Tracy Owen 12 August 2010

I have not seen Tracy turn before so was looking forward to this evening and I wasn’tSee Tracy's Photos disappointed. He turned two projects that I thought were interesting but were easily achievable by an amateur turner, such as myself.

1. Wavy Edged Square Bowl

Tracy started with a nice clean piece of yew which had no splits or faults; it measured 7½” square (10⅜” across the diagonals) and had been cut from the side of a log with the bark removed. He mounted this on the lathe with a screw chuck, screwed into the flat side i.e. the inside of the tree. (See photo TO_01). First he turned a chucking point on the base and marked the centre, then he turned away the bulk of the wood using a long grind bowl gouge, pulling the tool towards him with a shear cut. He turned an ogee shape then closed the flute right up and took very fine cuts to refine the shape. To finish he used one of the new round scrapers he has developed with Henry Taylor Tools; this is a heavy duty, half round scraper with a round bar (see Woodturning Magazine, issue 216, page 76 for a review of it). Phil and I bought one from him and I have to say I am very impressed with it, I found it very easy to use. After power sanding it he turned the bowl round on the lathe and remounted it in the jaws. (See photos TO_02, 03, 04 & 05).

Next he started turning away the inside, taking great care at the edges not to catch the corners. He spent quite a bit of time working on the edges to make sure they were even, using both the swept back bowl gouge and the round scraper. As he worked his way to the middle he changed to a conventional ½” bowl gouge and refined the shape with the round scraper, taking very fine cuts. Once he was happy with the shape he power sanded it, being careful not to heat the wood in case it split. He used 120 grit to tidy any minor problems then went quickly through the grits. (See photos TO_06, 07, 08 & 09).

Tracy used a bobbin sander fitted on a mains operated drill to make the wavy edges, using the indexing on the lathe to hold the bowl still. Then he used a pyrography kit to burn a simple pattern on the edges. (See photo TO_10).

To finish the underneath he mounted a scrap disk of wood in the chuck then pushed the inside of the bowl against it, with a piece of router matting between them, and held it in place with the tailstock, using the centre mark he made earlier. He turned the foot, tapering it inwards so it was quite narrow at the bottom then slightly undercut it. He turned a small V back into the bowl at the top of the foot and burnt a line into it with the edge of a piece of formica. After parting it off he chiselled away the pimple on the base then sanded it and signed it with his pyrography pen. Finally he finished it with a coat of ‘Osmo Oil’, which is a non toxic oil the consistency of runny honey. Since the demonstration we have bought a can from Finney’s and I have used it on a couple of bowls; I am very impressed with the results. It’s quite expensive but you don’t need to use a lot so you could share a tin with a friend. There are several oils in the Osmo range but I think the one Tracy used is called ‘Osmo Polyx Oil’. (See photos TO_11, 12, 13 & 14).

2. Round Box

For the second project Tracy mounted a block of yew measuring approx. 3” square by 8” long between centres and used a long grind bowl gouge to turn it to a cylinder and cut a spigot on the end. He used this spigot to remount it on the lathe then turned another one at the other end. Using a thin parting tool he cut the piece of wood in half.

He used a bowl gouge to turn the bottom of the box to an apple shape, cutting from the big diameter down to the small one as you would normally do with a bead when spindle turning. To hollow it he started by ‘drilling’ a hole into it with a spindle gouge, having first marked the depth he wanted on the shaft of the spindle gouge, then used a ‘Kelton’ hollowing tool to turn the inner curves and finished it with a tear drop scraper. He tidied the inside edge of the neck with a spindle gouge then sanded the inside. There was a small fault in the timber at the neck so he applied superglue to it to stabilise it then, when the glue was dry, he widened the neck to lose the fault. (See photos TO_15, 16 & 17).

When turning these boxes Tracy normally uses two chucks, one for the top and one for the base, to eliminate the problem of trying to remount the base. But as we only had one available he removed the base from the chuck and replaced it with the other half of the log. After tidying the end he measured the inside of the neck of the base using Vernier calipers and transferred this measurement to the end of the lid. He turned a spigot to this size then gradually tapered it to fit the base, regularly checking the fit. When it was almost to size he sanded off the last bit until it was a good fit. (See photo TO_18).

Next he turned a shallow curve on the inside of the lid and, after sanding it, he started to turn the underneath of the ‘shoulder’ of the lid then turned away some of the bulk of the timber. Before going too much further he completely finished the underneath parts of the lid then roughly shaped the top, making sure he always cut downhill. He parted it off then remounted the base in the chuck and fitted the lid onto it to finish it, holding it in place with the tailstock. Using a spindle gouge he carefully turned a finial on the top of the spindle then went back and refined the shape of the spindle, working with the tool on top of the work and taking care to ensure he got a good curve with no straight bits. He sanded the spindle then refined the shape of the finial, gradually turning away the top until the centre pulled away. After sanding the finial he treated it with ‘Osmo Oil’ then refined the shape of the bottom half of the base and started the parting cut before sanding it. After parting it off he made a jam chuck from the waste wood and mounted the bottom of the box onto it to finish the underneath. Finally he finished it with ‘Osmo Oil’. (See photos TO_19, 20, 21 & 22).

Tracy said that he usually applies a couple of coats of sanding sealer before applying the oil then applies 2-3 coats of oil off the lathe. He has turned twenty of these boxes now, all from part seasoned timber, and all the lids have kept their nice tight fit.

Lorrie Flannery Top of Page

SWC club member