advice on preparing blanks with chainsaw?

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Re: advice on preparing blanks with chainsaw?

Postby Stanleythecat » Thu Jun 23, 2011 9:50 am

Stanleythecat wrote:Would it be too purist to say that if you are using a chainsaw to rough blanks you might as well be using a power lathe to turn it?

At what point after felling do we resign ourselves to hand tools and the peace of the wood? Don't get me wrong, I use a chainsaw a lot but when it comes to green woodwork aren't we here because we have a passion for traditional skills and mastering the intuitive skills of our not so distant past?



The irony! I'm now looking to speed up how I could prep a bowl blank and find myself leaning ever closer to my chainsaw! The axe is good... but I now want to get on and turn a few bowls!
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Re: advice on preparing blanks with chainsaw?

Postby chainsawkid » Thu Jun 23, 2011 5:54 pm

Hiya :D

I use a chainsaw most days, (being a tree surgeon) and turn bowls quite a few evenings a week. I don't use a chainsaw to prepare a blank but only ever only use an axe, the more you prepare the quicker it gets so I only take 5 mins appx per bowl. On my history inspired bowls I leave an axe facet or two which shows how the bowls have been prepared. I do obviously use a chainsaw to fell and process into "billets", but after that it's just froe and axe. So for how long a bowl might take to turn, I can't be bothered to get my safety gear on (and off) etc as it would only save me a couple of mins.

ATB
james :)
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Re: advice on preparing blanks with chainsaw?

Postby Stanleythecat » Fri Jun 24, 2011 12:01 pm

chainsawkid wrote:Hiya :D

I use a chainsaw most days, (being a tree surgeon) and turn bowls quite a few evenings a week. I don't use a chainsaw to prepare a blank but only ever only use an axe, the more you prepare the quicker it gets so I only take 5 mins appx per bowl. On my history inspired bowls I leave an axe facet or two which shows how the bowls have been prepared. I do obviously use a chainsaw to fell and process into "billets", but after that it's just froe and axe. So for how long a bowl might take to turn, I can't be bothered to get my safety gear on (and off) etc as it would only save me a couple of mins.

ATB
james :)



James!! 5 mins to blank a bowl, that's incredible! Are there any hints that you would care to share? It takes me a lot longer. How 'bowl like' is it when you mount it on the lathe, I wonder if I am too fussy and do you have a special 'roughing out' hook that's more robust!

Can I ask what is your preferred wood? We have an abundance of beech, some smaller birch and not much else really.

Sorry for all the questions, good to be able to pick someone's brains.

Leo
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Re: advice on preparing blanks with chainsaw?

Postby Paul Thornton 2sheds » Fri Jun 24, 2011 8:52 pm

Stanleythecat wrote:
chainsawkid wrote:Hiya :D

I use a chainsaw most days, (being a tree surgeon) and turn bowls quite a few evenings a week. I don't use a chainsaw to prepare a blank but only ever only use an axe, the more you prepare the quicker it gets so I only take 5 mins appx per bowl. On my history inspired bowls I leave an axe facet or two which shows how the bowls have been prepared. I do obviously use a chainsaw to fell and process into "billets", but after that it's just froe and axe. So for how long a bowl might take to turn, I can't be bothered to get my safety gear on (and off) etc as it would only save me a couple of mins.

ATB
james :)



James!! 5 mins to blank a bowl, that's incredible! Are there any hints that you would care to share? It takes me a lot longer. How 'bowl like' is it when you mount it on the lathe, I wonder if I am too fussy and do you have a special 'roughing out' hook that's more robust!

Can I ask what is your preferred wood? We have an abundance of beech, some smaller birch and not much else really.

Sorry for all the questions, good to be able to pick someone's brains.

Leo


i think i may be right in thinking it was Chainsaw kid who came highly commended in the half hour challenge having turned a bowl in 22mins?
thats fast
learning more every day
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Re: advice on preparing blanks with chainsaw?

Postby chainsawkid » Sat Jun 25, 2011 10:48 am

Well, there are no secrets or quick fixes, my process is simply froe a billet in half, removing the central pith as well, so I'm left with a small plank and two halves. Taking one of the halves I then use my Kent pattern axe to flatten off the cleaved area so the mandril will fit perpendicular. Then I use a set of dividers to mark the largest bowl I can get out of the piece of wood on the flat side. With the axe I take a corner off the 'outside' at an angle of 45 degrees, and then you're left with two high 'points' in that corner, one at 22 1/2 degrees, and one at 67 1/2 degrees, which I then axe off. Now, I carry out the same process on the adjacent corner at the same end. I then refine that end so the outside meets with the scribed mark underneath, making it as close to round as possible using basically the same process of taking off the high points. I then do the same at the other end of the original half. I always aim to get the outside surface to within 1-2mm outside the mark. So it's about taking 'high' points off, concentrating on those, and the 'low' points will become those facets if you wish to leave an indication of how the bowl was made. The closer to round you can make it with the axe, the less passes needed to make the outside of the bowl on the lathe which also makes it feel nicer when turning.

