Woodturning Tips

Why do you sit there like that?

I know it is wet

And the sun is not sunny.

Be we can have

Lots of good fun that is funny!"


"I know some new tricks . . .

A lot of good tricks

I will show them to you

Your mother

Will not mind at all if I do."

Dr. Suess, The Cat in The Hat


Click on the hyperlinks below to to go to the individual tip page(s) . . . if you find a tip helpful or you'd like me to add/expand upon something contact me at jsyvertsen@cox.net or 757.816.5622

Tips on Drying and Finishing Aussie Burls

What can you do with an ugly shaped burl?

Homemade Kiln


Turning a Winged Bowl (including Vacuum Chucking)

Turning a Finial

Hollowing Tools

Kirsten Kone and Reverse Turning

Not sure what to do with a non-ideally shaped burl?

I'm turning RM-127 (below) to photo document what you can do when a burl is not exactly ideally shaped. 


Using circle templates I scribed circles on the exterior faces of the burl to maximize the size of the pieces (obviously minimizing waste).  I used epoxy to fix to ready made waste blocks.  The 2-1/4" face plates that my friend Tom makes are ideal for these size (and bigger) turnings.

On 9/8 I roughed out all 4 pieces in about 2 hours, allowing for some movement in the kiln.  I don't worry too much about shape when I'm roughing. Remember, you can always remove more material . . . it's a little harder to put it back. These pieces are now in my homemade kiln with 35 other pieces where they'll stay for 3-4 weeks before I re-turn them. 


Here are 2 of the 4 pieces finished for gifts, the one at right incorporating part of the natural exterior. The tall thin one in the roughed out picture above, I chipped a piece out of trying to go really thin. I'll post a picture of the other one (left in the roughed out picture above) when I finish that. In any event, pretty cost effective despite the less than optimal original shape.

How Close Am I to the Bottom?

Ever go just a bit too deep on your hollow form trying to go really thin? Me neither :>) . . . but for those who have, here's a very simple device my friend Jack Spillane made for me to get a pretty accurate measure of your depth.  Simply insert the dowel with string until it touches bottom and slide the flat surface flush with the top of your hollow form.  Then remove the dowel and do as shown, holding the string vertically to give you an accurate measure of depth.



I like faceplate turning.  I had quite a few already in sizes from 3" to 12" but was looking for something smaller. I tried 2-1/2" aluminum, but they were not rigid enough. My friend Tom, a machinist, made some really great 2-1/4" diameter 1-1/4 - 8 TPI plates that are better than anything available. If you're interested in buying some of these, the cost will be around $40. To order, email me at jsyvertsen@cox.net  and please specify your lathe, how many you'd like, your spindle diameter and TPI and I'll pass the order along to Tom. There's no cut for me and very little (if any with volatility of the price of steel) profit for Tom. I use 1-1/4" #8 pan head sheet metal screws. The 2-1/4 diameter precludes countersinking. If you're using a Oneway (or other machine with metric sized spindle, the diameter will likely have to be slightly larger.

Here's a picture:

Bandsaw Tips

1. If you're doing any appreciable cutting of hardwoods, I highly recommend the Lenox Woodmaster B Blade (I use a 1" 2 TPI blade that costs $65).  I've ripped 10" thick desert ironwood, numerous 12" thick very hard Aussie Burls and it just goes through them like butter (but still provides a clean cut that's not appreciably different from other blades). It's almost 50% more expensive than a Timberwolf blade, but unlike a Timberwolf blade, it won't become dangerously dull after just a few cuts. This blade is incredibly durable.  In FEB 2010 I bought a Lenox Woodmaster C blade.  I was not excited about the $172 price tag (nearly 3x the price of the bi-metal B blade), but WOW!!! I can say without hesitation it is worth every penny.  I cut veneer easily at 1/32" and even as thin as 1/64"  . . . gives new meaning to the term "cuts like a hot knife through (soft) butter" . . . and I didn't even purchase a true re-saw blade (the 1" 2 TPI blade I use is very clean and fast) . . . at some point I may invest in a 1-1/2" 4 TPI blade, but that's probably $300 or more. 

2. Zero Clearance Insert  . . . you'll love this . no more small pieces to slip through your insert and jam your lower guides causing you to stop in the middle of cutting . . . 3 for $9.99 at your local Woodcraft