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View Full Version : Is this cheating or just saving time?



Dana Berenson
08-07-2008, 7:51 AM
If you take a log, cut it in half, then prep it to turn as a bowl by cutting a circle on your band saw, that gets you a decent piece to start with but not all of us have the top-of-the-line tools to do this. Usually, when I start shaping the outside of the bowl, I spend a lot of time and fairly slow speeds working on parts that stick out quite a bit.

I've been thinking that it might be good to have some kind of a tool that could help me even off these parts before I turn the lathe on. Other than using the chainsaw for this, does anyone have any other strategies for addressing this, or should I just "Man-up!" and deal with it?

Based on the old fashioned cheese grater concept, I was thinking that something like this http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?page=11362&filter=sand but one that takes away more wood and is designed to operate on an angle grinder, might be a cool thing to have but I have not seen anything like that.

By the way, many thanks for those of you who recommended Bill Grumbine's videos. I have both and learned so much from them!

Steve Schlumpf
08-07-2008, 9:34 AM
Dana - I have played with a number of different ways to trim off the excess on a blank just so I can get it to spin without smacking into the ways. I have done the bandsaw method but after ruining 2 Timberwolf blades trying to cut the uneven blank into a circle I moved on to: bowsaw, sawzall, handsaw and finally ended up just using my chainsaw to knock off the corners when I initally cut the blank.

You have an interesting variation in mind - let me know how well it works for you!

Be safe!

Jim Becker
08-07-2008, 9:35 AM
The Microplane sanding disks reportedly clog up pretty fast which is understandable if you consider how they are built.

Honestly, knock off the corners with a chain saw, mount the piece between centers and have-at-it. You can also use a reciprocating saw to knock off corners, too. There are two benefits to this: 1) you can play with the piece to get the "perfect" orientation. If you pre-cut it into a circle on a band saw, you're pretty much committed to the wood orientation and that might not be ideal and 2) it saves time. Of course, your lathe's speed capability needs to be taken into account relative to this. If you have true VS that can go very low in speed, you have more freedom than you might if you have a machine that has a lowest speed of 500+ RPM. The weight an mass of your machine also counts. Always consider safety first.

Jim Evans
08-07-2008, 10:28 AM
I would not consider it cheating - the closer you get to round prior to the lathe saves wobble, sharpening the tool, and just the time hogging off the part that does not look like a bowl.
Seems like I read about someone using a hand held electric plane - anyone ever tried that?

Bob Bergstrom
08-07-2008, 10:42 AM
I use a Dewault portable planer to trim off wood that sticks out or hits the ways. On wet wood it works great. If I set the spindle lock, it can hog off quite a bit in a short time. I do not have the lathe rotating at any time

Jim Underwood
08-07-2008, 10:48 AM
I've been seeing the videos for that Ci1 tool, and it sure looks like it trims down those irregular blanks awfully fast. Here's one I just looked at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCKluqkR4Gs

I have a friend who gave me a piece of 1" galvanized pipe that had the end smashed down on a piece of 1/2 x 1/2 inch HSS tool bit, and two set screws to hold it in. I haven't tried it yet, but he swears it's the best thing for roughing out. Now that I've watched that Ci1 video, I'm finally realizing the value of this thing. It don't look like much, but I've got to give it a whirl!

Scott Conners
08-07-2008, 11:02 AM
You can get a cutzall or arbortech type disk for a grinder, which will remove wood very quickly and easily, there are also versions which are like a chainsaw blade on a metal disk, I can't remember the brand off the top of my head but they work as well.

Greg Ketell
08-07-2008, 11:57 AM
Wow, that thing is amazing!

Mike Minto
08-07-2008, 12:16 PM
I used to wonder the same thing...is it cheating your wood turning if you use all these methods to make the wood more round before mounting it on the lathe? I've come to the conclusion that no, it's not cheating to do anything to make your task easier (especially at 50) - trim corners, pre-drill the center out before hollowing. You are, after all, in a modern age, using a motorized (not foot powered) lathe, and if folks in an earlier age had access to the tools and techniques we enjoy today, they sure as heck would be using them, too. Because I've recently started turning more green wood than dry, I'm in the market for an electric chain saw! Mike

Paul Downes
08-07-2008, 4:20 PM
I bought a cheapo harbor freight power planer and use that to knock off corners left by the band saw. Mostly I do this on big bowls because I haven't upgraded to a HD lathe yet and the Grizzly vibrates like an epilectic on steroids even with 600 lbs. of salt piled underneath.

