Sensei

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by David J. Marks posted June 30,2016 In December of 2014 my friend Rik Lawrence, a furniture maker from nearby Sonoma (check out Red Cloud Furniture), called to offer to sell me a Big Leaf Maple tree which blew over in a storm on his property. I saw this as an opportunity to get some large pieces of Maple for hollow vessel turning so I rented a truck with a hydraulic lift gate and called my friend Josh Caplan to help me with this big project. I tried to mill some of the logs by hand with my chainsaw but soon realized that this was a job for a portable bandsaw mill, so I called my friend Shawn Gavin to get the job done. Here is Shawn Gavin in his straw hat operating his portable wood mizer band saw mill. The first log that I decided to turn weighed approximately 400 lbs which required my engine hoist to lift it into place. After rough turning it, I needed to prevent it from cracking until I had the time in between teaching classes to get back to my lathe. I decided to get some plastic drums and begin storing all of the milled logs underwater to prevent them from cracking. I was able to work on the vessel in between my busy teaching schedule for a while. The following year I was invited to do 4 demonstrations for the American Association of Woodturners 30th annual symposium in Atlanta Georgia in June of 2016 which gave me a specific goal and deadline to complete a large vessel and display it in front of a very large audience. As everyone knows who does any type of woodworking, sometimes the project takes on a life of its own. This was definitely the case with “Sensei”. Yes, I named this hollow vessel “Sensei” because it means teacher in Japanese and this vessel became my teacher and taught me a tremendous amount of new knowledge. Some of the things I learned along the way were not to use stainless steel screws on the faceplate because they are too brittle and half of them broke off in the wood when I tried to remove them. That experience led me to a local hardware/lumber store that serves contractors and I purchased the strongest construction grade screws they had. I also learned that I needed a longer lathe bed, so I ordered an extension from Oneway. My old inline skate wheels on my center steady weren’t rigid enough which caused vibration issues. That led me to Steve Sinner’s site to purchase some of his rigid plastic wheels which performed very well. Logs soaking in water become a great way to incubate mosquitoes so I began adding soap to the water to break the surface tension and drown the little “you know whats”. As time passes and the summer...

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Bandsawing Rare Quilted Mahogany

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 posted May 21, 2015 An old friend of David’s called him the other day and asked him if he could fit some resawing into his schedule. David had resawed some of James’ quilted mahogany 10 years ago for furniture projects that James was making.  They discussed the various options. David could use his 36 inch bandsaw set up with a carbide blade and torsion box fence with guaranteed accuracy and results. The only downside would be that James would lose 1/16 of an inch of rare wood with every cut due to the 1/16″ thickness of the blade’s kerf (width of the set of the teeth). Another option David suggested would be to rip the board down the middle into two boards that are 5 3/4 inches wide and then use David’s 20 inch bandsaw set up with a narrower blade that only has a 1/32 inch kerf. The thinner blade would yield more slices of thick veneer but the downside is having to  join and glue 8 sheets of veneer together to create the 44 inch width James needs for his clients’ dining table as opposed to only having to join and glue 4 sheets 11 1/2 inches wide. The final option was the most daring and the most challenging. Use the full width of the 11 1/2 inch wide board and use the 1/32 inch kerf blade and hope that the blade doesn’t bow or buckle and damage the rare wood. David has over forty years of resawing experience and knows that selecting the right blade, setting the fence for the drift of the blade,appropriate tensioning of the blade, cleaning and lubricating the blade, setting the bearings that guide the blade as well as rate of speed while cutting are all determining factors that contribute to the success of the cuts. David was successful in bandsawing this extremely rare and very expensive piece of quilted mahogany into five slices which is one more than his friend had hoped for. If not for the slight cup/warp in the board which had to be drum sanded flat, David could have gotten six slices. The 5th slice was thick, actually 1/4 inch thick so David told James to come back over and he would resaw it in half for him.  Using the techniques in his Bandsawn Veneers DVD, David made all of his adjustments, checked them 3 times and the f0llowing pics that you see here tells the story of what happened! It is much, much safer to use a Bandsaw for resawing then a tablesaw. You will be able to conserve expensive hardwoods because you won’t lose as much wood when you rip boards with a thin bandsaw blade. Segmented woodturners can resaw their glued up rings on a bandsaw using these techniques. Learn to love your Bandsaw! Using David’s techniques, you can learn how to exceed your own expectations....

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My Adventure at Burning Man

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Posted by David Marks  Oct. 30,2014 Burning Man is an annual week-long festival, dedicated to community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance, held at the end of August in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. This summer, I had the pleasure to work with artist David Best on the construction of the Temple of Grace, envisioned as a spiritual and sacred space. Here I am with David Best (left) I arrived in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert on August 18th, one week before the gates opened at the 2014 Burning Man festival. I was part of a 100-person volunteer group that camped in various tents and trailers, several hundred yards from the construction site. We were there to build the Temple of Grace. David Best had four architects involved in the project, along with close to 100 volunteers. Some of the materials were donated, and over 60% were recycled. Initial construction began last June at an industrial lot in downtown Petaluma CA, before moving the framework to the desert. Artist David Best assigned me to head the crew in charge of gold leafing the domes, which would adorn the top of the temple’s steeple. Life in the desert is harsh. We were warned to: “Take it easy the first day and drink more water than you think you’re thirsty for.” It’s very easy to become dehydrated and disoriented. The temperature can hit over 100° during the day, with winds whipping up to 70 miles an hour. At night, the temperature can drop to 40°. One of the guidelines for Burning Man is “radical self-reliance.” This means that you need to be able to take care of yourself. You were not allowed to pass through the gate, until your vehicle was searched to verify that you had brought food and the required minimum of 1 1/2 gallons of water per person per day. I knew that I would need a shelter in which to work, amidst the desert winds and dust storms. David Best arranged to have one of the many delivery trucks leave a 40-foot trailer for my studio. It often made sense to work late into the night, because it was too hot to work inside of the trailer during the day. Also, the winds died down at night. Here are some of my highlights: Here, I am gold leafing the domes. Wax paper, laid onto the leaves and rubbed, is a great way to ensure bonding, after gold leaf has been applied to the oil size. The size is a quick drying varnish, which dries to about the stickiness of masking tape and becomes the adhesive that bonds the metal to the base. I’m using “composition” gold leaf. It is much more affordable than genuine 23 3/4 Karat gold, which usually is used for exterior domes intended to last. There were approximately 14 people that helped to gold leaf the domes. Working...

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