Turning My First Cup, Bowl, Thingamajig

I’ve wanted to turn a bowl for quite some time and I had a log (from when we took down a couple trees in our yard) that was small enough to fit through my bandsaw, so I decided to cut a chunk off and turn something. What I found inside the log was pretty awesome! There was spalting and it give the piece some pretty cool character.

I started by cutting a chunk of the wood at the bandsaw. I drilled a hole into the middle so I could thread the wormwood screw into the blank. I used my Nova G3 chuck to start truing up the blank. This took a little while because I didn’t really know what I was doing and because it was out of round, I had to go slow and take light cuts. This is definitely different from pen turning where you crank up the speed right away. If I were to crank up the speed right away, I would have had a bad time.

I shaped the outside of the bowl or cup, then turned a tenon into the bottom of the bowl so the chuck could grab the wood. It was at this point where I realize that the blank I cut was longer (and smaller in diameter) than I wanted, so it started looking more like a cup than a bowl, but that’s okay. After getting the outside turned to a shape that I was pleased with, I sanded the outside (mostly off camera, going through the grits), then flipped the blank over in the chuck so I could start the hollowing process.

I had a tough first go at this process, so what you don’t see in the video is me taking the cup over to my drill press and hogging out some material that way, as well as the cup even flying off the lathe once. That was more excitement that I was ready for. I didn’t get hit, and I was wearing my safety glasses and face shield the entire time.

When I finished hollowing out the inside of the cup, I realized that my chuck left dents in the wood. Thus was due to the fact that I didn’t have a piece big enough to turn a large enough tenon, so I essentially clamped the cup in the chuck and that caused the dents. – It’s all a learning experience. After learning that I dinged up the wood, I went ahead and filled the cracks and dents with some colored epoxy, then sanded down the excess. This seemed to work pretty well for most places, but again, this was far from perfect or ideal. To finish the piece, I used some Howard’s Butcher Block Conditioner which has food safe mineral oil and other waxes in it, even though I don’t think I’ll be using this cup for anything, especially eating or drinking.

Thanks for checking out this article. I can’t wait to turn more cups and hopefully bowls. (Now I just need a chainsaw so I can cut bigger blanks!) This was a great learning experience. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to email me or leave it in a comment on the YouTube video and I’ll be sure to respond.

-Robert

Resin Comparison Video | Turning Four Different Materials

In today’s video, I turn four Wall Street II pens. I show the preparation, turning and assembly of each of the four pens. While it is important to show these steps in creating the pens, I wanted to focus on comparing different materials today. I compared three resins and a bonus material. In this video I turn one of the resins and the bonus material for the very first time! I compared the materials on a completely subjective scale and used qualitative data instead of quantitative data, so while there is no hard data, I do tell you about my experience with each blank in the video.

The first material I want to talk about is acrylic acetate. These blanks are available at a number of woodworking stores and are easily accessible.

The second material I mention is Alumilite. I cast the blank for the pen and this turned more easily than the acrylic acetate. This is the resin that I cast in a pressure pot. This affords me the ability to make my pens and creations even more of my own.

The third material I talk about in the video is polyester resin. The blank was cast and sent to me by John Pierce. This blank finished the best, but in my opinion, it smelled the worst. I have talked to people who say that casting polyester resin smells awful, so while I noticed the smell while cutting and turning, I can only imagine what it smells like when casting the blanks.

The fourth material I used (bonus material!) was corian. The corian is just like the counter tops you see in homes! This was an interesting turn because for the majority of the time I worked with it, it was a treat to work with. It polished nicely and I can’t wait to work with corian again!

In general, I highly recommend wearing a respirator for working with any of these materials. When it comes to general turning practices with these blanks, use the standard turning rules for pens and you’ll have a greater chance of having a successful turn. Use fast speeds, sharp tools, and light cuts.  If you follow these three practices, you reduce the chance of blowing apart a blank. if you use slow speeds, dull tools, and heavy cuts, a lot could go wrong real fast.

Thanks for reading this article. There is more detail in the video under the “YouTube Videos” tab. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me and I will respond.

-Robert