First bowl turning experiences

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First bowl turning experiences

Postby Steve Byrne » Sun Nov 30, 2008 3:42 pm

My hook tools having arrived from Gavin Phillips, I've been itching to try bowl turning, and so dived in and here is the result. I have to say that I now have a much greater respect for folk such as Robin Wood and Gavin, as it wasn't a quick process and I managed to break a tool in the process, but I got there in the end.

Image

My finish is rough as, but a little like getting used to the skew chisel when I first started spindle turning, there were moments when I hit a sweet spot, so there's hope.

Image

I reckon the hardest part was undercutting the core, which was where I managed to stress and break the tip off my curved hook tool...Took these shots just after I'd finished, so went back and cleaned up the base of the core, and its not just as rough now.

If I have any useful tips to pass on to budding bowl turners it is these -

1 - A bit of extra axe work on the blank will save a lot of time on the lathe.
2 - Rushing and getting your work off centre, will make life difficult. Take the time to get it right.

Here's my set up with a blank on the lathe -

Image
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Re: First bowl turning experiences

Postby robin wood » Sun Nov 30, 2008 4:05 pm

Nice one Twisty, that's an impressive first bowl, do I detect a little sanding? :D Shame for an expensive tool to break on your first bowl though. I am sure Gavin wouldn't want that. It sounds like it must have been too hard/brittle and needed tempering a little softer. It wouldn't surprise me if he offered to replace it for you or send it back to have the hook reforged and tempered.
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Re: First bowl turning experiences

Postby Steve Byrne » Sun Nov 30, 2008 6:37 pm

Hi Robin, the iffy finish is more due to scraping and not cutting properly, though in order to render it even vaguely useful I reckon I might have to resort to a bit of sanding...
I got the tip of the tool wedged right in under the core, and then as the work returned up, it must have just levered it open and taken off the tip.
Regarding the finish - I cannot for the life of me get an even finish on the outside - at the point where the grain reverses, I'm getting a rough patch. I've had a couple more goes, and each time am getting the same problem. Where the grain is with me, I'm getting a nice cut, but there are bits that are driving me mad...
Any tips?
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Re: First bowl turning experiences

Postby gavin » Sun Nov 30, 2008 9:19 pm

robin wood wrote:It wouldn't surprise me if he offered to replace it for you or send it back to have the hook reforged and tempered.


Indeed I did offer the repair, but Steve did the repair himself. :D

twisty wrote:I got the tip of the tool wedged right in under the core, and then as the work returned up, it must have just levered it open and taken off the tip.


I warrant all my hooks 12 months from date of payment if the hook breaks in use. ( I don't warrant they'll recover from bouncing on concrete. :wink: ) All I ask is that you confirm you were not cutting with the hook-tip only. (You see, if you do cut with the tip only and not the side-edge, you’ll lever the hook open and it will very rapidly fail and shear off.)

From e mail correspondence with Steve, I gather this 'tip cutting' was exactly what he did when undercutting the mandrel core. This undercutting is the hardest bit to master for a beginner, so I am not surprised he used the tip to attempt the undercut. I broke 2 myself when starting out - but then I learned from mistakes. Mandrel-core undercutting demands you work 'up hill' i.e. from thin to thick.

If you are lost reading this, I am sorry. One day, I'll find a patient camera person, excellent lighting, and we'll give you pix. Meantime, think of a cup hook. If you put a sudden load on the very tip only, it will deform.
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Re: First bowl turning experiences

Postby Steve Byrne » Sun Nov 30, 2008 9:34 pm

Gavin's right, and I should have made it clear that he did offer to repair the hook for me. I don't think any tool would have survived the forces that this poor hook was subjected to, and I'm on a steep learning curve. I certainly wouldn't get far without all the help given here in the forums.
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Re: First bowl turning experiences

Postby robin wood » Sun Nov 30, 2008 10:41 pm

twisty wrote:Regarding the finish - I cannot for the life of me get an even finish on the outside - at the point where the grain reverses, I'm getting a rough patch. I've had a couple more goes, and each time am getting the same problem. Where the grain is with me, I'm getting a nice cut, but there are bits that are driving me mad...
Any tips?


Poor finish can be down to lots of things

poor technique
poor tool
poor sharpening
poor wood
or a combination of all these. In fact since there are so many variables to play with there are probably 99 ways to get a poor finish for every one way of getting a good clean cut. Have you watched my youtube videos, they show some close ups of the tool cutting properly which may help you to hold it at the right angle.

