Stones River Woodworkers Club Murfreesboro, TN

Jay’s Ramblings


May 2016

     I’ve been playing with the Yew wood Harold Vaughn gave me earlier this year. Now this Yew came from a hedge, not a tree, so the pieces I have tend to be small. This Yew wood has some very nice figure but just in the hard wood, the soft wood tends to be white with no grain pattern showing. This means that I have to start with apiece large enough that the white wood is turned away prior to shaping the final project. Small limbs become pen blanks and so on. I have the top of one root base that I wanted to get a bowl out of but it was oval shaped so I had to cut the bowl blank out of the center and save the ends for other projects. This centerpiece is yielding a bowl of only 8” in diameter and with a natural edge that is quite uneven; this isn’t going to be a soup bowl. I used a 3” Forstner bit to drill down from the top to provide a flat spot to attach a 3” faceplate. Having done that, I turned the bottom flat and turned a recess to expand my chuck jaws into. There were so many bad spots and cracks, it took a lot of coffee and at least 4 oz of CA glue to improve the bottom enough that I hoped the bottom could withstand the expansion pressure from the chuck without breaking. This bowl is a turn a little then glues a lot projects and a real slow go. I finally got the bottom to where I trusted it enough to attach it to the chuck and removed the faceplate. Turning the inside is a real slow go as the wood is out of balance enough that I can’t get the lathe speed up to what I would like as I thin the sides. A little wood time for the tool and a lot of airtime. A good sharp tool, a steady hand and a very slow gentle approach are required to keep the bowl on the lathe. And don’t be a dumb ass and stand in the launch zone. I have long arms and this is the time to stretch them out.


I was given a piece of wood taken out of a dead Rosemary Herb plant and the piece is small with very rough bark and feels very light and punky. I used thin CA glue to firm up poor quality wood but due to the previous Yew bowl, I was out of CA glue which I buy from WoodCraft in 4 oz bottles. The WoodCraft catalog shows an 8 oz bottle which is a much better deal if you need a lot of CA glue. WoodCraft in Franklin does not carry the 8 oz bottles so I had to settle for three 8 oz bottles at a higher price than I was hoping for. Now with CA glue in hand, I was able to soak the Rosemary with the hope of making the blanks turn able. I cut out the straightest section and holding it between centers, a 3/4” Stubb drive and my tail stock live center, I turned a small tendon which I placed in my Penn State Utility chuck with the pen jaws using my live center to align it. Then using my “long 7 mm drill bit”, I drilled a hole through the center. Using the tubes from a Penn State Stylus Pen kit, I cut the piece into two parts, each long enough to fit the pen tubes. I used Gorilla (white pen glue) to glue in the tubes. I found that the wood was so soft that it really wanted to chip as I turned the blank even though I kept sharpening the scraper every few minutes. I finally resorted to a 3/4” oval skew to get a smooth surface and to work it down close to the bushing size. At this point I soaked it with CA glue again and sanded it to final size, applied some friction polish, waxed it and called it done and assembled the stylus pen, The Rosemary wood makes a nice looking pen.


     Another problem I had was seeing something in one catalog and ordering what looks like the same thing from another catalog. Apparently catalog two wants you to think that they are offering the same thing as catalog one and so their picture and description are similar but ain’t quite the same and you wind up with less than what you thought you were getting. Fool me once. Another problem seems to be the quality of personnel taking orders is not what it used to be. I find that unless I demand that the order person state what I just ordered by part number is and what the price is, I could get anything at any price. This happened recently and when I called to complain that I didn’t get what I ordered, I was told that I must have ordered the wrong item and that was the way the cookie crumbled. I’m now looking for some new suppliers but they are getting few and far between. One of the catalogs I get in the mail no longer contains any project kits so it went straight to the recycle bin. I’m beginning to think that woodworking has run it’s course, suppliers are going out of business and there are hardly any magazines left and they have very little new information.


Jay