Category Archives: Turning

What Happens to a Bowl?

My Wood Turning Album on Facebook says

‘Sometimes something besides sawdust and wood shavings comes out of my shop.’  A number of those items are bowls.  Big ones, little ones, most are turned with a use in mind. One of the questions I am asked is:  “What happens to a bowl?’  Here is one answer.

11 inch ElmThis bowl started life as part of an Elm Tree.  It was planted many years ago, perhaps it was not planted, and just landed there.  As the tree grew, the power lines got in the way and the branches were trimmed.  The tree provided shade to those that paused under it.  Shade to the houses, and a perch for many birds.  In  the summer of 2012 the Elm was not in the best shape.  Somewhat lop sided due to the need to protect the power lines, it was still impressive.  The main trunk was about 36 inches at ground level.  The tree branched out in many ways.  The houses near by were within the shade and within the fall of branches as the wind blew. The homeowners felt very thankful for the shade and their time with the tree. The time had come.

The arborist came out and found why so many branches were dropping with minor winds.   The tree was dying, from the inside out.  So it was cut back and finally cut down.  This is quite a process to watch, as guys climb up the tree with safety ropes and chain saws.  The smaller branches drop around the tree, then the larger high branches.  The rain of branches dropping stops from time to time.  The branches are cleared away and those worth recycling are cut up and stacked. Then the process repeats itself. Eventually, the tree was down and the large trunk was cut into manageable pieces.Elm

I was luck enough to pick up some of this wonderful tree.  I have turned a few items.  The half log this bowl came out of was placed on the lathe last summer. The tree was still alive when it was cut down. So I partially turned this one to help it dry out. Then it put it aside to see how it dried out.  This one did rather well.  No cracks or splits and not much warping.  Last winter, it went back on the lathe to turn down to the finished size.

I removed more waste and cleaned up the shape. Along the way, I found some evidence of worms and other pieces of the decay process the arborist saw that was killing the tree from the inside out.  Over Labor Day weekend the turning and sanding was completed. The bottom was labeled and an oil finish was applied.

Since this bowl is designed as a Popcorn Bowl, 11 inches across and 5 inches tall, an oil finish is perfect. The oil from popcorn will continue to renew the finish for years to come.  Some time last winter I posted an in progress picture of this bowl on the lathe to Twitter. I had a question regarding the price of a bowl like that.  I thought about it and responded that this bowl would be donated to a local charity for their silent auction fundraiser. Then I got an idea for increasing the value and thus boost the auction results.

The idea of boosting the Silent Auction results, causes a trip to our local Dillon’s Store. A few items from the shelf and some clear gift wrap from the knowledgeable staff at the Floral Center.  Here they are putting the finishing touches on the wrapping.

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This Popcorn Bowl is ready.  It is a heavy bowl, suitable for passing around the room during movie night or for a football game. The beads near the rim will help those buttery fingers hold on.  Any type of snack with some butter, oil or other similar snack will renew the finish.  Just wipe out with a dry cloth, ( or damp, if you wish.)

This little part of the big Elm tree, is now ready for a new chapter. The tree that took so many years to grow up, all the while sheltering the people and birds and other animals that paused for a few minutes or a few years, will continue to provide comfort and shelter to another family.

I took this Bowl to Wichita Habitat for Humanity this afternoon. It will be part of the Silent Auction at their annual Raise the Roof event this Saturday evening. Here are a couple of the wonderful staff at Wichita Habitat accepting the donation.

ErinIf you would like to attend their Raise The Roof Event, it is scheduled this coming Saturday evening, September, 13 at 5:00    You can read more about it, and buy your tickets at this link.

RaiseTheRoof

 

More Information and Registration for Raise the Roof.

Shivering And Bowl Turning are not Compatible!

When I am not out auditing homes, or working with builders on Energy Star New Homes, I enjoy Woodturning! Making a bowl or other turned object is fascinating; it takes my mind from serious things and to important things. It lowers my blood pressure!

I have been using my garage to work with my lathe and the wood! It keeps my head from getting sunburned, and keeps the sun and weather off the wood waiting to be turned.  My. attached garage is 57 years old. The common wall between the garage had unsealed drywall on the garage side!  The exterior walls are open studs. The house is old enough the wall and  roof sheathing is 1x material. You could see the boards that were used to form the basement walls.  That is one form of recycling!

The use of 1x material, despite the recycling, is not the most green approach that could have been used. The garage has not really been usable in the cold, so 4-5 months are lost. I have tried various types of heating to allow work to proceed. It works with warmer, less windy days. This is Kansas and there aren’t many of those!

One of the personal goals involved in my becoming an energy auditor was to learn how to make my shop workable 12 months a year. My study of insulation types, heat loss, installation methods and costs, all applied to my quest!

I looked at installing Fiberglass Batts, inexpensive.  I thought about adding rigid foam, also inexpensive. I could do the labor on each of these.  Each of those would require a covering, at least for physical protection of the insulation, and ignition protection of the rigid foam. The same problem, of a protective covering would apply to blown in rock wool, fiberglass or cellulose. And yes, I could do those or contract them out.

