Home Articles Page David@DavidReedSmith.com
trip to the 2002 AAW Symposium in Providence didn't start out very well, mostly
because of poor planning on my part. I
took my new sharpening system to display at the instant gallery since I just
posted the free plans on my web site (www.DavidReedSmith.com) but neglected to
pack it up until Thursday. I had
also just gotten some brass business card cases from Metalliferous and wanted to
turn a decorative face. This I
started on Wednesday, the day before, but blew up the first one and decided to
turn another before I left. That,
coupled with underestimating the length of the drive, got me to Providence far
too late to drop off my Instant Gallery offering on Thursday evening.
I got my offering set up Friday morning without missing any of the first
rotation. After all that I would
like to tell you that my Sharpening System was the hit of the Instant Gallery.
Too bad that would be a lie. Didn't
have much call to whip out my business card case either.
The real hit of the Instant Gallery, at least as evidenced by the vote of
the members was The Cookie Tree, a collaborative effort by the Dallas Area
Woodturners. Figure 1 is a picture
of it. If you have Internet access,
you might want to have a look at my web site to see color pictures.
|Figure 1: The winner of the collaborative challenge: The Cookie Tree by the Dallas Area Woodturners.|
was as usual far too much good work on display in the Instant Gallery to take in
even after multiple viewings. Since
most of us have already seen the work of John Jordan, Frank Sudol, and the like,
and Fred can't publish my whole hard drive, I picked out a few works that
interested me by names I didn't recognize.
Figure 2 is Elliptori, a coffee table by Jon Siegel.
Michael Werner used multiple centers to turn all but the carved fingers
on the hands you see in Figure 3. Renaud
Brunu made Figure 4, Big Fish Eats the Little One.
And Frank White displayed the Woodland Turtle show in Figure 5.
2: Elliptori, a coffee
table by Jon Siegel. The
top is glass.
|Figure 3: Hands turned on multiple centers by Michael Werner.|
|Figure 4: Renaud Brunu made Big Fish Eats the Little One.|
5: Woodland Turtle by Frank
1000 turners attended this Symposium. On
Friday evening maybe 50 of us attended the Annual Meeting.
I started the open discussion by suggesting they bring reviews back into
The AAW Journal. This turned into a
lively 40-minute discussion. While
the Board defended the policy, most of the speakers in the audience were in
favor of returning reviews. A show
of hands indicated about one third were in favor.
This doesn't mean two-thirds were opposed; as they didn't poll for don't
care. The Board indicated they
would review the policy. While I
don't have great hopes of seeing reviews return to the Journal, it couldn't hurt
if lots of people send letters or emails to the board.
Banquet and Auction were Saturday evening.
And much better attended than the meeting. The food was good, and lots of money was raised for the
Education Fund. But not by me, as I
was saving my money for the Trade Show.
For first rotation I watched Masaaki Hirio turn the banjo playing Geisha Girl shown in Figure 6. When the top on top of the Geisha is spun her hand strums the banjo and her mouth (well actually the whole top half of her head) opens and shuts. Hirio makes his living turning tops, the fourth generation of his family to make a living turning. Although none of his sons will continue the business, he does have some apprentices. Watching him turn was quite an adjustment, as almost nothing is the same as the western tradition. His lathe is just a motor (with no starter capacitor, so he can make it run either way) with a sharp edged cup chuck. He controlled the speed by cycling a foot switch on and off. His tool rest, or "cow" is just a few pieces of wood, and he relies mostly on hook tools he forges himself.
|Figure 6: Masaaki Hirio's banjo playing Geisha Girl.|
does almost everything with the lathe, including some of the painting.
The height of seeming disconcertedness for this confessed tool junky came
when Hirio turned a jam chuck of wood to mount a Jacobs chuck to hold an instant
mount bit to drill some holes in the Geisha's body.
found the mechanism he used to animate the Geisha simple, ingenious, and
effective. I forgot to mention
adjustable. The top spins on a rod,
upon which are mounted two eccentrically drilled disks.
The wobbling disk rims move followers to move the hand and head up and
second rotation I watched a slide presentation by Hank Albro on making tools.
He showed how he makes a spear and a hook tool with a crow bar.
It would have been a lot easier to understand if he'd had the actual
the third rotation I saw Gary Sanders turn a suspended box.
He starts with a rectangular block of wood to turn a bridge, then adds a
contrasting wood for the box part.
the last rotation on Friday I attended Steve Worchester's demonstration of
Square Turning Fundamentals. Steve
was very entertaining and had terrific hand-outs as well. He started with a rectangular block and added waste blocks of
poplar to make a full circle. Once
the object is turned the waste wood is bandsawed off. Since he didn't have a band saw at the demo and wanted to
show how he sends the edges using sandpaper glued to a scrap board, Steve
snapped the waste off over his knee. He
said it hurt more than he expected.
morning first rotation was back to tops-this time Christoff Gutterman turning
his "drummer" top. The
top has separately turned parts of a spherical body, a point, and a handle.
