1 Blank 10 Projects
Tuesday 28 July 2009
Mark Baker creates 10 projects from one side-grained bowl blank
We often buy blanks of timber, maybe because the timber caught our eye, or perhaps it was the figuring. But for whatever reason it was bought, do we buy because we have a project in mind or is it a make-it-up later scenario?
I have loads of blanks of a similar size I am not alone in this and I set about thinking what could be made from them. Here are 10 possibilities, all can be created from one sized blank. The timbers vary just to show colour, grain and figure variances, all of which have a huge impact on its visual appeal.
Since the pieces were created from one sized blank, the illustrations do not have dimensions on them. Instead, I have used arrows to show the direction of cut these give the overall impression and feel of the piece. The intention is to encourage you to experiment further, alter the shapes a little (you don't have to use the exact size of bowl blank, vary it a bit), play with the bases, wall thickness, curvatures of the walls and rims to alter and develop the shapes to your preferences. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination. All are a logical development of the ideas, skills and techniques required to make them.
Japanese-style bowlThis bowl is made from figured elm, Ulumus procera and is based upon a Japanese bowl I saw in a museum.
To make this, mount the blank on a screw chuck and create a spigot about 75mm (3in) in diameter. The jaws of the chuck may crush the spigot a little so it is necessary to reverse-chuck the bowl later to remove the spigot and create the undercut foot section. Mark the centre of the spigot now to make centralising the bowl easier later on. Keep the pedestal section parallel at this stage to maintain strength where the pedestal and main bowl form. Then, turn the external bowl form and get as good a finish off the gouge as you can before refining and sanding to a fine finish. Once sanded, mount the bowl in the chuck and turn the inside. The wall thickness is about 6mm (1/4in). Again, sand to the required finish afterwards.
Remove the bowl and mount a piece of waste wood in the chuck and turn a gentle domed face on it. Place some tissue on the face and put the inside of the bowl up against the wood with the paper as an interface. Bring up the tailstock, locate a revolving centre in the centre mark and lock and tighten the tailstock (beween centre reverse-chucking). You can now create the taper on the pedestal section with a gouge and then the undercut foot with a 3mm (1/8in) parting tool. Mimic the external curvature of the bowl on the bottom of the recess. There will be a core in place where the centre pressed on, which can be removed later. Create the shape you require and then sand to a finish. Remove the bowl and carve away the core, sand the remaining nub and apply a finish of your choice, oil in this case
Flared BowlThis bowl is made from mahogany, Khaya ivorensis and is based upon a piece of German ceramic work I saw on my travels.
To make this bowl, mount the piece of wood on a screw chuck and turn the back of the bowl. Create a spigot about 75mm (3in) and like last time, mark the centre of the spigot now so you can centralise it, reverse-chucking the bowl later to remove the spigot.
Turn the outside of the bowl (note: the slight curvature at the base area before moving into the main body profile). Slight curve variations alter the appearance no end and are well worth exploring. Experiment and find out what you like. In this case we have a rather straight upward sweep. Get as good a finish off the gouge before using a scraper followed by abrasives, or just abrasives to enable you to achieve a fine finish.
Once sanded, mount the bowl in the chuck and turn the inside the wall thickness is about 6mm (1/4in). Again, multiple light cuts are best. The rim can be flat or to soften the effect, round the rim over a little. Like altering the main body curve, little changes can have a major impact on how the piece looks and feels. Once complete scrape and/or use abrasives as necessary to finish off the piece.
As with the previous bowl, use the between centre reverse-chucking method to remove the spigot or blend it into the base section and slightly undercut the foot. Once complete, remove the nub left from the reverse-chucking and sand to a fine finish. Apply a finish of your choice, oil in this case.
Ogee BowlThis bowl is made from maple, Acer spp. and is a classical ogee form, but with a three-footed cut away base.
To make this bowl, mount the piece of wood on a screw chuck and create a recess about 55mm (21/8in) wide and about 10mm (3/8in) deep. Use the bead- forming tool to create a bead where the outer edge of the recess is extended the same round to cut the inner most face of the recess. So, in effect you extend the bead form round to almost create a full bead. Once cut, sand the inside of the recess and the bead section cut so far.
Create a parallel tenon section which is the outer-most part of the bead cut previously, to a depth that mimics the inside recess depth. Then, turn the outside of the bowl in an ogee profile then scrape and sand as necessary to create the finish you require.
