Turning Archive 2007

Ohhh! the agony! (A tale of woe...) *PIC*

steve antonucci
>I had a chunk of olive burl that I had set aside until I was appropriately inspired. Inspiration struck me yesterday morning, and I set out to make something that was well within my skills.

If you've ever worked with dry climate/desert woods, you know that they are typically very hard and almost always contain wild grain with close growth rings because they grow slowly. In addition, there are often voids and cracks. This piece of olive burl had all of them-and the inspiration to hollow through one of the natural voids seemed too good to pass up.

I had epoxied a waste block tenon on Saturday using some 1 min epoxy. I let it set for an hour or so, and began working on the shape. My original design had a bit of a corny pun intended- and olive turned to an onion/garlic bulb shape. During the rough shaping, I managed to break the epoxy bond with a not paying attention, too tired to be turning mother of all catches. I reglued and called it a day.

The next day, epoxy cured, I remounted and set about the business at hand. Since the void in the top was probably a solid 1.5" across, this would be an easy one to hollow. I would be able to see inside, measure with all of my existing tools, and the wood is built for what I had in mind. For those of you who have never tried thin walled vessels- here's a secret. There are some really hard woods in the world that can be cut ridiculously thin with very little risk of breaking if you are careful. Manzanita burl, desert ironwood, olive... all qualify.

So I spent a couple of hours in front of the lathe, spinning at 800 rpm or so, compressor hose right behind me to blow out the chips every 30 seconds or so. When I was convinced it had it to an honest 1/16" thick throughout, I nervously parted through my tenon. I caught it with my free hand, and grabbed a sharp chisel to pare/scrape off the excess wood/tenon.

I then went through the grits- 120, 180, 220, 320 for another hour until I was 100% sure that I had gotten all of the tool marks. With that cavernous entry hole at the opening, I decided that I needed to sand the mouth of the vessel too. I stopped at 220, figuring that most people wouldn't actually stick their hands to feel the inside.

Finally, I reached for one of my hanging lines for finishing. This is where the begining of the end starts. I have a "large" that I wanted to used, but it was too large, so I went down a size. A coat of Bush Oil went on and the grain and color popped, just like I had hoped. I suspended it next to a siberian elm form that was waiting for its second coat and went about my business. Fifteen minutes later, I went to wipe off the excess. I replaced it on the line, and decided that I wasn't happy with how it was hanging. As I reached up to get it and reposition, it slipped off. Life sometimes happens in slow motion. This wa one of those times. "NOOOOOOOOOO....."

As a means of satisfying my own curiousity about the overall thinness of a piece, you'll often notice that I post size AND weight. This piece was 5.5" tall by 4.5" wide, and weighed in at 2.4 ozs. It was now accelerating under the force of gravity towards my concrete garage floor six feet below. I'd like to think that if I hadn't been reaching for it to take it off at the precise moment it began to fall that I may have been able to catch it. But alas, time came abruptly out of slow motion with a crash on the floor.

As this picture will attest, I have glued it back together. It will never hold the place in my heart that it did before the Great Crash of 2007, but it will not go to its intended destination either (back to the person who sent the wood to me originally...)

Look at it in its shattered former glory of itself and throw me a pity party...


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