Friday, May 17, 2019

Loom and Tool Rest

  Eva wants to weave a table runner and maybe a tapestry or two. To do that she needs a loom.  Weaving technology is ancient and practiced by most cultures around the world.   The piece of wood holding the strings up is called a heddle bar and makes passing the other thread through the warp easier. 

  I had never made a loom, and never heard of a heddle bar until I did my research.  To try this whole thing out I made a model.  This loom is six by six inches and does everything a larger loom will need to do.  I followed the instructions and got the heddle bar to work too. 

  The other small piece that I made recently is a small tool rest for my wood lathe. 

  This short tool rest allows me to work on short spindles, like two inch long spindles. I used a piece of hardwood and a short length of 1/2 inch steel tubing to make it.

  I've already used to tool rest to turn that small spindle, it will be a bottle topper once it is finished. Being able to comfortably get close to the work makes it safer and easier.

I expect that I will now make a larger loom for Eva.  Cutting and sanding all the slots on the heddle is slow work but like so many things time spend carefully preparing makes for ease of use later.

  Today it appears that the weather is going to be warm and dry so much of today's energy will be spent outside.

cheers, ianw

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Four Small Turnings

These four small turning projects represent a large amount of knowledge, both new and acquired. 

  In Grade Eight Wood shop class I learned the basics of lathe turning from Mr. Petit. I think my mother still has the bowl that I turned from cedar those many long years ago.(early 1970's). The following summer I spent a month living with my Grand parents while my parents and little brother went on an epic road trip to Canada's east coast. (I just couldn't face hour after hour in our non-air-conditioned car, even then I wasn't a keen traveler).

  My Grandfather was a carpenter and he had a wood turning lathe in his garage. (that he hadn't used in some time). Grampa's lathe was used to turn ladder rungs and cant hook handles.  That summer I made several spindle projects, candle holders mostly: I think various households still have some of those projects.

  I bought my mini lathe a few years ago and have played with it on and off. I've been looking for small projects lately and having found the book recently in the library dragging the lathe back onto center stage seemed natural.

  In the last week I have made three honey dippers, two small tea light holders and a mushroom shaped weed vase.  Not to mention about five gallons of shavings. And learned several things that will make my shop time much more enjoyable.

  For example I learned how best to hold my shop vacuum in take to catch fine dust.  A solution so simple and obvious it escaped me for all these years. 

 I also learned how to sharpen my roughing gouges without any new or extra tools.  I had a cheap little low speed sharpening grinder that I bought at a wood show years ago stuck in a drawer.  The wheel is pretty course but it does run through a water bath and it runs really slowly and slowly is the critical thing.  I took my gouges, all three, all dull and coloured the bevel with marker so I could see what was being ground off while I hand held the gouge on the stone.  I guess 'real' wood turners cringe at the thought of a hand held bevel from a low grade stone, but...the chisels are now sharp and cutting smoothly. 
  I re-learned what I always knew but hated to admit.  Sand twice as long as planned  and give your project's finish the proper time to dry, the result will be twice as good as something rushed.

nice grain can be found in fire wood.
  You really need to take the time to change the belt ratios and speed up the spindle when polishing bee's wax.  It takes a fairly high r.p.m. to heat up pure bee's wax enough to get a nice soft sheen on the project.

I have collected bits of wood for several years and so have a source of raw materials, dry raw materials.  In May 2014 I wrote a blog about turning green wood. I am now looking to use the wood from 2014.  That there are bits of wood from that long ago hints at how cluttered my shop space can be.

  Now it is time to go back to the shop, sweep and consider how to improve the work station connected with my lathe.  There is always something.