"Square" Turnings #1: Off-Cut Turning #1

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Blog entry by onefullturn posted 03-22-2017 07:06 PM 1044 reads 1 time favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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I recently posted a project involving a square turning and was asked how it is done. I often use this method to turn small boxes from off-cuts. Let’s start with this piece of spalted maple. It has nice spalting and a bit of spongy wood on one face. That part will be turned away.

I start by mounting between centres and truing up the face near the tailstock. With small pieces like this, turning the corners does usually not present any problems. I start with a 1/4 inch bowl gouge to obtain a slightly concave shape, taking care to remove small amounts only when turning “wood / air” parts. A round nose scraper is used for the final cut. The bottom is turned concave so it will sit of 4 “little feet” and impart a more delicate shape to the piece. Once I am pleased with the bottom shape, I turn a dovetailed spigot so I can mount the bottom into a chuck.

With the bottom of the piece mounted in the chuck, the top hollowing is started. To start, I usually use a small scraper to obtain a negative angled opening. (Gouges are more prone to catches for the angled cuts.) I continue to hollow with the small bowl gouge and finish with a Oneway Termite tool. The Termite tool is fantastic for small hollowing jobs like this. Used correctly, it generally leaves a surface that requires 180 or 220 grit sanding to start.

As a design refinement, I turned the top of this piece slightly concave as well. Note – if I am putting a lid on it, I turn the area of the top adjacent to the opening flat (about 1/8 inch or so) so the lid will sit flat. After turning cuts are completed, I sand the interior up to 600 grit.

Next, I turn a jam chuck to fit the opening. Pine is a good choice for this chuck because it tends to be a bit more “springy” than hardwoods and grabs the piece more securely. Note that the area beyond the jam spigot is turned so it flares back. This is to accommodate the concave top of the piece. I want that little flat area adjacent to the rim to sit flush on the jam chuck.

Here is the piece mounted on the jam chuck.

I take very small cuttings, about 1/64 inch, to ensure the piece does not catch and come unseated from its friction fit. After the spigot is removed and the bottom shaped, it is sanded. Then I use a disc sanding attachment to smooth the sides. A lighter grit is used to sand the “feet” to make sure the piece does not rock.

The piece does not necessarily have to be square. Nor do the sides have to be 90 degrees to the bottom. The grain and colour of the wood often helps make these choices for me. Sometimes a slight pyramidal shape makes the piece very unique. Another design variation is to impart a slight concave or convex shape to the sides. As a last step, I remove sharp edges and corners with a couple of strokes of 600 grit. I find making use of off-cuts such as this very enjoyable. Hope you do too!

-- One Full Turn Woodturnings

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