Friday, April 22, 2016

Wood Turning on the Table Saw Part One

PART ONE: Inspiration, Planning, Preparation and Selection

Almost everyone assumes turning a bowl is something you do on lathes.  How about turning a bowl more than 20 inches across out of a huge slab of highly figured hardwood?  Or turning a huge bowl with pockets of rot or bark?  Now that would totally take special and expensive equipment right?  What if I told you there is a way to create massive bowls without a lathe at all?  That is what we are doing here!

Using nothing more complicated than a table saw and some scrap lumber I turn some highly figured Box Elder wood into the two pieces you see above.  Before we start lets take a moment to talk about WHY you might think of doing it this way in the first place.

To start off with I do own a lathe but it is NOWHERE near large enough to tackle a project like this.  Trying to turn something this size on my under-powered machine would be an exercise in futility, but lacking the horsepower isn't the only reason someone might shy away from lathe turning.  Maybe it is a one off creation and you don't want to make the investment.  Maybe there is something inherently unstable about the stock you want to use, something that would make a 24 inch spinning disk potentially very dangerous.  Now I am the first to admit you are exchanging one type of danger for another, but I can also see where this method might be the only way to accomplish a task.  As a "for instance" I have always wanted to make something out of the gallery of a large carpenter ant nest.  For the life of me I can't think of a single way to turn that safely on a lathe but I think it COULD be done using my method.

In this first video I am just introducing the concept and there is little to add but still a few words of advice...

Picking your stock:  Chose wood that is dry and has stabilized.  Turning wood that is still wet will be a recipe for heartbreak.  It is going to warp and twist on you making it next to impossible to progress from step to step.  Make your selection carefully and then set it aside in your work space for a long time.  Give it a chance to acclimate.  If upon inspection you find that the material has warped, twisted bowed or moved in any real way give it a little more time.  Wait for it to stop moving.

Know your tools:  This IS your responsibility.  No one is in charge of your safety but you.  Later in the series I will be doing things that, and this is important to remember, YOUR TOOLS WERE NEVER DESIGNED TO DO.  Now that isn't to say they can't or wont but it bears remembering, pushing boundaries isn't without its own set of risks.  Only you know what you are capable of doing, what your skills allow and what your tools can handle.

Check out our first video here:

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