Custom Hollowing Tools
by Bill Grumbine

Here are the pictures I promised last week. Sorry they are late, but a bunch of stuff came up, not the least of which was two maple trees being dropped in my lap.

This first picture is an overall view of two of my homemade hollowing tools along with my commercially made Stewart hollowing tool. The Stewart tool is on top. The handle on my little bent tool is way too small, but I was in a hurry and it was the biggest stick I had on hand at the time. When I get around to it, I'll make a longer handle. The two lines on the handle of the larger tool are for orientation, so when the tip is inside the vessel, I know which side is up. The Stewart tool is pretty much self orienting since it has the arm brace that goes around the forearm of the user.

This is a closeup of the bent tool for small hollow vessels. It is probably bent just a little too far for some applications, but it works well for getting into the shoulder of flatter hollow vessels. The tip is in line with the long axis of the tool, making it easier to control. I made it by heating and bending a piece of 3/8" mild steel, and then drilling a hole to accept the cutter, which was purchased at Woodcraft. The cutter is held in by CA glue.

This is a closeup of the Stewart tool (top) and my larger homemade tool. Both use a Stewart bit holder and bit. I made the lower tool when I wanted to start hollowing vessels, but did not have the money for the Stewart. I bought a piece of 1/2" mild steel at the hardware store, and ordered the tool tip from a supplier for about $25.00. The wood was free. I made the end by heating the steel and bending it around an old window weight. I then ground the flat spot with an angle grinder. Being young and impatient (I'm older and still impatient now) I drilled and tapped the hole I THOUGHT was the right size. When the tip arrived, it turned out I was wrong, and the hole was too big, so the bit holder is attached by a bolt and nut instead of being threaded into the end of the steel rod. The ferrules of both homemade tools were given to me by another turner, and are made of chrome plated steel tubing. Copper plumbing fittings work just as well.

All of the tools work well. The Stewart is obviously the heaviest tool, but the others were relatively inexpensive, and work well in smaller vessels. If you make your own hollowing tools, make the handles LONG. You will need the leverage provided. The other day I was using tools made by a friend of mine (short handles) and was hanging the tool tip WAY over the rest. I got rapped in the chops twice by my own fist. It wasn't fun. I was turning a piece of black locust, which wasn't exactly the most fun thing either, but I was determined.

Mr. Trager and I are currently workng on some more homemade tools (that is, if he gets his butt in gear and sends me the tool tips), and they will work well at supplementing the ones shown here.

Here's a surprise one. I had in in the camera, so you all get it for free (actually they're all free). This is a bowl blank sawing jig I made after reading about a similar, but more complicated design somewhere on a BB. I built this thing because it is realtively easy to saw log sections in half, but slicing them down for bowl blanks can be slippery and frustrating. This is version 1.0, with improvements already in the works. The improvements will undoubtably wait until I either saw through this thing or the post comes out, which it is in the process of doing right now. The screws are pulling out of the soft pine. When I rebuild it, the post will be attached by through bolts and nuts. I will also fasten a strip underneath the support for the blank so that the support becomes sacrificial without compromising the integrity of the jig.

It is pretty easy to build and use. I bought a Pony clamp that slides along the pipe but also has a screw adjustment on it, a 24" length of 3/4" black pipe, a pipe flange,and an 8' 2x10. Assembly should be apparent, dimensions are not critical. To use it, place the blank on the jig, and clamp it down. It works quite well, and I have had a significant improvement in sawing out uniform bowl blanks.

If you have questions or comments, you know where to send ‘em.




© 2003 by Ellis Walentine by special arrangement with Wayne Miller of Badger Pond. All rights reserved.
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