Article: Warren Carpenter Demonstration December 2012

December 20, 2012 20:50, submitted by Tucker Garrison (author: Bob Gunther)

CMW Demonstration December 15, 2012

Warren Carpenter


Warren comes from Seneca, South Carolina where he has his home and shop. He is a long-standing member of CMW and has been a past President, Vice-President, and Treasurer. He last demonstrated for our club on January 19, 2008. He is a member of AAW, where he is on the Board and is currently the AAW Treasurer. He has been in the home construction business for many years. In 2004 Warren received the “Order of the Palmetto,” the highest award presented to a citizen in South Carolina by the Governor. Warren has taught at John C. Campbell Folk School and Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts. His main focus in turning is natural edge bowls. He is very creative in the use of wood and the shaping of his pieces.

Morning Session:

Warren began his demonstration by turning the typical round, salad bowl type piece. The top of the piece on all his bowls is oriented toward the headstock and the bottom toward the tailstock. He placed a circular piece of hickory, 8” in diameter and 4” thick, between centers. The piece was balanced visually but not by weight. In order to facilitate the balancing process the tailstock’s live center pin was removed leaving only the ring. First the bottom of the piece was turned. All of Warren’s bowl gouges have a swept-back grind. He always wears a face shield and buttoned sleeves. He began the cut riding the bevel. The degree of pressure on the bevel determines the fine line between a nice smooth cut and a rough, bouncing one. The push cut and the pull cut were both used. To complete the surface a shear cut was used with the lower edge of the bevel and the tool handle dropped to about 45 degrees. Once the outside was completed the tenon was formed. Warren used a ¼ inch bowl gouge with a swept back grind to shape the tenon.

The piece was then removed from between centers and placed on the chuck. It was supported by the jaw surfaces and not the top of the chuck or the bottom of the jaws. A push cut was used to true up the top surface of the piece. As the bowl was hollowed the tool rest needed to be advanced into the bowl so that the tool was not too far out over the rest. The wall thickness needs to be uniform throughout the piece so that, using green wood, it dries evenly. Warren only “twice cuts” salad bowls; rough turn and finish turn at a later time. All of his natural edge bowls are turned to their finished thickness the first time.

Warren then turned to natural edge turnings. He can change the shape of the finished piece by starting with a piece that is not cut round. It is cut oblong so that the final shape is elongated. Before mounting the piece a Forstner bit is used to remove the bark where the drive center will go. He placed an oblong mimosa blank between centers. The piece was visually balanced by making the high sides equal. The pull cut was used to shape the bottom. The cuts were not made all the way to the edge. If one did, the bark would be chipped away destroying the natural bark edge. To turn the edge a push cut was used in the opposite direction (headstock to tailstock). Warren does not use CA glue to keep the bark on until after the drying process. If it is used before drying then the bark will not change shape the same as the underlying wood and they may separate. The final shape of the outside was done using a downhill cut (opposite from the usual, more stable uphill one) with a very sharp tool and a fine cut. A tenon was then formed using the ¼ inch bowl gouge. The base was then undercut slightly. The piece was removed from between centers and placed on the chuck. Hollowing was done. The inner wall shape was made to mimic the outside. As the edge of the piece was approached the wall was turned only an inch at a time. One must not turn it too thin because sanding will make it even thinner. When turning the inside of the piece much of the turning is done through air spaces. Tool pressure on the wood is reduced and pressure on the tool rest is increased. Once the outer areas of the interior are turned in a stepwise manner the inner area can be turned all the way to the center. This completed the natural edge. It would be set aside to dry and after several days it would be sanded. This ended the morning session.

Afternoon Session:

Warren began the afternoon session with a discussion on sanding. He uses an angled power sander and padded Velcro sandpaper holders. He starts with 80 grit and works up to 400 grit. He needs initial aggressive sanding to remove ridges caused by shrinkage. Packard Woodworks green serrated edge discs are his choice These are used on the inside of bowls and round discs on the outside. Lathe speed is set quite low; 50-60 rpm. Before progressing from 80 to 120 grit all the tool marks need to be sanded away. A soft touch is needed. Once sanded on the inside the piece would be reversed and put on a jam chuck. The bottom was then shaped. A spindle gouge with a sharp pointed bevel and the heel ground away was used. The center nub was removed. This completed the natural edge bowl. Finishing was done off the lathe. Liberon oil was applied with Liberon 4-0 steel wool. The excess was wiped off. Renaissance Wax was then applied with a cloth. The finish is left to dry for 24 hours. The wax holds the oil in the pores of the wood. After the 12 hour drying period the piece is rubbed with 4-0 steel wool and then the surface is buffed with a soft cloth.

Sometimes Warren leaves the pith in the piece. This can make some interesting patterns in the finished piece. Warren showed a blank cut through the foot of a tree. It was an irregular shape so a round template was used to help find the best place for the center. The piece was balanced with the aid of a laser beam. This piece is all end grain turning so cuts are made from the wider to narrower diameters. A push cut was used to shape the piece. A tenon was formed and the piece removed from between centers and placed on the chuck. The interior was then hollowed. This completed the natural edge end grain piece.

Next Warren turned to tree crotch turning. Explaining in writing the different orientations Warren showed is almost impossible! Check out the DVD in the club library or see Warren demo this at the AAW National Symposium in Tampa this summer He showed us how to preserve and maximize the feathering grain. Then he moved on to orientations that were 90 degrees to the feather to create very unique shaped turnings. He placed one of these crotch pieces between centers and balanced the wings. While turning, the tail stock slipped and the piece shifted so too much wood was removed from one wing thus making the piece worthless for further turning. Warren did form a tenon just to show how to do it.

Next a small, standard crotch piece was placed between centers. The outside was turned and a tenon formed. It was placed on the chuck and hollowed. He then turned another typical small crotch piece that had been band sawed into a round blank. It was put between centers and turned first into a round and then shaped and a tenon formed. It was reversed and the interior hollowed. Warren then gave a brief demo on sharpening showing the use of the Ellsworth jig to give the swept back grind.

This completed a very informative, interesting and fun demo. Everyone had a good time. The DVD will be available in the club library in February 2013.

Submitted by Bob Gunther, photos by Tucker Garrison