Article: Warren Carpenter Demonstrates For CMW, February 20, 2016

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February 24, 2016 13:18, submitted by Tina Collison (author: Bob Gunther, photos by Tina Collison)

Warren Carpenter demonstrates for CMW, February 20, 2016


Warren, one of our own CMW members since 2000, comes to us from Seneca, South Carolina. He retired from the home building industry where he was awarded the “Order of the Palmetto” by the Governor. He has been an active woodturner for 18 years and is especially known for his bowl turning and signature walnut inlays. He has been President of CMW and Treasurer of the AAW. He has taught at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship, and John C. Campbell Folk School. He has previously demonstrated for and taught for CMW. Read about Warren Carpenter's demonstration for CMW in 2012 Learn more about Warren at Also there are DVDs of Warren's prior demonstration available to members in the CMW Library.

Morning Session:

Warren did a short PowerPoint presentation showing his shop layout and the process he uses to produce his turned pieces. He also showed examples of his work, especially the orientation of the wood when turning. His newer, sculptured pieces were also shown.

Warren began the hands on portion of his demo turning a simple bowl. A 3 inch thick – 6 inch diameter green cherry blank was used. It was placed between centers. The pin had been removed from the live center. This was done because Warren needs to make fine adjustments of the blank placement and this cannot be done if the pin hole is present. His gouges are ground with swept back wings. The tool rest is set at 45 degrees to the corner of the piece and the corners removed using a push cut. Once the outside shape was completed a tenon was turned as well as a foot. Warren turns a foot on most of his pieces. A final finish was achieved using a shear cut. The piece was then removed from between centers and placed in the jaws of a One Way Stronghold chuck. A bowl gouge was used to clean up the outside edge. Then the bowl was hollowed. He turned the walls to about ¾ inch thick from top to bottom. At this point the piece was ready to air dry. Air drying can be done in several ways – in paper bags, stacking at room temperature or using end grain sealer.

After drying for several months the piece is placed between centers (chuck on headstock and live center at tailstock) and the tenon trued up and the foot cleaned up. Then the outside was turned using a push cut and cleaned up with a shear cut. The outside is now ready to sand. The piece was then removed from between centers and placed in the chuck. The outer edge was trued up. A shear scrape was also used to clean up the top edge and the sharp corners removed to prevent injury. The final wall thickness was completed from the larger to the smaller diameters. One inch steps were turned to progress to the bottom. The interior would now be sanded.

Warren uses an angle head power sander. When sanding the sander speed needs to be slow and the lathe speed very slow. Snap on mandrels are used with dedicated grits starting at 80. For the interior he uses serrated edge green sanding discs from Packard. Sanding is done from the center outward. After the 80 grit subsequent ones are used (120, 180, 220, 320 and 400). If there are any small cracks, medium CA glue is used and sanded right away thus forcing sanding dust into the crack. The outside was then sanded with the piece jam-chucked in place. Before sanding the foot of the piece was turned. Then sanding is done down to the foot. Non serrated edge paper is used. Then the base of the bowl was turned making the bottom concave. A sharp nosed spindle gouge was used to complete the foot down to a small nub. The piece was then removed from the jam chuck and the small nub sanded off. By leaving the small nub on the piece you prevent tearing into the bottom when snapping off the nub.

For a finish Warren uses a technique he learned from Mike Lee. Compared to some finishes it is quite simplistic. The finish is done entirely off the lathe. Liberon oil is used. The oil is applied with Liberon Steel Wool (4-0). If it is a natural edge piece the bark is oiled by dabbing the oil saturated steel wool against the bark and not rubbing it. Then the excess oil is wiped off immediately. Right after that Renaissance wax is applied with a rag. It is then left overnight to dry and then buffed with 4-0 steel wool followed by being buffed with a piece of flannel.

Warren then turned to green wood and natural edge turning. A one half section of a log (branch) was placed between centers. A drill press using a Forstner bit was used to eliminate the bark area where the drive spur will go. This permits the spur to better grip the wood. Adjustments to the piece between centers may be needed so that the high points of the natural edge will be balanced. The bowl gouge was used to rough the piece but not all the way to the natural edge. Then the same bowl gouge was used to turn the outer edge from the top down. This prevents the natural edge from chipping off. Then the final shape was made. Good shapes can be estimated using the catenary curve chain.

