Kurt Hertzog Seminar, October 16, 2011 Article by Louis Vadeboncoeur and Laurie Riley, pictures by Louis Vadeboncoeur
Kurt Hertzog is probably one of the best known woodturners in the world of woodturners and we were fortunate enough to host him in October of this year. Bill Neddow said in his introduction that just getting to hear the list of tips that he has was worth the price of admission and he wasn’t kidding.
In these notes I won’t try to cover everything that Kurt spoke on, but I will try to hit some points in the three areas that he covered: Ornaments, Tips & Tricks, and Photography.
So let’s begin with an important Tip – - Personal safety is NOT a joke - Have a serious fire extinguisher nearby. - I don’t sell; I will teach things that I have learned; - This is not the only way to turn; but this works for me.
In deciding what ornament you will do and what it will look like, the first question to ask is: Who is your audience – craft show vs. a gallery
Make ornaments in parts and then glue them together, its much easier than doing them from one piece (image)
have a mandrel made out of a hard material with a spigot that will fit into a drilled pen blank piece
when making the birdhouse ornament make the perch a bit larger than the piece that will go into the house
always think the grain orientation especially with these pieces that it is not too much off-centre – how straight is the grain for the finials/icicles and how far away is the wood from the headstock
Turn a jamb chuck of oak or make a #2 Mortise taper w/ a tenon shape to hold an egg contour for shaping a piece
Piercing on an egg – try sitting in a lawn chair and while using an NSK drill use magnifying glasses
Use a Pysanky tool to mark lines evenly on an egg – you should be sitting with your arms anchored to your body to hold the egg and tool steady
Use pieces of Shish-kabob sticks to hold the parts of the ornaments together they make great links in small holes
Transporting ornaments, use Styrofoam freezer boxes, put ornaments on coffee cups, place napkins rolled up in ball shape or inflated freezer bags all around to make good cushion. You can also use place ornaments in a bowl with Styrofoam peanuts all around, with stretch tape on top to seal the bowl. If you are shipping, mark LIQUID on the box NOT fragile, shippers will take more care
Go to the World of Woodturners site to see Kurt's latest version of creating the shell ornaments
Think of using Steam bending to make ornament holders
Making Life Easier
Its more comfortable to stand on a well cushioned mat when turning. OneWay sell great mats
Use magnets stuck to lathe to hold small pieces (e.g. to hold drill bits you use often)
Use paraffin on tool rest and around the rim of boxes to make it easier to open boxes
Use tin cans to store pencils all sharpened, when dull place them point up; when all are dull sharpen all of them at the same time
Drilling a centre with a small bit to start a hole, then you can use a larger bit, its much easier
Push the tailstock rather than advancing the quill
Put key in drill chuck teeth when storing so as not to lose it
Use tape on a drill bit to mark the depth. Wrap tape the other way (counter clockwise) on a turning or drill so it won’t unravel
Use dial calliper for measuring, but don’t get tied up in measuring
Its easier to work efficiently when you have easy access to your tools. Use a shoebox w/wire grid on the top to store tools when turning or the likes of my homemade tool holder PVC piping for holding tools
Make yourself a few shop made depth gauges, they always come in handy
Use small bottles to store finishes – Canus equipment, on Conroy, Ottawa.
Use small bottles to store solvents of different strengths (by order of strength: water, ammonia/windex, denatured alcohol, mineral spirits, acetone, lacquer thinner) – mark contents - Important TIP: acetone removes CA glue
Shop made depth gauge
Small plastic bottles
Storing sand paper for ease of retrieval – use folders that contain the grits that you will use on a particular turning then cut off what you need at the moment; Store your extra sandpaper in file folders, one for each grit
Bag of Styrofoam peanuts to strengthen a thin hollow form when sanding if you can get the them inside & out without too much of a problem
Use wax paper from a roll as a surface to mix epoxy
Ellsworth – rust the bed not for pitting but for locking the banjo & tailstock more securely.
Turning the lathe on/off burns out the motor – the Steb will stop on its own when it reaches a catch
Use a marker to mark which side you began using a circular or square carbide tool tip. Use an older carbide tip to do the roughing work
Groove a V-cut to allow for glue squeeze out in joined parts of the finial/icicle to their lidso Have cans of compressed air esp. when working at night so your air compressor doesn't have to be running and keep everyone awake
Holding small pieces between centres
Use tail centres – one w/pin one w/o – or a no pin end & Steb centre – its easier to align the piece. The steb screws on the live center, better to make it from blackwood as it will be stronger.
