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KOA: Seriously gorgeous and seriously difficult

Discussion in 'Woodturning Discussion Forum' started by John Tisdale, Jan 1, 2018.

  1. John Tisdale

    John Tisdale

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2014
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    Location:
    Dallas, TX
    I live in Dallas and have turned most woods in the area, focusing on walnut, mesquite and the maples. I recently got several very wet koa logs from the big island.
    Koa is the most challenging wood I've ever turned. I'm doing a small 16" dia hollow form - some observations:
    1) The stuff is hard. While I've seen comparisons to walnut, there ain't none - koa is much harder.
    2) Koa is, I think, what you would call "long celled" - if you have less than a pristine edge and haven't mastered the push-cut with a fairly high-angle grind, forget it. From my experience, doing the above as close to optimum as my capabilities allow, I still get tear-out. Hopefully, when the rough is dry, the same cut will produce better results.
    3) Hollowing with the Rolle Munro is somewhere between difficult and impossible - using the traditional 3/16 works but doesn't leave the surface. Anyone had success with the Pro-Forme?

    Hats off to Emiliano - if you visit Texas I'm signing up for a lesson or three.
    John
     
  2. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    Only you would refer to a 16" diameter hollowform as being small. :D
     
  3. Emiliano Achaval

    Emiliano Achaval

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    I should add that also varies from piece to piece a lot. Some you can cut easy with a push cut and finish it with very light sheer scrape, very, very light. Some other pieces, the wood doesn't look spalted but cuts like it is, and is very hard to cut it clean. Push cut is your best friend. Luckily I broke my right arm years ago, I was in cast for months, so I can use both arms, to do a push cut from the head stock, lefties have no problem there..
    if you know you are doing a perfect push cut, not just once, up to 3 or 4, and still looks torn, is not you, it's the Koa. If on the side grain looks like you can start with 220 or higher, but still have some torn grain on the end grain, is not you... I have unlimited supplies of Koa, I had to master it, I got so tired of sanding that I used to hate to finish a piece... On the inside, hollowing I like a 6 mm Carbide tip, with the Lyle Jamieson hollowing system. Calabash I use a bowl gouge, always sharp. Yesterday I finished one, the inside I will start sanding at 120... Would love to stop by your shop on my next visit to Texas! Aloha
     
  4. John Tisdale

    John Tisdale

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    Location:
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    Your comments are encouraging, I think. I hope to be a better person after the 5th or 6th piece of koa. Then again, breaking an arm could be a short-cut.
    Meanwhile, come on over. Mi estudio es su estudio.
     
    Emiliano Achaval likes this.
  5. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    Southeast Tennessee
    John, I would recommend you master using both arms without breaking one. I am fortunate to be ambidextrous with many things except sports- right handed only there.
     
  6. Emiliano Achaval

    Emiliano Achaval

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    After 4 months in a cast I could throw a football as good or better with my left arm. Very first day I yell at my wife to come and help me in the bathroom, she said no way, that precipitated the learning! I have been to Stephenville many times, next time I'll stop by...
     
  7. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    Southeast Tennessee
    Emiliano, you quickly find out what true live really is!
     
    Emiliano Achaval likes this.

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