Question about Form

Discussion in 'Newbie' started by Dave Fritz, Jun 3, 2016.

  1. Dave Fritz

    Dave Fritz

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    I'm having a hard time describing the difference between small to big esp. on spindle work. I have a tendency to make things pretty straight and boring IMO. Specifically on pepper mills, ice cream scoop handles etc.

    When looking at spindle work how do you describe the variations in dimensions in form?
     
  2. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    Not sure I understand what you are asking.
    Spindles have 3 basic elements
    Flats- A cylinder or a cone
    Beads - a ball shape. Beads can be very wide or narrow.
    Coves - a valley

    And ogee is a half a cove joined to half a bead

    A pommel is the curved transition from square to round an is a bead.

    Al
     
  3. John K Jordan

    John K Jordan

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    Dave,

    I'm also confused about what you are asking - perhaps you could post a few pictures of some things you consider straight and boring and people might have suggestions.

    Beads and coves, beads and coves. Little details can add a lot of interest too, like v-grooves, fillets, texturing, burned lines, distressing, ...

    Sometimes it helps to sketch out some ideas before turning. Looking at a lot of examples of things others have done and stealing, er, incorporating their design elements is also a great way to improve turnings. I'm sure many people would be thrilled to share. I do a lot of smallish things, many spindles. If you are interested in looking, here is a link to a facebook album with some things I've made (I'm afraid I don't update this very often...) https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.101238256567388.2825.100000436434935&type=1&l=7913a23da6

    JKJ
     
  4. Dave Fritz

    Dave Fritz

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    I'm having a hard time expressing myself and that's part of the question - what words are used to describe spindle turning if any.

    For example on a bowl we talk about foot size compared to the width of the bowl etc. There seems to be a ratio people at least start with. I'm wondering if there's anything similar with spindle work?

    Here's a white oak pepper mill I just completed. It's ten inches tall. It looks rather boring to me.


    white oak.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2016
  5. John K Jordan

    John K Jordan

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    I personally ignore all of those recommended ratios (some call "rules") and just make what looks right to me. When I started turning several people berated me for a foot too big, etc. My response (unspoken, of course): "That's what YOU think." :) Mike Darlow has an excellent book "Woodturning Design" with a wealth of well-thought-out reasoning and illustration. He includes a lot of "classic" designs from history - the reason they are classic is because people liked them and duplicated them over and over! This book might be perfect for you.

    With spindles, I tend to think of the size and shape of the parts relative to the whole. Think about how to combine the function with the balance. Again, a few sketches can help tremendously before putting chisel to wood - in the case of a pepper mill I would block out the size and position of the mechanism on a outline of the blank I had to work with, then sketch some possible shapes (with eraser in hand). I tend to design in my head while turning the wood round but that isn't always the best approach. Occasionally the color, variation, and figure of the wood will suggest something as I go.

    There is nothing wrong with your pepper grinder shape but if you are not happy with it, you could try some different things. One thing might be to add some crisp detail at a place or two to give the eye more to look at, for example, instead of the rounded top of the base part and maybe at the bottom. Try changing the balance between the knob at the top and the base section. How would the knob on this one look a bit smaller? The function part: it can't be too small or you can't grip it easily. Ah, one small thing you might keep in mind when doing tall slender forms of any kind, be at least aware of any that might be, ah, "anatomically suggestive". There are a zillion variations possible - look at some pictures and find what you think is less boring and try to duplicate that!

    One thing I've learned: No one shape is going to be pleasing to every person. The flip side: someone is going to love nearly any form you make!

    I don't do many pepper mills, but this pair my wife tells me I made maybe 10 years ago, cocobolo for pepper and dogwood for salt (the dogwood is heavy wood so the weights of the two are very close):
    peppermill_cocobolo.jpg peppermill_dogwood.jpg

    We are happy with this shape. As for function, the knob feels good and is easy to turn and the upper part of the base defines a nice gripping place for the other hand. I've made a few others better and worse, to my eye.

    JKJ
     
  6. Richard Coers

    Richard Coers

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    In nearly every case, when someone says they only turn what looks good to them, it still follows the rules. Study, then make a Fibinacci caliper. You don't have to invent anything, the Greeks did it centuries ago. Once you get a Fibinacci caliper, put it on objects around the kitchen. You'll see that everything from soda bottles to ketchup bottles follow the "rules".
     
