As The Lathe Turns #65: More Turning Adventures

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Blog entry by William posted 12-04-2013 02:18 AM 2698 reads 0 times favorited 22 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 64: Higher End Part 65 of As The Lathe Turns series Part 66: Here And There »

If you remember the stylus flip pens I made several days ago, I needed to make a couple of more for a friend, and he likes the Celtic knots I have glued up in the past. So that was the plan. However, there is a lot of waiting when gluing up the Celtic knots. So I always try to stay busy on something else while waiting on glue to set.

I love my economy chuck from Penn State. I love it so much that I have it on good authority (since I’m the one who placed the order) that I’ll be getting another one for Christmas. The reason I want another one is that, when doing bowls, it is a pain to have to remove the jaws to put on the flat jaws so I can remove the tenon and finish the bottom. I have been thinking for a while how nice it would be to have a second chuck to just spin on quickly.
Here is the link to the one I just ordered.

Anyway, back to what I was working on in between gluing strips in for Celtic knots.
Here is my flat jaws. They do the job, but do have their limitations. The maximum diameter bowl that can be held with them is about eight inches. I knew there had to be a way to hold larger bowls. So I done some searching and found this. If you click on the link, you’ll see it is an extension for the flat jaws that allows you to hold larger items.
It looks like a great idea. There was just one problem. I was just about to submit my order for the extensions when I noticed in the description that they are made of plastic. I’m not saying anything is wrong with the product. Personally though, seeing as how I love making my own stuff anyway, I just cannot bring myself to spend forty bucks on something like that made of plastic if I think I can make it myself. It is just plastic with some holes in it, right?

Also, since I have decided to make it myself anyway, I thought about correcting another little issue I’ve always disliked about my jaws, and pretty much every other set of jaws I’ve seen on the market. With these straight, rather stiff, rubber mounting pins you have to have a pretty good grip on bowls if you don’t want them to go flying. As a matter of fact, I have cracked two bowls that I can remember by having to tighten down on them too hard. There had to be a better way. So I made a trip to town to see what concoctions I could come up with.

So, here is the plastic jaw extensions I made. They are made of three eighths inch thick plexi-glass. I know, some of you are already thinking I am crazy. It is well balanced though and these will only be ran on the slowest speed setting. All you use these for is to finish off the bottom of bowls after you have done everything else.
If I have any issues with them down the road, I’ll be sure to let you all know so you’ll know not to go this route. Until then though, I don’t foresee any problems with this setup.

For the mounting pin solution, I found some rubber stopper plugs in the specialty drawers at Home Depot. I drilled quarter inch holes through the middle of them. Then I threaded bolts through them, then through the plastic plates, and hold them on with nuts on the back side.
I like these enough that I am going to buy more, and find out the thread size, so I can add the same thing to my regular jaws without the extensions. These are longer. They have an angle to them that can be adapted to accept any shaped bowl you decide to make. Also, while firm, they are soft enough (softer than the factory pins) that you can tighten the nuts if you need to make them bulge more to hold the bowl more firmly instead of putting the brute force of the chuck into play.

I made my Celtic knot glue ups for two pen blanks while I was doing all this. Then I started drilling to make pens. This photo shows the biggest drawback to making such glue ups. You never know how well, or how bad, things will turn out. This one didn’t even make it off the drill press before blowing out.
It’s a good thing I don’t give up that easily though. I had to glue up another one.

I made one with ziricote and box elder.

And another one with hedge apple and walnut.

Next up.
Some of you may remember the spinning top kit that was in the Ms. Clause care package from a while back. I turned the top you see in the far left of the above photo out of rosewood. Well that started something.
Ever since I turned that turner, my kids have to look at it everyday. They get me to give it a spin on the table any chance they get. So this set my planning wheels into full spin.
My kids all want one of these tops. I told them they can’t have one though. My excuse? I told them about how the hardware for this nifty little kit is plated with gold. Now why would you give a kid a top with gold plated hardware to play with? No. This is a man’s toy. It is something you put on a desk at work as a conversation piece. That’s what I tell them.
So here is where I am at. Each of my kids are going to get a spinning top for Christmas. What can make it better though? What about this? I turn them all, set them out in plain site, tell them they are “for sale”, and then come over to wrap them on Christmas eve after they’ve gone to bed. I think they are going to love these, but also hate me a little for putting them through this.
Now for the details of the other three tops.

This one is beech between two layers of purple heart.

This one is beech between two layers of lace wood.
By the time I got to turning this one, I had given up on any resemblance of design and just started having fun with the turning; sort of making it up as I went along.

This last one is two strips of cherry with zebra wood between them, then blood wood on both sides of that.
I called this one rolling low. As I was making it up as I went, I didn’t realize until I finished it and made a test spin just how low this one would look while spinning. I think I like this one the best.

When I made the civil war pen a while back, everyone liked it. If you remember it, you’ll remember that I used box elder burl on it. So on this one, with the same chrome plating on the hardware, I decided to use another piece of box elder that I had. This one isn’t burl, but it had something else I liked about it.

I had to show another shot of it to show you though.
This piece looks kind of plain looking at one side of the pen. As you roll it around though, a pretty pink hue presents itself on the other side of the wood.

