Wandless Woodworking
Fine Furniture, Turnings and Custom Writing Instruments


August 24, 2010

August 2010 - Lots of things happening around here the last couple of years that I have neglected to document here so lets get started. My wife and I became an offical business in Oct of 2008, welcome Wandless Crafts. Since then we have dove several craft shows and given the state of the economy we are doing OK. Not enough to retire on but it provides the funds for tools, sand paper and clay for her. This month I was in Brasstown, NC at John C. Campbell Folk School, taking a class with John Mascoll. What a blast! I had a great time and vastly improved my hand hollowing techniques. Got a lot tips and tricks from John and Judy Romerez. While taking the class I came to the realization that if I want to continue to improve my turning skills and produce high quality larger pieces I was going to need a "real" lathe. So when I got back I ordered the Powermatic 4224, and will retire my homebuilt lathe which has served me well. How exciting my first real lathe. I expect to take delivery on Wed August 25 where with the help my neighbor I can get it setup in my shop in the next couple of days and be ready to turn this weekend.

July 2010 - I am now showing my work at Belnavis Art Gallery in West Springfield, VA. Very exciting. Contact Michele Bailey at 703-866-0040 for more infromation. Go here for more info.

September 2007 - Its been a while since I've had any significant happenings to report and I have also been lazy about updating my website, but this month I took a turning class with Alan Lacer at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship. The school has expanded and now has a dedicated turning studio with 10 Oneway lathes. The first week was Turning Fundamentals and the second was Woodturning II. I had not know of Alan before so I didn't know what to expect. I found out that Alan is a master with the skew chisel and knows how to teach you to use it, so by the end of the two weeks I was feeling much more confident using my skew. One of the most challenging exercises we did was turning an egg with a skew. It turned out to be rather fun. I learned a lot of new tips and tricks and improved my technique quite a bit those two weeks. I tried to concentrate on the quality of finish I got right off the tool and worked on form.

October 2005 - I went to the Totally Turning Conference in Albany, NY. Had a great time watching and learning from the demos. Once again my wife and I displayed some of our work in the 10th Annual Talent Within Show at work. I displayed several of the hollow vessels I made at Campbell in July and couple others that I made when I got home.

September 2005 - Finished making a capture boring bar hollowing system for my lathe and have begun to try it out making vessels. Click here to see it.

July 2005 - My wife and I went to John C Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC. She was taking a salt-fired pottery class and I was going for a hollow vessels class taught be Franck Johannesen. This was the first real turning class I have attended so I was looking forward to getting some help with my technique and form. Up until now I had turned mostly bowls and pens and looking to branch out into some more difficult aspects of turning. Frank is from Florida and he brought a bunch of Norfolk Island Pine for us to turn. This was my first real attempt at making large vessels using a captured hollowing system. Turns out I was using the system that Frank made for his own lathe and it had a laser system for judging the vessel wall thickness which was really neat. The first couple of vessels didn't work out to well but I finally got the hang of it. Norfolk Island Pine grows very large in FL and its limbs all branch out at the same level so that if you turn it right you get a the star pattern seen on the vessels. The red patches are limbs that have been cut through to revel the pattern. The week was a lot of fun and I plan to go home and make a captured hollowing system for my lathe and start making some more hollow vessels. Click here to see some of the vessels I made while there.

February 2004 - Finally finished (except for the top) the commode for our dining room. This chest of drawers was designed to have a white marble top and is made out of mahogany. Construction was pretty basic, sliding dovetails for the front and back rails, and dovetailed bottom. The two columns in front where made using the quartered turning technique which worked very well. The flutes were cut into the cylinder on the lathe before separating the sections. The most frustrating part of this project was the door. After spending a couple of weeks hand planeing a wide mahogany board flat and have it stay reasonably flat, I just gave up.  It just  would not stay flat enough to make a suitable door, so turned it into veneer and made panels for the doors. The hardware was fit and then after a couple of weeks of sanding and scraping I was ready to apply the finish. I wanted a darker aged look to the mahogany so I used Jeff Jewitt's technique that was in Fine Woodworking Vol ??, and finished with shellac. Overall I was very pleased with the way it came out. We still need to decide about the top. I have a piece of marble that we got from my wife's parents that I was going to have cut and shaped, but when we found out how much it was going to cost to do that we started rethinking the marble idea.

October 2003 - Was the 8th Annual Talent Within Show at the US Geological Survey where I work. This was the forth time I had things in the show, mostly turnings this year, with several bowls and pens to display. I got lots of compliments on my work and sold a couple of the bowls and several pens. My wife and I pretty much had a display case to ourselves. This was the second year for her show off some of her pottery.

September 2003 - Hurricane Isabel blew through the Northern Virginia area toppling trees right and left, click here to read about the couple that I got.

August 2003 - Found me at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship again, for the "Advanced Cabinetmaking" class with Craig Stevens and John Fox. I had a class with Craig last year and meet John that year when he gave a short class on Japanese tools so I had high expectations for this two week class, and was not disappointed. The two weeks was devoted to the design and construction of a small piece of our choosing and we were encouraged to make this piece our own. The mantra for these two weeks was "to find a way of working that allows you to do your best work, use sharp tools and to find your own voice". Put your fingerprints on the piece The first couple of days was spent drawing, consulting with Craig and John, then drawing some more until I had design I was happy with. My project is  a small glass front display cabinet with carved sides and a bow front. Once the design was finalized I built a crude mockup of cardboard and insulation board. (Insert picture here). The mockup was changed several times until the proportions were right. With that done the next step was to select the wood, for my project. My first thought was to make this out of a light wood like ash but the selection of wood was rather poor this year at CFC and there was no ash suitable for this piece. But with Craig's and John's help we found a plank of cherry that was OK and off I went. The construction required tapered sliding dovetails, which I had never done. John did a demo on how to make them using the router and a dovetail plane. Since I did not have a dovetail plane I was able to borrow Japanese dovetail plane from another student. The joint worked so well and I enjoyed using the dovetail plane so much that when I got home I made one. This cabinet also required me to make bent a lamination for the rails of the front door. It had been quite a while since I had done bent lams, and got lots of pointers from John and Craig on how to set them up and glue them up. The stiles and rails for the front and back were joined using bridle joints which I made on the band saw. With some experimenting I came up with accurate way to set the cuts up to get a good fitting joint. During the construction several changes were made to the design to accommodate structural issues. These changes were made after some thinking on my part and consulting with Craig or John, resulting in some enlightening and rewarding discussions of design and construction. The two weeks ended with most of the construction and shaping done but not glued up.  What a rewarding experience, I got so much help from these two gentlemen that I came home with much more confidence in my design ability and a renewed confidence in my hand tool skills. Also during the two weeks I got a chance to use the new Shapton ceramic stones and was amazed at the edge I got on what I thought were pretty sharp plane irons. I also got a chance to try some Japanese planes and spokeshaves. While I am not ready to go the Japanese plane way, I am having much success with the Krenov style planes that I have made, I did purchase a Japanese curved bottom spokeshave.

2000 - My wife asked me to make her a Cheval mirror. Being the kind that likes to make things I decided to try and make my own lathe. A little research and I found the plans for a lathe in a Better Homes & Gardens book. I got the parts ( I understand that the company I got the headstock and tail stock spindels from don't make them anymore) and then set about construction of a "Back to Basics Lathe". Construction took a couple of months, but went by without many problems. I made several "upgrades" to strengthen several areas at the head stock. I only had a 1/2 HP motor to use and at the time I didn't think I would need much more power than that to turn a couple of spindels and didn't expect to do anything more than that, little did I know how addiciting turning is.