Article: Alan Leland Demonstrates For CMW, January 16, 2016

January 29, 2016 15:10, submitted by Tina Collison (author: Bob Gunther)

Alan Leland Demonstrates for CMW, January 16, 2016

(photos will be added soon)


Alan is an active member of Carolina Mountain Woodturners. He was born in Bradenton, Florida in 1950 but grew up in New Canaan, CT. After high school he attended East Carolina University and graduated in 1974 with a BS in Corrections and a Minor in Community Corrections. At that time there was a freeze on NC State and Federal Government hiring. Alan moved to Raleigh, NC and took a job as a carpenter for This End Up Furniture Company. What was supposed to be a temporary job lasted for the next 19 years. During that period he developed an interest in woodturning and different aspects of wood working. In 1995 This End Up Furniture Company moved and Alan started his own business, "Sliding Dovetail Woodworks." His woodturning interest increased and he branched into architectural turning. His new business name became "Leland Studios." His interest further developed towards teaching and demonstrating.

Alan has demonstrated for the AAW, NC Woodturning Symposium, and SWAT and for many of the AAW affiliated clubs around the country. He is especially known for his fine detailed spindle turning and his excellence as a teacher of spindle turning. He has helped many woodturners develop their woodturning skills and has fostered their interest in the field of woodturning.

Morning Session:

Alan began the session turning a nutcracker bowl. A 2 inch thick and 10 inch diameter figured maple blank was used. A hole was drilled in the blank for a screw chuck. A spacer block was used so that the hole did not need to be drilled as deep and it also stabilized the wood against the chuck jaws. In preparing the blank Alan made one side flat (screw chuck side) so it fits against the jaws. A drill press was used to drill the screw chuck hole. The edges of the screw chuck hole were chamfered so that the wood fibers won't pull up when the blank is placed on the chuck. You don't want to screw it on too tight or you might strip the threads in the wood.

When turning the blank the proper speed range was achieved by using the middle pulley. The tailstock was brought up for support. A side grind bowl gouge was used to begin the shaping of the underside of the piece (tailstock side). A push cut was used. The edges were rounded from the center outward. The flute of the tool was rotated as the cut progressed around the curve. Once the curve was made the headstock side of the piece was trued up. Once this surface was trued up the outside curve was further worked on. The tailstock was removed and the curve was completed. The finishing cut was done with a traditional grind gouge using a light cut.

The next step was to turn a recess in the center of the tailstock side for the bolt to hold the nut cracker. The size of the hole was determined by the size of the washer that would be used. This was about 1 inch so a 1 inch Forstner bit was used to drill the hole. The depth of the hole was the height of the side walls of the bit and then slightly deeper to take into account the shallow depth of the recess in the base of the piece around the central hole. This recess was to accept the #3 jaws of a Stronghold chuck. The diameter of the recess was made just a little larger than the diameter of the jaws when closed. The depth of the recess needs to be deep enough so that two of the teeth on the jaws make firm contact with the wall of the recess. This will prevent tearing out of the wood in the recess wall when pressure is applied during hollowing. The entire back surface (tailstock side) from the beginning of the side curve to the edge of the recess needs to be flattened or trued up at this time. At this point a 3 faceted point tool (pyramid) was used to cut small grooves. (Hereafter in this article the 3 faceted point tool will be referred to as the point tool.) One was about 1 inch out from the recess wall and the other about 1 inch in from the recess wall. Both are purely decorative. A texturing tool could then be used to texture the area between the outer groove and the jaw recess.

Sanding was then done. A slow lathe speed was used. A Scotch Brite pad was used to backup the sandpaper. This supports the paper and provides a flatter sanded area. After sanding, gray and gold automotive finishing pads can be used to give the final wood surface.

The piece was then removed from the chuck and that chuck replaced with a Stronghold with #3 jaws. The tailstock side was then faced off using the bowl gouge. A push cut was used. The central area was carefully surfaced. This was the area where the nutcracker would be attached. A hole was drilled into the center for the mechanism to fit into. The depth of the hole was marked on the bit and then drilled. Into this hole another hole was drilled for the bolt to fit. It is drilled a little larger than the diameter of the bolt. The mechanism was placed in the hole and the edge marked on the trued up area of the pedestal. Another circle was scribed about 2 inches out so that a trash area could be turned between the base of the pedestal and the scribed line. Another line was scribed about 3/8 inch in from the outer diameter. The area between this line and the trash line will also be hollowed out to hold the intact nuts. Both areas were hollowed. The outer one was hollowed as a cove to match the curve of the outside shape of the nutcracker. Both were done with the bowl gouge and finishing cuts were done with a traditional grind gouge. The outer edge rim was left about ¼ inch thick. The entire area consisting of the pedestal and the two coves would then be sanded up to 1500 and finished with Mahoney Oil. This completed the nutcracker.