When working with cylindrical pieces to make finials, its easier to use jaws that are made to hold cylinders and use a tailstock with steb to stabilize the piece (pictures 11,12), do not use the tail centre to support the piece. No re-chucking should be done
Use a round tool rest, not a long one (Best Wood Tools, Lee Valley)
Use a standard spindle gouge
use a straight grain wood
work on the end of the finial first then sand – never go back to it, only work from one direction
Use a very light touch and squeeze the wood between the tool and the wood for stability when you shape the piece make a reasonably clean cove – use a spindle gouge & sharpen it often (picture 14, 15,) Again squeeze for the sanding. Use mirco-mesh after sanding to 400 (put these in a sock to wash them & drip on paper). Remember, sandpaper is a cutting tool
Squeeze & turn the next cove, Make to first point then sand this part, don't go back to it
Don’t work quickly.
Don’t be afraid, be respectful of the process of this fine turning
Mono-filament line – put epoxy into the hole that you drilled in the top to make a holding string for the ornament
use a diamond hone to sharpen a thin parting toolo Final product (picture 16)
Chucking a piece
Use a Go/no-go gauge made of wood or cardboard for each chuck so as to quickly obtain the diameter needed
create a parting tool with the right angle for your chuck (picture 13). The angled tenon will grow tighter as you squeeze the jaws. You can also use use a skew chisel to make the tenon
Tighten the chuck on both sides
Mark one jaw on the wood to be able to re-chuck if the piece comes off
Use tapes on a chuck when you are worried of marring the piece (pictures 17, 18)
Make your own chucks from African Blackwood; also good for wood that needs to be threaded for a lid (or any dense wood ipe, maple) but you never get a perfect thread (“gzinta” i.e. it goes into)
For a smooth operating chuck soak chuck in mineral spirits in a margarine container let it dry & spray moving parts with WD-40
To protect hands while the chuck is spinning use painters tape to cover the outside corners of jaws or grind corners with a grinder (a Dremel can do the job) (picture 25)
To ensure a better grip in friction chuck, use a drawer liner
Use Kiddy foam (with a taped side) for use in chucks to protect the finished turning and completing the bottom
Use toothpicks on the inside of a hole to jamb piece on homemade chuck if the hole is too large
Mandrel holder from Wood Chuckers is a very useful tool
Make your own vacuum chuck (picture 26). Bleed the valve to get the pressure you want. If the foam leaks on a vacuum chuck, cover it with Saran Wrap
At the grinder repeatability is key; set the toolrest at a desired angle so that you can always go back and get that angle (45◦ for most tools 80◦ for a scraper). I use a 60 grit stone. On the grinder dedicate one wheel to a specific angle and have both wheels of the same type
Blacken the angle on a tool when going to the grinder w/a magic marker so that you can more easily get the angle right
The skew – should only be sharpened if you drop it, otherwise use a diamond hone ( EZE Lap – or Lee Valley’s plane iron jig) and give it two strokes to sharpen; a square skew is better than an oval skew especially when going across the toolrest to get the right cutting angle.
Sharpen your tool before placing it back on tool stand. They will always be ready to use.
Turning a piece
Create a centre with a skew if you don’t have a centre-maker so that the drill bit goes in straight - fishhooks w/eyes held in pliers will also do the same
Avoid flat spots on a turning; get the curve right; use the biggest tool you have that fits the curve; grind off the back corners to avoid digs into the wood
When turning, work from the tail stock back to the headstock remember that the further from the headstock, the more the piece will vibrate.
Use magnifying glasses when turning if needed
Learn to turn both left & right-handed
Preferably work towards the headstock (when working cross grain)
Slow down to sand
Use a light touch & sharp tools
To right size a tenon, use tenon measuring tool made from an old wrench and use as a calliper to make the same size tenons
To make a sphere, make a cylinder and then make 2 V cuts to mark both ends of the sphere.
