My first turning.

  • Advertise with us
Project by J posted 06-19-2013 04:58 PM 1721 views 2 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This turning was made from a green big leaf maple round that was partially spalted. Since it was my first turning I wasn’t really concerned with the finished product, only learning how to properly sharpen my chisels, learn turning technique, and get a feel for my lathe. I made my blank with a chainsaw, and bandsaw. Next, I roughly shaped the outside and hollowed to about 1” thick walls. I dried the rough turning in the oven. I turned the final form, the walls are 3/8”, and uniform in thickness. It’s sanded to 400 and finished with paste wax. I have quite a bit to learn, but I am looking forward to turning dry wood next time.

13 comments so far

View Tom Godfrey's profile

Tom Godfrey

488 posts in 3146 days

#1 posted 06-19-2013 05:03 PM

Think you did a great job. My first sure didn’t turn out that great. As for me I prefer turning green wood and drying in the microwave and then do the final turning once its dry. I can’t stand waiting months for something to dry and most likely I will have forgotten where I put the blank or what I was going to do with it.
You have every reason to be proud of yourself.

-- Tom Godfrey Landrum South Carolina ([email protected])

View LesB's profile


2791 posts in 4413 days

#2 posted 06-19-2013 05:54 PM


-- Les B, Oregon

View LesB's profile


2791 posts in 4413 days

#3 posted 06-19-2013 05:57 PM

You are off to one of the best starts I have seen.
I think you will find microwave drying works better than a warm/hot oven. Particularly if you use the method of putting the item in a brown paper bag to contain some of the evaporating moisture. It acts like a steam kiln and helps prevent the stress that occurs in the wood when the surface dries faster than the interior. Also the microwave heats the internal moisture and causes it to rise to the surface faster. I usually heat the piece until it is almost to hot to hold in you hand, take it out, partially open the bag to let moisture escape and let it cool. I repeat this until the wood it dry. If I notice small cracks forming I apply thick super glue to them which usually stops them from getting bigger. Thick super glue sets slower so it has time to wick into the crack better. It also makes quick repairs to blemishes or cracks that you find while turning. On bigger blemishes and cracks just work some saw dust in with the glue.
I too live in the Pacific NW and big leaf maple is abundant and great to turn.

You are hooked now. Every piece of scrap or fire wood you see will have potential for turning.

-- Les B, Oregon

View peteg's profile


4436 posts in 3793 days

#4 posted 06-19-2013 09:33 PM

Welcome to the world of turning, this is a great first up & you should be very proud of the result. This has a very nice shape & finish, well done,
Remember you have to keep your first piece (dont sell it) as that now becomes your measurement of progress at any time.
lets see the next one:)

-- Pete G: If you always do what you always did you'll always get what you always got

View J's profile


48 posts in 3117 days

#5 posted 06-19-2013 11:58 PM

Thanks LJ’s for the comments. LesB (or any turner with insight), I had quite a bit of tear out on cross grain and I ended up sanding for many hours, is this an issue with chisels or just wood that is still wet, or is it the nature of a (uncured) softer hardwood? Much of my final cutting was done with a fingernail grind 3/8” gouge (I used the Captain Eddie videos as a reference for jig making etc.) and flat scrapers. I blew my budget on the lathe and dovetail chuck accessories and ended up buying an 8 piece HSS turning set from HF, which appeared to have been sharpened by taking a hammer to the sharp edges and giving them all the cutting power of a sphere, but I am confident that I replicate the sharpening techniques accurately now. I would also ask of the other LJ’s about longer tools, angled bowl scrapers and long shank and handle hollowing tools – have you made your own? bought parts? I have seen the Sorby chisels, but I am also not eager to drop $130 on one chisel.

View aussiedave's profile


3114 posts in 2794 days

#6 posted 06-20-2013 03:41 AM

Damn!...if that is your first attempt at turning, you are going to be one hell of a turner. Also as Pete says don’t sell it keep it so you see your progress. Almost makes me want to go out and buy a lathe….Well done.

