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Tips for turning White Ash

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  • Tips for turning White Ash

    I’m interested in hearing any recommendations people might have about turning While ash. I have some clean dry chunks of it with amazing grain. So far I’ve tried roughing out a bowl but I’m finding it is VERY difficult to work with. If fact I broke my tool test banjo on a hard catch. The banjo is out for repair!

    White Ash is a bit rare in my area now after the Emerald Ash Borer went through. I was very surprised to cut these open and find solid wood inside.

    thanks
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  • #2

    Re: Tips for turning White Ash

    It would be interesting to know what you were doing to get the catch that broke the tool rest.
    I turn some hard woods, some pieces are difficult to start with being out of balance and not round, recently I stalled the lathe while using a bowl saver.
    White Ash just like any wood would turn if everything is set up right, tool rest as close as possible and at the correct height, sharp tools, gouge held so the bevel is rubbing, you in control and you don't get catches.
    If the gouge is held correctly and everything else is right you cannot have a catch as the tool would be pushed away before it happened.
    What do others say?
    beachburl likes this.

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    • #3

      Re: Tips for turning White Ash

      So there are likely a few things I was doing wrong to lead up to the tool test breaking. Most notably is speed. My old lathe only has four fixed speeds. 800 being the lowest. I was attempting to round out a blank that was rough cut with a chainsaw. Don’t have a bandsaw so i can’t round the blank out properly before mounting on the lathe. Maybe it was just too heavy for my lathe. It was definitely out of balance. I was using a roughing gouge at the time attempting to simply get it round. My first attempt with the ash blank worked out ok but the second time did not.

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      • #4

        Re: Tips for turning White Ash

        Yes I have turned plenty like that and I would not want to start at 800rpm on that small lathe, how did you have it held? if I was doing it at home I would cut a female recess for my chuck to fit in using a round hole in 12mm ply that I keep for the purpose and a dovetail cutter in a router, at the club we don't have the luxury so it would start on a worm screw in the chuck and the tail stock with live center would be brought up for safety sake you would not want to rely on just a worm screw, I would then proceed to create a flat area in the center and cut a female recess so I can hold the wood with jaws as soon as possible, I have 4" jaws so if it was big and out of balance I would be aiming for that size if I could, I may also bring up the tail stock if I had any doubts, better safe than sorry.
        You say you used a roughing gouge, photo please.
        https://www.woodmagazine.com/woodwor...w-lathe-chucks
        Last edited by bkrits; 05-05-2021, 01:57 AM. Reason: Added link

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        • #5

          Re: Tips for turning White Ash

          The situation you describe was definitely a recipe for disaster. In my learning process with my old Beaver, I went through almost the same situation you did.
          Joining GHWG certainly gave me tons of instruction - Thames Valley http://www.thamesvalleywoodturners.com is who you want to be in touch with.
          You need to reduce your minimum speed to start. Bob has offered some great tips.
          Others will 'chip in' with info I'm sure.
          White Ash was not your issue.
          Noel

          "Being so impressed with the beauty of nature, I never cease to be amazed at how the
          'touch of the human hand' can transform it into another kind of beauty that is so uniquely human.
          "

          John Snow, Outdoorsman and Retired Teacher

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          • #6

            Re: Tips for turning White Ash

            Hand saw and patience might work with a new shiv.
            Last edited by Egon; 05-05-2021, 07:13 AM.
            Egon
            from
            The South Shore, Nova Scotia

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            • #7

              Re: Tips for turning White Ash

              The piece was held by a 4" faceplate with (8) #8 x 1-1/4" Wood Screws. I don't have a chuck (yet).

              I've seen some pictures where people have used supplemental shafts to slow down their Beaver Lathe but keeping the original 4 speed pully setup. I'm not sure I want to venture down that path or just treat this machine as a learning step and upgrade to something more robust in the future.

              Perhaps I should just keep my work pieces to a smaller more manageable size for the time being.

              Thanks for the input! I've learned a lot on this Forum.

