Birdhouse Tutorial

I've gotten a few question on how to turn this. I might do things differently then others, so here is a quick and I believe easy process for turning bird ornaments.

Start with a 1 1/2 to 2 inch spindle blank in your chuck
Now rough it to a cylinder.
Mark and drill your two holes with a hand drill. I think mine are 1/2 and 1/8. Whatever looks right. (twist bit not brad point)
Then hollow it out down to the bottom hole you drilled. leaving 1/4 or so of wall. ( I hog it out with a large forstner in the tailstock then clean up with a round nose scraper)
Next shape the outside and then part off the base from the rest of the blank.

Now with the stock you have left you will make a jam chuck to hold the base

True up the face with a scraper.
Then with your parting tool make a tenon (1/4 or so) to match the hollow in the base.
Stop frequently and check. The mating should be snug but not too tight.
Mount the base and turn the bottom. (light cuts!)
Now sand and finish. The base is done.

Now for the roof.
The tenon you turned will be part of the roof (or chuck up a contrasting block and turn a mating tenon)
Turn and shape the top and then part off.

Now make a jam chuck to hold the roof (if there is enough material left or chuck up another spindle blank)

True up the face with a scraper.
turn a recess and mate the roof
Mount the roof and finish shaping the roof (light cuts!)
At this point I drill a 1/16 hole in the roof for the hanger (Jacobs chuck in the tailstock)
Now sand and finish. The roof is done.

Assemble with a little bit of glue.


Stopper Commission

It's always fun to get a special request from a customer. Sometimes you like the idea, and other times you just have to turn it even if it isn't your tastes.

This time I though the idea was pretty cool! She wanted 4 of my goblet shaped stoppers that would double as tapered candle holders.

Here's one of them. California walnut (surprise!) with a CA finish.

If anything the request simplified the turning. Normally I use a round nose scraper on the end to get a smooth bowl shape. On these, I just just drilled out a 3/4 inch hole about 1/2 deep.

And together

California Walnut, Lignum Vitate, Claro Walnut, Redheart

C&C welcome.


It's pen season again and I'm back on blank duty.

Here's a couple of new ones...

African Blackwood with sapwood. Finished with CA.

Corian segment. Polished to a glass like shine. A nice heavy pen.

Ring Holder

Turned from a scrap walnut piece. A very simple turning that has become a dead useful item for the wife.

Wonder if there could be any profit in it... hummm

More Stoppers

Since the last two bowls I turned died a horrible death on the lathe, I only have stoppers to show. Maybe I'll get lucky next week.

Rockwell Jointer

Scored a 6 inch jointer on CL a month ago.

Decided against a restore, and instead opted for a quick clean up. The jointer was in pieces but I got it for a great deal. $45

Here's the before and after. About 1 weekend of work.

Sold my old 4" jointer this last weekend for $45. So, in my mind this tool was free.

Unisaw Motor

The last piece of the Unisaw restore is underway. And out of my control.

I finally saved up enough dough to get the motor repaired. I called around town and this was the first place that responded correctly

"I have a repulsion induction motor that is slow to start"
"Did you check the capacitor?"
"Nevermind... Click"

Finally I got this guy who claims to get a couple of these a month.
"I call them unisaw motors"
"That works for me. What do you think is the trouble"
At which point he began describing the brushes and wiring in a way that made me realize he had knowledge of these motors and how to troubleshoot

"I'm not sure if I can fix it, I'll do my best."
"How long?"
"A week or so..."

Not exactly instilling confidence, but certain a stronger base than the other shops! Now I wait, and too my saw waits all cleaned and painted in it's new mobile base awaiting news of it's 1950's motor and how much it will cost.

Man I hate waiting!

Picture Challenged

I take lousy pictures.

It's a known fact. Mostly if doesn't matter, as I don't sell my woodworking online. People would see it, like it. They can touch it and feel how smooth the finish is, or how well something fits. It's a tactile experience.

Whenever I show my stuff online, I feel like a novice. The Gomer Pile of woodworking.

"This is really fine looking wood ya'll. The sweet stuff."
"OH... Yeah. Thanks so much."

I'm not claiming to be a great woodworker, but I feel my photos make it look worse than it really is.

Example: This is a birdhouse I turned recently. Here is the BEST shot I could get.

So I built this photo tent last night. It's created from a 12x12x8 cardboard box and two pieces of tissue paper. I brought in my one light and took a few shots.

Now it's not a beautiful picture but at least you can tell what it is! I've got a long way to go and I've received some tips for moving forward. Hopefully in the future my pictures will more accurately display my work.

Of course this means I'll not be about to hide my mistakes as well either! A small price to pay.

Delta Scroll Saw

Delta Scroll Saw model 1200

I picked it up for $25 from a gentlemen who has been using if for the last 20 years or so. By the sound of it he had a few to sell and was cleaning out his garage.

The motor is a century 1/6 hp motor. I've yet to power it up, but it's now second in line for the restore queue. (behind the much needed jointer) It's also the first old tool I've bought that wasn't covered in rust.

First Bowl

Liquidambar 6" wide by 2 inches high. Finished with Danish Oil.

Not terribly interesting grain or wood but completing a bowl is a big deal for this spindle turner.

Certainly a very different experience to a box or even a cup. It was the transition from the bottom to the wall that was so unexpectedly complicated. As with anything I imagine it comes with doing.


Claro Walnut and CA finish

Claro Walnut Burl and CA finish

Juniper and CA finish

Madrone and Maylands finish

With Friends!

More Uni Saw Progress

Well, just like a new suit can change a man, a new coat of paint can really change a tool. The cabinet has been painted, the top cleaned and the inter-workings of the saw re-installed. Here are some glamour shots.

Oops! No motor! I'm not done yet.

I still have to save enough green to get my motor repaired and take some time to clean up and paint the fence.

But it feels good to put it together for a bit and remember where I've come from.

More Unisaw Updates...

All parts cleaned and waiting for cabinet completion and reassembly. The fence and other "non-guts" will be done after re-assembly in an effort to maintain my sanity.

Wire Wheel----

Wire Wheel----

Wire Wheel----

I'm declaring the top done for now. Once it's all resembled if the bug hits, I'll give it another goings over...

Rust Removal

It's amazing what can be done to a decade of rust with 4 green scrubbers, a bit of WD-40 and two hours of your time.

Sure it's a bit tiring, but honestly worth the effort!



Cup and Ball

Now you can see what my sphere was for. I turned a cup out of some oak 1x1's glued up into a 3X3 block. Hollowed with a fortsner bit and then cleaned up and sized with a round nose scraper. Sanded to 600 and finished with Mylands.

Ball is a near perfect fit witch makes the game enjoyable even for a 32 year old!

Turning A Sphere

Turning a ball is more work than you think.

I first tried a simple method..

Turn a blank round

Form the ball

Part off and sand.

Clearly, not a ball...

On to step two!

Chuck up a chunk of walnut, and scrape out a cup...

Part off for the tailstock....

Scrape out an matched set for the chuck side..

They should match up.

Insert square block..

Okay. You turn off the edges, rotate your block. Turn off more edges, rotate your block.

Etc. About 15-20 minutes later...

You can see how I turned a way the jam chuck as I went. The closer you get to spherical, the less you remove each rotation. Like anything practice till you're happy with it!

1950 Unisaw Cleanup Pictures




Rust, rust and more rust!

Let the cleaning begin!