Fixing Things #3: Dammit

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Blog entry by Mark Wilson posted 03-04-2017 11:12 PM 1226 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Somone Asked Me To Do Something! Part 3 of Fixing Things series no next part

I could think of many other words to name this – words beginning with other letters. I found the one I chose to be the least offensive.
Now, why do I put this in a Blog series I named “Fixing Things?” To “Fix,” in this context, is to “Settle” a matter, once and for all. The Matter is the Meaning of Life.
The meaning of MY life – the reason I’m on this planet – is, I’m convinced, to serve as a warning to others. That is to say: “There. I did that. Now you don’t have to.” I know. I don’t hold the corner on that market.
That being “settled,” on with the show.
Do you remember the Olive log that traveled safely halfway around the world from Bethlehem in the care of RBS?
Wednesday, the log finally found its way to my lathe.

It had an unworkable skew to one end, so I ran it across the table saw to get a flat spot for a live center, then mounted it between centers.

I began making it round. I had no definitive idea of what was going to come of this, as yet. I knew only that I needed to round it up, somewhat, and, put a foot on it.

This is the first “wild” piece of Olive I had had the chance, so far, to work with. I’ll say this about that: The ease with which I found I was able to make shavings off of it reminded me of Walnut. That is, it felt, under my tools, like Playdough. It was wonderful. Hypnotically so. Those veins in the wood reminded me a great deal of Hackberry, with a huge difference. Hackberry’s veins are really, really hard, making said wood very difficult to turn. In the case of the Olive, the veins and the surrounding wood are of the same density. I made up my sick mind that this would be a wine goblet, possibly with a captive ring. So, on I went, shaping the bowl.

Note: I did a sloppy job on the foot. It was secure in the chuck, but, not perfectly so. I carried on, leaving what-may-come-of-that for Future Mark to deal with. Looking at the figure in the veins, I saw a craggy mountainscape. I decided that it might add interest to the piece if I could put a moon on one of those crags. So, using a 3/16” Aluminum rod – a handful of which I’d had lying around, wondering what to do with themselves – I created said “moon effect.” I had bored out the bowl with a 1-3/8” Forstener bit, leaving the wall, at this point, about 3/8” thick. This is the right time to introduce such a thing – when there’s still plenty of meat.

Being very proud of myownbadself, thus far, I continued shaping the outside to my satisfaction. I polished it up, so I could see how pretty it could, potentially, get.

Now, after un-polishing, and re-polishing (tool marks, and such), I determined that it was time to go inside.

Pretty, innit?

Using my 3/8” fingernail gouge and my home-made Allen Wrench Hollower, I began thinning up the wall from inside. This was working rather well, but for one thing. These tools kept producing a wave in the wood. I’ve had this happen many times, in the past. The way I’ve dealt with it, in the past, with some success, was to go in straight, making very shallow cuts, with the toe of a skew, so to speak excavating the waves from the sides thereof. This works. Really, it does. It keeps the pressure on the spinning piece longitudinal, whereas trying to scrape the wave down from the tops thereof introduces much lateral pressure, threatening many ill effects, not the least of which is departure from the chuck. This going-under the waves with the toe also has the effect of presenting the edge of the toe to the freshly un-waved wall. By carefully pivoting the skew on the tool rest, I’m also able to shape the inner wall, with in-and-out motions of the skew. Being so mesmerized by how well this is going – how nicely the tool is cutting and how well the Olive is responding, I, being too stupid to live, failed to pay attention to the advancing outer wall. That’s when Dammit happened.

All is not lost, I suppose. I can’t bring myownbadself to throw this wonderful piece of Olive away. I can probably get a decent toothpick holder or something out of what’s left. For now, however, I need a break.

Thank you. Be warned. And, I apologize.

-- Mark

12 comments so far

View lew's profile


12932 posts in 4359 days

#1 posted 03-04-2017 11:25 PM

But I’ll bet is smelled soooo good when you were turning.

Definitely salvageable.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Bob Collins's profile

Bob Collins

2738 posts in 4287 days

#2 posted 03-04-2017 11:38 PM

Beautiful piece of Olive there Mark, I can see something really good coming from this. A fabulous toothpick holder or even a toothpick. I’m sure you will come up with the good. Waiting in anticipation.

-- Bob C, Australia. Your best teacher is your last mistake.

