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I had just delivered some stair finials to my local joinery manufacturer and was asked by the proprietor, Wee Jimmie, if I would like some off cuts of timber as an extra thank you for an earlier than expected delivery of the finials. I jumped at the chance and was soon rummaging my way through the stack of timber behind the radial arm saw. I laid out some American red oak, some ash boards about 28" x 14" and then I saw it. The board of figured beech was about 6' 6" long and about 20" wide with a wavy edge. I was given permission to take it away and when I got it to my shop, I ran the whole board through the planer to clean up the round (capped) side. After two or three passes, I could see the pattern on the board and also the faults. I was able to cut two pieces 20" x 20" and two pieces 14" x 14" from the board and the pattern ran right through the center of both large squares.

Photo 1

I marked the squares, and with the Kity 613 and a 1/2" 6 skip toothed blade, soon had them into rounds for a couple of platters. I fitted my home made aluminum face plate onto the blank with four 1" number 8 drywall screws (Photo 1) and screwed the faceplate slowly onto the spindle of the lathe. The Apollo Professional can turn bowls and platters up to 26" in diameter in the outboard position, so this was easily able to fit. (Photo 2). After I had made sure that nothing was loose and that the timber was sound, I brought the tool rest up to within 1/2" of the blank edge and just below center. I carefully spun the blank by hand to make sure that it didn't catch on the rest or the tool post and noticed that it had quite a wobble as it rotated. I selected a speed of about 500 rpm and before turning on the lathe, I took my 1/2" bowl gouge to the Tormek Supergrind and gave the fingernail profile a quick touch up to make sure it was cutting at its best.

I put on my full-face mask and turned on the lathe. And since I was going to cut from right to left, I brought the gouge up with the flute facing to the left. I could see the solid part of the blank as it spun round and as I took a first light cut over the edge, I was cutting into timber with a hit and miss action. The next couple of cuts soon had me cutting into solid timber and I had the blank's edge trued up after 4 cuts. If you have the edge trued, and hold the gouge on the spinning timber, the tool will not bounce. A bounce means you need to carry on cutting a little at a time until it runs smooth.

Photo 2
Photo 3

I moved the tool rest round to the face of the bowl and started to true it up. I was working from the outside in, cutting from left to right and taking light cuts. The flute of the gouge was facing in the direction of the cut and the bevel rubbed behind the cut. If you don't have the bevel rubbing, you are actually scraping and you will not achieve a smooth cut. I soon had the wobble out of the face and started to form the shape of what was going to be the back of this platter (Photo 3) The gouge was now facing to the left and I was taking the corner off in 1/8th" cuts. I soon had to move the rest round to take away more of the timber and gradually formed the curve (Photo 4). Note the pattern showing clearly now.

Photo 4
Photo 5

Photo 6
I cut away at the blank and formed the back of what was to be a 1"wide rim, and allowing for the finished thickness of the piece, I made the back of the rim about 5/8th" wide (Photo 5). The next job was to form the dovetailed recess for my chuck. I made this 2 3/4" in diameter and 1/8th" deep to fit my jaws (Photo 6) and trued it up with a 3/4" square scraper. The dovetail was cut with my skew held flat on the tool rest. A foot on a platter this size is a good idea because it helps to give a little stability and adds a little bit of interest to a bland wide bottom. I cut into the base with the bowl gouge, going from right to left, taking away about 3/16ths" to give a nice foot (Photo 7) and then tuned the gouge over onto its side, with the flute facing to the left, and pulled it gently round the curve of the platter to give a sheer scrape. This leaves a very good finish. If done properly a very fine "cotton wool like" shaving is taken off (Photo 8). I left the foot about 3/4" wide as this seemed to be a nice balanced size.
Photo 7
Photo 8



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