Weekend Projects - Emerald sunrise archive

Friday 19 February 2016

Neil Scobie shows us how to make this sculptural piece, which is influenced by a sunrise viewed from a beach


Walking on the beach most mornings I see many different inspirations; one is the sun coming up over the horizon above the waves. While walking I have plenty of time to transform these inspirations into designs that I can use with my woodwork. This is a simple project to make; while the turning process is easy enough, you need to remember that you have a rectangle spinning, rather than a round disc. I have chosen to use white beech (Fagus sylvatica) timber as it is a very easy wood to turn and carve, and is also the right colour for this design. The grain in white beech is usually plain, so it needs some sort of decoration; in this case, sandblasting and finishing with white oil.

Tools used:

6mm or 10mm spindle gouge

12mm bowl gouge

Round skew chisel

‘V’ Tool

Fishtail gouge

No.1 knife

Flexible shaft rotary tool

Proxxon long-neck angle grinder

Angle drill

A note about design

You don’t have to make a beach scene, as your environment may be better suited to a landscape of rolling hills; it is good if you can use some creative flare to adapt this process for your own design.


Use a sawtooth bit to drill a 50mm diameter hole 10mm deep in the back of the blank, so you will be able to spread the chuck jaws in expansion mode. You could swing the blank between centres, but white beech is quite soft and can easily strip out on the spur drive end. Draw a profile on the edge so you have a guide for where to stop removing waste


Next, you need to turn the front of the piece leaving a temporary spigot for the chuck jaws in the centre. Using a deep fluted gouge, turn from the centre downhill using the bottom half of the gouge, with the flute pointing away from the centre


Now roll the gouge over so the flute is pointing towards the centre, and cut the outside section downhill to meet with the part you have turned. You will be cutting air during this part, so keep a firm grip on the tool and don’t have the lathe running too slowly or you will get bouncing of the tool. Marry up the two curves so that you have a smooth transition


Use a skew chisel or point tool to square up the temporary chuck spigot. There is no need to sand the surface at this point as most of it will be carved or sandblasted


Using a finger gauge and pencil, draw a line parallel to the front edge about 10mm back. This will be your profile to turn the waste off the back. You should all have a finger gauge you can use here


Hold the front temporary spigot in the chuck and start removing the waste at the back. Cut downhill towards the centre, turning off the drilled hole that you started with, and then turn another temporary spigot. This spigot will be used to hold the piece while turning off the front spigot and also for holding during the carving process


Next, using the gouge, turn the outer section of the back, keeping an eye on the finger gauged line. Marry the two curves to a smooth transition


Here you can see the profile you should be looking for


Use a power sander with a large diameter pad to sand the back to about 180 grit. The larger pad will prevent rounding over the edges


Hold the back temporary spigot in the chuck, and turn off the front spigot with the bowl gouge. Give the front a quick sand with the power sander, being careful not to round the edges


Draw the design full-size on a piece of paper so that you can step back and look at it until you are happy with it. You can follow the given drawing or design your own; in either case you will need to copy the design onto your turned piece. Just sketching with a 4B pencil does the job. If it does not look right, rub it out and redraw the design


Drill small holes about 2.5mm through all the waste parts so that the piercing process will be easier. Keep a bit away from your lines as they can be trimmed back later in the process


Use a small rotary burr in a rotary tool to piece the waste parts. I find that a flex-shaft makes this job much easier. Again, don’t get too close to the lines, to avoid cutting inside the sun rays. Supporting your hand on the piece helps to achieve a neater line


Using a larger diameter burr, about 3mm, clean up the cutouts and sun rays closer to the lines. These can be sanded later


This process is to reduce the height of the wood above the horizon line. There are any number of tools that you could achieve this with. My preference is to use a small sanding disc in an angle grinder. You are only removing about 2mm in height so a sander will do this easily in softer woods like white beech. Remove the waste close to the horizon line, being careful not to cut below it


With the same tool and a soft sanding pad, smooth the surface to 320 grit. The soft sanding disc shown is homemade with neoprene rubber attached to a worn Arbortec Mini Carver sanding disc. It has hook-and-loop abrasive attached to it


To sharpen up the horizon line, use a ‘V’ gouge so there is a clear and square step. Make sure you are cutting with the grain to avoid chip out