Leo Van Der Loo
08-07-2008, 5:39 PM
Dana if you want to save time roughing-out a blank, I wouldn't try to use gimmicky tools or those designed for flat woodwork or furniture making.
This is the way I do my rough-outs if smaller than let say 15", (I probably use a faceplate when bigger) I cut the log-half to size and knock-off the big corners with my chainsaw if needed.
Mark the center and drill a hole for my woodwurm screw and install the blank, roughout the outside and cut a recess to mount the blank on my stronghold for rouging out the inside of the blank, pretty hard to gain any time doing it otherwise IMO.

Don Eddard
08-07-2008, 5:47 PM
...I wouldn't try to use gimmicky tools or those designed for flat woodwork or furniture making...
Don't knock the "gimmicky tools" until you've tried them. The method you described is indeed tried and true, but it does not preclude other, better methods from existing. As an example, the Ci1 does what is advertised and more. Welcome to the 21st Century.

Tom Keen
08-07-2008, 10:05 PM
Ive been through this thought process.... for me, a chainsaw is the fastest and easiest way to get my bowl blank rough shaped. I use a big compass and get a circle, knock off the corners and put it on the lathe. A big chain saw isnt for everyone and there is a bit of risk involved..an alternative for you might be a very small chain saw or better an electric chain saw. A freind or mine uses one to rough out bowls. Its quiet and light and does a nice job. This might be something your could work with. The are relitvely cheap, try Sears.

I have a good 5/8 bowl gouge that works well for me. Ive tried a 3/4 and 1 inch gouge and they seem to absorb vibration better but arent that much faster.. they just cost twice as much as my prefered gouge.

Practice and patience helps too. I can rough out a 10 inch bowl in 30 mins..it used to take 2 hours. As your confidence/skill increases it gets awhole lot faster and easier.

Good luck,
Tom

Cody Colston
08-08-2008, 6:05 AM
Other than using the chainsaw for this, does anyone have any other strategies for addressing this, or should I just "Man-up!" and deal with it?

Around my neck-'o-the-woods it's called "Cowboy Up." :D

First, if you have one of those 550+ minimum rpm lathes (like me) then you will need a lot of weight stacked on if you are starting with an out-of-round blank unless you want to chase it all over the shop trying to get it round.

Second, if you want to turn the maximum diameter bowl that your lathe will swing, then you need the blank round before mounting it...and that probably means a band saw.

I'd just go the chainsaw route for now with designs on either a band saw or a infinitely VS lathe in the future...one with a large swing.

Wilbur Pan
08-08-2008, 7:43 AM
I used to wonder the same thing...is it cheating your wood turning if you use all these methods to make the wood more round before mounting it on the lathe? I've come to the conclusion that no, it's not cheating to do anything to make your task easier....

Not to mention that if you were to take this to it's logical extreme, the only way not to "cheat" would be to mount the entire tree on your lathe. ;)

For making bowls, I've been using my bandsaw to convert log sections into octagons after marking out a circle. It's not exactly perfectly round, but it gets pretty close.

Hilel Salomon
08-08-2008, 8:21 AM
I believe that using any tool which requires electricity or gas power is cheating. My lathe is foot pedal driven, all my tools are made of wood , carved with a stone knife. I would love to show you my bowl but I'm still working on it-have been for 8 years....
JUST KIDDING!!!!

The lathe, and all the implements are made in order to make life easier. Using a chainsaw, bandsaw, drill press, electric drills etc. and any other "gizmo" that works, makes sense.
Have a Happy,
Hilel.

Grant Wilkinson
08-08-2008, 7:55 PM
Dana: Have a look at the second two items on this page.

http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.aspx?c=1&p=42527&cat=1,42524