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"A start" with treen

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default "A start" with treen

Post by Chilli-head on 28th November 2012, 10:54 am

I've been mulling some more on an earlier thread, and in particular a comment from Robin Wood:

When we start we are slow and the results leave room for improvement, in time the finish and speed improve, in craft they say the first 1000 are the hard ones.
Now, although I can see Robin's view that 1000 is not a lot, but "a start", one thing that has been troubling me is the thought that the idea of struggling with your first 1000 craft items (of whatever craft) might be daunting for beginners. I'd hate to see anyone put off giving it a go. So, with that in mind, I'd like to try and show that, although the first 1000 might be the hard ones, there is still fun to be had in the making, and early results can still (sometimes) be satisfying. A chap who helped me when I was getting into photography told me, it is not the number of photographs you take that matters, it's the number you keep; nobody counts the ones that go in the bin. Or the woodburner, in my case !

Still, let me share with you some of my first 1000 treen. Well, first 20 or 30 really ... warts and all.


In the order I made them:
- A small (5") bowl, in red cedar or pencilwood. Turned with my one homemade hook tool, outside smoothed with my skew - which I found tricky, the larger radius requres more care to avoid letting the corners of the skew dig in - a couple of small nicks remain in the outside. I couldn't quite get the right angle with my flexcut knife to tidy up the base where it was snapped off the core properly; I need a more suitable crook knife (more on that later ...). No finish on this, I didn't want to spoil the aroma of the cedar. which is lovely.

- A goblet, in ash. Not sure about the proportions of this, the foot and stem are a bit big, but it was mainly to practise getting a good finish with the same tooks I used on the bowl. No sandpaper or finish here - this is straight from the lathe.

- A couple of cherry wood honey drizzlers. Not actually a very useful item (a spoon works better), but goodpractice with the skew. Finish is burnished with shavings, then polished with beeswax whilst spinning in the lathe.

- Oops. This one should have been a honey drizzler, but it didn't seem to want to be. Bits broke off, so I salvaged it into a tool handle. When I have time to forge a blade, it will become a crook knife.

- Two bracelet/bangles in a particularly lovely dark cherry wood. These are made from a thin ring of a fair sized tree, mounted on a mandrel like making a bowl, and are turned concentric to the annular rings - this way they stay round as they dry, but because the pith is removed with the core, they (hopefully) don't spilt. Where the annuar rings are cut through it makes a nice figureing. I made these for OH. Now, there are two because I made the first one too big - this is hard to get right, 5mm is quite a big step in size, so it has to be made fairly accurately, but the wood then shrinks as it dries, so there is a bit of estimation involved - number 2 looks promising if it doesn't shrink a great deal. These are sanded, I'm afraid, so as to get a nice smooth satin finish that will feel nice against the skin, and oiled with walnut oil.
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Post by freebird on 28th November 2012, 1:11 pm

Chilli-head wrote:
Now, although I can see Robin's view that 1000 is not a lot, but "a start", one thing that has been troubling me is the thought that the idea of struggling with your first 1000 craft items (of whatever craft) might be daunting for beginners. I'd hate to see anyone put off giving it a go.

Couple of things to bear in mind methinks -
Firstly, when new to any craft, the absolute joy of making and achieving take the beginner quite a long way in. Finely-honed critical skills develop with the making skills, and are largely absent when first starting out. Therefore, subject obviously to different personalities, beginners often don't see themselves as struggling, but take delight in their learning and successful making of simple items.

Secondly, one definition of an expert is 'someone who knows more and more about less and less' - in other words, those finely-honed critical skills I mentioned above. Most people aren't experts in pole lathe wood turning, so even items that you, or other experts, consider to be substandard can still be saleable. If they were mine, I would probably call them 'seconds' and charge rather less.

