Article: Mark Gardner Demonstration, December 2011

Gardner10: Gardner10 Mark Gardner at CMW: Cylinder in Process: Shaped Cylinder: Mark Gardner with Carver: Grid layout for design: Square Bowl Cylinder: Bed to hold Square Bowl Blank: Mounted Jig for Square Bowl: Turned Bowl - Third Axis:

December 23, 2011 17:25, submitted by Mike Fiantaca (author: Bob Gunther, photos by Tina Collison)


Mark is an honorary member of CMW and comes to us from Saluda, NC where he lives and has his studio. He has been involved with woodturning since he was sixteen. At that time he enrolled in a furniture making class with his father. He felt, however, that furniture making was a slow process and he liked the immediacy of turning. Eventually he took a class with John Jordan and he gives John the credit for giving him a firm foundation in turning techniques. Another very important influence on Mark is Stoney Lamar. Stoney’s approach to the lathe was that he considered it more a tool for carving than turning and this perspective has been an inspiration for Mark. Mark has also studied African and Oceanic artifacts and these can be seen in his work. The lathe is still Mark’s primary tool and he really enjoys the process of turning. However, most of his time is spent working on a piece after it has been turned. He specializes in vessels and bowls. He demonstrated at the North Carolina Woodturning Symposium in 2009 and is a member of the American Association of Woodturners. He demonstrated for CMW January 15, 2005.

Morning Session:

Mark began his demo with a brief slide presentation showing the evolution of his work. This included turning, texturing, carving, and coloring. The various texturing techniques were shown using power reciprocating carving and power engraving. Large, green wood turned platters were shown that retained tool marks. Then carving and texturing were done over the tool marks creating various patterns and effects. Mark uses milk paint when coloring. The colored areas can be carved through creating interesting patterns and revealing the underlying wood color. Mark also does texturing using the chop saw and the band saw. This concluded the opening slide show.

Mark placed a piece of cherry (4 x 4 x 8”) between centers. (The most satisfactory woods to carve and texture are hard, closed grain woods.)(Photo:Gardner1) Using a spindle roughing gouge Mark formed a cylinder of about 3 ½ inches in diameter. A tenon was turned on both ends using a gouge so that a smooth surface was created on the tenon. A parting tool can be used but it creates a torn, rough surface for the jaw surfaces to butt up against. Mark slightly dovetails his tenons even when using the straight walled One-Way jaws. The tenon is kept small enough so that the jaw edges do not extend out past the chuck body and thus do not create the possibility of injury. The wood of the tenons is not included in the final piece. The top of the piece was oriented to the headstock. The demarcation line between the top and bottom was made. The top was about 1/3 and the bottom 2/3. A ½ inch bowl gouge was used to shape the piece starting at the line between the top and bottom halves. Mark used a pulling cut to shape the form. The pull cut does not produce an excellent surface but it lets one shape the piece accurately. The final surface will be dealt with later on. The entire outer surface shape of the lower portion of the piece (tailstock end) was completed. (Photo:Gardner2) Excess wood at the tailstock end was removed. Any bulk of wood wider than the vessel does not add to the stability of the piece in this type of turning. Next, Mark estimated where the bottom and the top of the piece would be by drawing them on the remainder of the wood blank. This determines the actual top and bottom and the location of the inside of both areas. At this point the piece was parted. The easiest place to part is at the widest part of the vessel. However, the seam is most obvious when parting is done in this manner. One can part where the design plan dictates but this can be somewhat more difficult due to angulation of the vessel wall. If one uses this technique the outer wall shape is formed after “blind” hollowing.

Mark parted off at the widest diameter. He used a 1/16 inch thick parting tool that had been a machinist tool. A thin parting tool was used so that as little as possible grain would be removed. Mark does not part all the way through. He leaves about ½” and then uses a flexible Japanese saw to complete the parting. His saw does not have a stiffener on the back so that he can go as deep as he needs.

