Friday, 2 November 2012

Finishing small turned items ... ...

Those of you who drop in on a regular basis will know I turn a variety of things, including small memory boxes, and although this is simple enough I've often wondered if I couldn't find a better way to do things, especially when it comes to finishing the boxes.

Things like this (these are both made from walnut) -

Normally I use a friction based method when it comes to finishing the ends, and when I polish them, simply put I use a scrap bit of wood and wedge what ever I've turned onto it, this works for the most part, but it's not the most secure way of doing things.

Here's the old method -


I turn the scrap wood so it's just slightly too big, then wedge the work onto it, there are other ways of doing this, like using tape for example, but if I'm honest I've had to re-sand a few pieces due to them deciding they no longer want to stay where I put them, so I figured I needed a new method. (you'd be surprised how much a small bit of wood hurts when it hits you at 2500rpm)

Then I had a brain wave, I have some sanding drums, which I use in my router as a make shift spindle sander, these I figured would be ideal for holding the boxes whilst I finish the bottoms and tops, and when I apply the polish.

Sanding drums -

The pink coloured ones are home made.

All I needed to do was find a way of holding them in the lathe so that I could use them, and for that I used an old chuck from a broken power drill.

I had to use the chuck because the shafts on the sanding drums are a little small for my chuck to grip tightly, although the drill chuck will come in handy for other things.

The old drill chuck - 


And to use the drums is just a case of fitting the drum into the drill chuck, and then sliding the piece to be finished onto the sanding drum, obviously I have to put that lot into the lathe chuck as well.

Like so -

A turn or two of the small nut you can see in the picture above and it's ready to go, it does work very well, I had thought that the work piece might wobble at speed due to things being slightly off centre when the rubber gets compressed, but it seems to be okay, there's a short video of me using it to sand the bottom of a small box, and how easy it is to remove the work using the old friction based method at the end of this post (and yes I'm aware that using the sanding drums is still friction based, it's just better friction)

Now it's quite easy to make your own sanding drums, all you need is a rubber cork, the sort you use in wine brewing (the ones the air locks fit into) a nut and bolt, and a few washers.

Components - 

Works in exactly the same way as a sanding drum.

Basically the way this works is that in tightening the nut and bolt up the rubber cork compresses and as it does this it gets wider, and thus grips the sanding belt, or in this case the bit of wood I'm messing about with.

I did add small section of copper tube to slide over the bolt and hold the cork a little tighter as I thought this would help keep things a little more centred, but as it turns out it doesn't make a difference.

Here's a homemade one compressed - 

Simple, but effective.

And that's it, it has to be said that the sanding drum kits can be picked up for as little as £9.99 (from places like ScrewFix) but sometimes they just aren't the right size, which is why I made the other ones, and as the corks are angled slightly this makes things easier with some of the small things I turn.

My homemade ones - 

They'd do for sanding as well no doubt.

Here's one of the bought ones - 

Not much difference.

And in case you're thinking this isn't going to work, here's the video I mentioned, the first part is me using the sanding drums and the second bit shows how easy the work can come off using the old method.

The piece that needs finishing - 

I actually made these marks for this post.

The finishing (video) -

And if further proof is needed here's a small Walnut memory box I made using the homemade drums to hold the work while I did the finishing and polishing.

The Memory box (it's made from Walnut sap wood, which is why it's lighter than usual) -

Another one to add to the collection.

Thanks for reading.

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