Oval Tray With Sides

Oval tray birthday idea

With my mothers birthday approaching I got a tip from my dad. He suggested that she would like a tray with sides. It should be about 12 inches by 15 inches and made with some interesting wood. That criteria left a number of ways to approach it. With just having gotten my lathe running after two months out of action though I was determined to incorporate some turning.

The Design

I started by picking out a likely looking burl from a small stash that I have. I cut two slabs out it with a chainsaw. One slab I cut into a circle on the bandsaw and then turned a shallow flat bottomed tray. The other slab I cut on the bandsaw so that the sides matched the angle and widest diameter of the shallow tray. I then cut the sides off at about the thickness of the tray sides. The middle portion I re-sawed on the bandsaw to match the thickness of the turned tray and glued the sides back on. I then cut the turned tray in half and glued the bandsawed portion in-between the two halves. Since I was gluing end grain to end grain I used dowels and epoxy glue to give it some extra strength.

After that it was a matter of using various hand tools to fine tune the shape of the bandsawed section and blend it with the turned sections on the ends.

Problems with Resin

One thing that turned out to be a challenge was the nature of the wood. It was fairly weathered before I started working on it. I chose the burl based on the size, shape and that it felt fairly dense. It turned out to also be very resinous and had a strong pungent odour. I had  to do most of the sanding outside while wearing a dust mask and the paper clogged very quickly. Eventually I was got it finished though and a couple of coats of shellac did a good job of sealing in the resin and smell. A few coats of wipe on poly over that should make for a durable finish.

Nova 3000 Lathe upgrade

Oh no – the lathe is broken

Recently I was forced into making a lathe upgrade to my trusty Nova 3000 lathe. This is a lathe that has served me well. I bought it second-hand for the grand total of $500 about eight years ago. Since then I have turned countless items on it. Everything from pens to goblets to large bowls. Actually pushing the limits on large bowls is probably what got me into trouble.

The problem arose while I was working on a small bowl. Suddenly the bowl stopped spinning even though the motor was still running. At first I thought it was a broken belt. As I checked things out though I realized that the shaft on the motor was broken. What I was working at the time certainly did not cause that. I believe it must have been wear and tear that built up over time.

Repair Options

Checking around it became apparent that the motor was beyond repair. I would have to get a new motor in order to get the lathe working again. Looking into motors I realized that just replacing it with a similar motor was going to be expensive and complicated by the 3/4″ shaft size on the original which seems to be fairly uncommon. An intriguing option turned out to be a motor that Teknatool sells as an upgrade to the Nova 1624 lathe. The Nova 1624 is what they replaced the Nova 3000 with several years ago and it is a very similar lathe. This motor has their DVR technology that includes electronic variable speed, reverse and a few more options. A call to customer service gave me the information that the upgrade motor could be made to work with my Nova 3000 lathe. Shipping from the USA and the exchange rate with the US dollar however convinced me to try and source it locally. As it turned out our local dealer was back-ordered but I was able to order it on Amazon with free shipping included.


Once the motor arrived a few more complications became apparent. One problem was that the flange for mounting the motor has a different bolt pattern than the new motor. There were indentations on the motor that matched the pattern on the flange so I solved the problem by drilling and tapping threads to mount the flange and it worked well enough.

The next problem was that the shaft on the new motor is 7/8″ in diameter compared to 3/4″ on the Nova 3000 so my old pulley did not fit.

I tried boring out the mounting hole on the pulley but wound up making a mess of it and ruining the pulley. Eventually I had to contact Teknatool customer service again. They recommended replacing the pulley, key (for the shaft) and flange with the ones from the 1624 lathe. Since I had already mounted the motor on my old flange we decided that I only needed the pulley and and key. When those arrived I attempted to mount the pulley myself but it was quite a tight fit. I got stuck with the pulley only halfway on the motor. A visit to a local machine solved that problem. They were able to put it on a hydraulic press to get it the rest of the way on. After that it was a pretty simple matter of just putting things back the same way I took them off.

Success – the lathe is working!

