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50 for 50 - turning 50 as I turn 50

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Blog series by mnguy updated 10-04-2019 01:22 PM 43 parts 23329 reads 35 comments total

Part 1: Project 3 - I'm dyeing here!

01-22-2019 02:46 PM by mnguy | 0 comments »

Last year, I bought some Artisan dyes to play with. I like the surprise, random figure I sometimes get with maple segmented pieces, and thought dye would be a great way to have some fun and accentuate the figure. This bowl was intended as a test piece for dyeing, using a tenon vs. a mortise for the chuck, and to tryout a new finish. I pulled out a plan I used to teach my sister segmented turning (she was a natural!), and the piecing and turning went quickly. The interior transition from th...

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Part 2: Project 2 - A lesson on drying of turning blanks

01-14-2019 03:29 PM by mnguy | 5 comments »

About a year and a half ago, a friend who is a tree trimmer gave me a ~5’ length of cherry log that had saved and stored by his garage for many months. I cut it into lengths roughly equal to the diameter and let them sit. I figured since the log had been sitting for a year or so, I didn’t need to coat the end of the segments with Armorseal. Well, that was a bad assumption – every chunk of log cracked badly. Lesson learned. I split the section on the band saw, made a flat ...

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Part 3: Project 1 - new lathe, old design

01-07-2019 07:16 PM by mnguy | 2 comments »

I began turning almost 4 years ago, and like many people, I find it a bit addicting. I am not at the lathe every day by any means, and I have gone weeks without turning it on. But, I am often thinking about turning, sketching forms to turn, planning segmented projects, looking at lathes and tools. For 2019, I want to get deeper into turning, and to help, I have set the goal of turning 50 project this year. They won’t all be big or elaborate, some might even be failures, but I intend to ...

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Part 4: Project 4 - baby rattle

01-31-2019 11:28 PM by mnguy | 0 comments »

Where I work, there are many people having babies. Like at least 3 – 4 a year in just the circles of people I know (I work at a big company). A couple years ago, I started making baby rattles for some of them. It was fun, and they were very appreciated. I hadn’t made one for several months (a couple new parents didn’t get rattles), but I was motivated to make one for this series. I have previously made single ended rattles – they were cute but tended to look like ti...

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Part 5: Project 5 - A ring box for Valentine's

02-19-2019 08:40 PM by mnguy | 0 comments »

My lovely wife of almost 27 years was kind enough to pick out her Valentine’s present this year, saving me from the brain strain of coming up with something. So, I thought I could at least make the gift box! Offcuts laying around the shop were planed to 1/4” thick and stacked up in alternating layers of maple, sapele, cherry, and walnut. My one miss in gluing up the blank was not thinking about how I would be removing a layer to separate the top from the bottom, so the finished...

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Part 6: Going big

03-14-2019 04:33 PM by mnguy | 0 comments »

I wanted to more fully explore the diameter capacity of the Nova lathe and use the outboard turning setup for the first time. I also didn’t want to slog through a million segments, so stayed with 12 segment rings. To keep a flatter shape, I used 1/2” thick segments for the two largest rings. Glue up was a bit of a challenge, as my bowl press was built for the 12” swing of the Rikon. I found that I had some gaps between rings using this clamping approach, so will need to add ...

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Part 7: 99% assembly, 1% turning

03-14-2019 09:06 PM by mnguy | 2 comments »

I decided to reduce the size of the tripping hazard of offcuts in the shop and make this project. Sometimes, just running things through the table saw is very therapeutic. I had intended it to be a pencil cup for a friend who recently started doing freelance furniture design (why someone who designs almost entirely on his computer needs a pencil cup, i can’t say :) ), but I missed his last day at our company and then it got a bit big for a pencil cup. One thing about a smaller item, I ...

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Part 8: End grain headache

03-19-2019 03:16 PM by mnguy | 4 comments »

Box elder, 8” diameter x 4” tall. This is the third green bowl I have turned, and the end grain is killing me! Between the Hunter #4 and a bowl scraper, I got a very smooth finish on edge grain even before sanding, but the end grain is not just a bit rough, it is ‘open’. I appreciate a natural look to the finished product of green turning, but this amount of roughness is detracting from the finished product, IMO. Any tips for reducing this issue and getting smoot...

