Turning Archive 2008

HOLD IT! (A limiting factor of design?) *PIC*

charlie belden
>HOLD IT! (A limiting factor of design?)

I’m going through my notes and a bunch of digital photos of the Cindy Drozda demonstration I attended earlier this year - in order to put together a web page or two about it for our wood turning club web site. I thought I had a fairly good understanding of how she turned the first of the three pieces she did- a finialed lidded box of myrtle with an inlaid rim. But when later tried to turn something similar, using what I thought was the procedure she used I bumped into How The Hell Did She Hold Things To Do This Part?

Now, having studied my notes and photos, and starting some line drawing illustrations of her chucking sequence I’m beginning to realize the importance of having a repertoire of “chucking” methods - and using the best methods for attaining the results I want - in the correct order.

When I think of “chucking” I think of a scroll chuck. Mount a chunk of wood in the jaws and cut away everything that doesn’t look like what I want - then part the piece off. A little whittling off the “nub”, a little sanding - and I’m done. OK - so with a lidded box I do all that twice - and maybe again for the finial (I like doing lidded boxes with finials, especially doing the finials).

But now, having gone over all this stuff from Cindy’s demo, I’m beginning to realize the importance of having - and when applicable -using - the right chucking method for an operation in a sequence. You can have every turning gouge and chisel under the sun. And you can have the skills and techniques to use them to make every cut you can imagine - IF YOU CAN HOLD THE PIECE IN ORDER TO MAKE THE NEEDED CUT. And THAT my friend may be one of the “secrets” to turning a good to pretty nice piece into a great piece, or at least a better piece.

Yeah, I know - Fred Holder’s book on chucking has most of the ways of holding a piece so you can turn something, some I’d probably never have thought of. And yes, I’ve gone through that book a couple of times. But it’s like studying algebra - ‘til you have a need to apply concepts in the real world it’s all abstract - and a little boring. Only when you see the abstract applied - to solve a real problem - do you begin to appreciate the value of all the concepts THEY made you slog through.

In the case of Cindy’s inlaid rim finial lidded box, she “chucks” things up six or seven times - using a chuck to hold a part, a part in the chuck to act as a face plate/glue block, a part to hold another part and a “turned to fit an immediate need” jam chuck - along with Saran Wrap and some “Festool Green” special masking tape. Each method is necessary in order to make the cuts that ultimately lead to an elegant, perfectly proportioned, nicely turned little piece that looks “just so”.

Turns out that having a lot of different ways to hold things can open up a lot of possibilities for getting around compromising an idea that otherwise wouldn’t be pursued. Hell, Escoulen had to invent his own chucks in order to make his ideas into realities.

So - do you compromise a great idea - either because you can’t figure out a way to hold a part for a particular turning operation, or because it’s just a bit of a hassle to turn a special jam chuck to hold the piece on - or in?

If you do take the time to come up with a way to hold a part in order to make the cut(s) it needs - has it taken the piece up a notch or two because you did?

Interesting this woodturning thing. So many things to consider, so much to learn - and apply.

Green tape. Who'd've thunk it?

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