To even up the surface next to the step, use a shallow carving gouge like a 15mm fishtail gouge, again cutting with the grain


Using the same fishtail gouge, trim back the sun rays, so they are lower than the background


A No.1 knife is also good for trimming the rays and outer edges of the cut outs you have created


Sanding in the cutout area is best done by tearing strips of cloth-backed abrasive, sanding like a bow in each of the windows. If you are texturing this area then you will only need to sand to about 120 grit


To get rid of the temporary spigot at the back, you can either just carve it off or turn it off. The tailstock centre supports the middle of the spigot. Turn away all but about 12mm in the middle, which can be carved and sanded off


Use a ‘V’ tool to carve a ‘V’ on the back equal to the horizon line on the front. This is so that you will have a line to mask up to for sandblasting. Mask the top area with masking tape on the front and back so this area will be protected while sandblasting, including the top and ends. Press the tape in against the horizon step so that you will get a neat transition between the sandblasted area and the smooth area above


You can easily make a sandblasting unit out of a cardboard box so that you can catch the abrasive material. You will need a glass window and gloves with long arms. The abrasive material I use is ground up glass, purchased as sandblasting abrasive in about 60 grit. You also need a reasonable output compressor as sandblasting uses a lot of air. I use an 18cfm compressor which only just keeps up with the air used. The sandblasting will only take about 5 or 10 minutes to complete, so if you have to wait for your compressor to catch up, it is not a big problem


To get a different texture on the cut out section, use a diamond burr held in a rotary tool for this process. A ball shape is the best. Stipple all the inside of the windows so that it has a different texture to the smooth section above the horizon line


Use an oil finish with a tint of white in it. When the white gets in the sandblasted area, the surface will remain whiter to depict the sand. You can tint your own oil by mixing in a reasonable amount of white oil-based artist paint. After four coats with a rub back with ‘0000’ steel wool between coats, the piece is finished and now you can make a stand

A stand for your turning


After you have pre-cut the timber, set up the uprights between centres and and turn a tenon 6mm long by 10mm long on the tailstock end. With a straight edge check that the shoulder is square to the spindle


The bottom arm should have a 6mm diameter hole drilled in it about 10mm deep in the centre


Use a good quality PVA glue to glue the upright tenon in the drilled holes and clamp the joint tight. Wipe off excess glue and leave them to dry


While the glue is drying, set up the brace between centres and turn it to a cylinder. Mark the mid-point and start to shape the sloping ends. After turning the taper, turn a small bead on each end, followed by the tenon to fit in the 6mm holes in the uprights


Here is the finished brace. Cut off the small waste parts on each end with a small hand saw and hand sand the rounded ends


Next, you need to draw the shape of the end on the glued piece and cut out the ‘T’ shape with a bandsaw. Drill the 6mm diameter holes to take the brace on a drill press. You can either photocopy the given drawing and cut it out to make a template, or just sketch your own shape onto cardboard and make your own template


You can use any sort of sander that you have to shape the ends; my choice is a homemade disc sander that is held in the chuck. It takes 150mm diameter hook-and-loop discs so you can rough shape with 120 grit and fine sand up to 400 grit


Use a parallel shaped burr in a rotary tool to shape the cut out section at the bottom. Fine sand by hand after shaping


Now you can push the brace into place and drill holes through the bottom of the upright and brace tenon to take a small brass escutcheon pin. This is so that you can knock it down for travel


Wipe on about four coats of your favourite oil, or whatever you like to use, and the piece is ready to take the carved piece it was made for


1. Choose timber that will complement your design, i.e. easy to work and the colour to represent the situation. White for the beach, darker for the countryside

2. When sketching your design use a soft pencil - like a 4 or 6B - to prevent denting the wood

3. Tell yourself that you are turning a round platter, that way, you will not be intimidated by the corners on the rectangle. It is the same turning process for both round and rectangular

4. While turning, rub the bevel as this will help you keep the gouge on the surface of the wood and create a much smoother cut

5. When using hand carving tools always use two hands – the front hand to support the blade and the other to prevent slipping

6. With a carving knife, use your thumb or finger on the back of the blade to help push the cut

7. Protect yourself when sandblasting using a dust mask, face shield and long gloves

Woodworkers Institute

Tagged In:

Neil Scobie , Weekend Projects

"Error reading XSLT file: cwsTerminology.xsltcwsTerminology.xslt