The top half of the piece was placed in the jaws and the tailstock was removed. The parted tool surface was cleaned up. This surface was made dead flat. This was checked with a straight edge. The mortise was formed using a modified scraper. The inside wall of the joint should be perpendicular to the previously formed flat surface that will butt against the bottom half of the piece. The total wall thickness should be about ¼ inch thick. Before hollowing, all joinery should be completed. The depth of the top portion was noted and a drill bit marked to that depth. It was then drilled with a gun drill bit. Hollowing was begun. Mark used a spindle gouge but any gouge could be used as could a scraper. All his cuts are from the center outward.

Next, the bottom half was placed in the jaws. The joint was then formed. The face was cleaned up and made flat. The opening of the opposite piece (top portion) was measured and this transferred to the bottom piece in the jaws. The parting tool was used to form the tenon. Once the diameter is okay make it the proper width. Hollowing the bottom half was begun. It is not pre-drilled because it is so shallow. Deeper ones are pre-drilled. Depth was checked by eye-balling a pencil inserted into the piece.

The two halves were put together between centers. A proper fit was confirmed. They were separated and medium CA glue was put on the corner of the tenon around the entire circumference so that when the two halves were pressed together the glue was distributed evenly and not squeezed out, which could stain the outer surface of the piece. No accelerator was used. The piece was again put together and compressed with the tailstock.

The shape of the top piece was turned. (Photo:Gardner3) A contour gauge was used to check the continuity of the curve on the top and bottom portions of the piece. The top was then opened. A small gouge was used to drill into the top to the interior of the piece. A small curved cutter was used to even up the interior wall and remove any ridges. The bottom line was partially parted and the bottom shape completed. Sanding would be done at this time. The piece was then removed form the chuck. Retaining the original live center mark allows for easy realignment when reversing the piece in a jam chuck.

A jamb chuck was shaped to fit into the opening on the top of the piece. The piece was placed on the chuck and the tailstock brought up to the center of the bottom of the piece. The bottom was turned. The bottom was made concave and the nubbin removed. This completed the split hollow form which was then ready for carving and texturing.

Afternoon Session:

Mark began the afternoon session with carving and texturing. He uses reciprocating power carvers and power engravers. (Photo:Gardner4) He uses a Ryobi carver with Flexcut chisels. The chisel he uses the most is the V-cut. He also uses a WeCheer carver that also uses Flexcut blades.

For engraving Mark uses an electric Dremel which crushes the wood fibers. It does not cut them. This technique makes fine lines. There is also a pneumatic engraving pen that can be used which has a reciprocating and crushing action. This tool is available from Enco. Mark signs his work using the engraver.

Mark then turned to sharpening. He uses a power strop which is attached to the chuck. It is composed of three layers of MDF that are held together with a bolt and wingnut. The bolt is countersunk into the piece of MDF that the chuck expands into. It passes through the second and third layers of MDF and the wingnut is attached. The last (3rd) layer of MDF can be replaced with other MDF pieces that have the profile of the tool one wishes to sharpen (hone). A piece of sandpaper can be attached to the face of the 3rd MDF piece. Using this one can sharpen various chisels. The lathe’s direction is reversed when sharpening or honing. A buffing compound (stainless steel) is applied to the edge of the MDF. Using a Flexcut handle to hold the blades makes stropping and sharpening easier.

Mark remounted the piece turned during the morning session (on the jamb chuck). He took the center point out of the live center. It is necessary to have the precise, previous center to do layout work. Mark first draws vertical lines. As the piece gets wider the distance between the lines gets greater and vice versa. Horizontal lines are drawn and an effort is made to get an even number of divisions. The horizontal lines are done using a pencil jig that permits one to make parallel horizontal lines. The combination of the previously drawn vertical lines and these horizontal lines creates a series of squares forming a grid pattern. A Prismacolor ebony soft lead pencil is used to draw the lines. Using the squares, one can lay out spiral patterns of just about any degree of twist. Mark used up one square and over 2 squares for the first set of lines. Then he did up 2 and over one for the second twist pattern. [Photo: Gardner5] Also, by using the grid pattern of squares, various designs can be made. Using the designs, carving and texturing can be added.