It's quite important with the axe to be confident and obviously safe so axing away from the body, and making sure your thumb isn't in the danger zone ie tuck it against your first finger so you only hold the rim of the bowl. With the axe use confident 'blows' so it travels through the wood perhaps a few times to make one facet as opposed to just chipping away less confidently. The weight of the axe is designed to travel through the wood so the further it travels through the wood the quicker the preparation. I always orientate the blank with my left hand so the axe is travelling almost straight down towards the chopping block, through the blank and into the chopping block.

Of course the axe is important, mine is a W Gilpin, it was sourced from eBay and was not sharp... it's important to refine the bevel so it is fine, so it does not catch on the bowl blank and bounce off as a consequence. The bevel on mine is half an inch but not sure of the angle. The weight is 2 lb 14 oz (including the shaft). A friend of mine has a Gransfors carving axe which has been factory-sharpened for right-handed use and I've found apart from it being lighter than my axe, it worked very well.

Sorry about getting detailed with the degrees but it seems the only way of describing the method I use subconsciously so have tried my best to explain what I do in words! Also don't take this as gospel, I'm sure you will develop your own technique which suits you best, but hope all this helps. One of the other reasons I axe out blanks is for the immense respect I have for the hard work of the bowl turners of the past and it makes me feel a little bit closer to what they did.

I appreciate it's probably easier to watch the above method in action - so I'm hoping to make a video of preparing a blank, and will post soon. But it is just about practice and quantity... no secrets.... :D
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Re: advice on preparing blanks with chainsaw?

Postby Stanleythecat » Mon Jun 27, 2011 1:12 pm

Thanks James
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Re: advice on preparing blanks with chainsaw?

Postby jrccaim » Tue Jun 28, 2011 4:17 am

It is impossible to survive in Bush Alaska without a chainsaw. Or two. I understand the viewpoint of the original post. One wants to turn a bowl. One does not want to spend a lifetime preparing a blank. But of all the power tools I can think of for preparing blanks (sections of a cone) a chainsaw is the worst. Oh, you can do it. Split the log in half. Crosscut it square. Take off the corners, make it an octagon. Tilt the saw to make a taper. You will need some sort of fixture to hold the blo-- blasted thing while you do so. If you are really good you can make a hexadecagon. The problem to my mind is making the fixture. All I can think of is a sort of vertical bowl lathe with a lot of friction. Safety is not an issue in this case. You are not making plunge cuts, the tip of the saw will not jam unless you are extremely careless. It is the upper-quadrant of tip that causes kickback. You are crosscutting all the way, on pulling chain. Clear tip. But never neglect the helmet, earmuffs, face shield and other safety gear.

Still sticking with the intent (as I see it) of the original post, if a quick blank is your objective, a bandsaw with a tilting table is a far better, and much safer, tool. They are not cheap (what is, anymore?) but can be found used at quite reasonable prices. I found mine free, in fact. You will want, no doubt, to make a fixture for bowl blanks.

That said I have cut out all my bowl blanks with an axe. Not so difficult; see chainsawkid's post. Of course if I had to make a couple hundred bowls, I would think otherwise.
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Re: advice on preparing blanks with chainsaw?

Postby dervishcarving » Sun Aug 12, 2012 7:25 pm

Found this thread as i was going to ask about cutting blanks with a chainsaw. I do a lot of chainsaw stuff as a carver and i guess i have a pretty good idea of how to use it fairly safely. At the moment i have access to plenty of offcuts of 2 or 3 inch thick Elm. Given it already has a nice flat face either side i use my main saw to cut out a marked disc and then i use a carvign saw to shape the sides. I have a rubbish black and decker workmate thing that is useless for most things but it holds a black quite nicely for shaping the sides (and for the initial cutting-out)
I guess the simple answer (on the safety side) is that all tools can be dangerous if you dotn take proper care. An axe will take a toe off as easily as a chainsaw. If you are experienced using a chainsaw then i cant see any reason not to use one (except the 'iffy' purist argument). I find I dont have great axe skills and am more likely to make an error with an axe than a saw but thats just me
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Re: advice on preparing blanks with chainsaw?

Postby gavin » Mon Aug 13, 2012 9:38 am

dervishcarving wrote:i have access to plenty of offcuts of 2 or 3 inch thick Elm. Given it already has a nice flat face either side i use my main saw to cut out a marked disc and then i use a carvign saw to shape the sides.

Your elm is probably dry. YOu'd be a long time axing it. Sounds like you have suitable skills to do this with chainsaw. Go to it. Pls post pictures.
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Re: advice on preparing blanks with chainsaw?

