So, I am still playing around with my lathe, as predicted. A week or so ago I began turning various pieces of fruit: an apple and a pear made from cherry, a couple of plums made from walnut, and a banana made from canary. I gave up on the banana half way through as it looks like it would have involved some crazy chuck mounting shenanigans that are still a tad beyond me, but I may get back to it one of these days. The stalks are turned from small pieces of ebony and, for authenticity’s sake, I stuck a clove in their bottoms to make it look like the remnants of a blossom.
Next, I decided to turn my first bowl from a walnut blank. The one you see in the picture is my second attempt, because my first attempt got slightly damaged following an unscheduled excursion from the chuck.
It was all going so well. I had shaped the bottom of the bowl and formed a recess for the chuck to grip it in expansion mode. Then I had sanded down through the grits and applied two coats of shellac and two of wax. Then I had flipped the bowl round on the chuck and begun hollowing. Just as I was making my last few cuts I had a catch, which cracked the recess and sent the bowl in a parabolic arc across the workshop. It landed with a crash and a crunch on the concrete floor. At least, I assume it did – I couldn’t actually hear what sound it made over all the swearing that had suddenly filled my face shield.
When I had calmed down, I had a word with myself and agreed to give it another go. The second attempt went fairly well, but the result was not quite big enough for all of my fruit, so I had to leave out one of my plums (now there’s a sentence that is reliant on context!)
Next, I found some an piece of cherry branch that had come with the lathe, and I turned an ornamental mushroom with it (right). I was so pleased with the result that I made two more with some willow (centre) and some camellia (left) that I cut down last year. In each case, I left the bark visible on the rim of the cup – I believe this termed a ‘natural edge’ – but I might try a few more without the bark, perhaps with different species.
Finally, I decided to have a bash at an egg and eggcup. Even if I say so myself, I am very pleased with the results. The egg is a bit rough where I parted it off, so I might have to re-sand that part, but overall, this is my favourite piece to date. The egg is made from apple and the eggcup from cocobolo. I will definitely be turning some more of these with different species.
One of the biggest realisations to come out of my turning so far is just how mush waste there is. I knew there would be plenty shavings, but I hadn’t really appreciated quite how much. I’m up to my ears in the stuff and I’m left wondering what to do with it all. If there are any turners out there – what do you do with your shavings?
On the flip side, I am making use of small scrap pieces of wood that would otherwise be chucked, so that offsets the wastage a little bit.
One thing I must sort out is a proper home for my lathe tools and some kind of dust extraction, so I’ll probably lay off the turning for a little while until I sort that out.