That left me with only the gun metal hardware civil war pen. I was thinking about what wood would go well with it. I decided to use one of my personal favorites for it, oak burl.
Well that is several of my days I’ve shown you at once here. My regular readers just have to bare with me this time of year though. With Christmas fast approaching, I stay as busy as I can. Between trying to make things that will sell and making a few gift items for family and friends, I can never seem to catch my breath during the holidays. I will post when I can.
Until next time, happy turning!


22 comments so far

View Dave's profile


11435 posts in 3920 days

#1 posted 12-04-2013 02:36 AM

William I love shop made tools. I really love the ones that work. Nice job.
The tops are , well, over the top.
Great gifts and I am sure they will be loved.
Well done my friend.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3922 days

#2 posted 12-04-2013 02:38 AM

Thank you Dave.
Just remember all these tools you can make when you start needing things for your lathe, and you will need things.
If you figure it all up, you can save a small fortune by making things yourself when you can.
You already know that though.


View sras's profile


6077 posts in 4209 days

#3 posted 12-04-2013 02:44 AM

That oak burl sure looks good! I can see why it is a favorite.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View DIYaholic's profile


19921 posts in 3755 days

#4 posted 12-04-2013 02:55 AM

And I thought all of Santa’s elves were at the North Pole!!!

Here’s to hoping (knowing really) that your flat jaws perform flawlessly!!!

Now then, stop reading this….
You have gifts to make!!!

Carry on….

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View Woodknack's profile


13557 posts in 3460 days

#5 posted 12-04-2013 03:24 AM

I’ve often wondered why you couldn’t just make cole jaws for an existing chuck but had never seen anyone do it; glad you did and validated my thought process.

-- Rick M,

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3922 days

#6 posted 12-04-2013 04:15 AM

Thank you all.

I love all burls, but have really taken a liking to the oak burl. Now if I could just get my hands on more burl wood.

Elf time is over for the evening.
I have to knock off early on nights the wife works.
I’ll try to get back at it in the morning though.

Rick, I didn’t make the jaws, but if you look, the plastic pieces I made are just copies of the metal ones I have that fit over the existing ones, with extension area to make them larger. I have seen some people though that had no existing jaws make them out of plywood. It’s just a certain size (depending on what size your lathe can handle) circle cut into fourths. The hardest part is getting the holes perfectly aligned. That was fairly easy for me by laying the clear plastic over the existing jaws, marking them, and drilling. For the extension holes, I used a straight edge, made a line out from the existing holes, then used a compass to make an ark. Then I simply drilled where the line and the arc intersected.


View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 4098 days

#7 posted 12-04-2013 06:14 AM

I do have more of that live oak burl!

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3922 days

#8 posted 12-04-2013 12:13 PM

Thanks Erwin.
I’m not out yet, but I do love the look of it. Out of the few burls I have worked with, that love oak burl is the prettiest I’ve seen.


View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4414 days

#9 posted 12-04-2013 03:19 PM

All good stuff William. The pinky pen is nice for the girls, but I like the manly burl best.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3922 days

#10 posted 12-04-2013 07:55 PM

View luv2learn's profile


3121 posts in 3383 days

#11 posted 12-04-2013 08:59 PM

William it looks like we have the same lathe and the same Penn State chuck. Thanks for the plexiglass extension idea, I will have to give it a go. One of the things I did to prevent my lathe motor from ingesting dust and chips was to build a filter for it. If you are interested check out my blog on how I made it.

Since we have the same lathe I would be interested in knowing any problems you might have had with yours. Also, your overall opinion of it.

-- Lee - Northern idaho~"If the women don't find you handsome, at least they ought to find you handy"~ Red Green

View Doe's profile


1437 posts in 3910 days

#12 posted 12-04-2013 10:16 PM

Those are real fine tops! I’d love to come and play battle tops with your kids – I can even bring my own. It would so cool to have all of them bumping into each other. Boy, I’d love to see that. I feel like a kid again just thinking about it.

-- Mother Nature talks, I try to listen

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3922 days

#13 posted 12-05-2013 12:17 AM

Thank you both.

Doe, you are welcome anytime you wish to make the trip.

Luv2Learn, I like my lathe quite a bit. My biggest complaint with it would be the fact that it is east to get the tail stock out of line. I think that is the nature of having a rotating head though. I’ve had to realign it enough that I can get it right pretty quickly though. The trick is to have the center point a tad counterclockwise to the tail stock center point before tightening the hold down.
I would like to have a more powerful motor. I have learned ways around that problem though. More powerful motors also equal more cash, which I don’t have, so I can live with this one for now.
I will be sure to check out your blog when I am on my computer. I’m on my phone at the moment while watching my kids in karate class.


View boxcarmarty's profile


17437 posts in 3440 days

#14 posted 12-05-2013 12:36 AM

You’re making me dizzy, or is that the alcohol???

-- My mind is like lighting, one brilliant flash, then its gone.....

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3770 days

#15 posted 12-05-2013 01:35 AM

William, You never cease to amaze and impress me!

Shop made tools are always a fun build (especially when they work).

Pens and tops are first rate as expected.

Carry on…...

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

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