I have been playing with it for few days now and I am pretty happy with how it works. Being able to change the speed with a twist of the knob instead of having to change the belt position every time is a huge improvement. It also has reverse which seems to be handy while sanding pieces on the lathe. I should probably get some grub screws for my chucks to help secure them when running in reverse. There are also a number of preset buttons that allow for quickly setting a particular speed.

One little irritation is that I use an auto switch for my dust collector. It turns on the collector when it senses current from one of the tools being switched on. Unfortunately the control panel on the lathe draws enough power, even when the lathe is not actually running, to activate the dust collector. Switching it off and on manually is something I’ll have to get used to. Overall though I’m pretty happy with it. I expect that a larger and heavier lathe is in my future at some point but with this working there is no need to rush.

Turned Shaving bowls

Late in 2016 Mark from Canuck soaps approached me about making some shaving bowls. I had been asked about them before but this was the final push that made finally consider the idea seriously. Over the course of a few days we kicked around some ideas and finally came up with a design that included a  lidded bowl with a well in the bottom for a puck of soap and enough extra space to swirl a brush around and work up a lather.

In the new year I began working on the idea and made a prototype shaving bowl out of Mountain ash wood.

I have been using this bowl for almost a year now and so far it is holding up well. I was originally concerned with how it would hold up to moisture. In practice it does not seem to be a problem. It turns out that that there is not really a lot of water that actually gets into the bowl since it is only enough to whip up a bit of lather. So far it seems to dry out well enough between uses to not cause problems.

I showed the prototype to Mark and he liked it well enough that I decided to go ahead and make a small run to pin down what the price would need to be. I felt comfortable enough that if the price was too high for him then I could still sell them myself. After all I am selling a bowl that happens to some with soap where he is selling soap that happens to come in a bowl.

Since he wanted a darker wood I purchased some walnut to make these bowls. After making a run of ten shaving bowls I came up with a price that was more than he felt he could sell them at. Since that was the case he sold me some shaving soap at wholesale prices to go with them. I tried one myself and it has turned out to be quite nice. It is unscented, lathers well and has so far lasted over six months of shaving every other day. I should note that he has a variety of scents available but unscented was my preference.

I still have some of these available in my Etsy shop. Enough of them have sold though that I am starting to think about what kind of wood to use next. I would like to go back to using reclaimed local wood of some kind. A few options that may be possible are: maple, cherry, yellow cedar or maybe something I’m not thinking about right now. Which would you like to see:

What wood would you like if I do a new run of shaving bowls?

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Wooden bowls turned in 2016

The album for the wooden bowls that I have turned is getting a bit unwieldy so I have decided to start organizing them by year starting with 2016. I make most of my bowls from locally sourced wood. The majority of it is from trees that were cut down for other reasons. The wood is often then given away as firewood but I collect it for my own use. The kind of wood that I use for my bowls is entirely dependent on the kind of wood I find.

In 2016 most of my wood finds were maple and oak. I had a number roughed out bowls from previous years though so in addition to those I had some wooden bowls made from cherry, black locust and chestnut.

Music trophies made for a co-worker

Earlier this year a co-worker approached me about making some music trophies. He has a music studio where he teaches music to children and wanted some trophies for his students. I agreed thinking that it would be a simple matter of turning a cup or some other shape. When he showed me a sketch of what he wanted it turned out to be more complicated. The trophy design is based on his logo and can not be turned for the most part.

I made most of the upper part of the music trophies using the band saw and scroll saw. One piece, shaped like note, I made from walnut wood. Then two heart shaped pieces that I made from maple.

At first I tried making the heart pieces separately but realized that aligning and joining them to the walnut piece was a problem. It was simpler to make them so they were still attached. Then I joined them to the walnut note piece at the point where they were attached. I joined the note and heart pieces to each other using a lap joint cut with a saw and chisels. After that I did more shaping using a half-round rasp and various sanding methods to round things over. In retrospect I do have a Dremel tool that would have been worth trying out with a carving burr.

With the first top for the music trophies figured out I made the rest using the same design.

With the tops made I was finally able to do some turning when I made the bases for the music trophies. Here they are on the workbench before finishing was complete.

After a bit of finishing they were ready for delivery. Ricky presented them to his students already and says that the were a bit hit with the kids.