Some Technical Notes on Woodturning


Many years ago I bought a huge log of Cenizaro, or Monkey pod. Looks somewhat like a coarse grained walnut. I was turning large salad bowls, but fibers were tearing out of the end grain, and I was spending way too much time sanding out the damage, even using a drill with 40 grit paper.

DIGRESSION: semi hard foam surfaced with beveled edge discs, 5-6″ for the drill press, much smaller ones for reaching inside bowls while on the lathe, we cut our own sandpaper and use PSA glue to hold them on. We use these discs to get the high polish on the boxes, up to 400 grit.

The problem gradually disappeared as I switched entirely over to gouges except for some truing up of the inside of bowls, and for the bottoms. Also higher speeds and turning uphill with a light cut from along side bevel.

SAFETY NOTE: always wear a full face mask, and stand to one side as much as possible and wear a dust mask. I use a big fan to blow dust away, but I should have been using a mask as well, cough, cough…

Another neat way to get a good surface is to sand in reverse at times, and also to use a scraper, a simple steel rectangle with a drawn and hooked edge. Tilt it and experiment with angles.

Many of the woods I use, especially the Cocobolo, are resinous, and quickly clog sandpaper. I take wet or dry black sandpaper from 180 to 400, and cut strips, making stacks in proper order, and lay them in a tray of water. Wet sand with the coarsest, rinsing every few seconds, and the paper with last half a day, and you only need 10-30 seconds for each grit, depending on the size of the piece. Rinse and wipe dry, check if you need to repeat from one of the stages. My lathe is well grounded, and I’ve never had an electrical problem, but consult an expert about the safety of this, ok?

MAKING SANDPAPER LAST: slap the dust out, blow it off the paper with compressed air, or on really coarse stuff, use a wire brush.

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