The tenon was then cleaned up so that the piece could be turned around and placed on the chuck. The piece was then hollowed with a 5/8 inch bowl gouge using a push cut on the bevel. The edge (wall) is left about ¼ inch thick. Hollowing is done step wise. As the final wall thickness is approached the cuts are done less aggressively. Then the piece would be set aside to dry for several days before sanding. Because it is thin it will probably not crack. Warren does not use CA glue to help hold the bark on. This completed the morning session.

Note: Burl Sources

    Josh Williams       828-817-7218
    Rachael Cain        828-305-8127
    Wayne Franklin  828-755-8732

Afternoon Session:

Warren discussed sharpening and gave several related tool and sharpening tips.

  1. Sand a flat spot on your tool handle. This prevents your tool from rolling off your ways and provides an area to print your logo.
  2. Alter the Wolverine Jig by putting a bolt through it to fix the angle to your grind.
  3. Replace the Wolverine bar with a wood piece that has distances marked on it for your grinds and two holes drilled at 2 inches and 1½ inches from the end into which to place the point of the jig.
  4. Grind a secondary bevel on your bowl gouge (spindle also). This helps getting around tight curves without bruising the wood.

Next Warren used a 12 inch long, 6 inch diameter log with a natural edge. The log had been cut length wise but markedly to one side of the pith (about 2 inches out off), thus the pith remained in the piece. Both ends of the blank were cut round on the band saw. It was placed between centers with the drive center in the bark side. It was roughed with a ¾ inch bowl gouge. A push or pull cut could be used. After some initial turning the blank was shifted between centers so that the bark wings would be better balanced. It was then further roughed. The bark edge was cut from the top down so that the bark edges were protected and clearly cut. A shear scrape was used to clean up the surfaces, a foot turned and the tenon cleaned up. The piece was then reversed and put in the chuck in order to start the hollowing process.

As the hollowing progressed, the tool rest was moved so that deeper areas could be reached. A curved (Robust) tool rest was then used to get into the deepest areas of the interior. Progressing down the interior Warren leaves walls of wood so that he knows exactly where he is in the hollowing process. At this point the piece had been completely turned. Accelerator is sprayed over the areas on the inside and then thin super glue is applied to the outside of the pith areas. It would then be set aside to dry for 3 to 5 days and sanded.

Warren then turned a crotch piece. What you want to preserve is the feather pattern in the center of the crotch. If it’s a large crotch piece you can simply cut it in half down the center of the two piths. Both sides will have the feather pattern. For smaller pieces you have to cut off center to preserve the feather pattern in the larger portion. The smaller portion is wasted. In crotch pieces with three or more branches you have to turn the piece upside down to determine what the shape of your final piece will be.

Warren placed a 3 branch crotch piece between centers. The lower cut area of the crotch was placed in the drive center and the upper (branch) part of the crotch in the live center (where the tenon will be). With this orientation Warren is cutting end grain. He rough turned the piece using a push cut from the ends to the center. A smaller gouge was used to get a finished cut. A tenon was then turned with a small bowl gouge. The piece was removed from between centers and placed in the chuck. It was hollowed as done earlier. Also, as done earlier, the outside was sprayed with accelerator and thin super glue was applied to the outside.

Warren then turned his attention to burls. Burls can be growing on one portion of the outside of a tree, partly around it, or completely around it. Each growth pattern permits you to turn certain shaped bowls and various numbers of bowls. A 12 inch diameter cherry burl which had been cut off a tree was placed between centers. The bark side had a hole drilled for the drive center. The piece was visually balanced and the tailstock tightened. The exterior was rough turned and a tenon and foot formed.

The piece was then put in the chuck and the McNaughton Center Saver System was used to core the piece. A piece was cored out and what remained in the chuck was hollowed to the finished wall thickness. A raised band was left in the inside about half way down for decorative purposes. It was about 1/8 inch high and one inch wide. The bowl would then be set aside to dry and be sanded. The foot and base would be finished as described earlier in this demo.

Warren then placed another burl that surrounded the limb between centers. It was mounted end grain. It was rough turned and a tenon formed. It was removed from between centers and placed in the jaws. The tailstock was brought up and the coring system set up. Two pieces were cored out that would later be shallow bowls. The piece remaining in the chuck would also be turned at a later date.

This completed a fast paced, enjoyable and informative demo. Please refer to the DVD in the club library for details of this demo.

Submitted by Bob Gunther

Learn more about Warren at Also there are DVDs of Warren's prior demonstrations available to members in the CMW Library.