Postby ToneWood » Mon Aug 13, 2012 10:53 pm

CHAINSAW
Before I discovered this forum, I carved a couple of bowls out of a big piece of quite old, dry, hard beech, using the limited number of tools I had to hand - which included a small, cheap Ryobi chainsaw.

I came across a video on youtube of some chap somewhere exotic (Philipines/Mexico/... I don't recall) who used to carve bowls by hand but then got a small chainsaw. He cut a grid pattern into the flat top of the bowl to ease removal of the wood. So, that's what I did to start with.

I can't recommend it though. Chainsaws are expensive, noisy, dangerous, smelly, polluting things that need a lot of attention and maintenance, and leave chain oil all over the place. If you go that way, make sure you wear all the expensive safety gear and know how to use it. Also, how long does it take to: get the gear on, the chainsaw out, sharpen the chain, fuel & oiled up & clean-up afterwards (clean the bar groove & drive sproket area, grease the end-sprocket)?

HAND TOOLS
With reasonably green wood, it took me only 20 minutes of so to hollow out my most recent big round oak bowl (it too was an 18" blank) using a dinky little 600g Hans Karlsson cup adze. You could probably do it even quicker with the slightly larger 700g HK adze or the bigger, heavier Gransfor Bruks adze - but it felt quick enough to me and gave me good control of the process. And the blank was oak (dense & heavy) and several months old too (so perhaps not as soft as it would be fresh). Images here: viewtopic.php?f=26&t=2389

I split the log using Pa's old splitting wedges (about £7 if you shop around, less at car boot sales) - I'd sharpened one especially for this purpose - and a 10lb sledge hammer but that is unnnecessary, I've since bought a small 4lb lump hammer to do the job instead. I enjoyed doing it and it gave me excellent control of the split (the log had some defects so I needed to split carefully). I spent a lot of time carving the outside of the bowl (unusual, it was always the inside that took the time before I bit the bullet and bought the adze); I should probably have spent more time with the axe on initial shaping.

EPILOGUE
My chainsaw is in the shop currently, having a new starter mechanism fitted, again. :( (On the positive side, being rather cheap & plasticky, the parts are also somewhat cheaper than the more highly regarded brands). My hand tools on the other hand are all in working order and a pleasure to own & use. I just strop them after use to maintain/enhance the edge. Chainsaws have their place but there are better ways to carve bowls.
Last edited by ToneWood on Thu Oct 25, 2012 7:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: advice on preparing blanks with chainsaw?

Postby JonGibbs » Tue Aug 14, 2012 4:43 pm

While I'd agree with Tonewood in general, roughing out bowls from elm and/or burrs might be a bit of a challenge without a saw (chain or band) wouldn't they?

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Re: advice on preparing blanks with chainsaw?

Postby ToneWood » Tue Aug 14, 2012 8:02 pm

Haven't dealt with elm yet (all the big ones nearby were decimated, no actually worse, exterminated by dutch elm disease when I was a boy). Pretty tough to work with then? I have avoided burrs so far (I was given a small dry burr) - I figure they are probably tough and therefore better suited to turning than hand carving(?).
Robin Fawcett wrote:
goldsmithexile wrote: BUT I think I need a slightly heavier axe with a long handle AND some sizable iron dogs to hold the blanks on my chopping block


Yes - I've just got the Gransfors Broad axe and it's perfect for the job.

Image
...
Nice axes Robin :). Do both of your axes have symmetrical carving bevels? I'm wondering if a right-handed broad-axe - or a side axe - might be the best thing for rough shaping the bowl blank. For my large bowl, the SCA seemed a bit small for the initial cuts (and a big large for the later cuts :D). I think the SCA head is just under 1kg, about 2lb - so the 3lb broad axe head looks like a good option (I have/had a nice 4lb head Kent-style axe but I think that is probably too big & heavy for this task -it's fantastic for splitting logs though). Do you find the broad axe useful for many other things?

Gransfor Bruks Broad axes: http://www.gransfors.com/downloads/pdf/ ... ld_eng.pdf

I don't know if I'd want to use metal dogs with nice axes like that (but certainly better than loosing fingers/toes). Maybe wooden dogs? I have a big old tyre/tire screwed to the top of my chopping block - it helps reduce movement and you can jam in other blocks of wood to may it snug if you need to.

[Robin, are you any relation to the climber Ron Fawcett? Sorry, every time I see your name that question occurs to me :D]
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Re: advice on preparing blanks with chainsaw?

Postby dervishcarving » Tue Aug 14, 2012 9:12 pm

A couple of blanks prepared using one of my chainsaws. a 10 inch and an 8 inch one. Not saying its the easiest or safest way but it works for me
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