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Thread: Finishing Purpleheart/ justifying work

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Inside the Beltway
    Posts
    2,666

    Finishing Purpleheart/ justifying work

    Hey, folks,

    You may remember that Doorlink is skeptical about my turning interest. Because of this, I'm turning her a nut bowl in purpleheart. Nearly done, and oh my goodness! is it pretty! Unbelieveable! I sanded it, first at 120, then at something over 300. Incredible... haven't finished it at all yet, but it's polished and shiny. I'm telling you, it's like polished marble. Just beautiful.

    So now, of course, I'm anxious about the finish. I guess purpleheart is already fairly oily. Should I use mineral oil? The only wax I have on hand is bowling alley wax. I do have some shellac, and some poly, but I would think they'd ruin it. All advice appreciated.

    On the other subject, Steve said something about turning thousands of bowls. Vaughn, you've been doing a bunch of hollow forms. And I've seen pictures of shops with racks and racks of bowls drying. What do people do with all these things? A house would fill up pretty fast. Even the houses of friends and family would fill up pretty fast? What happens to all these things? Is it art for art's sake? Is there some market for them? What can I tell my darling Doorlink?

    Help!

    Thanks,

    Bill

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    ABQ NM
    Posts
    29,079
    I'd think any of the finishes you mentioned should work fine on the purpleheart. For a nut bowl, I think I'd go with the mineral oil, then maybe a coat of the bowling alley wax for a bit more sheen. The nice thing about mineral oil is that it's easy to "freshen up" down the road if the wood starts looking a bit dried out. It's also great for surfaces exposed to food (although any finish, once cured, is considered food-safe).

    As far as getting rid of finished products, I'm still working on that angle. I'm still new enough to bowls and hollow forms that I've not yet run out of room at home to display them, although I'm getting close to filling all the horizontal spaces in our house.

    There is a market for bowls -- especially functional bowls -- and to a lesser extent hollow forms, but I'm still trying to find a good outlet for both in my area. Since hollow forms aren't really functional, I need to find a way to expose my stuff to a art-loving public...preferably an affluent one. I still don't know if that will be a something like a local gallery, or if it'll be more web-based. I've looked a bit on eBay, but the prices there are not in the range I feel I should charge. Fortunately, I'm within pretty close proximity to some high-dollar places like Old Pasadena, Beverly Hills, and some of the coastal communities like Laguna Beach. For now, I'm working to build up my skills (and stock of finished items), but I hope to soon go hit the bricks and see if I can generate any interest in small shops and galleries.

    If you're looking to recoup some of your lathe and tool investment, you might consider making and selling pens. Around last Christmas, I sold enough pens at my office, LOML's office, and one other friend's office to pay for my used Sears lathe and a decent portion of my turning tools. Pens seem to have a broad appeal, and especially around the gift-giving season, people seem to be willing to drop $40 to $60 pretty easily.

    I'll be interested in seeing what light Steve can shine on the subject.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    The Woodlands, Texas
    Posts
    83

    Consider Microwax...

    Hello Bill,

    If you're looking for a minimalist type of finish, a microcrystalline wax like Renaissance wax would be an excellent choice. Microwaxes are highly resistant to water, food acids, alcohols and moderate heat. In addition they are pH neutral and are highly resistant to fingerprints. The down side for you is that since you don't have any currently, you will have to buy some and they are on the high side at $25.00 - $30.00 per tin. But, they are well worth it...

    Having said that, if you want to use something you have from your list, I would consider a 1/2 lb. blonde shellac wash coat, followed by your bowling alley wax when the shellac has fully dried. The shellac will help to prevent the nut oils from soaking into the wood, darkening it over time. Of course, the lovely colour of Purpleheart will darken over time anyway, turning a brownish purple colour. There are ways to forestall this degradation, but the products are really expensive.

    If your shellac is not freshly diluted from the flake form and is more than six months old, do not use it. Diluted shellac has a very short shelf life. If you purchased the shellac in a can at a hardware store, look on the bottom of the can for an expiration date. Always check for this on future purchases as well because it is common for expired shellac to be on the shelf for sale. Note: For the wash coat, Platina or Super Blonde shellac would be my first choice, followed by blonde shellac.

    As for what you do with thousands of bowls, you sell them. I'm a professional woodturner (have been for almost 12 years) and bowls are my primary output. I also turn lots of hollow forms (primarily as cremation urns for human and animal remains) and platters. In addition, I do quite a few sculptural pieces for the wall between 3' and 4' in diameter and a bunch of smaller items like pens, stoppers, peppermills, etc. Most of my artistic efforts these days are focused on Grecian water and wine vessels from the fifth century, with authentic scenes on the outside.

    I sell virtually 100% of my output, so around my home you would be hard to find more than three or four pieces that I have done. These are there because my wife snatches one from time to time, before I can get in into a FedEx box... When you're just getting started, you will no doubt give many of your pieces away. This is one of the best things about being a woodturner. For me, woodturning is a business and one that has paid me very well over the years. My studio is very successful, but it took a lot of hard work to get there -- not to mention thinking outside the box when it came to marketing my products.

    Lucky for me, I was in sales for twenty years, so marketing to me is as easy as breathing. The key to sales is getting your product in front of the right buyer, with lots of discretionary income and a desire to collect art or functional pieces. I seem to be getting too far off your primary topic. Please accept my apologies for the long reply. Take care and all the best to you and yours!
    Last edited by Steve Russell; 04-18-2007 at 10:35 PM. Reason: update
    Better Woodturning and Finishing Through Chemistry...

    Steve Russell
    Eurowood Werks Studio
    Professional Studio Woodturner

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