Hollowing a bell shape – do the outside then match the inside – work from top to bottom to get the same thickness all the way through – put tape on a chuck to cushion the bell – a light touch & sharp tools are important – when sanding move up the tailstock to hold the bell shape
Use stretch wrap to hold a bowl on the Cole Jaws when finishing the base along with the tailstock in place as long as possible (Pictures 23, 24)
Never remove the orientation points until you have to (i.e. the point on the base that centers it.
If you feel heat on sanding you are going to fast, lower the speed.
Start sanding with paste wax at 150 grit. It will sand off later
Use a machinist’s light to spot scratches (flexible light), remove them before going to the next grit
Use wax paper to cover your work area so you can set the piece down then throw this out after the piece has cured
Use aluminium foil plates for working with dyes or liquid finishes it creates less of a mess on your table or cover the inside of a large bowl ot plate with aluminium foil and work with your dyes/finishing products in that; when you are done, just ball everything up in the aluminium foil and your bowl/plate is still clean
Use gloves when finishing or staining
Use those steel handled applicator brushes with the bristles trimmed down for applying stains and finishes
Get a spray-can holder – use tape on the front of the can to mark the name of what you are spraying
Use gloss lacquer, then sand back to achieve the shine you desire
Use Styrofoam blocks or the edge of a corrugated box to hold skewers (or shish-kabob sticks (tape rolled around end to hold an egg for spraying or drying
Use a tennis ball (or a ball of the right size in a cup to hold a bowl in place for finishing – cover the ball with masking tape or the kitchen drawer pad material
Use 5 or 6 skewers stuck upright in a foam pad or corrugated box to hold a hollow form for finishing
Bowling Alley wax (Butcher’s) is an excellent finishing product
Toothbrushes can be use for applying finishes in crevices
use copper brushes for creating texture instead of steel which may darken some woods
Learn to use your camera, read the manual it has suggestions that can help in photographing your work; it takes practice to learn how to take good pictures; If you have the controls on a camera use them – experiment with your digital camera and don't be afraid to fail; you don't learn much if you don't fail from time to time.
See Woodturning Design #36 (WD-issue 5 yr 5 pp 66-71 Photographing your turned projects for publication)
#1 – who is your audience, and ensure that you meet their needs
Take lots of pictures, take pictures of all your work to teach & to learn take also a bunch of “in the process” photos, Take the photo in RAW mode
Colour temperature in fluorescent, or daylight with tripod lights
Use auto white balance – set the camera for this & don’t mix different types of lighting
Control your lighting and background (you want it to disappear). Make a light tent for photographing your work (see issue # 19 yr 8 pp 70-73article)
Fill the frame using optical zoom not digital zoom – the background should disappear as much as possible (55mm = normal lens 100mm=zoom lens). Any gap on the bottom of the picture should be greater than the gap at the top (rule of thumb 2/3 gap bottom, 1/ gap top.
18% grey scale – use a grey backgroung (eg a grey cloth from fabric store such as flannel) – arrange the cloth so as to make shadows disappear
Use a tripod and the timer to take the picture so there won’t be any vibration
Check the histogram if you have one to check the grid
Use bounce cards (white foam core or paper towels) to stop reflections or use aluminium foil to create more light reflection.
Use paper towel to soften the light
Use Ott lights or LEDs (often come in a bar & use batteries) to soften lighting
Refer to the Thomas catalogue (lightinguniverse.com) for lighting suggestions
Learn to use the F-Stop; using manual settings instead of the Auto settings will allow you to focus on another point of the object;
shoot pictures using different focal points
Use a level to make sure the object shows up in the picture properly
Bracket your pictures so that you get a different exposure (e.g. +1.5F then +1.0F then -1.0F)
Use a slower ISO (80) and + 1/3 stop for colours to pop more
Step back from the object and use the zoom if needed to get a better picture,
shoot from multiple focus points
Use Adobe Photoshop Light Room (or a program of your choice, e.g. Gimp) to edit, arrange and send your photos; Photoshop has a lot of videos on How-to subjects
Label all your pictures with a keywords or tag numbers when cataloguing
With digital cameras, there is always a large amount of data that is produced; this data can help to improve when you take more pictures of an object; this allows you to learn;
learn to use the Histogram and get a smooth balance of light on both sides of the object Storing your pictures;
keep them on something that you can still read in the future and back up your photos in at least three places including one that is off site.