Alan then demonstrated turning a platter. An Ambrosia Maple blank (2" thick x 10" diameter) was placed in the talon chuck on a screw drive. The bottom of the piece (tailstock side) was roughed into an ogee shape. The edge of the rim was marked on the headstock side and this area was trued up. The rim was about 1 1/2 inches wide and the edge about ¼ inches thick. The central area of the bottom was flattened. This will be the base which should be about 1/3 to ½ the diameter of the entire platter. A dimple was made in the center so that a Forstner bit could be used to drill the recess for the expansion chuck. Because the proper size bit was not available a hole was drilled smaller than needed and opened up to the proper size with turning tools. The Forstner bit that was used had left a small ring the size of the bit diameter so the point tool was used to highlight this ring. Another groove was cut with the point tool about 1 inch outside to the edge of the expansion chuck diameter. The size of the expansion chuck tenon was made just a little larger than the jaws when fully closed. This completed the morning session.

Afternoon Session:

The platter begun in the morning session was placed on the Talon chuck with the chuck off the lathe. Doing this helps seat the chuck evenly on the piece. The chuck was then placed on the spindle and the top surface of the platter turned. The sharp outer edge was slightly rounded with a round nosed scraper. Next the wood on the rim was removed so that the rim could be flattened. The interior of the platter was hollowed. This was done in a step wise manner. Extra wood was left on the inner rim area so a bead could be rolled around the perimeter of the hollowed area. The hollowed area's shape was matched to the outer shape of the platter. The bottom of the interior of the platter comprising an area similar to the base area was intentionally made flat. A bead was formed and then undercut with the point tool to make it stand out.

At this point Alan showed examples of texturing using a Sorby Mini texturer and the ELF tool. The process of texturing is dependent on several things: the shape of the tool, the position the tool is held and the speed of the lathe. An additional factor is the species of wood being textured. If you want to attempt to duplicate a particular texture you have to note all these factors when you do the first one and even then the next one may not match.

Next the wood in the center of the platter was removed using a Mahoney bowl gouge. A traditional grind tool was used to do the finishing cuts in the bottom. The rim where the bead was formed was somewhat undercut with a Dale Nish hollowing tool. The piece would then be sanded. The bottom can be sanded with a sanding block to make sure that the area remains flat. The remainder of the piece would be sanded with grits from 80 upwards. Where you stop sanding is dependent on what finish you will use. This completed the platter.

Alan then demonstrated his finials. Many times he uses straight grain hard maple. For this demo he used strips of maple with contrasting black and red veneers - the veneers forming a cross shape. The glued up block was 1x1x6 inches. It was mounted between centers with the head stock and tailstock centered on the cross pattern made by the veneers. A spindle roughing gouge was used to rough the piece into a cylinder. Tenons were turned on each end. About 1½ inches was parted off at the tailstock end. A Talon chuck with step down jaws was used to hold the longer of the two parted pieces. The tailstock was brought up and the roughing gouge used to rough the cylinder into a cone shape - narrowest at the tailstock. The tailstock was removed and the cone made thinner. The small dimple on the tailstock end was turned away. Then a small ball shape was formed on the tip of the cone. This was followed by a teardrop with a flat between the two. Then another teardrop was made. Sanding of these three areas would now be done and those areas never returned to. Then another flat was formed - then a ball - then another flat. Then a longer teardrop was turned followed by a bell. The bell was the last detail made before the tenon was turned that will go into the globe portion of the ornament. The tenon was made 5/8 inch in diameter. The underside of the bell was undercut so it could fit on the curve of the globe. All this was done with a sharp nose spindle gouge and a thin parting tool. Sanding would be done and finish applied. This completed the finial. The one and 1 ½ inch piece that had been parted off will be used to turn the cap for the ornament.

Next Alan showed various jigs that can be used to hold pieces between centers or simply hold them on the headstock i.e. the large Oneway cone; various jam chucks and a chuck to hold small objects such as wine stoppers. The wine stopper jig is made by turning a tenon on a small block of wood. It is placed in the jaws of the chuck and turned into a 1 ½ inch cylinder/cone. A 3/8 inch hole is drilled through the cylinder and then right angled saw cuts are made like a cross through the center of the hole. A doughnut shaped piece is turned to fit over the cone and when it is pushed down the cone it clamps any 3/8 inch diameter object in the 3/8 inch hole. When you put the dowel of the stopper in the hole and push the doughnut down you can secure the bottle stopper blank so that you can shape and finish it.

Alan then returned to the morning nutcracker. The piece was placed on the expansion jaws in the tenon on the base. The outer cove was refined and made deeper. A bead was turned on the outer edge using the point tool. The inner cove (trash cove) was then refined and then made deeper. The top of the pedestal was cleaned up and made absolutely flat. The cracker mechanism was then inserted. This completed the nutcracker and also completed a very interesting and fact filled demo. A DVD will be available soon in the club library.

Submitted by Bob Gunther