Turning Archive 2007

Big Blue's Last Job

Bill Grumbine (Kutztown PA)
>Greetings all

Some of you know, after eight years of faithful service, my Poolewood lathe is leaving for a new home. The new owner is picking it up on Saturday. I turned my last job on it this morning, a job that literally let the lathe go out with a bang!

I had a customer call me earlier this week to ask if I could turn some 8" x 8" Douglas fir posts. They were short pieces, finishing out to 15" long, but he wanted some extra left on them for affixing them to the beams where they would be installed. I told him it was either now or the end of September, since that is when the Robust is due to arrive. He told me he wanted them round. How hard could that be?

When he arrived with a measured drawing from the architect, I saw how hard it could be. The shape was simple enough, but they weren't exactly round. They had to have a square to round transition, requiring a pommel cut. Now, I have made pommel cuts by the thousand, and teach and demo them on a regular basis. But this was going to be the mother of all pommel cuts! The architect had specified a transition from the 8" square (7 1/2" actually, since this is dimensional lumber) to 5" round! Fortunately for me, he brought spares.

The total reach for this cut was 3 1/2", accounting for the slight curvature. I got two done with my wee little 1 1/4" skew with the short handle I keep meaning to lengthen. But I blew two up as well, and of course, it was on the finishing cut for that very part, that cut where you look at the thing and say to yourself, "I'm going to take just one more cut and it will be perfect!"

This is what perfect looks like when you don't quite get it. So, off to Woodcraft I went, and returned home with the biggest skew they had, an Alan Lacer model. I don't care much for the curved edge, but that is easy enough to fix. At any rate, a little honing, and I was able to complete the last post without any more bone jarring, blood pressure raising catches. I had these things on a faceplate, and the catch in the picture above was enough to bend every single screw holding the thing on. I was very happy that no damage was done to the lathe, only the wood and my ego.

Thanks for taking a look.


© 1998 - 2017 by Ellis Walentine. All rights reserved.
No parts of this web site may be reproduced in any form or by
any means without the written permission of the publisher.