Article: John Beaver Demonstrates For CMW April 11, 2015

John Beaver Wave Bowl 1: John Beaver Wave Bowl 2: John Beaver Wave Bowl 3  3 X 6 Alder Dye: John Beaver Wave Bowl 5: John Beaver Wave Bowl 6: John Beaver Wave Bowl 7: John Beaver Flying Rib Vase  7 X 6 She Oak Wenge: John Beaver 8: John Beaver 9: DSC02750: John Beaver demo at Carolina Mountain Woodturners

April 22, 2015 16:15, submitted by Tina Collison (author: James & Rita Duxbury, Edited by Bill Collison, Photos by Tina Collison and John Beaver)

John Beaver Demonstrates for CMW April 11, 2015


John Beaver, a native of the California coast, has been inspired and influenced by the motion of waves in the pieces he creates. His turning began on an inherited lathe with some glued pieces of wood resulting in a small vase. Later with classes at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Maine he realized the potential of adding both visible and tangible dimension to the walls of a bowl. From this, John’s career as a Hollywood cameraman and director was transformed to artist and woodturner. He uses local wood from his area, mainly sycamore, live oak and walnut with a very limited amount of exotics.

John’s goal is to bring “life to turning,” by capturing some of the elements of the ocean and more specifically – the wave -- to give the impression of a protruding wave and the notion of motion and rhythm. Everyone can make a bowl but his focus is to make a bowl which is more interesting, employing the use of multiple colors, woods, and textures to create his signature wave bowls.

Morning Session:

John began his demonstration with an informative slide show of the evolution of his work, a discussion of design, and how one should look at their work and visualize the possibilities for something more – how your work can evolve. His signature style, the Wave design and it’s many variations, all influenced by his love of the ocean and the quest for the perfect wave, is accomplished by – Turn – Finish – Cut in various ways – Reassemble.

Some of John’s work has been influenced by Greek pottery which was colored black on the inside with the illusion of protruding to the outside. His pieces are not carved but turned, bandsaw cut, inlayed, glued, and re-turned with the grain being always continuous. His examples show color, texture, contrast, and compliment. Other bowl designs, influenced by surfers who always seek the wave tube, are shown with negative space and segments which can be seen through. John’s abstract sculptures originate similar to a bowl with the bottom removed showing movement and even kinetics.

The first of John’s three demonstrations began with examples of two bowls which he calls “drunken bowls” or small bowls that rock on a round bottom. From a small block of dry wood, on the end grain, he sketched the outline of the bowl leaving a space for the tenon. He then divided up the height of the bowl in three, came down one third and using the concept of the “wave,” he drew a linear arc on the block, half way above and half way below this line, following the grain structure in what he explains to be a “smile” or a “frown.”

Next he turned the block on end and located the centers on both the tenon end and the top of the bowl. Then with a compass he drew on the end grain of the bowl blank, the maximum diameter of the bowl and the interior of the bowl. Now since this block has to be cut and reassembled perfectly two ¼” diameter alignment holes were drilled into the waste part of the interior of the bowl for dowels to be added later.

John then carefully cut the block on the band saw making certain to stay right on the line. Sanding this cut is not recommended as it leaves gaps in each layer. A piece of steam bent veneer was then drilled for the alignment dowels. The blank is reassembled with the veneer sandwiched between its pieces, clamped and allowed to dry in that position. After a period of time, the clamps were loosened to help the veneer dry. After drying in the clamped position, the piece is disassembled, glued and reassembled. The result is a complete bowl blank with a wave line in it. This blank was then carefully centered, turned to the final shape and finished.

In making this unique wave bowl, other important techniques were discussed as necessary steps in the construction. John explained and showed how he steam bends thin slices of wood (in this demo – 1/8” walnut bent with the grain) in the microwave. He wrapped the piece in a paper towel making a cocoon so as not to allow steam leakage. Then he wet the towel, but not wet enough to saturate the wood and placed it in the microwave for one to one and a half minutes at full power. This created a hot steaming package. Be careful not to burn yourself as you position the veneer in between the blank’s two sections. When dry the veneer will retain its shape, which is compressed between the cut layers to add contrasting color to the bowl when turned and completed.

Afternoon Session:

During the second half of John’s demonstration, he illustrated two types of pieces, the protruding wave bowl and the flying rib vase. Both require turning, drying, cutting the dry piece with the use of his bandsaw jig, and reassembly. Plans for the bandsaw jig can be obtained by emailing John and mentioning that you attended his demo at the Carolina Mountain Woodturners.

The inside contour of rough-turned blank, with a tenon, is measured with a contour gauge and pieces of MDF that conform to the inside of the bowl are hot-glued into place. ¼ inch holes are drilled into the MDF with enough depth so that dowels can be inserted after the piece is cut on the band saw in the jig John designed which creates a curved cut. Then the jig is advanced and a second cut is made resulting in a thin slice which will be reinserted into the bowl later. The two main segments of the bowl are reassembled, but only after a slice of MDF the same thickness as the slice previously cut from the blank is drilled and inserted. A series of shallow holes are drilled in the piece to serve as a depth guides, and the blank is turned to its final outside dimension between centers using a piece of MDF jam-chucked to hold the piece together and sanded to finish.

The bowl is then disassembled the small slice of MDF removed and the original second piece of the blank which was removed is then returned to the piece and glued using Titebond wood glue, gluing one side of the slice at a time, using the dowels for assembly guide, jam chucking the newly assembled bowl between centers using the MDF piece to hold the completed bowl together while the glue dries. Repeat the process with the other side of the slice and sand and finish the protruding wave as desired. Then re-chuck on the tenon and turn the inside of the bowl after removal of the interior MDF forms and the bowl is parted off.

Techniques which are critical for this entire bowl process are:

•how to keep a deconstructed bowl aligned for reassembling

•how to set depth stops for turning part of a bowl smaller

•how to clamp and glue a deconstructed bowl back together

•cleaning up glue squeeze out

•cutting curves in non backed veneer with no splitting

John discussed coloring and the types of dyes and paints that are most effective for his pieces. Many products such as aniline dyes do not retain their color and most museums and some galleries will not accept dyed wood. Generally dark tones hold up better. Trans Tint and Golden Brand translucent airbrush paint thinned with water work well. Care must be taken as end grain soaks up the color faster than side grain and the dyes will also migrate from the line.

The Flying Rib Vase, a v-shaped straight sided vase was turned from an end grain block of dry wood held in the chuck by a tenon on the bottom end. While still in the chuck a tenon was cut on the rim of the vase and final sanding was completed on the outside. The jaws on the chuck were changed to accommodate the larger rim tenon. Then the tenon of the vase was mounted in the chuck and this assembly mounted on the sliding band saw jig.

The base tenon was then marked for three cuts on the vertical axis of the vase. The first one cut was made, then the two halves were then sanded flat to make a good glue surface. Two different veneer rib configurations were marked out and cut on the bandsaw from a contrasting wood. The center of the rib configurations was also cut out. The three pieces were then glued together with Titebond Glue II and clamped with band clamps on top and bottom tenons. The cutting and gluing had to be done two more times to complete the six winged vase.

The excellent slide presentation, demonstration and discussion of techniques was informative, inspiring, and enjoyed by all in attendance. Expect to see some wave bowls on the Member’s Instant Gallery table at the next meeting.

Submitted by Jim & Rita Duxbury, Edited by Bill Collison