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Thread: Leveling the foot on a Vessel

  1. #1
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    Leveling the foot on a Vessel

    I was reading on AAW the other nite about different ways turners finish off the bottoms of their vessels. There are times when i have problems with my own method and thought I would see how others are doing theirs.

    Here is the way I finish the foot on my vessel (Green Wood)

    Picture 1-3 showing that I have turned this to final shape and has the tennon still attached. This vessel will dry inside for several weeks or more before being returned to the lathe to be finished sanded and parted off.

    Picture 4 - showing one of two ways i finish it and part it off - in the picture im using a mandrel and with a little adjustment and securing im ready to take a couple cuts on the bottom down to the tennon to level is out. Then I take the nub down as far as i can and cut the nub free. Then slice off the nub and take to the drill press sander and finish sand and level the bottom by holding it up to the turning disk. Pictures 5-6

    Reason is there is not much room to sand the bottom between the tennon and the bottom of the vessel so alot of times it is marked up and needs additional sanding. Doing it on the Drill press works well but you have to play around alot of times to keep it level by testing on a flat surface and doing more sanding.

    Other method after drying is to remount it finish sand and just leave it in the chuck and take the tennon down as far as i can then cut it free. Again, slice off the remaining nub and take to the drill press sander. Pictures 5-6

    I like the drill press method for finish sanding on the bottoms of vessels but the draw back can be in the leveling as you finish it that way.

    Thoughts..............
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Olive-1.jpg   Olive-2.jpg   Olive-3.jpg   mandrel-2.jpg   Drill press-1.jpg  

    Drill Press-2.jpg  
    First you have to learn the rules - Beginner
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  2. #2
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    I don't leave nearly as much waste material at the bottom, but it'd be hard to describe the way I do it without photos. I'll have to get some pics to show how I typically do it. I think I've got a hollow form in the shop that's about ready to be finished. I'll grab some photos then.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
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  3. #3
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    Ok and thanks..........
    First you have to learn the rules - Beginner
    Then you have to learn advanced rules - Professional
    Then you disregard the rules - This takes you to the master level................

  4. #4
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    I usually do it much the same way as Dan; most of time there is not as much waste as in those pictures. I turn away enough of the waste to allow the foot center to be recessed slightly. That makes leveling easier.

  5. #5
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    Dennis - not sure I follow how you do the center of the foot - my way is with a 3" round hard rubber disk with velcro attached sandpaper disks to get all the tool marks out and do the finish sanding...............maybe you can show me or explain if your doing it differently...........thanks
    First you have to learn the rules - Beginner
    Then you have to learn advanced rules - Professional
    Then you disregard the rules - This takes you to the master level................

  6. #6
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    Dan, the hollow form I had in mind wasn't dry enough to finish, but I did finish a bowl tonight, and I do the foot on a bowl the same way as I would a hollow form.

    First, the bottom of hollow form that I didn't finish, just to show how long my tenon is. This one has a larger tenon than I would usually use, but it started as a much larger piece of wood (I cut back quite a way to get around some cracks). I left the bottom on this one a little thick so that when I do finish it, I will be able to reshape the bottom and get a smaller foot...

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    Now, the bowl I did finish, with a typical tenon to fit my 50mm jaws. (This bowl is about 11 3/4" in diameter.) Again, you can see that I don't waste a lot of wood in the tenon length...

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    Here's the bowl chucked up, ready for finish sanding. I sand all of the inside and the parts I can reasonably reach on the outside...

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    After it's sanded, I reverse the bowl to trim off the tenon. I typically use a friction chuck. Sometimes it's a roughed-out bowl with rubber shelf liner over it to provide a bit of padding and grip, but in this case, I used the head to my vacuum chuck. I did not use the vacuum on this bowl though, because it's pretty thin and I didn't want to risk cracking it with the suction. This bowl is soft wood, so I didn't want to dent the inside from the tailstock pressure, so I used an extra 'donut' of neoprene wetsuit material as padding over the chuck.

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    Using the tailstock with moderate pressure, I hold the bowl in place...

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    I start whittling down the tenon with a 3/8" shallow detail gouge. At this point, I also define the depression for the recessed foot. Since this bowl is thin, I didn't go very deep. Most of the time, the recess is a bit more pronounced. This is also the time when I finish sand the bottom of the piece, except for the foot...

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    I work the tenon down to a cone, and take light cuts until I cut through it, being careful to not knock the cone out when the cut goes through. This one actually broke before I could cut it through, but as soon as I saw it give way, I stopped the lathe...