  7. John K Jordan

    John K Jordan

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    If the ratios are nearly spontaneously universal perhaps they should not be called rules. To me a "rule" mean "do it like this or..." I know Fibinacci but this is the first I've heard of his caliper - I'll look it up.

    This is an interesting topic but the concept of universally correct proportions has plenty of holes. Darlow discusses this in his "Woodturning Design" book, section 4.1.7, stating "There is an entrenched belief ... that there is a correlation between mathematically nice proportions and beauty." He lists grounds for this belief then shows describes and illustrates of the problems with this belief. For the thinking person Darlow's chapter 4 [and entire book!] is well worth reading.

    Darlow segues from discussing proportion to detail, writing "In The Aesthetics of Architecture Roger Scruton discusses detail ... [noting] that a poor [proportional] composition of lively, sympathetic, and intelligible parts will be preferred to a form with supposedly perfect proportions but ugly details" indicating there is "no true concept of proportion which can be divorced from that of the details which embody it." This interesting idea has never been presented by those who read the rules to me! Another issue is presentation and grouping. I've seen some "way out of proportion" turnings that I thought looked great when grouped in a composition.

    Several people let me know I made these cocobolo boxes "wrong", the criticism was the relative height of the top to the bottom not following the 1/3 rule or something. This is something they were taught and were happy to pass on their knowledge. My boxes look fine to me. Some others thought so too and several wanted to buy. One ended up a gift and I still have the one on the right.

    cocobolo_boxes.jpg

    Years ago as a beginner I turned a heavy lens-shaped "bowl", mostly solid, with a small flattened spherical hollow, somewhat closed. This beginner got negative comments for that turning from more experienced turners. (I still have it and I still like it. I keep my wind-up stopwatch in it.) Much later a well-known wood artist made some very similar pieces and got accolades. Hmm... I certainly learned something there.

    I've had very nice people tell me a foot was too tall, some feature was too thick or too thin, a lid is too loose, a finial too fat/thin/long, finish too shiny/not shiny enough. I just nod and go on. If we all liked and made the same things life might be boring.

    JKJ
     
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  8. Joe Greiner

    Joe Greiner

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    "Fibonacci caliper" is a misnomer. Google [fibonacci gauge] instead. Essentially a set of proportional dividers with all the parts 1.618 x each other = the so-called "golden ratio." Very easy to build and use.

    Joe
     
  9. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    Dave,
    Google. Turned pepper mill shapes

    There will be a line of images a little ways down
    There are dozens of designs many

    To me pepper mills have three sections. The top& cap, the base, the area in between.
     
  10. John K Jordan

    John K Jordan

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    Speaking of gauges/calipers, have you seen Soren Berger's sphere calipers?

    sphere_soren_berger_caliper.jpg
    http://sorenberger.co.nz/products/soren-berger-sphere-caliper

    He built in the ratios to make it easier to turn a sphere by successive segment refinement. He sells a beautiful tool but you can do the same thing of course, with a ruler:

    sphere_soren_berger_method.jpg

    JKJ
     
  11. Dean Center

    Dean Center

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    I don't think anyone has mentioned making tiny grooves, then burning them with wire. It's an easy way to add a little pizzazz to a spindle piece, assuming the shape is otherwise pleasing. You could draw some lines on the piece first to see where and how many grooves you might want. You can also color the grooves with fine chips of colored wood (satine, purpleheart, cocobolo, blackwood, etc) rather than burning them. (caveat: I have no idea how long the color lasts)
     
  12. Joe Greiner

    Joe Greiner

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    "... ruler" or cardboard templates. But only for each size. His caliper is quite nifty. His "sphere collet" is a mystery.

    Joe
     
  13. Douglas Ladendorf

    Douglas Ladendorf

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    Dave,
    This was posted on another forum and it reminded me of this thread. I think you will find the content very interesting.

    http://www.thisiscarpentry.com/2016/06/10/turning-stair-balusters/

    Doug
     
  14. Dave Fritz

    Dave Fritz

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    Thank you Doug, very informative indeed.
     

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