Dyes and finishes: Mark uses Fiebing’s USMC Black Leather Dye. The dye is applied to the outside of the piece and some is poured into the piece. This creates an even drying rate as the dye is absorbed and evaporates. Krylon matte finish is used over the dye. Mark uses Deft lacquer over dark milk paint finishes.

Mark then demonstrated his square bowl that is turned on three axes. Dry wood was used because wet/green would move after the turning process. Mark glues a piece of pine (4 quarter) between two pieces of hardwood from which the bowl will be made. Each piece of hardwood is 12 quarter stock. Mark band saws a cylinder out so that the grain runs as would for a side grained bowl turning. The piece (6 x 6 x 6”) was then placed between centers. The tailstock and headstock held the blank on the glued-in pine board. A bowl gouge was used to true up the cylinder. A spindle roughing gouge could not be used due to the grain direction. A shear cut was used and sighting along the lathe bed assured an even diameter cylinder. Once the cylinder was completed with the desired surface from the gouge a spindle gouge was used to produce tool marks in the surface. This constituted the texturing of the piece. The mid-point of the cylinder was determined. A pencil jig was used to draw horizontal lines on both sides intersecting with the vertical center or midline. The piece was then rotated 90 degrees to a new axis (#2). [Photo: Gardner6] This second axis again put the drive and live centers into the pine portion of the blank. On this axis the spindle roughing gouge could be used. A new cylinder was created. Again, the spindle gouge was used to put tool marks on the surface.

The piece would be taken to the band saw and cut in half through the pine board making two bowl blanks. A jig was made using two 12 inch 2 x 4’s. The 2 x 4’s were laid side by side with the 4 inch sides down. One inch was measured from the outer edge and this was the center of a circle that has a diameter of the blank. A ½ circle was scribed and this was cut out on the band saw. The same was done from the opposite side. One of the 2 x 4’s was then cut into 2 pieces at the center of the scribed arc. By placing the three pieces at right angles, a bed is made to hold the bowl blank (1/2 of the original piece). [Photo: Gardner7] Two inch masking tape was placed on the hardwood sides (4) of the bowl blank where it rested on the 2 x 4 jig. It was then hot glued to the jig on the tape. The tape permits the blank to be easily removed after turning. 3M masking tape works best. (Any sticky residue can be removed with mineral spirits.) Then the jig was attached to the center of a ¾ inch plywood circle attached to a faceplate. It was attached with sheet rock screws from the headstock side into the plywood and then into the 2 x 4’s. Hot glue was placed on the wood joints when the bowl blank rested against the 2 x 4s and when the 2 x 4’s butted against the plywood.[Photo: Gardner8]

The bowl portion was then hollowed out using a bowl gouge. This was the third axis. The pine board insert was turned away first. A pull cut was used to flatten the top of the bowl surface. The surface was roughed with the spindle gouge as had been done above. Hollowing of the bowl was done by dishing out the interior of the bowl. [Photo: Gardner9]Mark left the wall fairly thick so that there was not a wide discrepancy between the thinner side walls and the thicker corner areas. The tailstock was removed and the nub in the center turned away. Final bowl depth was completed and a finishing cut made on the interior surface of the bowl. Mark left about ¾ inch in the bottom. Sanding would now be done. The piece and the jig of 2 x 4’s were removed from the plywood faceplate and then the piece was knocked out of the 2 x 4’s. The masking tape was easily removed. The bowl was centered back on the plywood surface using the tailstock with the pin removed so that centering could be adjusted. A flat area was turned on the bottom so that the piece would sit flat. The remaining nub was carved off. All the edges of the bowl were lightly chamfered with a rasp to remove the sharp edges.

This completed the 3 axes square edged bowl and a great demo. [Photo: Gardner10] A DVD will be available in the club library in February 2012.

Photos by Tina Collison.