Mount the bowl in a chuck (I used dovetail jaws over which I placed tissue paper before placing in the recess). Don't over-tighten or they will mark the bead. Turn the inside bowl profile to mimic the external one the wall thickness is about 6mm (1/4in). Once completed and sanded, use the bead- forming tool on the parallel section of the tenon cut earlier to create the rest of the bead. Once cut and sanded remove from the chuck and mark three positions on the bead at 120 positions. Measure 6mm (1/4in) either side of these positions and using a saw cut down to the recess depth at these new marked points. The 12mm or so wide sections are then pared away using a carving gouge and the edges of the bead are angled to create a softer edge. Sand and blend the pared section. If the inner recess is not the same depth as the beginning of the outer form you have a lot of sanding to do. The finish used is sanding sealer and wax.
Wide-rimmed BowlThis bowl is made from sycamore, Acer spp. and is an adaptation from an old piece of porcelain I saw when I was younger.
To make the bowl, mount the piece of wood on a screw chuck and turn the back of the bowl. Create a spigot about 75mm (3in) and mark the centre of the spigot so it can be centralised. Reverse-chuck the bowl later to remove this.
Turn the outside of the bowl (note the belly section of the bowl and the directions of cut to make a clean cut where the body curve dives into the rim section). It is hard to create a fine, clean meeting cut there. It is therefore a good idea to create a bead at this joining point, which provides a nice tactile element as well as a visual one. Once turned, refine and sand to the level required.
Once sanded, mount the bowl in a chuck and turn the inside. The rim can be as wide as you like, but if it is to be utilitarian in function then the opening needs to be fairly large to allow you to store and place things in the bowl. The wall thickness is about 6 -8mm (1/4-5/16in) thick. The curved inner face may need a bit of attention as you cannot easily cut with the grain near the underneath of the rim, so gentle cuts with a freshly sharpened scraper are handy here prior to sanding. Soften the rim edge if you choose.
Use the between centre reverse-chucking method to remove the spigot and create a gentle hollow into the base section of the foot area. Once complete, remove the nub left from the reverse-chucking and sand to a fine finish. Apply a finish of your choice, oil in this case.
Rolled-edge Salad BowlThis bowl is made from olive ash, Fraxinus excelsior and is a utilitarian form for everyday use.
To make this bowl, mount the piece of wood on a screw chuck and turn the back of the bowl. Create a spigot about 75mm (3in), and as before, mark the centre of the spigot now so you can centralise it and reverse-chuck the bowl later to remove the spigot.
Turn the outside of the bowl (note: the body curvature is a gentle upward curving sweep), it is very tactile and easy on the eye. Once the shape is refined and sanded, mount the bowl in a chuck and turn the inside - the wall thickness is about 6mm (1⁄4in) at its narrowest point. The main aspect of this bowl is the rolled-edge and the inner re-curved face. The rolled-edge leads the eye into the opening and the curved inner face causes any loose salad when it is scooped out to fall back into the bowl rather than out of the bowl. The tight radius inner curve is best cleaned up using a very light cut with a gouge or scraper.
As with the previous bowl, use the between centre reverse-chucking method to remove the spigot or blend it into the base section and slightly undercut the foot.
Since it is a functional bowl the base should be of a size that makes the piece stable in use. The base is slightly bigger than a third of the overall diameter. If you make it nearer one half of the overall diameter it will look clunky, so a compromise is necessary between functionality and stability. The shallower the form, the wider the base can be as you cannot see underneath it. Apply a finish of your choice - again, I have used oil.
Pedestal BowlThis bowl is made from ash, Fraxinus excelsior and is based upon piece of glassware I once saw in a shopping centre.
There is a similarity in appearance and turning process between this bowl and the first bowl, the main differences being that there is no undercut in the base, only a gentle concave and the pedestal is taller. The bowl is therefore shallower; much like a tazza, and the pedestal itself has beads.
Use the same turning and cutting procedure as described for the first bowl, but when you reverse-chuck the bowl and clean the spigot section, the pedestal has no curvature, just a tapered face onto which are cut beads with the bead-forming tool. Once complete, sand them to a fine finish. Next, create the concave face on the bottom, then remove the bowl and carve off the remaining nub. Lastly, sand and apply a finish of your choice.
Round-bottomed BowlThis bowl is made from figured padauk, Pterocarpus soyauxii and is a variation of the round-bottomed bowls I love to turn.