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Part 9: Green turning class = new horizons

03-19-2019 03:31 PM by mnguy | 0 comments »

So, these posts are a bit out of order. I took a Green Bowl Turning class at the Minneapolis Woodcraft in January. Great class, and Dan Larson was a terrific instructor. It was the first time I had used steel tools (the home shop is pretty much 100% carbide), and only the second time I had ever turned green wood. The bowl gouge was alternately frustrating (when I had my angle off and tore a chunk out of the rim of my bowl) and rewarding (nothing like a long ribbon of fresh box elder stream...

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Part 10: #10 - final resting place for a friend's loyal friend

03-21-2019 07:57 PM by mnguy | 1 comment »

Our neighbor and friend’s dog had to be put down this week. It is an enormous loss to our friend, the dog was 14 and she got the dog as a puppy. We knew the dog it’s entire life, too, living next door. Body is figured maple, lid is walnut and the finial / knob is apple. The branch that birthed the finial was from the neighbor’s old apple tree, which died 5 years ago. I saved some of the wood for some unknown reason; now I know one of the reasons. Rest in peace, Kari Do...

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Part 11: Baby boom - another rattle

04-01-2019 01:19 PM by mnguy | 2 comments »

Many, many people I work with are in their prime years for having babies, and it seems like I could make a rattle every month for an expectant parent or someone coming back from maternity leave. I decided to try a little twist on this most recent one by adding an accent that only impacted the handle, to avoid the mismatch at the joints of the end caps with the handle. My ability to realign the parts after parting off the end has been low, and the material removed with the parting tool makes a...

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Part 12: Youtube inspiration

04-03-2019 07:40 PM by mnguy | 0 comments »

I have become a bit addicted to Gord Rock’s Youtube channel. I find his level of explanation, his dry humor and his pacing much to my liking. The fact he has the same Nova lathe as I do also helps :). He has posted videos making a couple shallow bowls / platters from ~8/4 planks, where he edge glues them to get a bigger diameter blank. I liked the look of the form he made, and I had length of 8/4 white oak left over from a project making a new threshold for friends’ back door, ...

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Part 13: Walnut rattle

04-09-2019 03:29 PM by mnguy | 2 comments »

ANOTHER rattle, for a coworker just coming back from maternity leave. Walnut with maple veneer between the handle and end caps. Does anyone have a suggestion for gripping one fully turned end of this form so I can properly shape and finish the second end? I thought it might fit a set of chuck jaws, but none of the jaws I have fit. I might have to make something, as I see more rattles in my future, and it gets frustrating to have one nicely shaped and sanded end, and one janky end that trie...

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Part 14: Lamp base

04-15-2019 03:47 PM by mnguy | 0 comments »

Segmented cherry lamp base as part of a larger project (posted separately as a project to talk about the shade). It was nice to not have to hollow this thing and to concentrate on the exterior form and finish. The project went well overall. I did a segmented top, and the true center was difficult to locate and the hole for the pipe / conduit ended up a bit off-center. I really needed a cone live center, as my small cup + point center didn’t center well in the hole. I now have a cone ...

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Part 15: It's hip to be square

04-18-2019 01:49 PM by mnguy | 1 comment »

(thank you, Huey Lewis) With 50 projects to turn this year, I am learning to not design everything, which you have to do with segmented projects. I am learning to look around the shop at the piles of blanks, offcuts, etc. for inspiration and material. Which is one of the reasons I am challenging myself to turn 50 things this year, so it’s working! I watched a video of Jimmy Clewes turning a square bowl, and thought that looked pretty cool, so I looked around the shop and found a w...

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Part 16: Could have been firewood

04-22-2019 02:03 PM by mnguy | 3 comments »

About 2 years ago, a friend had an oak tree taken down, and she brought me a big chunk of trunk. With a neighbor’s help (and his chainsaw), I got a couple blanks out of it. One chunk felt too big to throw on the firewood pile, so I have been tripping over it for the last two years. I finally decided to turn it into something. While I had rough turned the green blanks and Anchorsealed them, this chunk just air dried, and quickly. There were quite a few small cracks that I filled with ...

