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Bringing The Beauty Out Of Wood

Jan 3, 2008
A friend of mine, who knew that I made quite a few salad bowls asked me to make her an oval one. This is possible, of course, with a little ingenuity, but I would not recommend it for the beginner. However, we can do oval turning between centres as we can do other things. Hammer handles come in this category.

Oval Turning. First of all, take a 2 in. square of wood about 12 in. long. Mark and drill a true centre hole at each end of the wood. On either side of the true centre mark and drill two small off-centre points at each end. A good idea is to draw a line with a pencil along the centre of each side. This will serve as a guide whilst turning. Mount the work in the usual way using two corresponding off-centres as centres.

Before switching on the motor, turn the lathe by hand and adjust the tool rest to your favourite height, making sure that the corners of the wood do not foul the tool rest. Start your lathe up turning out a speed of about 1,500 r.p.m. which is fairly slow for anything around 2 in. in diameter.

Do not be alarmed if a certain amount of vibration sets up. This is because the wood is off centre and consequently out of balance. Remember, you are now dealing with a square piece of wood which is rotating off centre, so take care where you put your fingers.

For the initial rounding off, we must have the 3/4 in. gouge, used as before. Commence your cut about 2 in. from the tailstock, with the gouge twisted slightly on its right side and pointing slightly towards the tailstock. Remember to keep the bevel of the gouge rubbing the work.

Continue rounding off as previously described but only as far as the pencil marks running the whole length of the wood. Finally, smooth this off with the skew chisel, using the widest chisel you have. Wide chisels are much easier to use for this operation than the smaller ones.

Only half of the actual cutting blade must be in use, and that the heel end, always with the bevel rubbing the work. If you use more than half of the chisel watch out for the point digging in. If it does, you will have to start all over again. Remove the work from the lathe and remount using the opposite pair of off-centres, the lathe still running at the same slow speed. Round off the work as before up to the pencil line.

Again remove from the lathe, and remount on the true centres and using the f in. half round gouge and taking a light cut, remove the sharp points of the pencilled ridge line. Finally, sand paper nice and smooth.

The same process is adopted for tapered oval turning. The wood being first squared up and centre lines being drawn from end to end and off-centre points marked. The larger diameter portions are turned to shape first.

With a little practice you will be able to manage this type of woodturning.
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