They say it takes 10 years to make a calligrapher. I've been doing it for 28 years, and reckon that estimate is about right. Beginning students would often ask me how long it would take them to learn. If I had told them 10 years, many would have been too disheartened to try. The best analogy I could give was to tell them that within a fairly short time, I could teach them to 'play a few nice tunes' but to reach concert pianist standard would take years of dedication and practise. And as it turned out, most students didn't want to be concert pianists but were very happy playing some nice tunes.
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Post by Wilhelm Von Rhomboid on 29th November 2012, 10:05 pm

the figure i have heard quoated most often with regard to achieiving proper competency in an endeavour is 10,000 hours - be it practicing the guitar or shooting a bow or whatever.
If you enjoy every one of those hours then it is no hardship. If you regard them as just numbers to chip off to a target you are misisng the point and will never achieve the goal.

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Post by Chilli-head on 4th July 2013, 12:12 pm

I thought perhaps I'd try to keep this updated a bit, so here's the bowl I made last weekend during the scything festival at Wimpole.  I spotted this Elm at the bodger's ball; it had a bit too much "character" (read: knots) for spindle turning,  but it seemed too interesting to waste.



It's about 5-6" diameter.  It is a tooled finish, and Elm seems to finish a bit rougher than the cherry I've used before. Still needs to dry a bit before oiling, which will hopefully bring out those colours nicely.
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Post by Dandelion on 4th July 2013, 5:34 pm

My only piece of woodwork to date was an elm box I made when I was at art college. I wouldn't use it for cutting joints again, as the joints crumbled and the whole thing was a mess. It looks beautiful turned though...

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

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Post by Chilli-head on 4th October 2013, 5:06 pm

I forgot to post this one.  On a visit to Turkey I was quite taken by the idea of having little pots of chilli flakes on the table as a condiment to spice up food to taste.  So I made a fairly big one !



Opened up:


Made from ash with cherry knob/spoon by pole lathe/carving. Finished with walnut oil and melted beeswax to seal the inside.  For scale, the pot is about the size of a regular teacup.  Sorry the photos aren't well lit - the camera has cast some harsh shadows.
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Post by Dandelion on 4th October 2013, 10:46 pm

You could sell those CH - time to give up the day job????

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

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Post by Chilli-head on 18th November 2013, 10:58 am

Had a very enjoyable time at the Wimpole craft fair at the weekend.  We had a small encampment by the entrance, with a few lathes set up, and Simon's mobile forge, at least in part to plug the various rural craft courses.

This nice piece of wood was too good to pass up:

I say nice piece of wood ... not so delighted with my turning of it, but it was done in about an hour from log to bowl, with a fair audience.  What made things difficult was the same thing that is responsible for the strange colouring.  It is not entirely natural (it is sycamore, so normally pale all through), neither is it some odd form of spalting.  No, it is from a tree that was struck by lightning.  The core of waste material cracked as I was turning, causing the mandrel to shift a bit and meaning the inside is not finished so well.  Still, I've got a bit more of the log for another couple of goes.

As darkness fell we finished the day around a makeshift brazier (old washing machine drum), dirinking hot apple juice, pressed from apples from the estate.
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Post by Ploshkin on 19th November 2013, 10:56 am

I think the fact that it was struck by lightning makes it really special & if that is what has made it difficult to turn perfectly (which most mortals wouldn't see) that is part of its unique character.

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Post by Chilli-head on 22nd November 2013, 7:17 pm

Aha - Simon took a piccy:

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Post by Dandelion on 22nd November 2013, 11:09 pm

Great photo!

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

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Post by Chilli-head on 6th December 2013, 1:46 pm

The weather being fine if a bit cold last weekend, I set up the lathe and shavehorse on the lawn and made some shavings.  A few more pieces of the lightning stuck sycamore.



The pot was a challenge - I thought the bit of wood I had was too small to make a bowl, but AndyM encouraged me to give it a go.  It is only 8cm diameter - easy enough on a power lathe, but the pole lathe requires everything to be turned between the centres, so I had to make an extra-small mandrel, and some careful angling to get a hook tool down inside there.

 I'm trying to improve the finish I get from the hook tool, so this time I roughed out the shape, then re-sharpened the tool for a very light final cut.  Does seem to help a lot, though there's still plenty of scope for improvement,
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Post by Chilli-head on 15th January 2014, 11:07 pm

Ok, a wierd one.  