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    Since this nub broke off a little ragged, I trimmed it up a bit with a sharp bench chisel.

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    A bit of power sanding with the 2" ROS (although a 2" disk on a drill will do the same). Often, my foot is smaller than the sanding disk, so I'll tilt the sander a bit and just use the outer edge of the disk instead of trying to set it flat on the foot...

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    Sanding's done, and it's ready for signing and dating with the woodburning pens...

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    I use virtually the same process on hollow forms.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

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  7. #7
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    And I for one am really happy you showed me that method....it works very well, but does take some practice!!
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  8. #8
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    Vaughn...........that is a great step by step on how to do the bottoms but it leaves me with a couple questions. First, as far as the bowls go I understand how you finish off the bottoms.

    On vessels if you look at pictures 1-4 above, I end up with a tennon and can reverse after drying easy enough using the mandrel (or other method). The issue for me is to create enough space to be able to get in there to sand the bottom to finish prior to taking the tenon down real small or cutting it off. Which then i understand you can use a 2" disk to sand the nub area. I supose i can turn the whole tenon down like you did in the pictures if that is what you are referring to that you do ........

    Other issue is that the tennon can be small which would make sanding with a 2" disk encompass the entire bottom as I have turned some small vessels where that is a issue.

    maybe im just not understanding the whole thing...........thanks
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    Then you have to learn advanced rules - Professional
    Then you disregard the rules - This takes you to the master level................

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Mosley View Post
    ...On vessels if you look at pictures 1-4 above, I end up with a tennon and can reverse after drying easy enough using the mandrel (or other method). The issue for me is to create enough space to be able to get in there to sand the bottom to finish prior to taking the tenon down real small or cutting it off. Which then i understand you can use a 2" disk to sand the nub area. I supose i can turn the whole tenon down like you did in the pictures if that is what you are referring to that you do...
    After I've turned the tenon down to about 1/2" diameter, but before I turn it into a cone, I'll often just use a small piece of 80 grit to sand the part of the foot that I can reach. I do this by hand, with the lathe running. I just try to get rid of the major tool marks. The finish sanding will happen after it's off the lathe. I also try to get as smooth of cuts as possible with the detail gouge to cut down on the amount of sanding necessary. If I have any fine details in the foot - like beads or other decoration - I'll generally sand through 220 or 320 grit the same way, still leaving the center (where the remaining tenon is) un-sanded until it's parted off. Once the tenon is gone, I do the rest of the sanding off the lathe. On a lot of pieces I could use the vacuum chuck, but more and more I just do it this way to save the time of hooking the pump up. About the only time I use the vacuum chuck lately is when I have a piece with beads or other details on the bottom, and I want to have better access for sanding those details. For the "smooth concave spot" foot that I usually put on a piece though, I get by fine without the vacuum.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Mosley View Post
    ...Other issue is that the tennon can be small which would make sanding with a 2" disk encompass the entire bottom as I have turned some small vessels where that is a issue...
    I run into that a lot, because a lot of my feet are smaller than the disks I use. (I'm using the 2 3/8" disks from Vince's Wood-N-Wonders.) To get around that, I tilt the sander slightly so only the outer edge of the disk (maybe 1/4" to 1/2" wide) is making contact with the wood. You have to sand carefully, and move the sander constantly and evenly to avoid sanding deeper in some spots than others, but with a bit of practice, it's pretty easy.

    Does that help explain it a bit better?
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

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  10. #10
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    comment back to Vaughn

    sorry for the delay but work gets in the way of my fun.......lol

    Vaughn............yes I understand better now.....on the bowl it looks like you rechucked it after drying and trued up the foot. Then mounted and sanded - then reversed the bowl (friction chuck) and turned down the foot to a nub - im guessing you also sanded to finish as much as you can prior to parting off - then cut the nub and finish sanded that area............On a bowl like in your picture I can see how this is a great way to finish off the bottom and any details prior to parting it off totally.................

    On a vessel - the nub would have to be a long one between the tenon and the base of the vessel to be able to get in there with your fingers and sand it by hand (prior to parting it off).........I use a mandrel (see above) and with moderate pressure turning the foot true flat can be done but to sand it down i would have to make the nub (tenon between the foot and base) longer to sand ........is this what you are saying when doing a vessel?
    First you have to learn the rules - Beginner
    Then you have to learn advanced rules - Professional
    Then you disregard the rules - This takes you to the master level................

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