Welcome to Turners Anonymous
Turners Anonymous is a group of about 100 wood turning enthusiasts from the area surrounding Pittsburgh. We love all things about wood turning... the satisfaction of a sharp clean cut; the smell of freshly sliced cherry shavings; an excuse to buy new, expensive tools; and most importantly, the chance to help others to explore and enjoy the hobby as much as we do.
Please feel free to explore these pages to learn more about Turners Anonymous, look at some photos, and consider coming to a meeting.
Are there any programs or turners you would like to see in our future featured presentations? The Board is currently planning these events for the next 12-18 months, so now is the time to be heard. Feel free to send me an email, and I will pass along your input.
We are in for a treat at our May meeting as experienced turner and presenter, Jack Brown, has agreed to demonstrate an unusual way to make a salt shaker. Jack has a great presentation style and is happy to share his experience on a wide variety of turning subjects.
I had a chance to see his presentation at the Indiana County Woodturners Meeting and it was very interesting and enjoyable.
For the Instant Gallery this month, the theme will be "Music".
- Craig Smith
At April's presentation, Dave Dudney, Dave Beringer and John Schlueter, will show various methods of transferring rotational energy to a wooden object. This will include face plates, drives between centers, glue blocks, friction drives, various mechanical chucks and vacuum chucks. Each of the three presenters will give a 40 minute presentation on their subjects. At the end of the presentation, club members will be able to come forward for a closer look at the tools. There is a handout for this meeting here. - John Schlueter
For the Instant Gallery this month, as a follow up to last month's hands on meeting, please bring your the results of your efforts at Pen Turning.
Announcement: Our friends at Society for Contemporary Craft have notified the board that enforcement of unauthorized parking behind the building is picking up. Perhaps none of members park there anyhow, but if you do, be aware you may be subject to ticketing. - Craig Smith
March Meeting - Turn a Pen
The March meeting of Turner's Anonymous once again coincided with the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Pittsburgh leaving the strip district strangely empty for a Saturday. The theme of the meeting was pen turning and it involved a hands-on project. Each member was encouraged to turn their own pen. Guidance was provided, as needed, to help the participants through the various steps.
The kit was a bullet pen with a rifle clip, and the cost was $5. The wood blanks included purple heart, rosewood, curly maple and red heart. At the first station, drilling of the blank was performed. Then, gluing of the tube into the blank was done at the next station. There were four lathes set up, where the participants were encouraged to turn, sand, and finish their masterpiece. Finally an assembly station was available to press the pens together.
At my turning station, the pen makers varied from expert to novice, but everyone was fully engaged, and each member turned a beautiful pen.
Ultimately a total of fifty pens were turned, and sixteen of these were donated to the vets for their Christmas program. Most importantly, everyone had a great time.
A special thanks to Bill Hayes for putting together this highly successful program. - Bob Eckert
February Meeting - Hollow Forms that Include Pith
"Hollow Form with the Pith" was the title of the February meeting of Turners Anonymous. The program was presented by Dave Dudney and John Schlueter. The demonstration focused on the turning of a rather large vessel with the pith in the center. The technique was one that John Schlueter had been taught when he attended a week-long class by Steve Sinner.
The log used was green, less than 24 hours old, and the ends had been sealed with a latex sealer. It was from a straight tree with concentric rings around the pith. Dave started by turning the log at low speed, 192 RPM, between centers. He used a Oneway "Big Bite" spur to drive it. After using a roughing gouge to get the log round, he increased the speed and began to shape the log.
As Dave shaped the log to a vessel shape, he planned for the support of the vessel during hollowing as follows:
- A ring at the widest diameter of the vessel was left for later support by a steady rest.
- The tenon was added below the vase of the vessel to fit a large four-jaw chuck.
- A deep parting cut was made between the tenon and the vessel base to relieve stress.
While shaping the exterior of the vessel, Dave rode the bevel with his roughing gouge to get a nice surface finish. He also used his Ellsworth bowl gouge in shaping the exterior. After shaping, the exterior was sealed with Anchor seal while on the lathe.
