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.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Rain; All Right!

Fall is here in full force, 4” of rain during the past couple of days.  This is the time of the year when most of the outdoor stuff and honey do’s are done and I can return to my wood shop for the winter.  I have a large supply of fire wood for the stove and many projects planned.

I have been collecting many ideas for projects from friends, magazines various art shows and of course the special requests from family and friends.  Some of the things I like to make are wooden bowls, walking canes, cutting boards, cabinets, and basically anything that gets my creative juices flowing.

lately I have been making walking canes for family and friends; these are very fancy pieces of work, I always said; “if you have to use a walking cane, you should be proud of it”.

I will use any type of wood that is strong enough and has some character.  Diamond Willow is a good choice, strong and easy to work with.  I cut a spiral along the length of the Cain to give it some character and after sanding, finishing and trimming to a personal length I add a brass handle and a brass and rubber tip. I like to use a cooked stick for the cane,  the middle can bend and twist but the ends have to be in alignment, so that when you push down on the handle the tip is directly below and not off to one side.

Cutting a spiral on a straight piece of wood is relatively easy.  Cutting a spiral on a crooked piece is more difficult, the difficulty is in balancing the spirals so that they flow around and along the crooked body of the Cain.

This is a picture of a crooked Diamond Willow, it is unfinished but you can see spiral and character of the wood.

Monday, October 3, 2016

My Web Site; Why?

Retired and way past the age of consent, why go through the difficulties of constructing my own website.  I have always been fascinated by the technology of the internet and the ability of being able to promote yourself or your products to the world.

When I went through high school a number 2 pencil was a calculator.  In the Navy I learned to use a slide rule, most people don’t know what they are today.  In college Texas Instrument came out with a scientific calculator.  Through my Forestry Career the calculators kept getting better and then along came the first computers and they just kept getting better and then the Internet.

The Internet was like somebody raising a window shade and seeing the world for the first time.  The information that is available is astounding; about anything from anywhere in the world.

I hired a consulting group to teach me how to build and promote my website. , which is currently in the promotion phase, this is where the real effort comes in.

The website is built around my love to wood turning and the tools that are required to create wooden bowls and many free forms.  The tools that I have chosen to start with are Crown Tools, hand made in Sheffield England, these tools are high of quality; Craftsman’s tools.

Building and promoting a website will certainly keep your mind young and flexible.My Web Site; Why?