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Part 17: Teaching turning is a new roll

04-23-2019 02:46 PM by mnguy | 0 comments »

(I can’t resist some of the punny titles) A friend is trying out lots of new craft / creative things this year, and wanted to add turning to her painting, ceramics, glass blowing and other experiences so far this year. Since she is a very prolific baker, it thought a French rolling pin would be a perfect project for her. I built some blanks from offcuts and clipped the corners on the table saw. Having two lathes, I decided to demonstrate on one lathe so I wouldn’t end up doi...

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Part 18: Free wood = bowl

05-07-2019 03:43 PM by mnguy | 0 comments »

I donated several turned items for a silent auction at our church. My work got some exposure and people were very complimentary, which is very nice :). One parishioner subsequently brought me some pieces of a spruce stump they cut up. Most of the wood was pretty soft and rotting, but I was able to hack one usable blank out of it. The soft nature of the wood and really open pores made turning a bit difficult. The end grain, in particular, I could not get even halfway smooth with tools. I sande...

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Part 19: Replacement handle for my miter gauge

05-23-2019 07:28 PM by mnguy | 2 comments »

I was using an aluminum push stick to move something through the table saw, and I got the end of the stick into the blade. I have no idea exactly what I did, as it was lightening fast, as table saw accidents tend to be. The push stick shot back into my hand so hard that it turned black and blue the next day, and it hurt so badly I had to get sit down. No broken bones or long term damage but my hand hurt for more than a week.The stick was bent almost 90 degrees and landed 5’ away. On its...

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Part 20: Easy hollowing, but how do I sand this thing?

05-23-2019 07:51 PM by mnguy | 0 comments »

Wanted to make a small and tall vessel, but didn’t want to build it in layers. So, I sized it so I could “hollow” it with a 2.375” Forstener bit held in the tailstock. Easy, clean, straight! I drew some inspiration for the contrasting vertical band from some Youtube videos. I glued up the maple layers, then used a few passes on the table saw to make a slot for the walnut strip, and glued it in. Turned and sanded the outside to 400 grit. I have finally figured out...

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Part 21: Easter egg

06-25-2019 07:19 PM by mnguy | 0 comments »

With spring – summer yard work and all the other warmer weather activities, I haven’t been turning as much, but I have been making some new pieces. I was waiting to get a new photo setup, and got the Amazon Basics photo studio – I can’t recommend it enough. There are certainly less expensive options, but it is a really well thought out solution that sets up and stores easily. I believe it is a really good value. I started this piece a week before Easter, under the d...

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Part 22: Vase with insert stripe

06-25-2019 08:21 PM by mnguy | 2 comments »

For this tall, narrow form, I wanted to try two new techniques. – insert a vertical / longitudinal strip of contrasting material – hollow the entire form in one step with a Forstner bitThe glue up of the maple blank was straight forward. I didn’t think through very well how I was going slot the blank for the walnut stripe. I used the jointer to get a flat face, then made two stopped passes on the table saw to cut each side of the slot, finishing with a hand saw and chi...

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Part 23: Vase form - Etsy store launch item

06-25-2019 10:31 PM by mnguy | 1 comment »

I have decided to open an Etsy store to make a little $ while I clear out some of the items I am turning. I know there are a lot of challenges being successful on Etsy, but the risk is also low. I will use social media to drive friends to my store, Ninebark Woodworks, and see what happens. I wanted to do 4 similar forms in two different mixes of species. I glued up 4 blanks, as tops and bottoms to make hollowing easier. I had issues getting the rings concentric and then the hollowed hal...

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Part 24: Hollow form in maple and walnut

06-25-2019 10:39 PM by mnguy | 0 comments »

Same segment sizes and blank form as #23, in maple and walnut. This item ended up quite a bit thicker than #23, as I wanted to make sure I didn’t screw it up – lol. Exterior dimensions are very similar, but this is definitely heavier.

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Part 25: Another friend lost :(

06-27-2019 01:17 PM by mnguy | 0 comments »

My sister recently lost her beloved Miniature Pinscher, so I made an urn for the dog’s cremains. I chose cherry and walnut, inspired by her coat colors. I used stave construction for the first time; I liked it! In the interest of time and materials on-hand, I didn’t taper the staves, but used thicker straight staves. I was disappointed in the poor color match between the walnut in the body and the walnut in the lid. I don’t have a lot of experience with walnut, so I am ch...

