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February 2007: Inside This Issue

  • Website Update
  • Announcement of New Videos
  • February Website Special
  • Questions & Answers
  • Finishing Tip of the Month
  • Turning Tip of the Month
  • Subscription Information


Happy Valentines Day to everyone and a hearty welcome to all of our new subscribers! This is the third edition of Lathe Talk, a free monthly newsletter (e-zine) for subscribers of Steve Russell’s “Woodturning Videos Plus” woodturning website. The newsletter will be delivered on or about the first of each month to the email address you indicated on your sign-up form. Back issues of this newsletter are available to subscribers.

If you like this e-zine, please do a friend and me a favor by forwarding it to them. If a friend DID forward this to you and you like what you read, please subscribe by visiting our subscription page. Lathe Talk will offer tips and tricks to make your woodturning easier and more productive. I’ll also show you ways to save money in your studio so you can stretch your hard earned money. In addition, we will periodically offer subscribers only specials on our videos and e-books.


Woodturning Videos Plus Website Update

Flash Video: Good News! We have added Flash video to our website. Short preview clips of our pen and bowl turning videos are now available on our video preview page. We plan to add short video clips into selected articles in the education library very soon. Many of these will have to be filmed from scratch, so we will add them as soon as they can be filmed and uploaded onto the website.

In the near future, you will be able to read the article online and click the video links to see certain procedures in action. This will greatly add to the value of the educational articles by helping to illuminate difficult to explain topics. This has been a goal of mine for quite some time and I'm excited that we will be able to offer this benefit to you. Drop into the library from time to time, to see what clips have been added.

"Hot Topic" Videos: We are also looking into adding a monthly video "Hot Topic" that you can access on the website, which will offer a longer video clip of important procedures and techniques. Here are a few examples: How to grind an Irish grind on your bowl gouge, techniques of shear scraping, buffing an oil finish, applying a super glue finish to a writing pen, crushed stone inlay in woodturnings, turning small projects and many more. Feel free to email me with suggested topics for the monthly "Hot Topic" video clip. We hope to launch this new feature in the next few months.

Questions and Answers: We are starting a new section in Lathe Talk – Questions and Answers. I will be answering some of your emailed questions here in Lathe Talk, so if you would like some assistance on any woodturning related topic, please email me. Woodturning Videos Plus Blog Now Available: By popular request, we have added a free Blog/RSS feed to our website. Now you can keep up with any changes made to the website including new product releases, new additions or updates to the education library, e-zine mail out dates, special news and much more. Blogging has taken the Internet by storm… It's the easiest way to keep in touch with all of your favorite websites. It's easy to subscribe to our blog. For additional information on what a Blog is and how it operates, check out What is RSS? This is just the start… Wait until you see what we are planning for the rest of 2007! We are committed to continuous improvement of the website and to helping woodturners around the world to enjoy the art of woodturning.


Woodturning with Steven D. Russell Volume IV – Dry Grinder Sharpening and Volume V – Wet Grinder Sharpening now in Preproduction

We're proud to announce that we have begun preproduction work for my fourth and fifth DVD videos. Volume four will cover sharpening your Turning Tools on a dry grinder. Topics to be covered include: Setup and wheel selection, balancing wheels, using the top three jig systems and tips for each, developing a sharpening code for your tools, how to sharpen all of your turning tools and how to modify grinds to work better, plus lots of tips and tricks and much more.

Volume five will cover sharpening your turning tools on the Tormek wet grinder. Topics to be covered include: Setup and maintenance tips, how to sharpen all of your woodturning tools, proper use of all of the jigs for woodturners, using the honing wheels, tips and tricks for woodturners and much more.

We will begin production of the videos in February and hope to have the postproduction and design work completed by early April. If you have suggestions for future videos, please feel free to email me.


February Website Special – For Lathe Talk Subscribers Only

$5.00 additional discount on my Volume #3 Bowl Turning Step-By-Step Double DVD Video set. For the month of February 2007, you can save an additional $5.00 off the current sale price of $40.00 on any Volume #3 Double DVD Video order. With your special discount, a copy of my bowl turning DVD will only cost $35.00, plus postage (and taxes only if you live in Texas). That's a savings of $10.00 off the regular price of $45.00.

To access this special offer, enter the coupon code 3145 on the shopping cart page in the coupon box area. Click the “recalculate” button and your discount will show on the screen. Offer ends February 28, 2006 at 12:01 midnight, CST. Additional subscriber only discounts and specials will be offered in future editions of Lathe Talk.


Questions and Answers

This is a new section in Lathe Talk and will feature questions from subscribers about woodturning in general, the website, my studio, research and development testing in my studio and more. If you have questions, please email me. Question: Your information on boiling is great, but I was wondering what you came up with testing Pentacryl. Pentacryl seems to work for me turning fly rod reel seats but I want to try a few larger things, especially with some local arbutus (Madrone), which is notorious for twisty grain. The locals say it's a waste of time to bother with Pentacryl so I was curious what you thought. You seem to take a very methodical and scientific approach unlike most other reports, which are largely anecdotal. Of course, I'm going to use it anyway but I'd appreciate any insights you have. Thanks, Rick.

Answer: I tested Pentacryl a few years ago in an effort to see if it would be valuable for difficult timbers, or if it would offer advantages over other protocols I was using in my studio. My test included five gallons of Pentacryl, used in the following tests: 1.) Full Immersion – 2 days, 4 days, 2.) Vacuum Immersion – 4 hours, 8 hours, 24 hours, 3.) Painted on until thoroughly wet 4.) Sprayed on until thoroughly wet.

The testing covered approximately 100 bowls, 50 platters and numerous solid stock blanks ranging in size from 1" to 6" thick. Total test covered about 200 pieces, in 16 different species. I plan on writing a full article on the testing and results that will appear in my next woodturning e-Book and also in "More Woodturning", but I will be happy to summarize the results for you here as the full report will probably come in at 10 – 12 pages in length.

Test pieces included side grain blanks, rough turned to 1" thick walls and did not include any pith, or tight growth rings. Solid wood blanks were pith free and featured band sawn faces on all sides. Both subsets had a few wild grain pieces included, but the bulk of the test pieces (90%) were plain to slightly figured straight grain. Some pieces included compression wood and others tension wood from limbs, but each was properly balanced in the blank. The majority of pieces were from the trunk of the tree with even growth rings. Penetration depth was measured on a random basis by cutting the piece and half and observing the indicated maximum depth.

Overall the Pentacryl treated pieces faired well. 34 roughed out pieces received full immersion for 2 days with 3 failures. A failure here is defined as a check in the dried rough out, or blank. In the 4-hour test group, 44 pieces were included with 2 failures. Vacuum immersion produced 100% crack free results for all immersion times.

The subjects in the painted on and sprayed on subsets experienced a higher failure rate overall than the immersion subsets. The highest failures were in the sprayed on subset, with 5 out of 35 pieces checking in the painted on test group and 8 out of 36 checking in the sprayed on test group.

Bottom line: Pentacryl can be an effective method for treating green wood to help prevent checking and to reduce overall drying degrade. However, it works best with green wood that still contains a lot of moisture. Pentacryl also darkens the wood quite a bit on light colored timbers and is somewhat expensive, if using it on a large amount of pieces. High figured wood faired less than straight grain in my testing.

Best results were obtained with full immersion and vacuum immersion, indicating that the product needs to get fully into the wood to achieve a high success rate. I use Pentacryl occasionally for some species and under certain conditions, but I still prefer boiling for the best all around solution for problem timbers and to speed the drying process.

Madrone is highly unstable as you know and therefore, I would expect a higher loss ratio than those mentioned above when using Pentacryl with this species. The only thing that has worked well for me with Madrone is live steam treatments, or boiling. Thanks for your question and good luck with your Madrone.

P.S. For those of you who would like additional information on my boiling protocol, check out these two articles in our education library:

Reducing Timber Drying Defect by Boiling
Boiling Protocol Tips and Tricks

Question: I had 6 logs of black walnut that fell in a storm in July 06. I went to the farm site where the trees were, and cut into 4-foot lengths. I sealed the ends with emulsified wax and stored out of the sun to the north of my shop. I am just now getting time to get ready to rough out the logs into bowls. Here's what I found when I cut open the logs. The sapwood was about 1 inch thick and the normal light tan color. The next layer of color was the normal "purple" color. Finally, the inner 4 to 5 inches was a non- purple color, more like a brown versus purple. Is the wood ruined? I let it go 18 months to cut open the logs but don't know if the wood is or was bad before I cut it up. Did I wait too long to cut up the logs? Is the wood really ruined? Also, will the wood color change if it has time to "air dry"? Best Regards, Mark.

Answer: No, your log is not ruined! In my experience it is not uncommon for timber to have varying color bands like you describe in the heartwood. In fact, around the Houston area it's quite common on the Pecans, Elms and Sycamores to exhibit these characteristics in mature trees. Remember, wood is by nature highly variable in color and that's part of its allure.

As trees age, the colors can become muted, especially near the pith. Environmental factors can also influence the color in trees, as can soil conditions, overall health and insect activity. When you find a tree with gorgeous color and figure, you are in woodturning nirvana and life is sweet!

Walnut is a pure joy to turn and if you air-dry it, you can keep the subtle colors intact. The delicate purples, creams and reds are preserved when you air-dry your Walnut. Most timbers loose some of their color over time, unless protocols are instituted to prevent, or lessen damaging environmental factors, such as ultraviolet light.

In the future, try to process your logs as soon as possible. Wax emulsions are only a stopgap measure with logs that buys you a bit of time. Most timbers do not season well in the full log form, so you need to split the log and section it as soon as possible in the future you can cut solid blanks out, plank long thick boards, or go ahead and rough out bowls and platters etc., depending on your needs.

Be sure to use a wax emulsion on any cut endgrain and high figured areas until you can complete the processing. For further details on using wax emulsions on logs and blanks, check out this article on wax emulsions. The further you can process the log, the better your chances will be at getting crack free blanks, or rough outs. Good luck to you with your Walnut!


Finishing Tip of the Month - The Magic of Microcrystalline Wax

Learn how to use microcrystalline wax to enhance the finish on your woodturnings. Microcrystalline waxes offer superior protection over traditional waxes like beeswax and carnauba. To view the full article, click on the link below.

The Magic of Microcrystalline Wax

Turning Tip Of The Month – Cryogenically Treated Turning Tools

Learn the benefits of cryogenically treated woodturning tools. Using cryo treated turning tools reduces the amount of sharpening needed when turning large volumes of wood or abrasive timbers. To view the full article, click on the link below.

Cryogenically Treated Turning Tools


Closing Thoughts

The response to my Lathe Talk newsletter/e-zine has been tremendous, with hundreds of new subscribers being added in the last few weeks. Please let your woodturning friends know about my newsletter and encourage them to subscribe. Together, we can make Lathe Talk a valuable resource for woodturners around the world. Take care.

Steve

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