The vessel was then mounted in the four-jaw chuck, and the steady-rest was mounted to the lathe bed to support the vessel on the ring left previously. John stressed the importance of having all of the steady-rest wheels in contact as evidenced by their rotation. After dressing the top of the vessel flat, Dave then bored the vessel with a 2.5" forstner bit. This diameter allowed the chuck to follow the bit into the hole, allowing for greater depth. Dave passed around, but could not use, a huge custom-made forstner bit extender with a MT2 to Jacobs adapter at the tailstock end and two set screws at the business end to lock in the forstner bit.
Unfortunately no boring could take place due to the length of the lathe bed. However, three boring rigs were shown, two of which were homemade.
- An articulating arm boring bar was shown. It was homemade based on a video by Cap'n Eddie* (see below for more on Cap'n Eddie). Made from 1 x 1 steel, the total cost was less than $40
- John shared a homemade boring bar with laser incorporating a steel bar for the boring part and an aluminum tubing to support the laser. The rig was assembled with 90 degree wood clamps
- Finally, a Steve Sinner boring bar was presented by John. Long and heavy, it was made from 1-1/8" round bar. It also sported a laser guide
The final topic of the presentation was on Steve Sinner's methods for finishing this type of vessel. John described two methods, the first was used on open-grain woods and added color into the grain using acrylic paint. The paint is applied to the exterior, dried, then sanded off the surface. The color remains in the grain for a nice effect. A process for finishing with Helmsman polyurethane was also explained. The second technique involved air brushing, but a frisket was used to mask off certain areas while color is applied to adjacent areas.
A handout is available on the member resources area of the website. An excellent program, thanks Dave and John. There are also many, more pictures available in the photo gallery.
*Cap'n Eddie - If you have not experienced the YouTube videos of Cap'n Eddie Castelin, you do not know what you are missing. Point your YouTube machine to Cap'n Eddie and experience some fun and enlightening videos from the bayou of Louisiana. As soon as he was mentioned a quiet discussion ensued in the back about the entertaining, funny videos from his unbelievably messy shop. In fact, you may have noticed a homemade parting tool I had brought to the meeting for the theme of sharp; it was made from a Cap'n Eddie video. - Bob Eckert
January Meeting Meeting - Sharpening
The January meeting of Turners Anonymous featured a presentation on sharpening. The discussion ranged from tuning up the grinder to the use of grinding jigs and grinding techniques.
The meeting kicked off with Dave Dudney showing the different types of grinders and leading a discussion on the merits of each. He followed by explaining how to tune up your grinder. The process started with the replacement of plastic grinding wheel spacer bushings with steel. Dave continued by showing how to take the wobble out of the wheel and how to true the outside diameter to the center of rotation. Craig Smith also shared a homemade device for truing the wheel. I spent an hour applying these techniques to my grinder and it made a big difference in the noise and vibration levels.
Next Craig shared some techniques for sharpening specific tools. He showed how to grind a roughing gouge with the Wolverine Grinding Jig. Craig showed how to use Wolverine's platform for grinding various tools such as scrapers and skews. He then showed how to sharpen a bowl gouge with a Vari-Grind jig. A discussion of the Wolverine skew jig then followed, but it was not present. His main point was to use a jig to assure consistency and a quick and easy grind. This way you are more likely to be using sharp tools and return to your turning quickly.
Bill Hayes briefly discussed the Tormek wet grind system and its application to skews. Unfortunately, he was unable to give the demonstration he had planned.
After the formal presentations, time was available to work with the experts on specific sharpening challenges and hands-on demonstrations. In conclusion, January's sharpening presentation was a valuable seminar, worthwhile for the discussions that ensued and the good review of a most important technique.
- Bob Eckert
December Meeting - Ornament and Box Exchange
Turner's Anonymous celebrated the holidays on December 15th with our annual Christmas party. Many of the members brought in Christmas treats to share. There were breads, donuts, and cookies of all types, more than enough to satiate the members' cravings.
