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New to bowls from logs

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by Roger Petrella, Jan 5, 2020.

  1. Roger Petrella

    Roger Petrella

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    Location (City & State):
    Colorado Springs, Colorado
    I've got a question that I could use some help on. And sorry in advance if this may be a little long. I have turned lots of pens, peppermills, ornaments and a few other things over the years. I thought I'd like to try turning some bowls or something from some logs. There are about a dozen logs that are about 6-10 inches in diameter and two feet or so long from a Siberian Elm tree that was cut down a couple years ago. They have been laying on a crushed rock (1-2" pieces) surface with some on top of each other. Most of the rest of the tree went into firewood. The logs do have large cracks in the ends and most of the bark has either fallen off or is loose on the log. The tree had been standing dead for a couple years before it was cut down so I'm guessing the logs may be fairly dry since the humidity here in Colorado Springs stays pretty low.

    I have a Delta midi lathe and several Nova chucks including a midi, G3, and Supernova 2 with assorted jaws. The Supernova can also be used on my Shopsmith as I have both sizes of inserts. I do have a good assortment of spindle and bowl gouges and carbide tools as well. I only have a couple 12" electric chain saws, a sawsall, and a 14" bandsaw to prep the wood. And who knows, what I turn may turn out to be nice pieces. What I would like to know is what size and shape pieces should I cut that would be most beneficial to me?

    Roger Petrella
    Colorado Springs, CO
     
  2. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    Welcome and you came to the right place. Many will tell you to turn off everything that doesn't look like a bowl. Good thread as I'm working up to bowls myself.
     
  3. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    Best thing is to get some hands on experience with a class or a mentor

    First look for a log 8-10” diameter that has only cracks on the end and no cracks running the length of the log.
    These will have usable blanks in them.

    Cut 4” off one end with a chainsaw. This will likely get you past the end checking. If it doesn’t cut off another inch.
    Now look at the end of the log cut and draw a line through the center growth ring (pith) that gives you one side of the log that is closest to round (few trees are round). Ideally the pith will be in the center of the line.
    rip the log into two half logs along this line.

    Take the round side ( the other may be near round and usable too) to the band saw and cut circles with flat side down. Should get 2 from a 24” log before you get to the end checks on the other side.
    Use a chisel, chainsaw or saws all to make a bark feel flat in the center of the bark for the tail center.

    then follow what I do in the video - roughing a green bowl.
    there is a link to two videos in the thread referenced below thread.
    Both are clips from a demo I do on working with green wood.
    First part of the demo is roughing the green bowl.
    This shows how to turn the half log into a bowl for drying.
    The second part of the demo is remounting the dried bowl and finish turning it.

    If your wood is really dry below 10%mc you can finish turn it like I show in the second demo in one session.

    http://www.aawforum.org/community/index.php?threads/working-with-green-wood.11626/


    If the logs have one crack running the length you may be able to rip the logs along this crack to get a usable blanks. There is always the risk of unseen cracks that make the blank dangerous. So I would recommend you not turning any cracked log until you get more experience.

    also please ask any questions you have.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2020
    Emiliano Achaval and Bill Boehme like this.
  4. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    An easy way to cut circular blanks is to pin a Masonite circle to the top to use as a guide.

    i have circles in 1 inch increments from 6 to 18.

    i try to stay a 1/4” off the Masonite... best intentions over many years the Masonite will get nicked and sliced. So make a replacement and trim the nicked up one to a smaller size.

    I use a scratch awl to hold it in place. Some people use. A screw but the screw are harder to use than a scratch awl.

    72A64A3B-F23C-4638-93B2-1028CD14E9F0.jpeg
     
  5. Tim Connell

    Tim Connell

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    Al's videos are fantastic and will give you a good start. I'd recommend you pick up "The Art of Turned Bowls" by Richard Raffan.

    In addition to being great tutorial on designing bowls, it has a chapter on what to look for in choosing wood, and a chapter on preparing blanks from logs. An excellent reference/resource.
     
  6. Dean Center

    Dean Center

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    Having helped a fair number of novice turners in our high school wood club go from spindle work to bowls, I have an additional comment.

    IMO, the two most useful but often overlooked things to learn as a woodturner are 1) "A-B-then C" and 2) grain orientation. From spindle turning, you hopefully have a good command of the ABC part.

    In North America, when we turn bowls, we turn them in face/flat/side grain orientation. This NOT the same as spindle orientation and so the way we apply the tools is also different. "Downhill" is 90 degrees different. The easiest way to think of the grain orientation with face/flat/side grain wood is that the end grain is pointing towards you. (This is not actually correct--the end grain is rotating around the lathe axis and so is only pointing at you half of every rotation, but thinking this way will make it easier to understand the direction to cut the wood)

    While the tools typically used in bowl turning are a little different than those used in spindle turning, the only spindle tool that you ABSOLUTEY should not use on a bowl is the Spindle Roughing Gouge. That's a dangerous thing to do.

    I support working with a coach--you will safely learn more in an hour than in 3 months of figuring it out yourself. Have fun and BE SAFE.
     
  7. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    Probably the best way to get started on bowl turning is to join the local chapter of the AAW, the Pikes Peak Woodturners, and get connected with a mentor. Here is a recent newsletter.
     
    hockenbery likes this.
  8. robo hippy

    robo hippy

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    This is an older clip, but still worthwhile, I think. I do not wear all 'proper' safety gear when using the saw, which some don't like...


    View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3s6aN9REIY


    I have a bunch of other clips up, mostly about bowl turning.

    robo hippy
     
  9. Dean Center

    Dean Center

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    May be, Reed, but those other guys forgot their support hose and cool hat.

    Seriously, a full set of safety gear when using a chain saw is extremely valuable. Fixing deep, ragged 6" thigh lacerations with pieces of flesh missing put one of my kids through college--out of state college. Thank God no one got a kick back and had the running chain hit them in the face.
     
  10. Roger Petrella

    Roger Petrella

    Joined:
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    Location (City & State):
    Colorado Springs, Colorado
    Thanks for the info. Been watching lots of videos while I wait for it to warm up a bit and melt some snow off the logs. It looks like I just missed the meeting night of the local AAW group so I will have to wait until next month.

    Another question I have concerns bowl gouges. I have a 1/2" (5/8" bar) Ellsworth signature, Crown tools pro pm bowl gouge I bought years ago and never used, but I was just given a set of three PSI Benjamin's Best bowl gouges for Christmas. These are ground with what I guess is called a standard grind that measures at 50 degrees. Should I leave them as is or regrind them to an Ellsworth shape? I do have a Delta variable speed grinder with 60 and 120 grit aluminum oxide wheels and a Wolverine setup with the Varigrind jig.
     
  11. Gary Beasley

    Gary Beasley

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    If that new batch has a bowl gouge in it you might consider regrinding it steeper for a bottom cutting tool.
     
    Tim Connell likes this.
  12. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    If you really like the Ellsworth grind and don't like the grind on the Benjamin's Best gouges then that's good enough reason to change the grind. Otherwise, you might consider letting the profile on the BB gouges evolve over time to whatever best fits your needs.
     
    Emiliano Achaval likes this.
  13. Robert D Evans

    Robert D Evans

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    Jan 31, 2020
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    Location (City & State):
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    Try the different bowl gouges and see what works for you. There are lots of different grinds and sizes and you just have to experiment and see what you like. Do be careful cutting up bowl blanks with the chainsaw. The round chunks of wood tend to want to move around if your not careful.
     
  14. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    Hmm. Sounds like you did a lot of repair work on loggers. FWIW, a litter of Irish setter puppies paid for one semester for me in a private college.
     

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