Turning Archive 2004

problem vessel (long) *PIC*

John Lucas
>Vessel From Hell

I have a lady who keeps bringing me wood from her family farm and I make things for her kids. When she first did this Iím thinking, great, all Iíll get out of this piece of wood is a set of chopsticks. Most of the time it goes very smoothly even though the logs have been sitting for a few years or so and were cut too short to begin with. I turn them and decorate the crack or simply make small objects like Christmas ornaments that avoid the checks. They are still pretty green inside so it rusts the heck out of my lathe bed and I have to clean it every 5 minutes.

This time she brought me a 12Ē piece that was really split. She wanted a hollow vessel. Iím thinking Iíll be lucky to get a 4Ē vessel but take the job anyway. I cut 2 inches off each end and didnít see any cracks so I split it through the very off center heart. I turned the outside. Looked solid. As I was hollowing the inside I heard a funny noise. Sure enough it cracked 2/3rds of the way down right through one of the dark lines. I glued it back together and let is set. It warped while it was setting but I figured I could clean up the glue joint and true up the outside by shear scraping.

I donít know what happened next. I was shear scraping lightly with nice curls coming off and suddenly, Wham, a 3Ē by ĺ chunk flew out of the side of what looked like good wood. Of course it grabbed the gouge and made it hit the vessel in 2 other places. If this were my wood I would have thrown it in the garbage after the required amount of fowl language. But Noooo. This was special wood from the farm. I thought about just going out and getting some more Oak and just faking it, but that would be dishonest. I had to push the horns in my head back down. This time the good conscience won.

By now it had warped more, probably from the foul language, so I couldnít sand on the lathe. I had to hand sand this piece. So lets see, now I have about 3 hours in a vessel that I could normally turn in an hour and Iím sure my blood pressure was up.

I decided to grind away some of the torn opening, grind down the gouge spots and burn them to make it look like the log had some rot. This worked pretty well but now you could see the inside. Man I didnít plan on anyone seeing the inside so now I had to color it. I couldnít just pour paint inside and slosh it around because of the hole so I had to paint the inside through that small hole. That wasnít easy. Insert more foul language here. Finally got that done successfully. Ok now itís sanded, burned and painted so I apply some finish. Cool All I have to do is buff it out.

Now Iíve been using the Beal buffing system for about a year or more and have buffed hundreds of pieces. Iíve never lost one. I must have thought about that and jinxed myself because it grabbed it, and bounce it off the rubber matt at my feet. The top popped out but fortunately that was all the damage. Since I used CA glue the joint was brittle and it broke right on the glue line. I glued it back in and had to hand sand some more and finish some more. Now Iíve got about 4 hours in this piece. Now this lady is a friend and repeat customer so I canít really charge her what itís worth. This time the buffing went fine. Iíll just eat this one. I thought I would pass this on to show that sometimes despite your best efforts things go wrong. Also known as S*#t happens. Itís also a good reason to turn good fresh wood and not 2 year old Oak.

There's a photo showing both sides below. It's about 8" tall.

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