Each of these choices must also have the insulation in contact with the Air Barrier, to work at the rated R-Value. In our climate zone, the air barrier is the lath and plaster, or drywall.

The other option, slightly more expensive than the others is commercial 2 part Closed Cell Spray Foam.  This product at 1 inch thickness provides an air barrier. The manufacturer’s material shows R-6.5 per inch.  So 2 ½ inches is about R-15.  And the air barrier and the thermal barrier are in contact thus forming a valid thermal envelope.  The underside of the roof deck and the walls could be done.  The actual time to install would be less than one working day.

So one March 1, the Foam Installer was here and sprayed the foam.  Following the weather in March we had several days the low temperature was in the 30s, with highs in the 50’s or 60’s.  By April the lows moved into the high 40s and 50s.

Now it is July and we have had highs in the triple digits or close for about three weeks.  Lows in the 70’s, a few 80s and high 60s.

How is the insulation performing?

The temperature in March never dropped below 50 degrees, even on the days with a low of 35.  One night I left a window open and the low of 40 did not drop the temperature below 55 after a 65 degree high.  That seems very satisfactory to me.

Since our high temperatures hit the 90s and then into the triple digits, I have observed a 5 – 10 degree delay in the temperature inside the garage.  I don’t have any AC there.  So a 103 degree day like today, the temperature in the Garage was 93.

I have two fans to create air movement.  One is a squirrel cage fan I purchased at a garage sale.  The other is a box fan.  I also can turn on the air cleaner hanging from the ceiling and it will move air around the garage. Use of the fans with doors and windows providing a source of air movement have made those triple digit days seem much more like 80 in the shop.

My choice to insulate my garage for use as a shop was not simply based on this type or that type of insulation.  It was based on how the wall would work with an air barrier and a thermal barrier in contact.

I could have used: Fiberglass, Rockwool or Cellulose with drywall covering. The time involved with any of these would work using a contractor or doing it myself and would have taken several days to a week.  Going the Closed Cell Spray Foam approach took less than a day, and I was done.

When winter comes, as it always does, I will watch and comment again. The old furnace is now installed in the attic of the garage to kick on if the temperature drops below 40 degrees.

One goal is to have a shop that is warm enough to work in all year round. Another is to keep the shop equipment above Dew Point.  That is the temperature when the humidity begins to condense on cold objects. In the summer we think of our cold beverages sweating .  Today the Dew Point was 59 degrees and any cold beverage, including tap water is colder than that. If the temperature of the equipment goes below dew point, the condensation will cause rust.

Rust on the shiny steel of the saws or the lathe is not good. So here is to keeping the shop above the dew point, and your cold beverage below dew point.

Cheers!

Turning a Bowl, Thought, Process and Life Lessons

Most posts on this Blog relate to Energy Efficiency and Homes.  One post pointed out how I depresssurized after a Home Energy Audit by running a Blower Door Test.  Another way for me to relax is to go out to the shop and work on a bowl or other turned item.  I enjoy turning wood. I remember doing some woodworking with my father growing up.  I enjoy the fresh smell of cut wood and the look is always unique.  I recently re-organized my shop and have been able to easily work in shorter, and more productive, sessions.

Last night I was working on a bowl.  Above Right on the right. This was was from maple that had spalted. During an Energy Audit, I look for the potential for mold to grow and make recommendations to eliminate that process. Spalting wood is a process where I want the mold and fungus to grow.  You get some really interesting patterns in the wood.

Left is Maple, right is spalted maple. Finding a piece of wood that has begun the spalting process is always neat.  The piece is usually wet or very damp. It is not in the bright sun. It looks stained or crumbly on the outside. The bark may be gone or partly gone. The best spalted wood, for turning, is still fairly solid on the inside.  This is very much like finding mold or a fungus in a home.  You just combine water, and a food source, usually wood.  The mold or fungus spores are always around.  So it starts growing. Remove the water or the food and it stops.  In a home we call that remediation.  I don’t know if wood turners have a name for it.

Each piece of wood is unique and each seems to have a mind of its own.  Last night I had removed the tenon that held the bowl on the lathe. I had started sanding the bottom. This bowl suddenly started to show its own mind.  Right. The center of the bottom, was not getting smoother, so I moved to a rougher grade of sandpaper.  Not much change, I moved down another grade.  Not getting any better. Geez, this is just a little spot, less than a inch in diameter. A little frustrating.

A look over to the side shows me this piece of a bowl. This one went flying when the hidden crack went ‘Crack’.  It went away from me.  See the second picture.  Yes, wood has a mind of its own.  Remembering the other bowl, tells me it is time to stop.

Tonight, I will work on it again.  Bowls, among other things, don’t like to be hurried.  I started this one in 2006 or 2007. It spent several years drying. Another 24 hours will not make much difference.  The wood has taught me that patience is rewarded. I have learned that lesson, and last night it was retaught again.  Not only with bowls, but homes, families and all over society, one must learn, and practice, that lesson.  If not, it will be retaught.

Addendum:  The next day.  Last night, I put the bowl back on the work space and worked some more on that troublesome spot.  It worked out and patience paid off.  When the final finish is applied and cured, I will post a picture.