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Thread: Struggling with first hollow form

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Lafayette, Indiana

    Struggling with first hollow form

    Finding spare time to work on the lathe is about as challenging as trying to learn how to turn this itself.

    Anyhow I find myself struggling to get this completed. Mostly because I don't have the experience and secondly, afraid of ruining what I've got so far.

    Right now this is about 1/4 inch thick near the top and about 1/2 - 3/4 inch at the widest part of the form. I know that is not very thin but I've already had a couple (hard) catches while hollowing it out and knocked it out of round in the chuck and never could get it back real smooth. I'm so afraid of another catch...both for my safety....and ruining the form.

    I know this will not be a showpiece however I'm liking the results so far. I want it to be as good as it can be but don't want to push the envelope and end up with nothing for my first try.

    I have also built a donut chuck so that when I decide I'm finished with the inside, I can turn it around and finish off the bottom.
    Also working on a set of thickness gauges that Terry was kind enough to send me the pattern of. So lots of firsts with this project.

    I think I'm going to stop hollowing and finish off the bottom and be satisfied with it like this. I have learned a few things while doing this one and I think I can get better with time.

    So.....How thin was your first hollow form?

    Also how thin do most hollow forms end up being?

    Click image for larger version. 

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    EDIT...ok not sure why it didn't post thumbnails (always did before) of the images but clicking on it will open them.
    Last edited by Tom Baugues; 09-10-2014 at 11:34 PM.
    It's not what you achieve in life...It's what you overcome!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Reno, Nv
    I asked Vaughn the same question several years ago Tom, his answer was something to the effect that turners turn really thin to impress other turners. Most all of mine were 3/16" to 1/4". In some juried shows, judges will inspect the inside with a light to see it the turner stops short. Finishing the inside is a ton of fun too!!
    Your Respiratory Therapist wears Combat boots

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Escondido, CA
    Turning enclosed forms takes a lot of confidence and tool control. When you have that on a semi-enclosed form, then plunge where you can't see.

    Its a nice piece and a good shape. I agree. Stop and enjoy. And then maybe practice on some more open forms. You have a good eye for shape. Work on confidence with tool control, and maybe the next one will be as thin as you like. My first was around 3/16's but I also had a mentor at my elbow, telling me maybe I better quit before I blow it up!

    Some say the land of milk and honey; others say the land of fruits and nuts. All together my sort of heaven.

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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Yorktown, Virginia
    Tom, that's looking pretty good to me. My first hollow form was done during a two day class with Trent Bosch at the local Woodcraft several years ago--green 10" sweetgum turned to about a quarter of an inch in a shape similar to yours. I've made many more since then and rarely purposely try to get any thinner, although a few have accidentally made it. I just try and keep thickness proportional to the size of the vessel and have a personal preference to a bit more thickness on the bottom to give the piece some heft and balance. Hollowing with hand held tools is a world tougher for me than using a hollowing system. I got tired of getting beat up by those deep in the bowl catches and bought a Monster hollowing hollow forms are a pleasure to turn.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    The Gorge Area, Oregon
    Nice job on the outside shape Tom! I like!

    I can't really help otherwise because I've never turned anything with that narrow of a neck. Most of my more open stuff ends up around 1/4" for a similar sized bowl. A bit thicker for larger usually and maybe thinner for smaller if it seems like a good idea at the time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Burr View Post
    I asked Vaughn the same question several years ago Tom, his answer was something to the effect that turners turn really thin to impress other turners.
    And to amuse ourselves.. Musn't forget that!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    ABQ NM
    I agree with all the previous comments, Tom. The form you have looks good (or at least the part we can see does) and I always figure it's better to have thick walls than have a two-piece hollow form To the vast majority of your audience, the outside form is the only thing that will catch their attention. There will be some non-turners who are impressed when they pick up a piece and see that it's lighter than they expected. Some turners strive for very thin walls strictly to make the piece weigh less, but personally, I'm more concerned with how it looks on a shelf than how it feels in someone's hands.

    I'll add another endorsement for a hollowing rig as opposed to handheld hollowing, although I've had some pretty spectacular catches with my Monster rigs as I was learning to use them. The key points (as I see them) is the same with either handheld or captive hollowing: Light cuts, sharp tools, and proper tool presentation. Experience is the only way I know to conquer these points.

    I honestly can't tell you how thick the walls are on any of my hollow forms, since I don't really measure them. Just gauging by the feel between my fingers, I'd say 1/8" to 1/2" is my norm, depending on the size of the piece. I've had some pieces where I left the walls (or bottom) thicker than I'd have liked to, simply because the wood was being a bear to cut, and I got tired of the beating. But then I've had others that came out dangerously thin simply because I was having a good time with sharp tools and loud music.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    St. Mary's, Georgia
    I agree with Vanghn all thought I use hand held tools for hollowing its a personal perfance. Most of mine get thin but I leave the weight in the bottom about 1/4 - 1/2 , some times you are hollowing an its going great an when you are done hold it up to the light and see it shine but it take practice an practice an knowing your tools so take your time an enjoy what you are doing

    If you are going to make something nice, make it with a statement, use quality an do it right the first time

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