Sunday, February 15, 2009

Opuses 1 through 3

Every weekend, I've been going out to the shed to try out this lathe, and these tools, and see if I can make them work together. So far, it has served to illustrate why I don't need to invest in any amazing, exotic wood yet. I have much to learn.

Opus #1: Wooden Knife

I started here, because it's one of the few lathe pieces I've seen made in person. The fellow just down the block at Whetstone Woodenware was doing a demonstration, popping out these wooden butter spreaders at the rate of one every few minutes, making it look oh-so-easy. It's not.

The wood kept popping out of the lathe, and the offset weight of the blade made the piece vibrate so much that I couldn't really get a good cut, and at one point the friction from the dead-center actually caused the piece to catch fire. Once I oiled the dead-center and removed some wood from the blade, lightening it, things were easier, but by that time, things had gone so far away from what I intended, that I gave up. I blunted the edge, and gave it to the kids to play with.

Opus #2: Candleholder

I've been fascinated with "natural edge" turning, and tried to pull that off with this made-from-a-log candlestick. A lot of things went well... and a lot didn't. The green wood cut like butter, but dried like sandpaper. I got a curve perfect, and then I'd catch the edge of the chisel and create an ugly gouge. In the end, though, I ended up pleasing Deborah immensely when I came in to get some candles to measure the size of the hole, and all we had left were these smaller Christmas candles... which we've never burned because we've never had a holder for them. Now we do.

Opus #3: Magic Wand

Ah, success. This is the first piece I've done that actually looks like what I set out to make.

Fortunately, I had to take off so much wood that I could make a lot of mistakes and figure out a number of things by the time I got things down to their intended size. Somewhere near the end, I realized that the whole lathe was vibrating, throwing off the cut. I stopped the lathe and added three 10-pound weightlifting plates to the top. Much smoother. Hmmm. I'll have to figure out a way to add more. I ended up taking off the last ⅛" with sandpaper, but the results were worth the time it took.

* My apologies to James Spinti, former Latin teacher — I know the plural of opus is opera, but using that in the title would confuse people with a musical performance, or the browser software. I used the Anglicized version instead.


Mark said...

The knife looks really good, and I really dig the magic wand (also, I'm glad your candlestick holders turned out well, too!)

Linus said...

I want toys with limited usefulness...

jps said...

You're forgiven :)


Andy said...

Linus, are you saying you want a lathe, or that you'd like me to make you something? :-)