Apr 18 2012

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Tops, Three Different Ones

I was watching a video by George Vondriska about using CA for turning and saw him turning a top on the lathe. I thought this would be a cool project to try. So the other day when I cut some blanks out of 8/4 ash for some handles, I cut an extra square blank for turning tops. The one on the left was my first attempt. I think I made it a little too top heavy. The one on the right was my second and best performing attempt. After the first two tops, I tried getting a little fancier, but this top didn’t spin nearly as well as the second one. I think I took off too much material from the middle.

I thought red oak had pore problems, wow ash really has some big pores. Despite having nice grain and being easy to work, I can see why it isn’t used for fine furniture.

Since I’ve discovered turning produces copious amounts of shavings, I decided to try using a tarp under the lathe to contain some of the mess. I found that the tarp caught most of the shavings that would have normally covered the bench and floor, although I’m not sure if it was ultimately a time saver or not. I spent just as much time brushing off the lathe into the tarp, moving the lathe, and trying to empty the shavings into a trash can without spilling them all over as I would have cleaning up the normal way. But, this was only three tops worth of shavings, maybe the effort will be worth it for a larger project.

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  1. jeff_williams

    I made my wood mallet out of turned ash. It finished really beautifully with just a clear poly. So beautifully in fact that it has never been used in the shop and sits on a shelf in the house.

    Could you hang the tarp from the rafters just to contain the shavings into one small area? I think it would be faster to just use a broom and scoop shovel to get them to the trash.

    1. benjamen

      Jeff, I’m guessing the difference between your mallet and these tops is the orientation of the grain. Does your mallet have any exposed end grain? The way I turned these tops, it’s mostly exposed end grain — which has the large pores I’m talking about. I know you can fill the pores, but it’s a hassle.

      On the tarp, I’ll have to look into hanging it, but again I’m not sure if it’s worth it unless I’m doing a bigger project.

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