Snowman – A Christmas Turning

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So the latest in my tool addiction is my lathe.  As an update, when I went to the woodworking in America show, I got a really good deal on the Delta lathe I had been looking at.  Since then I have been turning like mad.  My first project was a set of screwdrivers, which will be the subject of a future post.  The latest turning I have completed is this snowman.  Actually this is the second attempt actually, the first one turned out okay, but it took a little bit of imagination to see it as a snowman.  So I started out again.  First thing is I wanted some actual features (buttons, eyes, nose, mouth, etc.) on this one.  So the first thing I did was took some scrap Brazilian cherry and started turning it into pegs.  Several 1/4″ round and a bunch 3/8″ round.  In the maple blank, I laid out each segment of the snowman, including the tenons which will loosely fit into the next section.  I then laid out the position for each eye, mouth dot, and button, and drilled them out on the drill press.  From there I glued in the pegs, and let them sit so that they were good and dry.  From there, I cut each section of the blank free, and then knocked the corners off with the band saw.

The turning of each section was the same.  First mounted the top of the blank to the faceplate, and the rough rounded the blank.  I then drilled out about 1/2″ deep hole that I proceeded to further hollow out to size and shape, to both accept the tenon from the lower segment, and to fit on the jaws of my Nova chuck.  From there, I rounded the piece again  to make sure the piece was balanced, form the tenon, then form the shape of the segment.  I used my skew chisels to make the segment as rounded as possible.  I hollowed out each section with 1.5″ inch forstner bit.  Since I don’t have any hollowing tools yet, that is the furthest I went with it, but there is still some room for some small pieces of candy or other small items.  Finally each segment was sanded smooth.

The finish on the main body is simply shellac.  I wanted to keep the wood as light as possible (its supposed to resemble snow after all!) so I didn’t put any oil on it.  The hat I stained.  I wish I hadn’t.  If I make one of these again, I will get a dark wood for the hat that I can use oil and shellac to finish.

While the stain was drying, I decided to have some more fun.  I turned the pipe from two pieces.  This was a fairly challenging piece to turn since it was so small. The pipe was finished with boiled linseed oil and shellac.  Finally I turned the carrot nose.  The finish on this was orange marker.  🙂  After very carefully drilling the holes in the head segment for these, they were glued in place.

Overall, this was a fun and a challenging project that I have about 8-10 hours put into.  Some how I have a feeling this won’t be the last snowman I turn on the lathe.

Turning #6 – My Second Mallet

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I decided that after attempting to use the first mallet, I needed one that had a little bit of heft to it.  When looking at the prices on some of the mallets on the market that were comparable to what I was wanting to make, I decided it was worth it to use an exotic blank that was heavy.  In this case the mallet is made from a South African species known as Mopane.  This stuff was DENSE and HARD.  The blank was 3″x3″x12″, and easily weighed 3 pounds.  I bought two other blanks of the same size at the same time that were maple and cherry.  The mopane blank was heavier then those two combine!

For a newbie turner, the wood choice made this a challenging turn.  It forced me to get real good real quick at sharpening chisels as this wood was not at all forgiving with a dull chisel, and would rip out if the chisel needed sharpening.  My one regret is that I wish I had taken more time to try to smooth the head of the mallet and do a better job sanding.  There are some scratches on the head portion that didn’t become visible until I applied the finish.  Since this is a shop project, and the head is going to get abused anyway, I didn’t worry about it, and moved on.  The finish on it is, again, boiled linseed oil, with many coats of shellac sanded to 800 grit.  Overall, I am really happy with the piece, and have had two family members try to talk me out of using it for its intended purpose.  The final weigh-in for this mallet was just shy of 20 oz!

Turnings 3, 4, & 5 – Marking Knives

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I am getting ready to take a class at my local Woodcraft to learn to how to make hand cut dovetails.  Most of the tool requirements listed I already owned.  One of the exceptions was a marking knife.  I decided to give it a try at making one.  I bought a couple pen blanks of Brazilian Cherry as I really liked how the finish came out on the hand plane tote and knob.  Alas the first attempt at the first knife ended in disaster.  When I went to drill the hole for the blade tang, the piece split all the way down.  Bummer!  So I started over, and once I got the handle turned, I drilled progressively larger until I got to the size hole needed.  After epoxying in the blade and playing around with it, I realized the blade was too short and way too wide to be practical for marking dovetail cut lines.  I decided to try again, but this time used some scrap cherry left over from the chisel rack.  This is a much narrower handle, for a much narrower and longer blade.  This should be much better suited for cutting dovetails.  The last one was made as I had made an experimental blade before doing anything for real.  Even the it is beveled for a lefty and I am right handed (oops) I decided to make one more handle for this one.

Also, I made the blades from a demolition reciprocating saw blade, which is about 1/16″ thick piece of metal.  I used my Dremel to cut the metal, and grind and belt sander to do the shaping and beveling.  I then sharpened them like I would any other blade.

Turning #2 – Hand Plane Knob

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This was for a plane restore that I discuss in an earlier blog post, which can be found here.  I actually bought a bowl turning blank that if I recall correctly was a 6″x6″x2″ piece of Brazilian Cherry.  The purpose of using a big piece like that was so I could get both the tote and knob from the same piece of wood.  I cut a 2″x2″x6″ piece with my band saw.  Had I done this today, I would have cut that piece in half for another turning project.  But I still was real confident about getting the sizing right so I used the hole piece.  The finish on this is boiled linseed oil and several coats of shellac.  I was MUCH happier with the finish on this piece then I was on the last one.

My First “Practical Turning” – A mallet

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About this time last year my Dad gave me vintage Delta lathe, that I have figured out to be the Delta Double Duty 955.  It came with a lot of worn out turning tool, all of which were too small to be practical.  I still have them, but they do not get used much.  So that I could start the process of learning how to turn, and learning how to sharpen turning tools properly, I went against my rule of not buying cheap tools and bought a very cheap set from Harbor Freight.  I still take much flak for this today.  🙂  The sad thing is, they work better than even I thought they would, and I am still using them today!

After turning several pieces of wood into saw dust, I decided I would try something small, but potentially practical.  I had just completed the purchase of my chisels and decided I could use a good chisel/carving mallet.  I wasn’t really ready yet to try spinning a big piece of wood, so I made a small one.  A very small one.  🙂  So in reality it is too small to be practical, but someday I may have a use for it.  It was turned from a 1.5″ x 1.5″ x 12″ piece of maple turning stock.  It was my first attempt at finishing on the lathe, and I had not yet found the joy of using boiled linseed oil with shellac.  I ended up staining and putting a poly finish on it.  The finish ended up burning on the piece.  If any thing, it made a neat effect.  🙂