The Twenty Bowl Challenge

In September of 2013 president of the Greater Vancouver Woodturner's Guild issued a challenge to turn twenty bowls and bring them to the meeting in May. The guild usually has monthly challenges and this was issued far in advance to give everybody time to work on it with the idea being that making twenty pieces would challenge and improve the skills of those who took part. In the next meeting the challenge was modified to be a 'twenty something' so that those who do not turn bowls could bring twenty of whatever they do turn to meet the challenge. I chose to stick with the original twenty bowl challenge and wound up with a wide variety of bowls and plates with a wide variety of sizes, shapes and types of wood. Those who are paying attention may notice that I have twenty-one pictures in the gallery because I actually turned one extra bowl.
In general I am not very sentimental about my work and prefer to have pieces move on to other people rather than keep them for myself. The reason for this is that as my skills abilities evolve I find that pieces I originally liked lose their appeal for me and all I see are the flaws so I prefer to see them go on their way while I still enjoy them. With that said though there are two pieces out of this group that I decided, before they even finished, I would be keeping. Both came from wood at the crotch of a tree with one being maple and the other walnut. The figure of the wood in both pieces is just amazing and I am happy with the way that I was able to show it in these two pieces. I guess I'll be seeing how the appeal of the pieces over time lasts  for me.

Duplicating an architectural turning

The other day I was called upon to duplicate an architectural turning. A co-worker brought in a spindle from his staircase that his kids had broken while playing. The store that it has been bought from had discontinued it so it now needed to be either copied or repaired. Since the bed on my lathe is too short to turn it as one piece my suggestion was to cut out the turned piece in the middle and make a duplicate on the lathe that could then be reattached to the two ends. When I got it home I took it to the bandsaw and cut out that section then used it as a template to make a new piece. When I was able to get a good look at the cleanly cut end grain I realized that it was probably oak, which I didn't have on hand, but since it was going to be painted anyway and went ahead and used the maple that I did have. For being hand turned I thought the copied section turned out rather well. The two tenons on the ends of the new piece were so that I could glue it into holes that I drilled into the two end sections. Here is the assembled piece. Since it was a freebie job for a friend I figure he can finish of the painting himself.

Summer Markets

The blossoms on the cherry trees outside and the growing grass threatening to make be break out the lawn mower tell me that it is spring once again and almost time for the summer markets to begin again. This year I am once again planning to be at the North Shore Green Markets Friday night market in Shipbuilders square. I will be there every second Friday this year starting May 2nd and going until the end of September. For those who don't know the North Shore Green Markets run a series of weekly markets on Vancouver's North Shore with the highlight being the night market held on Friday nights in North Vancouver's Shipbuilders square. This market has grown over the years and now features nearly one hundred vendors, food trucks, a beer garden and live music from 5pm to 10pm. It is quite common to see people come down and make and evening out it buying their dinner from the food trucks, hanging out in the beer garden and doing a little shopping while they listen to the great local bands that are always lined up to provide entertainment on the stage. The dates that I have booked for this year are: May 2, 16 & 30 June 13 & 27 July 4 & 18 August 1, 15 & 29 September 12 & 26 Here are a few Youtube videos featuring the market as well as a couple with the products that I will be bringing down. This is a little video of my table from last years market: Another short little video that I shot last year just as the market was getting started one night: This is another video that was posted of the market last year. Unfortunately it seems to have been from a night that I wasn't there but it gives a nice overview.  

