Weekend Projects - Natural edge vase and bowl archive

Friday 6 May 2016

Nick Arnull uses wet, green timber to create two natural edge projects: an end grain vase and a side grain bowl

Gallery

This month I am going to show you how I go about turning end and side grain natural edge items with green timber. For me one of the most enjoyable experiences is to turn green timber; it is ideal for creating natural edge bowls and vases; the wet timber adds to the enjoyment and allows the light to transmit through the wet timber, allowing you to see how thin the walls are. Depending on the colour shown through the timber, this determines how thin the wall is getting. The paler the colour, the thinner the wall. The colour will vary depending upon the timber used and its moisture content at the time of turning. You may get a little wet during the process and you will have to clean up considerable amounts of shavings, but it is always worth the effort and is much fun. Holding of the wood for both projects is carried out using the same chucking method; however, both projects start mounted between centres.

Tools used:

End grain hollowing tool

3mm parting tool

6mm parting tool

10mm spindle gouge

12mm spindle gouge

French-curved bowl finishing scraper

6mm square-grind bowl gouge

10mm long-grind bowl gouge

32mm spindle roughing gouge

Health and safety

1. Protect your eyes and lungs at all times, and work at a speed that allows you to feel both comfortable and safe

2. When turning natural edges always wear a safety visor to protect yourself from flying debris

3. Always rotate the lathe/work before switching on the machine; this will ensure that the timber has a clear, unobstructed path

4. Keep the toolrest between you and the work – NEVER let your fingers cross over to the other side

5. Use an open hand when sanding natural edges

CHUCKING METHOD

My preferred jaws for turning small, wet wood blanks are 75mm bowl jaws. When mounting green/wet timber into a chuck it is essential to have a good hold onto the blank; this I do by creating a spigot. Usually this is around 20mm long and matches the diameter of the jaws. I used my 75mm bowl jaws as they have a wide jaw area and are serrated on the inside. They are often referred to as gripper jaws as the serrations add extra grip to the wet timber, allowing for a much stronger and stable chucking method

End grain vice

STEP 1

Centre and mount a small log between centres using a four-prong drive centre mounted in the headstock and a live ring centre in the tailstock for stability. Make the log round using a 32mm spindle roughing gouge, leaving the natural edge at one end

STEP 2

Accurately create your chucking method to match the jaws being used. When turning wet timber, make the spigot longer to add strength to the chucking method

STEP 3

Mount it into the chuck using the tailstock for added stability. True the face using a long-grind 10mm bowl gouge then, using a 12mm spindle gouge, determine the position of the top natural edge leaving around 12mm of bark, then remove some of the waste timber on the outside to reduce the mass of the log. Remember to leave timber to create a foot for the vase

STEP 4

From time to time, as the project proceeds, check the chuck is holding the blank securely as wet timber has a habit of shrinking, and as a result, the jaws may need tightening

STEP 5

With the outside roughly shaped mount a Jacobs chuck in the tailstock and using a brad point bit, drill the centre of the vase to depth. Now begin to remove some of the waste timber from the centre of the vase; this is done using a 10mm long-grind bowl gouge making a pull cut from the centre towards the outside stopping just short of the natural edge

STEP 6

Alternatively, you can use an end grain hollowing tool to remove the waste timber

STEP 7

When refining the natural edge the cut needs to be taken from the top edge into the form; this will avoid the bark being pulled away from the edge of the vase

STEP 8

With the inside complete gently refine the surface with a large French-curved scraper held in a shearing position. Avoid contact with the natural edge, if possible

STEP 9

Set your lathe at a slow speed and cover the bed with a small piece of board. Sand the inside using water and wet and dry abrasive working through the various grades; this will create a slurry. Only small amounts of water are necessary; this will create a very fine surface indeed

STEP 10

With the sanding complete measure the inside depth, transfer this to the outside and remember to add around 12mm for the bottom

