Welcome to my blog. Let what you see stimulate your imagination and inspire your own creations.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Revised and expanded bowl book in the works

One of the reasons I've not been posting lately is that I've been busy working on a new, revised edition of the bowl book.  It's scheduled to come out this spring.

I've reworked the first chapter to incorporate updates on tools, blades and techniques, and there will be additional projects added.  Details are not set yet, but I'm quite excited about the opportunity to get my newer ideas together in one place.  You do learn a lot in ten years!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Using a drill press with a wire size drill bit

Not all drill presses can accommodate really tiny bits, like this wire size #62.  When I was looking for one several years ago, I was considering a relatively inexpensive Delta, and had to call the manufacturer to find out the size of the smallest bit the standard chuck could accommodate. I don't remember the specifics, but it was more than adequate for my needs.

I've been quite successful using these little bits, even though their short length doesn't leave much to insert into the chuck.  I start by closing the chuck completely, then opening it just until I can slide the bit in. That assures the bit will be centered.  Then I carefully tighten each hole of the chuck, working around the chuck until everything is tight. Once that's done, I adjust the throw so the bit will drill only as deep as needed.  I try to keep as little of the bit extending from the chuck as possible, to increase stability and accuracy and reduce the chance of breakage.

Next, I make an awl mark to guide the bit in, and position the bit carefully so it enters that opening without any deflection.  I also drill the hole in stages to reduce stress on the bit.

Although a hand-held drill like a Dremel might be easier to use, I prefer the precision of a drill press when the hole needs to be dead-on vertical.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

The versatile sanding mop

I've long used sanding mops to soften edges, as seen in the photo below, or smooth curved surfaces.  Recently, I've expanded their use to dramatically expedite the finishing process of bowls with curved sides.

I start with a sealer coat of thinned shellac, brushed carefully on all surfaces.  When dry, I sand the bowl with a foam-backed 320 grit pad, then buff vigorously with a well-worn, small 320 grit sanding mop.  I reapply the shellac, and buff again until the bowl feels silky and has a soft sheen.  For a more formal look, I spray on a coat of gloss lacquer.  Depending on the type of wood, that may be all that's needed, or a second coat of lacquer may be desired.

Quick, easy, and very effective!

Friday, March 2, 2018

A new blade clamp in town

Pegas has recently come out with set of blade clamps that fit the Excalibur (and clones), and also can be used with the Jet.

This means that Jet owners who are not happy with the all-in-one upper cam clamp can use a more conventional system.  It also means that you can now top-feed with the Jet.

Installation is fairly simple, provided your setscrews and bushings are not loaded with gunk, and the clamps appear to work as promised. Only time will tell how sturdy they are, and at about $90 they're not cheap, but they certainly open up possibilities for those attracted to this type of saw.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Checking for spaces

Anyone who makes scrolled bowls knows that rings that don't lie flat create unattractive lines when glued up.  I usually include a caution in any of my bowl projects to check for and correct any spaces, since omission of this step can lead to disappointing results.

There are two ways to check for spaces.  The one that's usually sufficient is to stack the rings, hold them up to eye level, and look for any light coming through.  Occasionally a bulb or flashlight is needed, but that's no big deal.

The second method, which is easier and may actually be more reliable, is to see if a sheet of paper can be pushed through the rings at any point.  The rings in the photo passed the light test, and it was only a matter of luck that I decided to use the paper, as well.  What a surprise!  It was actually a quick fix using the old reliable sanding tile, and will result in a much more uniform effect once the interior is sanded.

When you've already put a lot of effort into a bowl, don't cut corners just as the end is in sight!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Clamping at the drill press

I used to be haphazard about clamping material to be drilled, not realizing how much torque is generated, even by fairly small drill bits.

When using a large bit, like this 2" Forstner, clamping is absolutely essential.  A shop-made fence makes it easier to clamp at the rear, and small spring clamps are ideal for this purpose.  To clamp at the front, or for drilling small pieces, I use a Kreg clamp that attaches through one of the slots in the table.  For larger pieces, I use conventional clamps and supporting boards, if needed.  For the project shown, my clamps were just deep enough to reach the workpiece.

With secure clamping, plus a backer board, you'll minimize or eliminate tearout, providing that your bit is sharp, of course!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Great new drill bit

When I suspected that my 10 year old 2" Forstner bit needed replacement, I decided to go with a Freud bit that looked promising.

I've only drilled a few holes so far, but its performance is amazing.  It uses a higher rpm, and cuts cleaner and faster than anything I've ever used before.

Only time will tell how well it holds up, but for now it's looking good!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Magnolia box

I truly love this box!  It represents the use of three different techniques to create the magnolia--inlay for the leaves, raised inlay for the first tier of petals, and compound cutting for the second and third tiers. I created the patterns for the petals from photos of magnolias, and spent quite a bit of time sanding them until they "looked right".

The main difference between this project, and those that use compound cutting for all elements of the flower, was the need for careful positioning of the inlays.  The location of compound cut petals can be adjusted at the last moment, since they are attached with glue, but inlay locations need to be planned in advance and positioned precisely.  Once that's done, however, the project proceeds quite easily, and is, I think, worth the extra work.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

A different kind of rim

I'm always looking for ways to keep scrolled bowls fresh, and decided to play around with the top rim.  I've seem versions around that did this, but none that involved contouring by sanding.

The principle is pretty simple.  The ring is sized extra wide, and the outside cut is made vertically, rather than at an angle.  Some people leave the extra wood plain, others use fretwork.  I decided to round it to create a soft look, and found it quite attractive.  My own preference if for softened or rounded edges, which I think gives a more finished appearance than knife sharp ones.

This bowl had curved sides which made the designing a little tricky, and the sequence was different since you can't work as well once the top ring is attached, but everything else was standard, and I'm going to see how far I can take this before I run out of ideas.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

New use for old scraps

It's hard enough to throw away scraps without having your partner go through your trash bin and remove what you've put in.  Joe regularly eyes my scraps, particularly those from bowl blanks, and removed two sets not long ago.

He re-sawed each the pieces to create thinner pieces that were book-matched, glued up some veneer for the inside decoration, then created an outside frame to pull everything together.

Now I don't even both throwing larger pieces away.  I just set them aside and look forward to some creative recycling.