Because the point is rounded and the body is turned of non-homogenous
burl, the top makes a drumming sound when it spins.
After roughing the sphere to round between centers Christoff used a jam
chuck with chalk to finish turn and sand the sphere.
My first thought was if I was going to do that would be to make some
wooden jaws for my Stronghold chuck, but I saw why he did it that way after
watching him pop the sphere out, re-orient it, and pop it back in the umpteenth
time. He was darned picky for a guy who has to produce enough tops
to make a living.
second show I watched on Saturday was Johannes Michelsen turning a Baseball Cap.
He gave out an amazing amount of information, starting with the necessary
orientation of the cap to the tree (the bill has to be bark edge), to how he
finish sands the hat (enough PSI in a blow gun to dry the wood to give an OSHA
starting the hollowing of the cap he uses a gouge with a special grind.
The bevel is convex to give it a short fulcrum when changing direction.
The sides of the gouge are also ground convex.
This limits the depth of cut when plunging to about 1/8" and
increases control. He passed the
gouge around, so I took a picture (Figure 7).
7: Johannes Michelsen's
gouge with convex bevel and rounded sides.
technique that would send the OSHA guys looking for their surely non-expired
nitroglycerin tablets was Johannes' light box for turning the top of the cap.
He uses light shining through the wood to gauge thickness.
He uses a hollow drum with a neoprene gasket as a jam chuck. To light the inside He uses a bulb fixture, a length of tube
mounted on a bearing, stabilized with a pair of vise-grips.
A standard plug won't fit through the headstock so he plugs it in with a
pair of pig tails. Figure 8 shows Johannes turning the cap top.
Hopefully even with newspaper reproduction you'll be able to see the
light area he's turned thin and the darker area in the center that still needs
|Figure 8: Johannes Michelsen turning the top of a ball cap using a light box to judge thickness.|
gingerly touring the Trade show at lunchtime I saw how Larry Hasiak makes
production Christmas Ornaments. His
rotation was titled "From Vessel to Ornament" because he developed the
hollowing technique turning vessels. Since
these are production items (and quite a contrast from Christoff Gutterman, but a
symposium is full of such contrasts) he cut the roughed out ornament in two and
hollowed both halves. To make it
easier to glue back together he first plunged in about 1/2" at a slight
angle with a standard parting tool. This
gives two parallel edges for gluing. Then
he used a thin parting tool to cut the rest of the way, carefully not disturbing
the first cut.
last rotation I watched on Saturday was Michael Hosaluk-Box Making with a Twist.
Michael started with a long square of wood between centers and turned a
tenon for his chuck at each end. He
had modified the corners of his P&N roughing gouge (although Michael didn't
mention it at the demo, he imports P&N tools.
I have some and they are excellent.
You wouldn't believe how solid the roughing gouge is) to let him turn
square shoulders for the tenons. Figure
9 shows the modification.
|Figure 9: A P&N Roughing Gouge modified to allow it to cut clean shouldered tenons.|
cutting in half, he mounted each end in the chuck for shaping and hollowing.
Then he sliced the halves up on an angle on the band saw and glued them
back together in a twisted fashion. Michael
advocates using wood glue rather than CA glue.
He used thinned glue for sizing, then full strength glue rubbed together
until it grabs. Michael ordinarily
textures the inside of the box after gluing each segment starting at the end.
He fairs the curves on the outside and textures after completing the glue
up. The end product is shown in
Figure 10. You really have to stare
to figure out it started as a turning.
|Figure 10: A twisted textured box by Michael Hosaluk.|
recently wrote a book on using wood as a platform for artistic
expression-Scratching the Surface. I
took advantage of the opportunity to buy a signed copy.
I've only browsed through it so far, but the cover alone is worth the
started out Sunday, the last day of the Symposium, watching Beth Ireland turn
unusual materials. She demonstrated
turning tagua nut, and talked about turning brass, aluminum, delrin, acetate,
Corian and more. She also showed
her technique for casting epoxy over wood containing various articles and then
seriously overheated my pencil trying to keep up with all the tips Bruce Hoover
presented at the second rotation on Sunday.
I wish I had space enough to list them all (also wish that I could read
all I wrote). Oh, but here are a
couple. When gluing a small crack
with Super Glue, if you apply mineral oil first it won't penetrate the crack,
but will protect the outer surface of the wood from the glue.
A turned knob mounted on a can of wax or finish means you don't have to
find a screwdriver to open it.
last demo I went to on Sunday was Christopher Weiland-Tops the Design Process.
He showed slides of both his furniture and tops.
Chris talked about the design process for top components.
Then he demonstrated how he cuts flutes on a rim for one part of the top.
it was time to collect my Instant Gallery item (somebody at least thought enough
of the Sharpening System to swipe the first two pages of the plans), load my
Trade Show trophies in the truck and start the long drive home.
The Symposium was great fun. Given
a couple of years to forget the hotel bill I'm sure I'll go again.
David Reed Smith. The author lives
in Maryland, where he is currently frantically trying to rearrange his schedule
to find blocks of time to try out his new Exocet hollowing tool.