Galloway Woodturners

We're in Galloway and we turn wood

Rick Dobney: Square box turned on a jig


Cutting list, finishes and materials
Sycamore – 6” x 3” x 3”/ 150 x 75 x 75mm

Texturing tools, spirit / acrylic colours, pyrography tools, etc.

Acrylic sanding sealer, satin lacquers

Turning Process
Ensure the blank is perfectly square using bandsaw, table saw or planer thicknesser.

Sand the faces of the blank to 320 grit

Apply acrylic sanding sealer at this stage if using spirit dyes and acrylics to decorate the piece later, omit this stage if only using carving / pyrography

Find exact centres of spindle (mark on all 4 axis)

Use a centre punch to mark the centre

Locate on steb centres and ensure the workpiece is securely mounted on the lathe

Wrap each end with masking tape. Add a further winding of tape where the lid/box joint will be, use the rule of thirds for proportionally positioning the joint.

Turn up the lathe speed to at least 1500 RPM

Using a parting tool turn a tenon on either end sized and shaped to suit the scroll chuck.
Note: The parting tool must be engaged slowly into the cut and the tool must be freshly sharpened to avoid break out.
Using callipers, the tenon can be sized with the lathe running however great care must be taken in two counts, firstly this should not be attempted until the tenon is solid wood. Secondly, if sizing with the lathe running, make sure the callipers are presented such that that the corners of the blank cannot catch the tool.

As with all tenon’s, the turned face should be flat or slightly concave to gain optimal support from the chuck jaws

Mount the blank in the chuck, lid towards the chuck and bring up the live centre to ensure the workpiece is accurately centred and seated in the chuck.

Again using the freshly sharpened parting tool, turn the tenon to fit the base into the lid. The diameter of the tenon should be approximately 15-20mm less than the diameter of the blank. Make the tenon approximately 8mm wide, you will need to take two cuts taking great care not to catch the tool when exiting the cut.

Add an alignment line across the joint, this is particularly handy if there’s no obvious grain alignment.

Using a narrow parting tool, part most of the way through adjacent to the lid leaving a slim ‘tell tale’ on the lid. Do not part through with pressure on the tail stock otherwise the piece will grab dangerously.

Finish separating the lid from the base using a hand saw.

With the ‘tell tale’ as a guide, use a parting tool to cut a recess to suit the tenon on the box base. Present the tool so that the cut tapers inwards, this allows the recess to be adjusted to a good fit, tight with a layer or two of paper.

Using a small bowl gouge, turn and hollow the inside of the lid. Alternatively a round nosed scraper could be used.

Sand and finish the inside of the lid, taking care not to enlarge the recess affecting the fit of the lid.

Remove the lid and fit the box base into the chuck ensuring that it is correctly seated and running true, a little pressure from the tail stock helps to ensure the blank supported by all four chuck jaw faces.

Measure the required depth for hollowing the box and drill using either a spindle gouge or a drill or forstener bit held in a Jacobs chuck, stopping just short of the required depth.

Hollow out the box using either the left wing of a strong spindle gouge with the flute at 10 o’clock or your chosen hollowing tool.

Sand and finish the inside of the box.

You have a square box… the fun begins, time to get creative
Before we do anything else reduce the lathe to the slowest speed range possible

Fit the jig to the lathe headstock

You can now set up the centre of rotation using the live centre in the tailstock for a guide

The lower jaw of the chuck is first positioned being loosely tightened to the back plate.

The top jaw is then located, similarly tightened and clamped in place using the spreader clamp to ensure the jaws fully contact the workpiece.

Now tighten up the ratchet strap ensuring the jaws keep fully in contact with the workpiece.

Planning where arching cuts will run and where they need to be centred can easily be done using a compass or dividers.

The jigs have strong workholding capability allowing the workpiece to be held at an angle to the backboard, the overhang

Start the lathe at the slowest possible speed, increasing slowly while stable

Cuts can be a combination of ‘V’ cuts, coves, potentially beads for the more adventurous.

Texturing tools can also be applied providing there is continuous contact with the wood

In addition to turning and texturing, carving and pyrography can be used to add textures and profile to the piece.

If colours are to be applied (either acrylics or spirit dyes), then as mentioned at the start of the notes, an acrylic sanding sealer should be applied, this prevents the spirit dyes and paints leaching into the surface wood. If air brushing is used, there will be overspray. The overspray can easily be removed by lightly sanding the surface timber leaving a nice crisp edge to the feature.
How much or how little patterning, design, texturing, etc. you do is down to your personal tastes and creativity.
Enjoy the project and please email photos to me….

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