Drying chestnut table lamp

discussion of the niceties of turning on a bow, bungee or pole lathe.

Moderators: jrccaim, Bob_Fleet, gavin, Robin Fawcett, HughSpencer

Drying chestnut table lamp

Postby Ross Peters » Thu Apr 12, 2012 2:31 pm

Hello,

I've just tried my most ambitious pole lathe project yet- a large (?) chestnut table lamp. It was on my list of 'things I can probably make', and so whilst coppicing with my dad this winter I took a 30cm diameter or so piece of chestnut home. I split it in half made into a billet and turned- very slowly! I roughed out the shape and let it dry a bit indoors for about a week, and then carried on with the final shaping. Four questions I have are:

-Would it be better to turn this diameter (15cm) on a more sturdy bowl lathe or simply with a thicker pole
-Is using sandpaper to finish cheating (my technique is still a bit ropey)
-How best to dry something this big, as it is now beginning to split?
-I made some ash legs for a small stool and left them in the same room indoors, but they have not split at all. Is chestnut just more likely to split?

Any words of wisdom would be most appreciated,

Cheers,
Ross

Here's a couple of photos of my progress:

Image
Image
Last edited by Ross Peters on Thu Apr 12, 2012 5:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Ross Peters
Regular
 
Posts: 12
Joined: Thu Apr 12, 2012 11:38 am
Location: Nr Ipswich, Suffolk, England

Re: Drying chestnut table lamp

Postby ToneWood » Thu Apr 12, 2012 3:14 pm

I'm no expert but I figure that to stop splitting you need it to dry evenly (to avoid stress in the object), which probably means slowly. I see Jogge covered his bowl with plastic when leaving it over night. (I think he also mentioned putting it in a bag with sawdust/wood chippings - but you might want to check that). Might be worth putting a bowl of water in the room to keep it humid, and so slow down the drying. I also turn my bowls/spoons whenever I pass them while drying as the most exposed side dries quicker. I also notice that you can [at least sometimes] re-wet wood (with water or oil) - what you do with that information, if anything, I leave up to you.
ToneWood
Regular
 
Posts: 1846
Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2012 2:21 pm

Re: Drying chestnut table lamp

Postby SeanHellman » Thu Apr 12, 2012 8:25 pm

Well done for turning something this big. Chestnut this size will take a very long time to dry out, many months. For the first few months do not bring in indoors, leave in an unheated room that does not get hot because of the sun shinning through a window.
There are quite a few of us who like and have perfected a tooled finish. There is no way I will say sanding is cheating. What I care about is honesty, so if said, for example, you turned something on a pole lathe, but actually you started it on an electric lathe first is cheating and dishonest. I would say aim for a tooled finish, but sometimes we need to sand to make something presentable. There is evidence that many pole lathe turned items were at least scraped and finished with fine abrasives, often on the more expensive commissioned items.
See how the split develops it may not be a problem, if it does get big then you will have to live with it, facing the wall maybe.
Big things are more likely to split than smaller things.
"Scarcely anything is original- it`s very hard to be totally inventive, so I am not terribly interested in originality. Vitality is all I care about" Clive James
Green wood courses, tools, demonstrations.
http://www.seanhellman.com/woodwork/
User avatar
SeanHellman
Regular
 
Posts: 928
Joined: Tue Sep 30, 2008 9:13 pm
Location: South Devon

Re: Drying chestnut table lamp

Postby gavin » Thu Apr 12, 2012 9:23 pm

If splits develop, turn them into a feature. Fill the split with super glue or epoxy glue that you have sprinkled metal powder in. You can buy various colours or just get sweepings from a key-cutter or locksmith. Powered lathe turners do this frequently.
Gavin Phillips


- teacher, demonstrator & supporter of greenwoodworking & human-powered turning
- Supplier of Fun & Confidence

info@shed-therapy.com
http://www.shed-therapy.com
User avatar
gavin
Regular
 
Posts: 1595
Joined: Mon May 16, 2005 4:17 pm
Location: Dalbeattie, near Dumfries, Scotland

Re: Drying chestnut table lamp

Postby nic » Thu Apr 12, 2012 11:10 pm

My Fathers repsonse to a split is to soak the wood in water until the split heals, then when it has dried enough to glue he will super glue the crack shut. Then dry again more slowly. As you may have guessed he is not a polelathe turner, and cares little for traditional methods :D
nic
Regular
 
Posts: 265
Joined: Thu Jun 16, 2011 10:33 am

Re: Drying chestnut table lamp

Postby ToneWood » Fri Apr 13, 2012 12:28 am

If it is any consolation Ross, my wife wondered this evening "if wood might be coming back" (I guess it was really big in the 70s -- it has certainly featured much more in our lives since that first tool order arrived :D) as she had seen... wooden lamp stands in some fancy interior design magazines she was given today. So you are bang-on fashion ;)
ToneWood
Regular
 
Posts: 1846
Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2012 2:21 pm

Re: Drying chestnut table lamp

Postby jrccaim » Mon Apr 16, 2012 2:54 am

Nice job turning something that big in your pole lathe. The question of whether a bowl lathe would be better? I think not. 15 cm is small for a bowl lathe! As to splitting, all the suggestions given are valid. 'Pends what you want to do with it. But me, I usually chalk it up to experience. Don't turn wood that is still green. When you do you upset all the internal stresses and it will almost certainly split. How do you know when it's dry? Hit it with another dry piece of wood. It should make a musical sound, as in a marimba. Or use a moisture meter. I distrust these things because they only read surface moisture. If you have a billet let it dry a year. This may sound excessive. Somewhere on this board there is a thread on drying wood in a hurry. It can be done. I collect wood and set it aside.Takes a couple years but then you have built up the pipeline and can turn nice things with no splits.
User avatar
jrccaim
Regular
 