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Part 26: You give me wood, I give you bowls

07-08-2019 08:03 PM by mnguy | 1 comment »

A neighbor gave me a cherry log a couple years ago, ~6” x 4’ long. I thought it was already pretty dry, so did nothing to seal the end grain. Whoops – major cracks in every 6” long section I cut. Fortunately, the cracks were all pretty much radial through one half, so I was able to split the sections along the cracks and get two similar size blanks out of each log section. The result so far is these bowls. ~4.25” diameter. The plank is made from oak fl...

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Part 27: Apple bud base

07-15-2019 02:22 PM by mnguy | 0 comments »

In 2012, my wife and I took a bumper crop of apples from our neighbor’s tree, making our first batch of hard cider. We got hooked on making hard cider, and have made cider every year since (~20 gallons last fall). Sadly, that first tree died in 2013 and was cut down. I saved the main trunk, throwing it up in the trusses in the garage. I knew nothing about sealing end grain then, so of course, it cracked like crazy. With 50 things to turn, I have been casting around for both ideas and ma...

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Part 28: Another square bowl

07-18-2019 01:45 PM by mnguy | 0 comments »

The first square I made was a challenge that I enjoyed, so when I unearthed a square of white oak that was left over from a project for friends (we replaced the threshold of their exterior door), I knew it had to be a square bowl. I drew inspiration from several Youtubers (thank you to all the folks that do such a wonderful job sharing their skills and process via that medium!) for a bowl with closed corners / feet. I didn’t about chip out with the thin areas at the edges of the feet...

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Part 29: Life is just a chair of bowlies

07-22-2019 05:16 PM by mnguy | 0 comments »

With apologies to Mary Engelbreit. Still working through a cherry log gifted to me by a neighbor ~3 years ago. I wanted to work on replicating work as a skill builder, as trying to make three “identical” bowls for my board and bowl piece didn’t go great. I made the first bowl after making sure I had more than 4 blanks roughly the same size. I then make a template / gauge for the side profile. Pretty simple turning. 4 matching bowls took me 6 total bowls; one was too sm...

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Part 30: Apple bowl

07-22-2019 05:56 PM by mnguy | 0 comments »

Same tree harvested in 2013. Simple form, cracks filled with epoxy. Finish is Clapham’s salad bowl finish. 5.5” diameter x 1.75” tall.

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Part 31: My first commissioned turning!

07-25-2019 01:35 PM by mnguy | 1 comment »

A friend commissioned a precision rolling pin – one that allows the user to roll out dough to a consistent depth. She wanted a free turning style with separate handles, so I bought Woodcraft’s rolling pin kit, which comes with a stainless shaft and sealed bearings. I glued up a blank from some beech I had on-hand. Beech was not the easiest wood to turn really smooth working across the grain, and I could only turn away so much material or there wouldn’t be adequate clearance ...

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Part 32: My new favorite turning project

08-01-2019 04:52 PM by mnguy | 0 comments »

This is the second project I have made from a 8/4 remnant, where I cut the piece in half and then glued the resulting pieces together. Both times, there was reasonable grain match so the resulting blank did not look obviously like it glued up from narrower pieces. This started as a piece of white oak from the scrap bins at Forest Products in Maplewood, MN (always a good place to get a cheap haul of offcuts from their cabinet shop operation). I am really happy with the rolled rim and the overa...

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Part 33: 50 for 50 gift bowl

08-01-2019 05:27 PM by mnguy | 0 comments »

A friend at work also turned 50 this year, and it got me thinking about a project that would make a nice gift for her while symbolizing her milestone birthday. So, I made a bowl with 50 segments. Straight forward construction out of cherry, with a mahogany bottom. The finish is Minwax Sedona Red, with sanding sealer, EEE polish and Shellawax. I was a little concerned about setting up my wedgie sled for accurate cuts at 18 degrees. I have previously always used 12 segment rings primarily be...

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Part 34: Rimmed platter

08-12-2019 06:59 PM by mnguy | 0 comments »

Simple white oak platter. 10.25” diameter. I had a terrible time with the finish for some reason. I could not see all the cross grain scratches until I put the Shellawax on. The end result is mediocre, but I like the form.