Do you ever come to the mainland? if you came to the agm I with your lathe I am sure we could give you some good help, for free.
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Re: First bowl turning experiences

Postby robin wood » Sun Nov 30, 2008 10:45 pm

gavin wrote:
robin wood wrote:I warrant all my hooks 12 months from date of payment if the hook breaks in use. All I ask is that you confirm you were not cutting with the hook-tip only. (You see, if you do cut with the tip only and not the side-edge, you’ll lever the hook open and it will very rapidly fail and shear off.)


Good to hear folk offering good old fashioned no quibble service. Out of interest what is the tip for if not for cutting?
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Re: First bowl turning experiences

Postby Steve Byrne » Sun Nov 30, 2008 11:22 pm

I'm guilty of several of those I suspect. My viewing at the moment is almost entirely bowl turning videos, but there's no substitute for actually seeing someone do it 'live'. With the spindle turning, I made sure to get everything super sharp and then I only had my technique to blame if it all went wrong, so I'll do the same with the bowl turning and practice an awful lot.
It's just good to eliminate all the obvious things first. I'm off to watch more YouTube videos...
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Re: First bowl turning experiences

Postby gavin » Mon Dec 01, 2008 12:17 am

twisty wrote:Regarding the finish - I cannot for the life of me get an even finish on the outside - at the point where the grain reverses, I'm getting a rough patch. I've had a couple more goes, and each time am getting the same problem. Where the grain is with me, I'm getting a nice cut, but there are bits that are driving me mad...
Any tips?

- Besides the points Robin mentions, I'd also look at
  • rotational speed - faster will be a smoother surface
  • length of blade in contact with the work - smaller length will mean your force is concentrated in a shorter length, which should give a better cut
  • moisture content - I find dripping wet wood will give me the problem you describe too
Do take Robin up on his offer of coaching at the AGM. He's turned a lot more bowls than me, and written a very fine book. I'll be there with my lathe(s), so even if you don't bring your own, you - or any one else - are most welcome to use mine for his instruction.
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Re: First bowl turning experiences

Postby Steve Byrne » Mon Dec 01, 2008 12:46 am

Thanks for the tips. My wood was pretty wet, so I'll take comfort in that being a factor in the finish. A couple of really basic questions relating to using a tool on the outer surface.
It's hard to see the close ups on Robin's vid, its quite dark, but it looks like the cut on the outer surface is being made 'hook in' , and further on, it looks like the cut is being made 'hook out' if that makes sense. Is that what I can see ?

I'll try drier wood and sharpen everything again, and practice, practice.

cheers
Steve
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Re: First bowl turning experiences

Postby paul atkin » Tue Dec 02, 2008 1:10 pm

nice effort there twisty on your very first bowl, your obviously very keen to improve your skills, as folk have pointed out it is very hard to describe to someone how you hold your hooks, we all do it without really thinking about it, and everyone turning bowls will be doing it on slighty different lathes/ tools wood etc, when using your hooks you are aiming to slice the wood, eg if you are say taking off a shaving about 1/8 in you will have approx 1/4 in of witchever part of the hook you are using cutting in a slicing action, this avoids any dig ins, and yep practice and more practice, learning a craft your self you will pick up a lot more knowledge than been taught like a robot, it will take longer but is worth it.
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Re: First bowl turning experiences

Postby Nicola Wood » Tue Dec 02, 2008 2:08 pm

I've put up some advice from Robin with pictures for you here viewtopic.php?f=14&t=710
I hope it helps!
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Re: First bowl turning experiences

Postby Steve Byrne » Tue Dec 02, 2008 2:29 pm

Oh, brilliant Nicola, that looks great. I'll let you know how I get on...

cheers
Steve
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Re: First bowl turning experiences

Postby paul atkin » Tue Dec 02, 2008 4:55 pm

steve the one thing i did notice in your set up is the drive strap running out the back of the lathe, try running it through the middle of your lathe bed, you will get a lot more power in your stroke.
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Re: First bowl turning experiences

Postby roger chorley » Tue Jan 27, 2009 11:16 pm

just before christmas took delivery of a set of tools made by gavin phillips,and this is my first attempt.Image
it was hard work.Image
but alot of funImage
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