Thursday, March 29, 2012

Manzanita Salt and Pepper Mills

Making Salt n Pepper Mills has been a grand project. I have learned a lot about how to skin a ............piece of manzanita. It has been wonderful using different techniques to put together these cool salt n pepper mills. There are about 12 steps needed to accomplish this seemingly simple task. Each time I make one I get a little better and the process is a little smoother. Each task is essential to complete the items. Some of these tasks, such as drilling the long cavity for the pepper corns, I should use a specific tool. But, since tools can be costly I bypassed them with the good ol' fashion hand drill. Yeah.......... you should see me standing on the work bench, butt in the air, chest on the ship's auger, applying enough pressure to drill a hole in the super dense manzanita. Oh yeah....... the soon to be mills are in the vise so they don't wobble and move around while I drill.

Each salt n pepper mill was made from the beautifully dense yet colorful manzanita. The density of manzanita is very 'fun' to work with since it dulls my forstner bits and need to be sharpened often. But the results are always the same. Everyone loves the color and uniqueness of manzanita. In fact I sold one of these lovely items during the craft fair in Murphys. Perhaps the other will be equally admired in a new home too!

 Made in the USA, I love it and always try to do my best to promote local craftsmen and items made here in the US. Not to mention when items are rare and unique, such as the love I have for manzanita!!

As a final note: I wonder if my colleagues sometime feel the way I do, because the mills Brad Sears makes are amazing. Maybe I will send him some Manzanita =)

Friday, March 16, 2012

How to Create Beautiful Wooden Bowls

Bowl Making

The number of steps it takes to make a bowl gives woodturners great patience…... 

Here is a classic example of how each bowl is created:  

1.    Collect the wood (truck, chainsaw, gas and the eye for a nice trees).
2.     Begin turning on the wood lathe (includes : lathe; chisels; electricity; rounding of bowls with chainsaw; saws need sharpening too {30min}; and cleaning up the mess you make).
3.     Cure the initial turn (3-6months of curing so the bowl is stable).
4.     Return bowl to the lathe (back to chisels, electricity, sharpening set, lathe chuck).
5.     Finishing cut to make as smooth as possible (practice on many, many, many, many pieces, more sharpening and sharpening stones).
6.     Sanding to a smooth finish (sandpaper with different grits: 50;60;100;150;220;320;400;600).
7.     Apply coating(s)/oils (food worthy tung oil and or mineral oil).
8.    Finally we take the bowl off the lathe.....................................engrave name, photograph for records and perhaps internet sales (laptops and camera needed).
9.     Now the beautiful bowl is ready for market and ready for your home!!!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Spring Daffodils

             Spring Flowers are just around the corner. Daffodils are the greatest teaser here in the Sierra Foothills. Daffodils have been popping up over the last few weeks letting us know spring is on the way. My lady loves having them around the house and she would pick every one in the neighborhood if she could. Driving home yesterday we saw poppies, lupine, manzanita and monkey flowers all in color. The last few months I have been making a number of vases with removable glass tubes. The tubes are perfect for flowers, esp those such as Daffodils!!!

       Each Vase is handmade by me or my father, although most are mine. Many of them have been turned on the lathe in replication of classical vases. The wood varies from hardwoods to softwoods, rare to common and all are wonderful. The glass tubes are removable and fairly easy to wash. They are all dishwasher safe and very durable. I think I have only broken one in the many vases I have made, and that one I was trying to force into a hole that was to small, oops!
      All the vases are for sale. The main goal at this time are creating items for sale at the Irish Days event in Murphys, CA. I will only post one on Etsy and the rest will be viewable here. If you are interested in one of my vases, feel free to contact me. We will come to a price (most are in the $40-$55 range). Afterwards I will make a special posting for your purchase through Etsy. I hope you enjoy!
 These are made from Pine and Cedar and Manzanita. The flat surface vase on the right is for a vase that can be hung on the wall!

 The vases are made from Manzanita, Alder, Cedar, Pine and Maple. The Four here are made from Maple while the curvy one above is made from Manzanita.

The Maple Burl Vase above is amazing, while the natural Redwood vase below in very unique. And as always, manzanita is a favorite.

 If you would like to use my images, send me a line and I can post a large format photo!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Oak Bowls

      Salad Bowls, Fruit Bowls and Table Bowls from Oak are wonderful and beautiful items for any home or cabin. All the bowls made at Yosemite Goat's are great. But I have to say there will always be a special place for the Oak Bowls. The main oak we turn is the Black Oak or Quercus kelloggii. California Black Oak is a deciduous tree growing in mixed evergreen forests, oak woodlands, and Coniferous forests. California Black Oak is distributed along foothills and lower mountains of California and southern Oregon. Here in California Black Oak is a sturdy hardwood species that is the main source of firewood for many California residents. Trees can grow very large with a 5ft diameter and can grow 150+ft tall.  The tree size produce enough woods to provide fuel and warmth for many thousands of homes each year. Next to Yosemite National Park Black Oak has been a favored tree for centuries, due to the acorns as a food staple to the Native Americans. With such a great history of a beautiful tree, it is almost a shame when they fall over during winter storms. Then again, we would not have a such wonderful wood to work with or heat our homes!
13inch quarter-sawn oak bowl

oak bowl by Jim with a wavy rim
     To turn a bowl from oak we use either air dried wood that has cured for 5+ years, or more often we will turn a fresh piece of oak (less than 1 year old). Next we allow the bowl to stabilize before turning the bowl a final time which you receive in it's final form. During the curing process of green oak, the bowl will warp and change shape. My father loves to turn oak green and allow the natural changing to occur. They are very pretty and have a uniqueness all their own.  You can see shape changes best along the rim where wood is no longer confined by the original tree. If the bowl edge and rim are very thin (1/2"thick), then more movement and change the wood will make. Secondarily, if the bowl is large, let's say 12" wide or more, the movement can be very dramatic. These artistic bowls are one of the challenges we will be making after the Irish Days craft fair in Murphys, CA.  

quarter-sawn oak bowl
          Turning oak can be a challenge. Oak is definitely a 'hard'wood. Designing the initial bowl shape is the easiest part. Sanding to a nice finish is the real challenge, but fairly straight forward. Mainly just time consuming. As mentioned before the movement of wood is the real challenge of wonder! With oak, the movement coincides with the density. The density of the wood is the time consuming factor in sanding into a nice smooth finish. Hence the reason it is more often used as firewood. But the resulting colors and smoothness is always a real treat. We use a lot of oak burls for our bowls. The grain is always amazing and we come up with some very unique shapes and styles. Lastly, to finish a bowl, we use Food Safe Mineral Oils for a bowl that will be in contact with food. If the bowl is a decorative piece we will often use Tung Oil. A sap that is derived from the Tung Tree of Asia. A safe product as well, and usable with salads and fruits after a soapy wash and rinse. To learn more about California Black Oak visit wikipedia and Quercus_kelloggii.

very tall oak bowl
there are 7 pieces of fruit in this bowl!! check out the grain going left to right from the burl grain.