              Comment


              • #8

                Re: Tips for turning White Ash

                Wrong gouge!!!!!!! Roughing gouge is strictly for spindle turning. You need a big bowl gouge. If the corners were knocked off with a chainsaw then 800rpm should be just about doable with some good tool handling

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                • #9

                  Re: Tips for turning White Ash

                  Dry ash can be very hard and requires continually sharp tools.
                  Catches are always to be avoided of course but usually don't break toolrests or banjos. I admit I broke a toolrest on my big General and the reason it broke and this is a common reason is that the tool was presented to the wood without being right down on the rest. It caught and was slammed into the rest which broke it.
                  Noel gave you excellent advice by recommending you join a club. I thought I knew a lot about turning and then went to a meeting - learned at least one thing at every meeting since and gained access to a tremendous resource which is the members as well as their library and courses.
                  800 RPM is definitely too high for all but the smallest rough blank.
                  I think the ash borer only damages the surface of the sapwood. It likes to grow and feed just under the bark in the cambium layer.
                  billh

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                  • #10

                    Re: Tips for turning White Ash

                    When I have a block like that, which is pretty much all the time, I start with a bowl gouge from the centre at the end supported by live centre and work my way out to the larger round.
                    I avoid the thump thump thump of making the outer perimeter round first. And pretty much always use a screwed faceplate. Not a big fan of woodworm screws.
                    I am just learning this stuff though
                    Dara
                    SPCHT

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                    • #11

                      Re: Tips for turning White Ash

                      You are not the first nor the last one to try using a spindle tool (Spindle Roughing Gouge) to rough turn a bowl, and some have been hurt pretty bad when the tool broke and came back at them, a couple of other wrong tools that others did use.

                      Click image for larger version

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                      Click image for larger version

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                      The not round piece of wood can safely turned to round if done correctly, I'll see if I can put a series of pictures that show a large crotch piece turned to nearly round, if I'm not able to add the pictures I'll make a new post.

                      I did mount it on a Oneway screw, a faceplate is safer but it takes longer, and I have enough experience to do this, for most I would advice to use a faceplate.

                      I do start basically from the center and work out and down to round and shape the piece of wood.

                      Have fun and take care
                      Leo Van Der Loo

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                      • #12

                        Re: Tips for turning White Ash

                        Great photos Leo, thanks for sharing.

                        So to clarify the picture I shared of the more complete bowl shape was done with a few different tools. I only used the spindle roughing gouge to make the block round then switched tools to form the curved bottom. In any case I think all my tools need a proper sharpening but I'm waiting for my low-speed grinder to arrive so I can setup the used oneway jigs i picked up on Kijiji.

                        The larger, more rough, piece in my picture is what I was attempting to round when my tool rest broke. As you can see I didn't get very far into it. Likely some more patience and hand-saw shaping could have saved me some trouble.

                        My tool rest has now been Brazed back together. I'm in the process of shaping a 1/8" piece of Carbon Steel plate to provide additional support under the original cast part. Someone suggested that in my other post about the broken tool rest. I'll lose a bit of turning radius but I'm OK with that.

                        Thanks again.

                        Joe

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                        • #13

                          Re: Tips for turning White Ash

                          Originally posted by burlingj77 View Post
                          ... I only used the spindle roughing gouge to make the block round then switched tools to form the curved bottom....

                          Joe
                          This implies that you had the blank spinning like a spindle and used the roughing gouge to make it a round cylinder, switched tools and started shaping the curved bottom.

                          This is not the way to do it. With the blank in it's rough shape start with the bowl gouge and start shaping bowl. I find it easier to start from the bottom initially and create the shape going towards the top. This starts the shaping and much more pleasantly removes the irregularities in the diameter without as much clunk-clunk-clunk cutting as you get when trying to turn it into a cylinder first. Sort of killing 2 birds with one stone approach Once you have it cleaned up with a basic shaping you can then do a proper final shaping and smoothing on the rounded blank.
                          billh

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                          • #14

                            Re: Tips for turning White Ash

                            ok, thanks for the tip. I'll try that next time.

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                            • #15

                              Re: Tips for turning White Ash

                              I personally would NOT be using a brazed tool rest no matter what. A brazed banjo is also something I would avoid. We are so often looking at cost savings and believe me when it comes to safety saving cost is not the way to go. Leo showed the error of using a badly designed spindle roughing gouge and it's a lesson well learned. He also showed the correct way to take an irregular shaped piece of wood down to round using the correct tool. Again a lesson to be learned but taking a chance with brazed metal is not. Don't do it.

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