Posts: 1082
Joined: Sun Nov 02, 2008 3:53 am
Location: Willow, Alaska USA

Re: Drying chestnut table lamp

Postby Ross Peters » Tue Apr 17, 2012 8:52 pm

Thank you all so much for your responses, you've confirmed my suspicions that I was being too impatient- the lamp is now in the cool airy loft to dry more slowly!
Sean, I too enjoy the honesty of a good craftsman, so will endeavour to improve my technique so I can create a better tooled finish. My old neighbour is a potter and makes lovely honest rustic mugs, lamps and household objects- they have a great feel.
If the split continues after my new 'more patience' approach to drying I will probably leave it as a feature and put it down to experience- after all I'm a novice, and every time I turn something new, I do it faster and better. If I don't like it, I can always keep the lamp hardwear for the next one and burn it! There's lots more logs where that one came from!
Jrccaim, would you turn something this big to rough it out first green, let it dry then turn to finish?

Cheers,
Ross
Ross Peters
Regular
 
Posts: 12
Joined: Thu Apr 12, 2012 11:38 am
Location: Nr Ipswich, Suffolk, England

Re: Drying chestnut table lamp

Postby rico lighthouse » Tue Apr 17, 2012 11:43 pm

i've used liberal amounts of oil to stop checks when curing wood for bows... perhaps that might work- best to put it on before it splits, but it's worth a shot, especially if you're gonna oil it up anyway... if you oil it it will take 1-2 years to cure...
User avatar
rico lighthouse
Regular
 
Posts: 21
Joined: Thu Mar 29, 2012 7:45 pm
Location: Fort Collins, Colorado

Re: Drying chestnut table lamp

Postby jrccaim » Fri Apr 20, 2012 4:26 am

Ross Peters wrote:Thank you all so much for your responses, you've confirmed my suspicions that I was being too impatient- the lamp is now in the cool airy loft to dry more slowly!
...
Jrccaim, would you turn something this big to rough it out first green, let it dry then turn to finish?


OK there are lots of people on this board with more experience than I but FWIW I'll give you my opinion. It is true that green wood is a lot easier to turn than dry. Unfortunately it is also true, as you found out, that green wood splits. This, as we all know, is due to the fact that green wood dries faster tangentially than it does lengthwise. This is especially true for ends. This is why wood "checks" or splits radially, specially at the ends. You can retard checking with oils. But that artist Mr Murphy is always there. He will arrange things so that the split falls exactly where you don't want it :). Roulette. For this reason I only turn reasonably dry wood. I cry when I get a split in anything I turn. I don't like to cry or curse, so I turn stuff dry. I try to keep a pipeline of wood waiting to be turned.

BTW Murphy was a real person, Capt. Aloysius X. Murphy by name, who worked at White Sands, New Mexico on rockets. He coined the saying, "if things can go wrong they will." That is where Murphy's law comes from, and all turners, indeed all woodworkers, would do well to heed it.
User avatar
jrccaim
Regular
 
Posts: 1082
Joined: Sun Nov 02, 2008 3:53 am
Location: Willow, Alaska USA

Re: Drying chestnut table lamp

Postby ToneWood » Fri Apr 20, 2012 3:34 pm

Murphy's Law - we use that expression too but I have also heard "sods law" used quite a lot.
gavin wrote:If splits develop, turn them into a feature. Fill the split with super glue or epoxy glue that you have sprinkled metal powder in. You can buy various colours or just get sweepings from a key-cutter or locksmith. Powered lathe turners do this frequently.
That's smart, if it works. I've tried using wood-glue and sawdust but with only v. limited success. I once noticed a rather bad repair with brown "plastic wood" to a brand new balcony railing, where it had been attached to the wall. When I pointed it out to the site manager, who commented that plastic wood isn't much good and that putty is softer and so works better - in the end, they had to replace the whole railing to fix it properly though (I think it was oak :( ).
ToneWood
Regular
 
Posts: 1846
Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2012 2:21 pm

Re: Drying chestnut table lamp

Postby jrccaim » Thu Apr 26, 2012 4:30 am

IMHO plastic wood is an abomination to be avoided at all costs. The only use I have found for it is to fill up holes so that screws will hold. I have some, mind you; I use it for the purpose stated. You can make your own by mixing wood glue with sawdust, proportions experimental. If the sawdust is from the piece you are trying to repair so much the better. It will blend in better. But on the whole I don't like novelty features, such as filling in gaps with alumin(i)um powder and such. This is entirely personal preference and no criticism of those who do. I like wood the way it is, and that's just me and far be it from me to criticize those people that fill up gaps with metal powders.

I think we need a "smiley" for "this is just a personal opinion" :) But meanwhile I will use IMHO, alias "In My Humble Opinion." But as one of my cousins says, "perfection is the deadly enemy of good enough."
User avatar
jrccaim
Regular
 
Posts: 1082
Joined: Sun Nov 02, 2008 3:53 am
Location: Willow, Alaska USA


Return to Polelathe turning

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest