Thursday, June 6, 2013

Recent Turnings

Here is a few photographs of my latest wood turnings I have produced since warm weather has allowed me back into my workshop.  These diminutive spindles are pipe tampers.  A tamper is a smoking accessory that allows the ash and unburnt tobacco that clings to the walls of a pipe bowl to be gently compressed and pushed into the ember keeping it lit and smoking.

This tamp made from an unknown species of tropical wood is a shape I call the "Classic" based on the tradition beads and coves cut into the wood.  I like to use one of my wooden tampers when I smoke my meerschaum pipe instead of a regular metal pipe nail just to be certain that the tool won't scratch the delicate surface of the white mineral my pipe is made of.

Because wood is a natural material and trees come in many different species the characteristics of grain, color and hardness can vary greatly.  To me one of the most rewarding aspects of woodworking is experimenting and learning about the various kinds of wood available.  On the lathe I've found that generally the more dense and hard a wood is the better it turns. 

In continuation from my last post this is the piece of African Blackwood that I had just begun to work as it nears completion. While it is considered one of the hardest woods in the world with care and patience it yields a beautiful turning with crisp sharp edges and a deep ebony-like hue.  

This is an interesting note from my favorite online resource about wood: www.wood-database

 "To be considered the original ebony, African Blackwood was imported and used in Ancient Egypt thousands of years ago. Even the name “ebony” has an Egyptian derivation as “hbny”—which has been shown to refer to primarily toDalbergia melanoxylon, rather than the species which are considered to be ebony today: such as those in the Diospyros genus."

The wood lathe is unique because often work piece is cut not only along the grain but often transitional cuts expose the end grain and by nature because the stock is spinning and becomes round the growth rings or layers will appear concentric and interesting.  

Another wood which I do have a little experience with is Osage Orange (Maclura pomifera), also known by it's aliases Hedge Apple and Bois d' arc.  The French term Bois d' arc translates to "bow wood" and I can testify that it does indeed make a good bow.

Although I've used Osage before this is the first time I've spun a piece on the lathe. It works as well for turning as it does on the archery range.  Over time and with exposure to UV light the lemon yellow will give way to deeper oranges and honey browns.


  1. Impressive as usual. Another interesting post from a blog, perhaps more aptly named "Tales of a Renaissance Man"!