-- Dave.......If at first you don’t succeed redefine success....

View lew's profile


13272 posts in 4726 days

#7 posted 06-20-2013 03:43 AM

Beautiful Vase! I love the shape.
As for the tearout on cross grain, sharp tools will reduce it but it has been my experience that you’ll always have some. Sanding is part of the game.

I use one of these on an electric drill to speed up the sanding process-

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

View GT350's profile


382 posts in 2952 days

#8 posted 06-20-2013 04:21 AM

Very nice, if that’s your first turning I can’t wait to see your projects when you get some experience.

View J's profile


48 posts in 3117 days

#9 posted 06-20-2013 05:50 AM

Lew, you have perhaps the greatest avatar on the internet; you should be the next Dr. Who based upon that picture alone. I have long admired your projects (especially the Damascus steel knife project) and been thankful for the wisdom that you share here on LJ’s. I use a similar rig to your link for waxing and polishing and could easily sand with it as well (I will be using that tip, thank you very much). And to Tom, Pete, Les, AussieDave, Lew and GT; I really appreciate the feedback. I still would like to know – how do you get into and hollow out the vessel when it is 10” or 12” deep, or more? Is it the tool rest? or long steel on a long handle?

View lew's profile


13272 posts in 4726 days

#10 posted 06-20-2013 07:32 PM

Wow! Thank you so much for the very kind words. I’m afraid, at my age, I couldn’t even be Dr. Was!
Anyway, here are 2 links for some suggestions about the deep vessels. Most of this stuff could be shop made especially if you have access to a machine shop and/or welder. You may have to buy come cutters and there are lots of places that sell carbide or machine tool cutter stock.

Also, here’s a link to an interesting guy that you may find interesting-

P.S.- still trying to figure out how to animate my avatar here on LJs

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

View CalgaryGeoff's profile


937 posts in 3452 days

#11 posted 06-24-2013 06:18 AM

Your vessel shape and form is very well balanced and proportioned and therefore, pleasing to the eyes. Great first project. I have my first turning from 30 years ago, it started me down the path of hobby wood working.

Quality turning tools, oh my they are expensive. Capt. Eddie is a riot, I enjoy his postings. Look up Malcolm Tibbets, he’s one of lathe turning top artistic design and turners.

Best of luck with your tool builds, I’ve made a few “new” shaped lathe tools from older ones to meet my needs.

-- If you believe you can or can not do a thing, you are correct.

View LesB's profile


2791 posts in 4413 days

#12 posted 06-27-2013 04:49 PM

Most woods have some end grain tear out. Big Leaf Maple is high on that list. Sharp tools and improving your technique will help. The speed of your lathe can affect it also. Faster speeds have less tear out but do it safely. Green wood cuts so easily that high speed can be dangerous. Also if you lathe is reversible I have found that making some final passes in the opposite direction removes most of the tear out. Then go to 60 grit sand paper.

I recently started using the carbide tipped tools by Easy Wood Tools but there are others making similar ones. I tried Sorby’s with the interchangable heads and did not like them because the head assembly requires the tool to set too far out in front of the tool rest which could be hazardous for a rookie turner. The carbide tips do a great job and sharpening is not needed; although I have found I can take the bits and place them face down on a fine grade diamond sharpening stone, rubbing them around in a circle and they are almost as sharp as new. No skill required for that one. There are some great hollowing tools for making bowls. My preference is Munro’s hollowing tool from Australia. Only a couple of on line companies that carry it and it is expensive. It too is carbide.
Deep vessels require special support and in some cases special tools. Look through the catalogs and you will find them. Personally I don’t do enough of that type of turning to justify the expense. My work favors the more functional or practical than artistic.

-- Les B, Oregon

View TravisH's profile


752 posts in 2905 days

#13 posted 07-05-2013 04:10 PM

I find this very aesthetically pleasing based on the curves and “simplicity” of the piece. In my opinion too many miss the mark and make pieces that are far from harmonious (overly complex, busy, and push the piece to gaudiness). So often less is more and shows the craftsman behind the piece.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics