Show and Tell September 2021

A set of garden tools with turned handles. It’s black limba wood cut down the middle of the heart and sap woods.


Here’s a fun little evening project. The pen is for scale.


2021 SFT Creative Arts Contest: And the awards go to…

The Texas Tornado Bowl 2.0 and Dallas Makerspace!!

The State Fair of Texas Creative Arts judges recently announced 2021 winners in the Designer Craftsman department. Texas Tornado Bowl 2.0 won a First Premium ribbon for the Turned Wood class and Best of Show for the Designer Craftsman (Adult) Department. It was further recognized as the winner of the Director’s Award, which is the grand prize for entries across all of the 1100+ Creative Arts categories.

DMS deserves a great deal of credit for these awards. I used just about every piece of equipment in the woodshop, the laser, and the expertise of Jimmie Arledge to design and complete this project. Here’s the backgrounder info that I submitted with the bowl:

The Texas Tornado Bowl 2.0 is a unique laminated and turned wood object. It was created by laminating thin layers of wood (163 individual strips) into a 2” X 12-½” X 12-½” block, slicing the block into thin sheets, cutting the sheets into 41 rings, stack-gluing the rings together onto a base (each ring is rotated slightly, which gives it the tornadic effect), adding a segmented top ring, then turning and sanding on the lathe. The bowl is finished with 8 coats of spray lacquer and polished.

Texas Tornado Bowl 2.0 is comprised of the following:

  • Mahogany base and top ring
  • Americana Spectra-Ply (red, white, and blue dyed plywood)
  • Evergreen Spectra-Ply (green and charcoal dyed plywood)
  • Walnut
  • Cherry
  • Yellowheart
  • Padauk

Here’s the finished bowl still attached to my sacrificial piece, lathe chuck, 12" sanding disk (for my shopsmith), and turntable.

The first thing I did was to cut the 2" X 12-5/8" strips of spectraply/hardwoods and glue them into a block. I actually glued them into four smaller groups, then glued the four into one block. I used melamine boards on top of and under the bottom as a caul to lightly clamp and keep the strips aligned before pressing them with the side clamps:

I sliced the block into six 5/32" thick panels on the Laguna bandsaw using a tall fence made of scrap plywood that fits over the existing bandsaw fence. This helps keep the block vertically aligned with the blade as we cut each panel:

I cut the thin panels into 41 different rings on the Big Thunder laser. This was a huge improvement over the prototype bowl from June 2020 where I cut the rings on a scroll saw. Ring 1: 1" ID and 2-1/2" OD; Ring 2: 1-1/4" ID and 2-3/4" OD; each ring was successively larger up to Ring 41: 11" ID and 12-1/2" OD. The 5/32" thickness worked very well on the smaller rings, but most rings larger than #30 required some repair with super-glue in order to stabilize and keep them together. Here’s the “test” panel with rings 1,7,13,19,25,31,& 37. You can see where the outside of ring one becomes the inside of ring seven, etc., and there’s a chunk missing from ring 37:

I began the final glue-up process by mounting a 1" X 6" piece of maple onto my lathe chuck as a “sacrificial” piece, then gluing 6" and 4" diameter pieces of mahogany for the bowl base. I used four layers of brown paper and Titebond 3 wood glue between the bottom of the base and the sacrificial piece. This creates a bond capable of withstanding the torque of turning on the lathe, but enables separation between the layers of brown paper with a flat chisel without damaging the bottom after I’ve finished the bowl (hopefully).

In order to keep things centered as I added each ring, I employed a “stomper” jig made from a 12" popup sprinkler, a “longworth chuck” that I made on the multicam CNC, and a 5/8" X 1/8" deep recess in the inside bottom of bowl. The longworth keeps each ring centered, the sprinkler end fits into the recess and keeps the whole base assembly centered as I lower it down to the ring. It was just a matter of getting the right amount of glue on each mating ring, then lowering and aligning the base. I used Titebond Quick and Thick glue, stomped the base assembly, rotated the two pieces together to ensure even bonding and glue squeeze-out, then added some weight to create a glue press instead of trying to clamp the assembly. I rotated each ring 7/16", which is what gives the bowl its “tornadic” effect. The glue press consisted of my 3HP handheld router, which fit perfectly over the end of the lathe chuck, and some weights (approx 20 lbs.) on top:


I left the glued assembly in the press for 15-20 minutes, removed it, and scraped the glue squeeze-out from the outside and inside of the bowl. Cleaning up the squeeze out was messy and tedious, but excess glue tends to dull lathe tools and risk chipout. I repeated the ring glue-up sequence, then after every 6-7 or so rings, I waited 24 hours for the glue to cure, mounted the assembly on my Shopsmith headstock with the circular sander on the tailstock, and lightly sanded the top ring to make sure the assembly stayed relatively flat. Here you can see the chuck, sacrificial piece, base, and rings 1-11 with alignment marks:

I continued the glue-up sequence until I added all 41 rings, then it was just a matter of adding a segmented top rim to match the base. Piece of cake, right? Not so fast. I had created a 12-segment top rim to the prototype and unfortunately, I had gotten an immediate and catastrophic catch the first time I touched a lathe tool to the inside of the rim. I theorized 12 segments had left too much of an angle between each segment, so 24 segments would be much better, and heck, 48 segments would be four times better. It sure looked like this was going to work:

However after I cut the 48 pieces, I tried to use a band clamp, but the little pieces just slid all over the place. So, I consulted the segmented experts. Most agreed the process would be to start by gluing pairs together, then build up to the full circle. Ummm, that’s when I discovered that I had another error where each piece had been cut slightly longer, so that the 12-piece quarters didn’t come together in a circle. Back to the drawing board, this time with a 24-segment ring and a “sanding jig” to ensure each piece was identical, but I did not get the same results as the “experts”. @#$%. On the third attempt at the 24-segmented top rim (and sans sanding jig), I succeeded. Whew! Here is the top rim being flattened before gluing it to the bowl:

Now, on to the Powermatic lathe at DMS! I sanded the top rim as close to round as I could on the inside and outside before I touched it with a lathe tool. Unfortunately, the last couple of rings and top rim were slightly off center, making it nearly impossible to sand them “true”. I used a negative-rake scraper on both the inside and outside of the bowl, making very light cuts. Lathe coach and lead consultant on this project, Jimmie Arledge, was about the only one who would spend any time in the woodshop while I was turning, for fear that I was going to get another one of those “catastrophic catches”. I’m pretty sure I spent a couple of days with my heart in my throat and other body parts fully clinched, but I finally got it turned, sanded, then took it home for finishing.

By now, you’re probably thinking that applying a sanding sealer, a couple of coats of spray lacquer, and polishing with micro-mesh pads would be easy, right? Umm, no. I decided to try a lacquer that @dwolf had suggested. I applied a couple of coats of “Jimmie Juice” (lacquer-based sanding sealer with added lacquer thinner), sanded, used a tack-cloth to remove all dust, and began applying Mohawk Pre-Catalyzed Lacquer spray. The directions were a bit vague, so I called their tech support. After an hour or so on the phone, we determined that there might be a mismatch between the “Jimmie Juice” and the pre-catalyzed lacquer. Mohawk suggested I spray a couple of coats of their vinyl sanding sealer to act as a barrier before spraying more lacquer and hopefully prevent “acid bleed”. Another crisis averted, I sprayed and buffed as directed until I’d built up 8 coats of lacquer, let it sit for a week, then polished it with the micro-mesh pads. Here it is in my portable spray booth:

Last steps: separate the bowl from the sacrificial piece with a chisel and mallet (“I’ll keep whacking it Jimmie, if you’ll catch it when it comes off”), then sand and spray lacquer onto the bottom of the base without screwing up the finish on bowl with over-spray:

I completed the bowl on August 5th and delivered it to the State Fair of Texas Creative Arts Contest on August 6th:

I hope you are as proud of this project as I am of DMS for enabling me to complete it!


Wow, that is amazing work!

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Can you tell us more about your longworth chuck? Pictures please?

As my leather stamp tool collection continues to grow, I made a new tool roll to corral them. Somewhat less than three hours of hand stitching the upholstery leather (from the leather sale a while back). 34” long (about as long as is practical). It has 62 pockets: I’ll have to split my tools into multiple rolls if I collect many more.


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The Longworth Style Chuck is designed hold your project while you make the finishing cuts to the bottom side of a vessel on the lathe. It grips your project by simply rotating two plates, typically made from phenolic material. This moves the gripper buttons in or out to the exact position you need. The chuck can grip your project from the outside (outside compression mode) or the inside (inside expansion mode). Once the gripper buttons are firmly up against your project, secure them by tightening the wing nuts.

My longworth is made from MDF and masonite, but is not intended to be used on the lathe. Rather, it is used with the stomper to keep a ring centered around the sprinkler stem. The stem fits into a recess turned into the inside of the bowl base, which enables me to plunge the base assembly perfectly centered over the ring for gluing. Here is mine with the top rim ready for glue-up:

BTW, the stomper can also be used to make open-segmented vessels, where there is a gap between each piece in a row. Here is someone else’s open-segmented bowl:


Absolutely stunning! Well deserved awards!

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Thanks. I’ll have to see how to use the stomper to do that. I’m doing it with a (miniature) 3D-printed version of a Seg-Easy layout plate, using my tailstock as a pressure ram for gluing. I can use approaches in miniature that wouldn’t be possible with larger pieces.

Awesome! The stomper is actually made to use seg-easy plates for open segment designs and the longworth for closed segment designs (at least according to a seg-easy reseller -

I tried to use the software sold by called Segment Pro to do a simple (?) 24-per-row, open-segment vase with 3 contrasting woods (456 total pieces). Unfortunately, I allowed the software to round both segment width and segment-edge-length. It was a total failure (although, I rarely admit defeat, so I’ve kept all of the pieces in a box next to other incomplete projects that I call “project purgatory”).

I’d love to see your setup sometime.

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The biggest challenge with segmented turning is balancing the courage to turn it thin enough with the wisdom to know when to stop before blowing it out.

Oh yeh - and all that business about needing each segment to be perfect and the weeks it takes to make the “blank”!

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Cool bro!!!

Those are gorgeous! I don’t know why I had never thought of garden tools as a turning project.

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I think this kit is somewhat new from Rockler. I had not seen it before until recently, but I will say its a very heavy duty kit and now I want to make one for my own garden.

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I’ve been learning pour painting. I’m hoping to get good enough that I can eventually teach classes on it.


And I’m working on a technique to make oil spill like pour paintings.


Acrylic pour classes are so much fun to teach! You should go for it when you feel comfortable! Let me know if you want any tips as before covid I taught them once a month or so.

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That’d be awesome! Maybe we could meet at the makerspace sometime and you could walk me through what you usually did for the class.


Sure! I don’t have time this week, but touch base with me next week and I’ll see what I can do.


So beautiful and well deserving of the awards.

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