Dwayne Free: Hollow Forms and Post-turning Decoration
Dwayne Free demonstrated how to turn hollow forms and then to carve animal, western or Native American figures on the outside of the bowl or vase. Dwayne likes to turn wet wood that has character (holes, bark inclusions, cracks, etc. In turning the wood he likes to emphasize the character of the wood. In general he turns the outside of the piece and hollows the bowl/vase using the Jameson Laser Guided Hollowing System using a machine lathe cutter in the cutting bar (more detailed information about and how to use the Jameson system can be found at his website.
For the demonstration, Dwayne used a piece of black walnut that was slightly over 6" in diameter. He plans on hollowing the end grain of this piece. He started by turning the log to round between centers using a roughing gouge. On large or unusual work he mounts the wood on a faceplate for safety. He uses stainless screws to secure the wood. He said to make sure that you do not use grabber screws because they are too brittle and will break.
After turning the wood into a cylinder he decides on the outside shape and uses the Golden Mean to determine the proportions of the piece. The Golden Mean is based on dividing the piece into 3 parts and then using the proportion of 1/3 to 2/3 to determine where the main feature of the object is going to be placed. If you look at the walnut he turned he put the main feature of the vase 1/3 from the bottom of the vase. Dwayne had a Golden Mean caliper he made to help him get the diameter and length of the turning in the right proportions. As far as the shape of the bowl, he recommended getting the book 500 Bowls to see the different shapes and help you with design.
After turning the log round he squared the ends and put a spigot on the end to accept the chuck. He placed the spigot on the best end of the wood so he could turn off and cracks or problems on the other end. Once the wood was placed in the chuck he brought up the tailstock to support the shaping of the vase.
Once the outside shape was achieved he used a 2" carbide forstner bit to drill a hole to the appropriate depth so he could start the hollowing process. Dwayne highly recommended using a carbide bit and then only advancing it the length of the bit cutter head at a time. This is particularly important when using green wood because the wood clogs up behind the bit and prevents it from being extracted from the hole. Depending on the size of the project extensions for the bit may be needed.
Once the hole was completed, Dwayne set up the hollowing system and started hollowing. The laser is used to determine the thickness of the wall. The wall must be left thick enough that carving can take place on the outside of the piece.
Once hollowed the piece has to be dried. He uses the microwave to dry the vase. He weighs the vase on a postal scale and writes down the weight. The vase is microwaved for 1 to 3 minutes and set aside to cool down to room temperature. He then repeats the process writing down the weight. This process is followed until the weight remains the same weight for 3 times. At which time the piece is considered to be dry.
Dwayne selects the pictures he is going to carve form magazines, books, etc. He sizes the picture to fit the wood by making different size copies. When he gets the size he wants he then makes the copy on a piece of fiscut (a sheet that accepts the copy but has a removable backing that leaves the picture with a sticky back that will hold the picture on the wood). Dwayne selects where the picture will best fit on the wood being careful to line up the flow of the picture with the flow of the wood. Once the picture is glued to the wood he outlines the major lines of the picture using a small round carbide cutter. When this is finished he removes the picture and begins the carving process. He uses a NKS carving unit that is capable of 40,000 rpm and is available at Treeline. Various bits are used depending on the type of cut needed. The type of wood may also dictate the type of bit to be used. Experiment to see what bit works best.
Dwayne has made some bags filled with styrofoam beads to help hold the work as he carves. Dwayne's work is beautiful and will be a challenge for each of us to try.
Please find these notes with illustrations here.