View BobAnderton's profile


309 posts in 3394 days

#3 posted 03-05-2017 12:03 AM

Ewww, yeah, I hate it when the inside gets bigger than the outside. Maybe this is a great excuse to make an accent ring of a contrasting wood in there?

-- Bob Anderton - Austin, TX - Nova 3000 lathe, Alaskan Mark III mill, Husqavarna Saw

View JoeinGa's profile


7741 posts in 2611 days

#4 posted 03-05-2017 12:16 AM

I was reminded of this quote, which I seem to recall hearing in a Jr College Civics class ( so very long ago)

“Profanity is the effort of a feeble brain to express itself forcibly.”
― Spencer W. Kimball

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View Grumpy's profile


25952 posts in 4455 days

#5 posted 03-05-2017 12:25 AM

A tough turning with a good result Mark.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View DocSavage45's profile


8881 posts in 3446 days

#6 posted 03-05-2017 12:49 AM


Taking a break can bring a fresh perspective to the piece. You may have put too much angst into it given it’s history. I remember inattentively cutting the bottom off a box instead of the top. Walked away from it and came back with a fresh perspective, and the customer loved the results. Murphy is my mentor.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View BobWemm's profile


2742 posts in 2530 days

#7 posted 03-05-2017 02:17 AM

Oh Mark, How I know that feeling, been there so many times I’ve lost count. Now I rarely tell when it happens. LOL
Like Doc says, walk away and come back later with a fresh approach. I mean, what could be better than an Olive tooth pick. That surely would be very rare and valuable, especially when the history has been told. You must remember though that the “Toothpick” was always the intended outcome.
A “Rolling Pin” for a Lilliputian could always be another alternative.???
Love to see the end result.


-- Bob, Western Australia, The Sun came up this morning, what a great start to the day. Now it's up to me to make it even better. I've cut this piece of wood 4 times and it's still too damn short.

View mafe's profile


12286 posts in 3693 days

#8 posted 03-05-2017 01:19 PM

Well shit do happen and this is how we learn.
No waste, just a learning.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View bushmaster's profile


3770 posts in 2886 days

#9 posted 03-05-2017 02:07 PM

All is not lost, this is a sacred piece of wood. I also thought of a contrasting ring to resurrect it. It will go NO. 1 still as it should. When you said you where going to use a skew, I thought I know where this going. A catch and explosion. It is not as bad as I thought, it can be resurrected. I feel bad for you as it was something that could have been avoided, it makes one feel sick. One piece of wood you didn’t want to make a mistake, we all learn from mistakes as we have all did it.

-- Brian - Hazelton, British Columbia

View leafherder's profile


1889 posts in 2556 days

#10 posted 03-05-2017 09:26 PM

Hi Mark,

A few thought from my far distant vantage point:

1. Beautiful wood.
2. Sorry for your mishap.
3. See what happens when you rush it – the wood was not ready to be what you wanted it to be – it wanted to be something else.
4. All is not lost, this can be saved. Let the wood tell you what it wants to be. (Personally I hear a faint voice from the west saying “turn me upside down and hollow the other end, then add a contrasting base”. But there are a lot of turners west of Ohio. It might not be YOUR muse crying for help.)
5. Save the scraps, you might find them useful one day. Or at least motivational and instructive – as in “Don’t do this again.”
6. Deep calming breaths, find your happy place before attempting anything new.

Take care,


-- Leafherder

View robscastle's profile


6675 posts in 2808 days

#11 posted 03-06-2017 10:01 AM


I missed the slammer with my illegal Import


If you look closely at picture No 2 there is a picture of Jesus’s face in the timber watching you.
Maybe you should return it in case there is some unplesant after life results pending!!

I can understand the problem with not being able to select a suitable name, thats just the lords way of giving you a hint as to what St Peter is going to ask you …come the day of reckoning.

Thats is if you get selected to go that way of course, as you have already clocked up a black mark!

I am not sure how many black marks you need to get downward routing ( I may possibly find out later)

AKA as Karma

Otherwise ithe wood turning looks pretty good, and as a result it may just get you “off the hook”

Keep up the good work

-- Regards Rob

View robscastle's profile


6675 posts in 2808 days

#12 posted 03-07-2017 07:35 AM

Make that Picture No 10 …..I was laughing too much as I was replying!

-- Regards Rob

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