A Personalized Wooden Pendant

I made a personalized wooden pendant for one of my cousins after a little get-together before Christmas at my Uncle's place. What happened is that during a bit of a lull in in evening I found myself alone in the living room with one of my cousin's (newlywed) husband. He took the opportunity to ask me if I could make something out wood with my cousin's name on it either for Christmas or her birthday a few weeks later. I was pretty sure that I could come up with something but as there was not much time left before Christmas we agreed to aim for her birthday. We did not really get much a chance to discuss exactly what kind of wood item it should be or how to to put her name it which kind of left things wide open. Truthfully I don't think that he knew himself exactly what he wanted beyond something with a bit of personal touch. Part of my inspiration for the idea I finally came up with came from the Christmas gift that I made for my wife this year. I had making a few pieces of jewellery for a few years now, mostly as gifts for my nieces, and this year I decided that it was long overdue that I made a few pieces for my wife. One of the pieces was a cocobolo wood pendant similar to this one that I made a couple years ago but with a different cord and latch. My idea was to make a pendant with my cousins name scroll sawed into it. I suggested this to my cousin's husband and he seemed to like it. For this piece I decided that it should be made from wood that while attractive would not distract from the design that I was going to put into it. I found some cherry that fit the bill and proceeded with my design. My first attempt failed just at the point when I thought I was done because when I tried to remove it from the lathe I found that the name I had cut into it had weakened it to the point where it broke apart as I tried to take it of. I managed to glue it back together but it clearly was not going to do. I gave it a little more thought and decided that the basic design was sound but what I needed to to do was fill the part where I cut out the name with something so that the strength would be maintained. I've had in mind for to experiment with combining some dyed resins with some of my woodworking so this was a good opportunity to work that in. I picked up dyes for casting resin and decided to use epoxy for the resin since I needed such a small amount. It worked pretty well but it was a challenge to fill everything without getting bubbles and I didn't exactly get the colour I was going for because the dye was too concentrated in the resin. Still it was a good result and both my cousin's husband and my cousin seem to be pretty happy with it. Now my cousin's husband had been offering to pay me for this and I did not feel right about charging him for it. He is an amateur film maker though so what we agreed on was to trade a copy of his recently completed movie, Mission City,  for the pendant. We greatly enjoyed watching the movie and overall it was a great transaction.

Turned table lamps with lanterns for shades

My nieces Christmas presents this year were a pair of table lamps that I turned for them to use at their bedsides. As is usually the case Christmas was approaching this year and I still had not come up with an idea for my nieces.  I finally remembered an idea that I had discussed with an artist, Duane Murrin,  who is usually set up with the North Shore Green Markets during their Friday night shipyard market. He puts some of his artwork into hanging lanterns that work by putting a candle inside. What we had talked about was making a base for them and wiring them up to work with a bulb which we both thought would look pretty good. Now that I had an idea of what I would make I realized that I did not have any wood on hand in the dimensions that would be needed that was also dry enough to be used. I decided to check at Vancouver Urban Timberworks, a company that I had been aware of for a little but never tried out, to see what they might have available. I came away with a slab of white oak that I thought would do quite nicely. One thing about lamps is they need a route for the wiring to go. My original intent was to drill a hole down the middle for this purpose but I was concerned about how to drill a hole of that length and have it be at least somewhat accurate, I planned to drill it first and then have it trued up when I did the turning but if it wandered too far I could run out material or have difficulty inserting the lamp rod. After some discussion with a couple of friendly counter people on a visit to Lee Valley to pick-up supplies I decided that a better option was to cut the blanks in half and glue in some contrasting strips to create the channel and also make it a bit of a feature. For the contrasting strips I sandwiched a thin strip of paduak between two strips of walnut. I then cut the oak lamp blanks in half and glued them back together with the strips inserted to create the channel for the lamp rod. I then needed to make a template for turning the blanks into lampposts. This is the first template that I sketched out and then tried with lamp to get an idea of how it would look. I then turned it upside-down and kind of liked that look better so I decided to make a new template based on that. One I had decided on the template it was a fairly simple matter to turn the blanks to match it and then hook up the lamp parts. Here the lampposts are turned so that the contrasting wood strips can be seen. Here the lamps are with the bulbs turned on. It's difficult to get a good picture with lamps lit but this shows how the lamps themselves really a look a bit better even though the rest of the picture is not as good.