Oct 272022
 
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Our contributor and prolific woodturner Temple Blackwood is being featured in a very cool online gallery, courtesy of the Witherle Memorial Library in his hometown of Castine, Maine. Take a look and prepare to be inspired!

Oct 252022
 
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As seems often to happen, I received an email from a stranger asking if I might be able to replicate a small a chess piece for a miniature set to replace a missing queen for his girl friend’s birthday.  Apparently the unusually small chess set was a favorite of hers that had been missing the dark queen for quite some time but fortunately still had the light queen, from which I could make a copy in black walnut.

Once I acquired the sample queen, I cut a slightly oversized walnut blank for turning.

After mounting the piece between centers, I turned a tenon, which I then used to mount the blank in a four-jaw chuck.

Using the original light queen as a story-stick, I marked the critical points.

The tricky part of this copying, especially on such a small scale, it to get the various diameters right for each of the points while balancing the physics of turning each detail on the right (tailstock) at a given diameter before committing to turn the next (left) detail.

With the bulk of the waste wood removed, copying each of the major details precisely from right (tailstock) toward left (headstock) with the detailed attention to curves, swells, and tapers that distinguish each point while maintaining the precise diameter of that aspect and its relationship to the adjacent detail creates a need for constant comparison followed by minuscule recutting until the profile is as near same as possible. 

Once the profile of that detail is suitable, it is time to move on to the next (left) detail.

When turning “multiples” of a profile as in many balusters or finials, the turner gains efficiencies through experience, muscle-memory, and the challenge of improving the process.

Turning only one or two copies of an existing item – especially in an atmosphere of something as exacting and precise as chess – presents the challenge of taking a different piece of wood and cutting it to appear to be identical, except, of course, by color.

At the end of about an hour and one-half, I achieved a close-enough replica queen.  There are some subtle differences, but when the fellow came to pick up his two queens in time for the birthday, he was delighted.

With the result of his planning, my turning, and his surprise gift for his girlfriend’s birthday.  A later email from him confirmed our success.

Oct 052022
 
Turning the Corner: No-weight-gain Donuts
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One of my most admired local friends retired last fall from her 50 year career working for and running an amazing museum of global artifacts and colonial living history program.  Soon after retiring, she realized that there were parts of her life she did not want to leave behind.  As a result, she started up […]

Aug 022022
 
Hot Time, Summer in the Shop
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It’s getting hot in here! This is the first summer I have spent significant time woodworking. I work in a garage without any kind of environmental controls beyond raising and lowering the garage door or cracking a window. What I have learned quickly is that it gets really hot, really fast! I thought surely there […]

Apr 062022
 
Turning the Corner: Segmented Porch Post Column Base
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For the February 2022 issue of Wood News Online, Temple Blackwood shared his process for turning a replacement porch post column. One of my regular contractor customers came by some time ago with an interesting problem that he decided I would be the perfect person to help him with. An elderly customer of his had […]

Mar 172022
 
Don’t Know Where to Start? Three Ways to Work Wood!
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Two roads diverged in a wood and I — Took both; and a third, fourth, fifth, sixth… Briefly, I started woodworking with 3D design, followed by rough carpentry, finish carpentry, 2D design, handheld CNC, gantry CNC, fine woodworking, finishing, hand woodworking, carving, etc… Today I spend hours each night hand cutting pin and tail boards […]

Mar 152022
 
Turning the Corner: Carriage Seat Spindles
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For the March 2022 issue of Wood News Online, Temple wrote about a project where he had to turn twenty-four replacement spindles for a horse carriage seat: One of my new customers wrote to me and explained that he is in the process of rebuilding an antique horse carriage and needs to replace twenty-four white […]