You will have noticed by now the similarity in cutting procedures and development of shape and form from the first bowl. You can use the first bowl cutting sequence as a model for this one. However, the top of the bowl only has a small opening and it has an elevated rim, which acts as a frame. The opening of this is also the same size as the spigot initially turned when creating the underneath. The top has a series of beads on it to provide some visual and tactile contrast to the piece, and the beads are proud of the surrounding surface - again, more contrast.
When it comes to reversing the bowl, instead of using the between centre method you can place some tissue paper over the chuck jaws and place the top opening hole over the jaws and grip it this way. Don't over-tighten and this will then give you unrestricted access to the bottom to ensure you get the right curvature. I then sanded the bowl to the level required and then melamine was used as the final finish.
The bowl is designed to move when it is touched. If the timber is of uneven density, which is likely to happen if the wood is figured, then it will tilt onto the heaviest side. However, I find it more interesting than when it sits perfectly level.
If this randomness of position or movement worries you, consider making a loose ring so that the bowl can then sit on something. This ring will also allow you to alter the seating position to one you desire and can control.
Stone-shaped Hollow FormThis hollow form is made from sweet chestnut, Castanea sativa and is based on a flint pebble I saw on a beach.
I may have thrown you by introducing a hollow form, but just because it is a bowl blank originally doesn't mean that only bowls can be created from it; experimentation is the key to developing shape and form.
The cutting procedure and mounting method are similar to the round-bottomed bowl, but instead the top is domed. As before, the opening is also used to hold the bowl when reverse-chucked in order to turn the bottom. I have used one bead only this time to frame the opening and the resulting effect is tactile and inviting to touch, but the hollowed section is still quite secretive.
Follow the direction of cut sequence shown in the illustrations, either cut the central hole to the required depth with a drill bit held in a Jacobs chuck in the tailstock, or use a gouge and then move on to using the hollowing tool. I have deliberately only used a straight hollowing tool with swivelling bit to show how you don't need to spend a fortune on hollowing tools. If you experiment further with hollow forms you are likely to need some swan-necked shank tools in order to achieve the more difficult shapes that can be created.
Once the hollow is cut, it needs sanding. Abrasive wrapped around a dowel is an inexpensive way of doing this for the areas you cannot reach with your fingers.
The finish used is melamine lacquer. Using a gloss rather than a matt finish changes the appearance no end, as does using different coloured timber and of course, whether the piece is figured or not.
Pear-shaped Hollow FormThis hollow form is made from figured soft maple, Acer rubrum and is based on a flattened pear I saw hanging on a tree; I duly ate it but remembered the shape.
This form is a simple progression from the previous pebble design and has an upward sweeping opening.
Once again, the opening is also used to hold the bowl when reverse-chucked in order to turn the bottom.
The sides of the opening slant into the hollow form itself. I think the form is also a bit reminiscent of a volcano with a crater. It was still chucked on a single spigot of the same size. This shows how the shape affects the appearance. The rim form again is designed to lead the hole into the void. This form looks taller than the previous design, but it is an illusion.
Since this is just a simple extension of the previous project, the cutting techniques and processes are the same as before with a few direction of cut changes, as shown on the illustration. Instead of slavishly following what is shown here, have a look at other forms. Fruit and vegetables are great sources of inspiration: gourds, squashes, onions, radishes, carrots, apples, etc. all have shapes that can be modified slightly to create hollow forms, boxes, etc. Time experimenting and tinkering with shape will yield dividends.
BoxThis box is made from gonçalo alves, Astronium fraxinifolium and is a lidded version of the first hollow form shown.
Side-grained boxes are also viable projects but are not so commonly seen as end-grain versions. This is a shame as there are more size options for people if you experiment with side-grain more.
The form is flattened a bit because there are three spigots needed: one for the base, one for the lid and also a spigot in the centre so you can create a lid that fits into or onto the base. The two holding spigots are ultimately removed, so the form is shallower than the other projects tackled. The choice is ultimately yours, but the biggest difference is the initial mounting of the blank. It was fixed between centres so as not to have screw holes in either face. The wood was initially shaped and a base spigot was cut. Then, it was mounted in the chuck so that the lid could be created and the hollowing undertaken, etc. The between centre reverse-chucking method is used on both parts in order to remove the spigots.
This box is on a larger scale than many may have tackled before, but is in effect no different than tackling a smaller end-grain version. The only difference is the change in the direction of cuts because it is side-grain. I found that the gloss finish looked better than the matt ones I used earlier.