Drying Olive Wood for Turning

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Olive wood from California orchards is prone towards developing cracks and checks very easily.  It is a beautiful wood and it is stable once it has dried. Here is what has worked for me in dealing with olive wood for turning. I recommend that you have some Green Wood Sealer on hand. Anchorseal Green Wood Sealer I brush green wood sealer over the entire piece of olive wood, which means the ends (number 1 priority and it is best to double coat them) as well as the faces and sides. Keep the olive wood in a cool dark place for long term storage, away from the sun and the wind. I like to twice turn bowl, vessel blanks or any object that I turn from green wood.  Here is the procedure I follow: 1)  The first rough turning is to shape the object and get it down to a wall thickness somewhere between 1 inch to 1 and a half inches thick. As soon as I have completed the rough turning, I completely submerge the bowl or object in denatured alcohol. I have found that using a heavy duty contractors 3 mil garbage bag works well for conserving the amount of alcohol needed. Place the object in the bag and fill it with denatured alcohol (available at all hardware and paint supply stores for thinning shellac etc.) until the object is completely submerged, then close and secure the bag with a rubber band or spring clamp. Allow it to set for 24 hours. The alcohol will displace the bound water inside the cell walls of the wood. Take it out and place it upside down on a rack and let it drip dry for another day with a paper bag over it to block air movement. Look for the start of any checks and if you see any then apply CA glue (cyanoacrylate) over them right away. The CA glue will adhere to wet wood and stop the checks from progressing.   2)  To further prevent checks, I paint the object completely with green wood sealer again. This will slow down the drying process.  Usually the alcohol treatment will dry the rough turned object within 2 weeks which is great, and then you can remount the piece and do the final turning and sanding and finishing. Since olive wood likes to check and crack easily, I have found it is worth the extra effort to paint it with green wood sealer (after the alcohol treatment) so that it slows the drying process and helps to minimize any cracks. This can slow the alcohol drying process down to 1 or two months but it is worth it to prevent those darn cracks.  3)  Once the wood is dry (I use a moisture meter to check it and look for a 10 percent moisture content) then you can remount it on...

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Desert Woodturning Roundup Mesa, AZ 2013

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Last weekend I demonstrated at the Desert Woodturning Roundup in Mesa, Arizona. I had 6 rotations, 2 on combining metal with wood, 2 on gilding turned vessels and 2 on creating patinas on vessels. There was a great line up of Demonstrators : J. Paul Fennel who lives in Scottsdale and does some amazing pierced and carved hollow vessels. Richard Raffan from Australia who is one of the best known turners in the world with several books and videos that have won critical acclaim. Molly Winton who has earned her fine reputation for her surface embellishments of wood burning, carving, texturing, and coloring. Malcolm Tibbetts famous for his incredible segmented turnings that boggle the imagination and his book and numerous DVDs on the subject. Michael Hosaluk who is a member of Canada’s Royal Canadian Academy of Arts and is well known world wide for his incredible creativity not to mention turned and burned baseballs. Matt Monaco, a production turner (and fellow drummer) who lives in Arizona whose work is influenced by Mexican, Southwestern, and African cultures. John Lucas from Tennessee, who is well known for his turned hand mirrors, sculptural turnings, articles on wood turning, and photography. Here are some photos of the work I demonstrated. The instant Gallery had numerous works of art with a wide range of talent. Malcolm Tibbetts and I were asked to be available to give critiques to those who wanted them in the Instant Gallery. I want to personally thank Dale Gillaspy and the entire crew of volunteers from the Arizona Woodturners Association who worked really hard and did an excellent job of organizing this event. I will be teaching a 3 days hands on group class on Gilding & Chemical Patination at my school here in Santa Rosa, CA on August 16 – 18, 2013. For the class description and registration, go to the Classes Section of my website: Classes If you cannot make it to my Gilding & Chemical Patination Class, I do have a DVD that I sell from my estore at my website that gives step by step instructions on the process: Gilding & Chemical Patinations...

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Student Cuts Dovetails on the Bandsaw

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I had a student in mid November 2012 that traveled from North Carolina to take a  5 day private class with me.  One of the things she was interested in learning was my method of cutting dovetails using the bandsaw and getting that “hand cut” look. She had been taught by a Master Craftsman from the UK to use a dovetail saw.  She loves hand tools and is very good with them, especially hand planes.  The challenge for her was that due to some recent medical issues, she was experiencing difficulties holding the dovetail saw straight all the way through the cut. I her told that I have had carpel tunnel surgery and two other hand surgeries related to tendon pain and I prefer to use the bandsaw to cut dovetails. I use a method of cutting the pins first, if you are cutting by hand with a dovetail saw, then it makes sense to cut the tails first. She was quite pleasantly surprised when I demonstrated that by tilting the table of the bandsaw 8 degrees in one direction, and set the fence to the appropriate spacing, that we could cut the pins with very straight lines.  Once those cuts were made, we tilted the bandsaw table to 8 degrees in the opposite direction and made the other set of cuts on the pins, again moving the fence to each layout line. After that we used the fretsaw to cut out the bulk of the waste, clamped a guide block across the scribe line, chiseled half way down, flipped the stock and then did the same procedure on the opposite side. I like to clamp the guide block onto the tails board to ensure accuracy in relationship to the scribe line. Next I clamp the pins board to the guide block lined up with the edges of the tails board and scribe the outline of the pins onto the tails board. This gives us the cut line.  After the tails are cut and pared with some dovetail chisels,then we do a test fit, pare a little more until we are ready for the glue up. Here is a photo of her completed dovetail sample cut in cherry...

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