Sunday, January 10, 2016

Ray Duffy

Last week, I got news from the nephew of my friend Ray Duffy that he had passed away. Ray was one of the first people to reach out to me when I moved from New York to Massachusetts. He only knew me through Chairnotes but offered to let me use his ample workshop until I got set up here. Throughout my time as Rays friend, he showed a generosity and kindness that I've come to see as the binding force in the woodworking community. Whether helping me make a new maple syrup evaporator or offering to forge a replica of my favorite scorp, Ray was always looking for ways to engage and offer his time and expertise. Here is a photo of me and Ray with my book. Through a snag in the mailing, purchasers started receiving the book before me, so Ray came over with his copy so I could finally see the results of my efforts.

A couple of years ago, Ray's wife passed away. I admit, I was concerned about his well being afterwards. I was relieved when Ray told me about his new lady friend Penny. He and Penny shared a passion for art and creating and Ray was very excited about their most recent projects together. I think that the way Ray shared his life and passions is a great blueprint for a life well lived. I hope to live the same way, more excited about the next project than the last and cherishing those who share the road. Rest in peace Ray.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Added Class and Spoon Video!

As I mentioned in the recent post, I have been batting the idea of teaching a perch class back and forth with my friends at Lie-Nielsen this summer and we finally pulled the trigger. It's a two day class and spaces are limited to 10 students. Check out their site for the details.

This is one of my favorite chair projects. I did all the writing for my book sitting on one, so I assure you, it's a comfortable seat!

 Jon Binzen is somewhat of an unsung hero in the world of woodworking. He has been creating the back cover for Fine Woodworking for many years as well as some of it's best features. I've been lucky enough to work with Jon a few times and recently, with his help and advocacy, I wrote an article for Fine Woodworking on spoon carving. It's been a long time since the magazine featured spoon carving and I'm proud to be in it. That said, there are lots of great spoon carvers out there and I can name a few that I think deserve to be heard more than me. Jon also shot a video about my spoons that you can see here.
Wooden Spoons

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A Little Extra Support

I'm in the midst of turning a bunch of legs for 3 kid's comb backs. They are a bit longer than the legs on adult chairs and a bit thinner.

This means that vibration tends to creep in and slow down the process. I can turn them reasonably well by holding my hand at the back of the piece, but still, at some point, the piece will flex a bit and the chatter starts. I use the skew to shave away the chatter in most instances, which works great, but does take some care.

A couple of years back, I gave my shop made steady rest to Tim Manney for the use on the reamers that he produces. It's the one featured in my book. I wasn't doing a lot of turning that required it and up until recently, a little slow down in turning time didn't bother me compared to stopping to make another. But I happen to have some nice plywood on hand so the other day I made a new steady rest.

I covered this jig for the first time about 6 or 7 years ago, you can see the original post and plans here. I've learned a few things that I think make it worth revisiting, plus my own rediscovery of it's usefulness makes me think that you might feel the same. The plan dimensions in the original post are still good, but with this one, I made the notch in the support block 45 degrees on both sides.

It's a very simple affair, basically a weighted wedge (the c clamp is perfect for added weight) pushes a block with a notch against the back of the workpiece, effectively cutting the turning in half, vibration wise. Even on a 23 inch leg, you are never more than 6 inches from a support, which means I can turn more aggressively and not risk chatter. This is especially helpful if you are focusing on developing technique or design.
One of my favorite parts of this design is that you can cut right across the front of where the steady rest supports the work. The weighted wedge simply drops, pushing the block up against the smaller diameter.

I position the rest directly behind the largest part of the vase.

To set the steady for best results, turn the part to round, about 1/16" larger than the largest diameter, then place the steady block and wedge in position. Get the round spinning again and with the steady rest in place, take a very light pass across workpiece opposite of the steady block. This allows the block to seat on the piece and ensures that it's spinning true with the pressure of the block at the back.

Using the same concept as my Galbert Caliper, if you place a piece of tape at the right spot on the steady block, you will know that your dimension near the steady rest is perfect when it just about touches the tape. Of course, something more permanent could do the job, like a stick on a pivot, but I just did this on the fly, so you get the concept.


Then use some wax to lubricate the workpiece. I've found that there's no need for bearing guides if you just add some wax.

Turning is fun, or it should be. I know that there is a conversation around certain jigs or techniques being crutches. I get it, but I'm having more fun at the lathe and thinking more about the shapes that I am making rather than the ways of avoiding vibration, which is a way better way to spend my day.