a compass.  Below is a picture is of an Excel Spread sheet I used to design the bowl and ring sizes.
Picture of the rings and board.

To glue the rings together tape one side and   then spread the opposite  side and add glue; close ring making sure the glue covers the entire surface, clean up excess glue and tape the opposite side.                                                                                         
Ring glued together.
Sand the rings, so they are flat and no defects. Any defect will show up in the bowl when it is turned.  This drum sander is set up with 120 grit.
I used a couple of pipe clamps  to make a vertical press. Brace the under side of the table and attach the ends of the clamps to the brace under the table.  Use a level on the top brace to make sure that you are applying even pressure.  It is very critical the stack be as straight a possible, there will always be a slight wobble and which can be turned out.
Make a segmented ring for the top.
Two glue-ups ready for turning.
It is very important that the bowl be supported while turning.
The thickness of the bowl will be about 3/16"; support both sides. Go slow a tool snag will bring tears.
Finished bowl.

This is a copy of an Excel Spread Sheet used to design the bowl.  The offset is the change in the diameter of the next ring. A 1/2" offset will have steeper angle while a 3/4" offset will have a more open bowl. The bowl pictured above is a 3/4" offset.  The 3/4" offset will be a very thin turning.  The board number's; all the 1's will nest inside of each other and so on for 2, 3 & 4.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Weekend Goblet

Weekend project, I turned this small goblet from a piece of Pacific Madrone, (Arbutus menziesii).
Goblet is 10" tall and the stem is 1/4" in diameter with two captive rings.
Diameter of the cup is 2 1/4" in diameter. The black top on the lid is a permanent marker.

It is a lot of fun everybody tries to remove the captive rings.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Planner Snipe, Fix

Most small planners have a single feed roller. If the infeed or outfeed tables are not level with the knives you will get a snipe at the beginning or at the end of the board. If you are like me you can never keep the feed tables in alignment, so here is my trick.                                                                 

The picture at left is an 1/2" equipment foot turned upside down.  Next I threaded a piece of flat plate, drilled a hole in the table top, attached the plate, securely.  Added a wing nut for a lock nut.

Place a straight edge in the planner, (disconnect power) lower the planer head until the roller is firm against the straight edge; adjust the equipment foot until the feed table is firm against the straight edge. Works Great. You can still get a snipe on long pieces unless they are supported.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Natural Edge Maple Bowl

 I have just completed my latest project, these are some photographs of a Natural Edge Bowl made out of Big Leaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum). It is 12" in diameter and 3" to 5" tall.

A tree was given to me; two other friends and myself fell and cut the tree into logs. We used a portable saw mill to mill the logs into various size cants for each of our individual projects.
 The grain pattern is often called "fiddle back".  Terms differ with regions.
Don't forget to sign your project.
A nice center piece.  I was going to sell this but my wife said "NO", she wants it.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Reverse Chucking, What!

 This is a process in which you can turn the bottom of the bowl after the inside and outside are finished.  This will add a nice appearance to your work and make the bowl stand out.  I am making the assumption that most readers will have some experience turning wood, if you have question please email me a at:

First step is to attach a face plate to front of the bowl; these natural edge bowls will always have an uneven surface to one degree or another.  Slip some shims under the face plate to level the face plate to bottom of the turning block.  The big trick here is to use long screws that will go through the shims and well into the wood, picture shows 3 inch wood screws and shims.  As an added safety measure support the turning with the tail stock using a live center, 60 degree cone works well. 
During the rough turning phase create a spigot for the scroll chuck; I use a recessed dove tail of about 3/8 inch deep.  Before you remove the face plate make sure that the scroll chuck will tighten within the dove tail.
Remove the face plate, turn the bowl around and attach to the scroll chuck; again supporting with the tail stock and live center.

Turn out the inside of the bowl leaving about 1 inch of thickness all around sides and bottom.  The center post can be removed with a Forstner Bit. Clean up the bottom and set aside for the wood to dry.

 Next step after the wood has dried to moisture content of about 12%.  Finish turning the bowl to the final shape and thickness of your choice, sand up to 250 grit. Put one coat of finish on the bowl to protect the wood from stains (fingerprints) and discoloring.



Ready to turn the bottom, in the picture (right) you see an air rotary valve attached to a long lamp nipple with a fitting to seal the head stock and a extension with a 6 inch vacuum cup.  Do not over tighten finger tight only and make sure the vacuum line is securely attached to the air rotary valve.   See above vacuum generator, gauge and value to control the amount of vacuum.  In round numbers (at sea level) 1 inch of vacuum equals .5 lbs. of pressure.  6 inch vacuum cup has about 28 square inches of surface area; 26 inches of vacuum X .5 = 13 lbs X 28” = about 364 lbs of holding force on the bowl; this works well unless you go to fast or snag a chisel; this will move the bowl off center.

Reattach the chuck to the bottom of the bowl and attach a Reverse Chucking Alignment Adapter to chuck (left) and place in the tailstock.  Advance bowl to within about a 1” of the vacuum cup and lock the tailstock to the lathe bed, Turn on the vacuum up to about 10 inches and advance the quill to contact the vacuum cup watch the vacuum gauge, the inches of vacuum will increase when the bowl is in contact with the vacuum cup.  Loosen the chuck and withdraw the tail stock, adjust the vacuum to what you want, to much vacuum can mark the bowl.

The bowl will always be slightly of center maybe 1/8”, this is ok; it won’t be noticeable.  Be sure and don’t touch your finished surface with a tool. Turn the bottom, sand and apply finish. 

Need tools check me out at we sell handcrafted Crown Tools.

Friday, October 21, 2016



This is a sure fired way to center your face plate every time.  Take a piece of Ready Rod of the same thread size and diameter as your face plate requires.  With a metal lathe turn a point on one end of the ready rod, long and narrow is good, not sharp.  Cut the ready rod length so that it will extend 1 to 2 inches below the face plate and leave one 1 inch above the face plate.  Screw a nut on the ready rod opposite the point and spot weld the nut to the ready rod.

Draw a circle with a compass noting the center point, use an awl to enlarge the hole so that it is easy to locate. 

Screw the ready rod through the face plate and locate the center with the pointed end.
Retract the screw until the faceplate is flush with the wood but extended enough that the point is still in the center hole, you can feel this by trying to move the face plate; if the alignment point is in the centering  hole you won’t be able to move the face plate side to side.  

Attach the faceplate to the wood and remove your alignment screw and check to see if the face plate is centered.

To finish this story; many of my bowls I attach the faceplate to the front of the bowl and turn the sides and bottom.  I then turn a spigot on the bottom with a recessed dovetail.  This is used to attach a scroll chuck to finish the bowl.  When the inside is turned out the screw holes are removed. Note the little black mark on the spigot; that mark aligns with jaw #1 and if I have to remove the bowl form the chuck I can return the bowl to the same position. 

Hope this is a help. If you need any wood turning tools please browse the selection at . We have a Great selection of  hand made woodturning tools by Crown Tools, Sheffield England.

Saturday, October 15, 2016


A while back I figured out that turning green wood is a lot easier than dry wood and more fun.  But I am too impatient to wait a year for the turnings to air dry.  So I built a small Kiln which works very well; I thought I would take a few moments and share this build. Here it is;                                    

Not very pretty but the kiln is effective.  I can generally dry a green bowl in 7 to 14 days depending on type of wood, thickness and moisture content.  I try and leave the sides and bottom of the bowl three quarters and one inch thick.  At this thickness the wood dries uniformly and there is enough thickness to remove any warping. 

Using three quarter inch plywood I built a box about 48”W x 48”T x 30” D and lined the inside with 2” insulation  and added a couple racks using scrap wood.

For heat I use a 75 watt light bulb; wired the light through a thermostat.  The thermostat is for a water heater; I glued a piece of aluminum about 12” square to interior wall of the Kiln so it would heat up and activate the thermostat.  I used and old deep fryer basket turned up over the light to disperse the heat, and eliminate hot spots.

The Kiln is wired with an exterior switch and plug in.  I used a fan from an computer storage server, it is low voltage and I happened to have a cell phone charger at the voltage output, works great.

Next was the dehydrator, the on I am using is for a gun safe or a closet and uses electrical charged plates to condense the moisture in the Kiln.  The first piece I dried cracked and warped beyond use.  I realized that the dryer was too fast so I used a lamp timer to turn the dehydrator on and off at selected intervals.  

To be able to see what was going on in the Kiln I used an indoor weather station with a remote sensor.  This way you will be able to see temperature inside and outside and the humidity both inside and outside. 

It is important the keep a near constant temperature throughout the drying process.  With this set up I can keep the temperature at 86 to 92 degrees, and this will vary some. The humidity will start high and slowly decrease.  The Kiln works best with several pieces in it; if I have only one wood bowl I will put in some random wood in to create a load on the Kiln, fire wood works great.  You can also add a small pan of water over the heat source.

It is very important to monitor the wood daily for weight this is the only way you can tell when the wood is dry. I have included the records from the Maple bowl pictured earlier is this post.  

You can go to  to get specific information about the wood you are working with.  Sometimes I cut a test piece of wood; 1 board foot of the same thickness as my project.  The Wood Data Base will give you weight per cubic foot at 12% moisture content;  divide by 12 and that will be the weight of the test piece when it reaches 12% moisture content.

Shoot me an email with any questions.