The main event was an ornament and box exchange that was run by Dave Beringer. Members had been encouraged to bring an ornament or a lidded box, or both. There were enough items of each type that Dave ran two separate exchanges. The process is simple, the first person is picked at random and they select their favorite item. The person who made that item then describes their item, the wood, the finish, the inspiration, etc. The second person then picks the item they find most appealing from those remaining, and that one is presented. It is reminiscent of being picked for dodgeball; you want to avoid being last… But it is all in good fun; and, when it works right, everyone goes home with someone else's creation for their collection.
Notable were the two ornaments and three boxes inspired by November's demonstrator, Alan Carter. There were also a number of rose engine pieces including a threaded ebony box. A pair of incline cars inspired by the Duquesne Incline had to go together (because as one goes up the other goes down.) A Christmas tree box with aluminum inserts was actually four smaller boxes stacked. A highlight was another Christmas tree box that required a trick to open; it was amusingly demonstrated by Jack Brown.
We decorated our tree the next night with new and old turned ornaments from the club. What a joy it is to share our efforts during the holiday season.
- Bob Eckert
November Featured Meeting - Alan Carter
At the November meeting of Turners Anonymous, we were fortunate to host Alan Carter from Chicago. The all-day event was well attended by the membership. A nice lunch was served featuring sandwiches, salad, fried and baked chicken and cupcakes. Mr. Carter shared his personal history, his techniques, and his voyage through art.
Alan started out with a humorous slide show sharing his artistic life history. He started his career as a performing artist by playing the trombone. Ultimately, he graduated from Indiana University with a music degree. He then worked for Kmart as a manager for a number of years before becoming a fine art painter for 20 years. Alan's paintings were in the form of photorealism, but he found that the creative process was limited to the beginning compositional phase then followed by a long period of execution. He then made fine furniture for ten years which gave him an appreciation for the color and grain patterns in wood. Again, he found the creative time to occur only in the design phase. Finally, Alan "turned" to woodturning which he said allows for more creativity, less labor and faster evolution of his art.
Alan then demonstrated the process for making his suspended vessels. He stressed the sequence of the turning, hollowing and drilling, and suggested leaving material in the base of the vessel as you finish the top. He drilled the holes on the lathe with a fixture that he created himself. The fixture keeps the holes perpendicular to the center axis and directly in line with each other. He showed the process for making and drilling the legs and described how to choose the wood and height of the legs so that the vessel is accentuated. Throughout his demonstration, he shared tips and tools that would aid any turner. He followed this demonstration with another slideshow which focused on his suspended vessels. The variation that Alan achieved within this one basic form was amazing.
After lunch, the demonstration focused on his split bowl designs. This consisted of turning a bowl in the traditional manner then cutting it in half (or quarters) on the band saw. He showed how to achieve a nice joint when gluing the edges. The interior of the bowl is less important as this will be inaccessible. He showed how to fit a top to the split bowl and center the hole in it. The base is an important part of the work and by changing the shape you can change the feeling of the piece. Another slideshow followed which focused on his split bowl sculptures. Again, the variation and artistry were outstanding.
It was another great demo by a nationally renowned woodturner. - Bob Eckert
Thanks to Britta Moellenbeck, please don't forget to check out more terrific photos from this presentation and every meeting in our photo gallery!
As of March 2012, the Board of Directors voted to cease publication of a printed newsletter for Turners Anonymous. The Board feels that this will help to enable better use of club resources and also to enable fresher updates on club information. Hopefully, going forward, additional types of content much greater than could be included in the newsletter will be developed on the website. For archival purposes, once a month, a "snap shot" of the home page will be captured and placed on the page where the old newsletters are stored. Here is this month's example of how the archives will look. As always, comments are welcome.
Here is a Video made in the "afterglow" of a satisfying session of roughing bowl blanks. Just for fun...