Glitch fixed and Turning Class Opening!

Sorry about the last email that got sent without the content or link to my latest post, I believe that I fixed the problem, please let me know if have issues. Also, please check out the last post if you didn't, I've been experimenting a lot with bending and I think it's worth looking into.

*This spot has been filled!* Also, I have one turning intensive class opening for the class that will take place on April 28-29. Please contact me if you are interested, the first respondent will get to reserve the class.

As a continuation of my testing of the rss feed, here are a couple of images of recent shop happenings!



Here are some spindles about to go into a rocker, I thought this view was especially interesting

Here are some spindles about to go into a rocker, I thought this view was especially interesting

I really loved this view of the arm in the finished and fumed rocker

I really loved this view of the arm in the finished and fumed rocker

This color is deep sapphire from the Real Milk paint company, I am in love with it and can't wait to use it on a more elaborate chair

This color is deep sapphire from the Real Milk paint company, I am in love with it and can't wait to use it on a more elaborate chair


I've been doing a lot of work on steam bending tech lately. It started with an issue with my air dried white oak. The posts for my rockers are too thick to make out of green wood, the drying would take too long and be very likely to check. I had some problems even with the air dried stuff, until I learned to cover the stock right after getting it in the form so that the moisture didn't evaporate to quickly while the piece was steaming hot. It worked great. Then, I moved the wood to my new drier shop, and the wood checked up terribly regardless...bummer. I think that the wide, flat sawn boards just stressed too much in the heated/ dry shop.  So with all my ruined oak, and many chairs to build, I had to try new stuff.


The first thing that I did, was to supercharge my steamer. I turned to insulated pvc pipe to keep all the moisture going to the workpiece and not the wood steam box. Two heaters insure uninterrupted heat and quick recovery of temp after opening the box. It's amazing how much condensation runs out the back weep hole.

Then, I turned to trying kiln dried wood. My first board was flat sawn white oak 8/4" thick. I turned and steamed the piece for 2 hours. It bent perfectly...too perfectly in fact, I can't get the bend to relax into the final form, it took the overbend too well! I covered the piece with foil when it was in the form and later wrapped it in newspaper. 

Next, I tried wrapping the piece in cling wrap right when I pulled it from the steamer. It was a revelation in that the piece stayed so hot for so long. Now I can really take my time and the piece keeps cooking in the form, which I think helps it relax into the shape and may set it better.

Then I switched to shrink wrap tubing from ULINE. I seal one end of a section of tubing by folding it over a couple times and exposing it to the exhaust from the steamer, it shrinks right up. Then, drop the workpiece in, shove out the air and the piece shrinks right up to the steaming piece. The cooling now takes place through conduction through the plastic, which is way slower than through the evaporation of the steam.  This works amazingly well and is super quick to do.


I even used this on a comb back arm and found that I could move so slowly during the bend (because the heat is staying put) that the piece relaxed into the bend much more evenly and without twisting. It's much flatter than I was getting before, saving me the job of trying to fix the twist without getting the arm too thin.

I've been experimenting with quarter sawn kiln dried white oak, hoping that the stress on the tangential face would be less intense. Even though the board is showing some checking on the edges, I cut the edges about 1/2" in and found that the wood was fine. More to come, as I fail more....

The Learning Curve

As usual, I am finding myself a novice in too many ways all at once! My grand plan to announce new classes here was foiled when other web avenues filled the classes. I will be announcing the date that I will be ANNOUNCING the classes from now on. I'm sorry if anyone missed the chance and encourage you to sign up for the mailing list on the site to keep up with other announcements.

On a more fun note, I'm having all sorts of fun trying new things in the shop. I've found myself up against a material issue, namely, watching all my air dried white oak crack up in my overly dry workshop! This has forced me to try bending posts for my rockers out of kiln dried white oak. Much to my surprise, I've been having great success. Below is a post that was steamed for two hours, then covered in plastic and bent. The plastic keeps the moisture from leaving with the heat, which extends bending time and makes it so the surface wood isn't shocked and cracks.


I've built a new steamer out of pvc. As you can see, the pipe is supported and insulated, both to keep the heat in, but also to keep the pipe from slumping from the heat. I like the way that the moisture from the steam is not absorbed, which I think gives me wetter bends


I'll be updating my results as I get more. I am suspecting the using quartersawn wood might also help, as it dries with less stress on the tangential face, which is where checking tends to occur.

I've also been learning more about the osmo oils. I like the satin for first coats, as it is "loose" and easy to wipe off. It's incredibly even looking. But it's too flat, so I've been mixing it with the gloss for a topcoat that builds to a higher sheen. I find the gloss just a bit too "sticky" when applying. The mix builds well, although it takes a while to cure.


Here is an old chair that I applied the mix to, I love the results. Two coats brought it back to life!