STEP 11

With a light set at the end of the lathe you can begin to use the light transmission; this will show you how thick/thin the wall is being turned. WARNING: If water generated from wet turning contacts a conventional hot bulb then you may risk it breaking. Also, this and a live electrical supply is a potentially dangerous mix. If using a mains-powered light source then plug it into an RCD so if anything untowards happens, it will trip the RCD and prevent things being live. Alternatively, explore the use of LCD lighting units which do not generate heat and do not necessarily run off mains power – some are battery run. Safer, brighter lighting options are now available and do not cost the earth. Start at the top edge using a 12mm spindle gouge to refine the natural edge. If the tool is not producing a clean cut at the edge, either sharpen the tool or use a smaller section tool, i.e. a 10mm spindle gouge. Refine the top edge before starting to reduce the wall thickness as it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to apply a tool at the top, once the vase has been shaped

STEP 12

Continue to refine the shape of the vase using a 12mm spindle gouge using the light to gauge the wall thickness

STEP 13

Refine the outside of the vase and create a foot – this should be completed with a 12mm spindle gouge. Define the length of the foot using a 3mm parting tool

STEP 14

With the outside complete the vase may well be dry enough to sand using dry abrasive. Hold the abrasive by hand, but be careful as it is easy for the abrasive to be pulled from your hand if it is caught by the natural edge. Work through all the grades until a fine surface is achieved

STEP 15

Remove the waste timber towards the chuck; this will provide access to plunge the parting tool into the base and create a cone shape. Leave around 10mm at the centre, stop the lathe and cut from the waste timber

STEP 16

Next, you need to carve away the nub at the centre of the foot then sand the base to a finish using a sanding arbor mounted in a Jacobs chuck

STEP 17

Apply a coat of Lemon oil to the surface and allow to dry, then if needed, repeat the application and wipe dry

STEP 18

The finished end grain vase should look something like this

Cross/side grain bowl

STEP 1

Begin by selecting and cutting a small to medium sized log in half along the grain; this can either be done using a chainsaw or a bandsaw. Once the log is in two, mark your circle on the top using a disc and some chalk, then placing the flat face on the bandsaw table, cut off the corners

STEP 2

At the centre of the barked face, use a drill press and a sawtooth bit to drill through the bark; the hole needs to be slightly larger than your drive centre

STEP 3

Mount the blank on the lathe using a two-prong drive centre and a live ring centre. Use the toolrest to check that the position of the high points are equal as the lathe is rotated by hand, repeat for the low points then re-check the high points. This will ensure the wings of the bowl are balanced when finished

STEP 4

Next, you need to roughly shape the outside of the bowl using a long-grind bowl gouge making pull cuts from the tailstock towards the natural edge

STEP 5

To turn the natural edge line up the bevel in the direction of the cut and make a push cut working from the top of the bowl towards the tailstock. Cutting through the bark like this will ensure it stays in place. Always use a freshly sharpened tool for these cuts

STEP 6

With the outside roughed out you need to create a chucking method to fit into your chuck jaws

STEP 7

Next, using a 10mm long-grind bowl gouge, starting at the centre of the bowl work progressively outwards towards the rim, turn only deep enough to cut the inside natural edge. You can leave the centre solid at this stage if you choose

STEP 8

As you approach the final wall thickness, try to get the rim as even as possible stopping regularly to check progress. Here you can clearly see the centre of the bowl has been left solid; the ridge is the transition into the solid timber after passing the natural edge

STEP 9

Once happy with the natural edge wall thickness, you can remove the centre of the bowl

STEP 10

Next, using a 12mm spindle gouge, you need to refine the outside shape and foot detail

STEP 11

When the turning is complete, the bowl can be sanded. If the surface is too wet, it can be dried carefully with a hair drier, or alternatively, you could use a microwave to dry the surface. Once the surface is dry, use a sanding arbor mounted in a drill to carefully sand the surface; this is done with the lathe stationary as the bowl will almost certainly have become oval as the centre is removed. Repeat the sanding process for the outside. Take great care when sanding the natural edge of the bowl

STEP 12

The next step, using a parting tool, is to plunge into the timber at the bottom leaving about 12mm of timber. Turn off the lathe and cut free with a small saw. You can then finish the bottom using a sanding arbor mounted in a Jacobs chuck held in the headstock of the lathe

STEP 13

Next, you need to apply a coat of lemon oil to the surface of the bowl and allow to dry. Then if needed, repeat the application and wipe dry

STEP 14

The finished side grain bowl should look something like this


Briony Darnley

Tagged In:

Nick Arnull , Weekend Projects