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Part 35: End of Day platter

08-12-2019 07:13 PM by mnguy | 3 comments »

Glass artists will sometimes throw all the remaining molten glass, with different colors, into one or two last objects at the end of the work day. This is sometimes referred to as End of Day glass. I figured gluing up a pile of offcuts from segmented turning and other projects was in the same spirit. So, the End of Day platter. The platter contains white oak, cherry, maple, walnut, beech, red oak and one piece of hickory. And maybe some ash? I would have been happier with the result if al...

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Part 36: Striped bowl

08-13-2019 01:15 PM by mnguy | 2 comments »

This piece was inspired by a Youtube video where the turner (apologies I don’t remember their name or channel) pattern routed a curving cut between halves of a blank and glued multiple strips of contrasting veneer into the space to make their final blank. I went simple with this one and just did a diagonal cut on the band saw, cleaned up the faces and glued in simple, thicker strips for contrast. Since I didn’t have a lot of thickness to work with, I roughed out the side profil...

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Part 37: Another apple and resin bowl

08-21-2019 01:36 PM by mnguy | 0 comments »

This was supposed to be somewhat of a ‘winged’ bowl, as I started with a half log chunk that was ~7” across and 12” long. The log had other ideas. I got chunks breaking off both long edges so I ended up turning it round vs. oblong. In retrospect I could have flipped the blank and maybe taken the chipped out areas out by removing material from the top / face of the bowl, but I took all off as I turned the back of the bowl and put a tenon on for the foot. The result was ...

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Part 38: Incorporating work into my work

08-28-2019 05:44 PM by mnguy | 0 comments »

I work in product design and engineering for a major retailer, and earlier this year I was working on designing a new collection of cutting boards. We focused our wood board development on rubber wood; the wood is reasonably strong and durable, it is widely available in many Asian countries (where we source many of our housewares products), and it is inexpensive. The wood is harvested from latex rubber trees that are no longer productive; much like mango wood, the old trees are harvested for ...

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Part 39: Sprucing things up

09-09-2019 02:09 PM by mnguy | 0 comments »

Another friend gave me a chunk of spruce. Ugh. I feel like I need to try and make something out of wood when people give it to me, but why can’t they give me better pieces of wood? Lol. The blank was actually pretty interesting. I just embraced the pitch pocket, voids and the prominent and soft end grain. I hand sanded the end grain, keeping the height variation between early and late wood while removing some of the roughness. Finish is Howard’s Feed and Wax. The friend like...

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Part 40: A pair of pedestal servers - BIG pedestal servers

09-20-2019 08:15 PM by mnguy | 0 comments »

I received a commission for a pair of pedestal servers. Big pedestal servers. The client wanted 16” diameter platters, and ~11” tall pedestals. He and his partner host elaborate drinks and appetizer parties, and these will be the centerpieces of their table. I learned quite a bit during this project. – Build in a hollow / dado on the inside of your blank when you are going to drill it out; it took forever to drill the first pedestal, but I left a space in the glue up fo...

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Part 41: Walnut and resin

10-03-2019 01:16 PM by mnguy | 1 comment »

One of my favorite sources of turning material has become the offcut bins at a local hardwood dealer + cabinet shop. Always something different, you have to design around the wood a bit, and it’s cheap! This piece of walnut had a through-crack, which filled nicely with tinted System III. Once on the lathe, I decided on a modern form. Finish is shellac sanding sealer and Ack’s abrasive paste.

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Part 42: Spalted birch

10-03-2019 08:57 PM by mnguy | 0 comments »

I saved this from a friend’s firewood pile in August. When I roughed out the blank on the band saw, I could see there was a bit of spalting, but I was pleasantly surprised with the extent and beauty of the spalting when I turned it. 6” diameter, sanding sealer then Ack’s abrasive paste. I am now extra bummed that almost all the birch had been split and I could only come up with two blanks from the whole pile.

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Part 43: Kept from the ashes

10-04-2019 01:22 PM by mnguy | 0 comments »

Neighbors took down a dying ash this summer, and I rescued some blanks off the pile before it went to the compost site. After around 3 months drying, with Anchorsealed ends, the wood was still a tiny bit damp, which made for nice turning. The finished bowl seems to be stable, so the wood must have been dry enough. This is my first time turning ash, and I really liked the aroma. 9.75” diameter, 3” tall. Shellac sanding sealer and Ack’s abrasive paste.

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