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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!