This is made from a Banksia nut - from an Australian tree. The holes are natural, where the seeds are carried. The outside of the thing is rather hairy - it is both irritant and sends shrapnel flying when you turn it. I suspect that not many people have turned one on a pole lathe before !
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Post by freebird on 16th January 2014, 8:00 am

That looks really good - how big is it? I thought maybe 8-10 inches tall. It certainly makes an interesting piece.
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Post by Chilli-head on 16th January 2014, 4:07 pm

It;'s not as big as it looks - about 5.5 inches - the nuts come in a range of sizes, some of them quite large - this was a meduim sized one,

Before anyone starts - no coarse humour here please ...  Laughing 
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Post by Chilli-head on 27th February 2014, 11:57 am

It's been a while, but lest you think I've given up ...  We had one of our regular meetings at Wimpole again at the weekend.  It is my father's birthday this week, and he has reached that stage where he has most things he needs, so I thought I'd make him something as a present:-



A garden line. Rather than use glue, the cross dowels are made from seasoned wood, the rest from green wood, so that shrinkage locks it together.  Being made from wood (ash), it has the useful property that it floats  Wink
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Post by freebird on 27th February 2014, 1:02 pm

That's nice CH. How long does it take for the cross dowels to be locked in by the shrinkage. Do you have to superglue it together until it's ready (hee hee).
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Post by Chilli-head on 27th February 2014, 4:20 pm

The parts are a tight-ish fit to begin with, so need tapping in with a mallet or squeezing in with clamps. The speed the wood then dries at depends on many things, mostly environment. In a house, it will dry and shrink a lot in a couple of days to a week. From fresh cut to "room dry", a log of wood shrinks, as a rough rule of thumb, negligibly along the length, 5% radially and 10% circumferentially. Which is why you get radial cracks in the logs in your woodpile. And why we start with a round log of wood, spilt it into segments, then by axe, drawknife and lathe make them back round(ish) again, instead of starting with a branch the right size !
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Post by Dandelion on 27th February 2014, 10:03 pm

Chilli-head wrote:It's been a while, but lest you think I've given up ...  We had one of our regular meetings at Wimpole again at the weekend.  It is my father's birthday this week, and he has reached that stage where he has most things he needs, so I thought I'd make him something as a present:-



A garden line. Rather than use glue, the cross dowels are made from seasoned wood, the rest from green wood, so that shrinkage locks it together.  Being made from wood (ash), it has the useful property that it floats  Wink

What a great idea

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

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Post by Chilli-head on 17th March 2014, 5:17 pm

The garden line seemed to go down well with Dad.  Following on the theme of things fixed together using the shrinkage of wood whilst drying, here's what I finished off on Sunday - a mug tree, in hornbeam.
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Post by Ploshkin on 17th March 2014, 9:53 pm

Wow, that's a smart mug tree. Is hornbeam a softwood?

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Post by Chilli-head on 17th March 2014, 10:25 pm

This is the mk2. The first one, in greengage wood, I haven't shown you because it was a bit of a disaster - it distorted badly on drying.

Hornbeam is a hardwood, often used in hedges, in part because although the leaves die in winter,  they stay on the tree, so provide a screen.  Looks a bit like beech.  This was a fair sized tree that came down in the storms.

As a wood, it turns nicely when green.  When dry it is very hard - traditionally it was used for windmill gear teeth !  It is also used for wear resistant parts for wooden planes. I like the ivory white colour, and it polishes to a good finish.

I hear that we have some of a walnut tree for the next meeting  Very Happy
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Post by freebird on 18th March 2014, 8:13 am

For some reason, pictures take forever to load. When I read this yesterday, I got fed up with waiting for the pic, and minimized the window to do something else on the computer. Forgot all about it then - just found it still minimized this morning!

Another nice piece CH - can I be in your family please?
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Post by Ploshkin on 18th March 2014, 1:36 pm

I thought it was just me with the pictures taking several minutes to load. I have, in the past, found some posts & replies rather confusing as I didn't know there was a picture attached.

That's really interesting about the hornbeam, CH. It was the colour & lack of markings that struck me as unusual. I didn't know about the windmills - any water mills round here with wooden gears are oak I think.
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