Sylva Spoon

Fine Tuning

Thomas BartlettComment

Apprenticeship Day 17

The whole morning was spent collecting more wood. We were down to just two bowl blanks! We headed off to a property where Jarrod is able to cut wood. On a whim we stopped in at the local Ranger station and Jarrod picked up a permit for a Christmas tree. So we spent some time cruising through the National Forest, looking for the perfect tree. Alas, we didn't stumble across it. Good job too, as Jarrod kept muttering to himself about not bringing an axe, and that lugging about a chainsaw is no way to harvest a Christmas tree. So I think he's going to go all Paul Bunyan this weekend.

No Christmas trees here...

No Christmas trees here...

We moved on from the Christmas tree search and drove away to collect a birch. Jarrod processed the tree into three foot sections. We loaded four logs of it into the car. Each log probably has 8-10 bowls hiding in it. Enough to keep us busy for a couple of weeks. 

Back in the workshop I got to turning a cup. Last night I spent some time watching Jarrod hollow a cup, so I've at least got an idea of hows it's done. Jarrod explained that trying to hollow end grain cups before you're ready can be a recipe for disaster. The core is extremely long, so if you dig in, you can kink the connection between the cup and mandrel. Once that happens, the bowl is no longer spinning around the same axis and you have a wobbly inside to your cup. 

Hollowing a wooden cup on a lathe

After the cup I roughed out a handled mug. This time, instead of axing out the material around the handle, I had a go at turning it. Having the handle slap the tool all the time was slightly distracting, but I eventually found a rhythm. It definitely wasn't as neat the rest of the cup, but it's a start.  From the last of the previous birch I split two rounds into eight blanks for little end grain cups. Yesterday Jarrod turned a little goblet and he might use these for something like that. They got split out and the corners knocked off with the axe. Right then all the thinner mandrels for cups were stuck in cups in the woodpile. So I stuck the cup blanks in the freezer and turned another mandrel. I'm getting quite good at turning mandrels with bowl hooks. 

wooden mug in process

Yesterday Jarrod commented that there was a 'wobble' in the bowls I was handing him. The surface was ever-so-slightly undulating. He wasn't sure what was causing it, but was sure the blame rested with something I was doing. Today however he thought of a reason for the wobble that wasn't connected to my ineptitude. When we first started me turning here Jarrod reground on of the metal centres on my lathe. He realised that if that centre isn't round then that could be what's causing the wobble in the surface. So he pointed out the possible problem areas, handed me a file and some sandpaper and had me try to true it up. So I scraped away at it for about an hour. Hopefully it's a bit better now. 

With that done I roughed out the penultimate bowl blank. I wasn't super happy with the outside form, but I was pleased with the tidy little slot I managed to hollow out. Progress. 

Wooden bowl on pole lathe