turning baltic birch ply edge question ?

Discussion in 'Woodturning Discussion Forum' started by Jason Waguespack, Feb 4, 2015.

  1. Jason Waguespack

    Jason Waguespack

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    Hello I'm a newbie to woodturning ---- well not even a newbie more like a wanna-be, because don't even have a lathe yet. Over 30 years of flat woodworking and very interested getting into woodturning. I make a lot of kids toys and my small round work been with hole saws and putting a bolt in center and turning on my drill press to finish. I use mostly ash wood and baltic birch ply for the toys. Some ply disc are 12" dia which I cut on bandsaw and finish on drill press. OK question time -----> Can a baltic birch plywood edge 12" dia and some smaller dia ones be turned down and finished on a lathe --- like cutting off 1/8" to 1/4" to get round and do some sanding to finish. Would the ply glue damage the tool (HSS) edge? Has anyone turned plywood edges before? Should I get a carbide tip tool just for doing this? This is baltic birch (1/2" and 3/4") plywood which is 100% solid ply with no voids (well most of the time none). This is one of the reasons I want to get a lathe and into woodturning is to do round work for toy projects. THANKS
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2015
  2. Owen Lowe

    Owen Lowe

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    Turning plywoods is certainly doable. You won’t need carbide but the glues do seem to be more abrasive on the cutting edges. Wear appropriate breathing protection to minimize the adhesive and wood dusts when sanding. In my experience plywood yields a rougher surface than solid wood - probably because of the alternating grain of each ply. Sharp tools and light cuts and sand to shape if needed.
     
  3. hu lowery

    hu lowery

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    doable

    I have to agree that it is doable but pretty rough going. It won't damage a half decent tool from my experience but it will dull it in a hurry! I turned some 3/4" that actually had the oak veneer, the Baltic birch on display was nasty looking when I was buying. I'm pretty sure everything but the outermost veneer is the same.

    Lots of layers mean lots of glue. I'll second good ventilation and safety gear but you know that after thirty years of woodworking!

    Hu
     
  4. john lucas

    john lucas

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    turned a fair amount of it. I use Thompson tools so didn't notice dulling much worse than hard woods. You do need proper cutting techniques since scraping will tear out some of the plywood that runs cross grain. It can be dusty so I run the dust collector full time when turning plywood.
     
  5. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    Like john and others have said, turning the edge of void free plywood is quick and easy if you cut from one face toward the other face. Cutting from each face meeting in the middle of the edge using a gouge.

    My first tool of choice would be a 1/2" bowl gouge with the Ellsworth grind.
    Second choice would be a detail gouge with the bevel at about 60 degrees. Then sand to desired smoothness.

    We all think turning the disc is easy because we have the tools and experience to do it quickly and confidently.
    We also try to convert all the flat wood people to turners.

    If you just want plywood discs with smooth edges, you might consider cutting them round with bandsaw circle cutting jig. Use a fine blade. then use a router to trim the edges to the profile you want.

    If you want to get into turning there lots of turned toys to make.
    You can probably find a local turner to show you how.
    Have fun, Work safely, Al
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2015
  6. Ian Robertson

    Ian Robertson

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    As the others have said: sharp tools and good technique if you really want to turn them.

    I have cut, turned, routed and sanded thousands* of 3/4" ply circles from 6" diam to 3' diam and to obtain the best finish I used a bench mounted disc sander.

    Set up a circle cutting jig with a movable arm on a disc sander and sand the edges (board horizontal) after cutting to round on a bandsaw

    Perfection every time.

    It was the quickest method we found.

    *We made spools to wind wire on.
     
  7. john lucas

    john lucas

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    I know this is a turning board but I have made a lot of discs using the bandsaw and then router. Circle jigs are easy to make and easy to buy for the router. In fact I built one for my bandsaw that gets the wood very clean if you use a fine tooth blade. Circle jigs for the bandsaw can be found online. You can also build one for a jigsaw if you have one but they tend to leave a non square edge. I used to cut them with the jigsaw and then make them really accurate and clean with the router. Now I have the bandsaw so I seldom use the jigsaw for that anymore.
     
  8. plamb

    plamb

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  9. Jason Waguespack

    Jason Waguespack

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    THANKS for info everyone and the Osolnik site plamb
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2015
  10. Dave Scott

    Dave Scott

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    I'm remarkably inexperienced with turning. Why do you suggest the tools you suggested?

    John, can you elaborate on what you mean by "proper cutting techniques" and "scraping"?

    The Rude Osolnik work is amazing. Does anyone have any idea how he was able to accomplish such a nice void free surface on the baltic birch plywood?

    My attempts have yielded tear out and I'm not sure where to start with identifying what I can do to reduce it.

    I'm just experimenting with manipulating a 2.5" diameter, 4" tall test cylinder.
    I've got carbide tools if that makes a difference.
    Hi and cheers! (first post:)
     
  11. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    Welcome to the AAW forum, Dave.

    Your results with carbide tools depends on which ones you have. Some, like the Easy Wood Tools and store brands like the Rockler carbide tools are scraping tools. While they have an easy learning curve, they don't leave a clean surface on some types of wood. There are some fancier carbide cutting tools that have a sharp raised rim on the cutter and can be used to make clean slicing cuts or cleaner scraping cuts. Hunter makes a line of this type of carbide turning tool.

    I think it was Rude's many decades of experience that gave him the skill to do what he was able to accomplish.

    Tear out can be the result of many things. Some species of wood just loves to tear out. Skillful use of tools is another factor which just takes lots and lots of practice. None of us started out using tools skillfully, but we all got better as we went along.

    A tool is cutting when the bevel of the cutting edge is riding against the wood. This type of cut results in a clean smooth surface. A scraping cut is made without bevel contact. When scraping, the tool is scraping away wood fibers by tearing them. Scraping can also be used to give a smooth finished surface by using very light pressure.
     
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  12. john lucas

    john lucas

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    Bill covered it prettywell. Since you are a flat wood worker you understand cutting with the grain not against the grain. With plywood the grain so to speak so you try to cut so the fibers you are cutting are supported by other fibers. Say you want to round over a wheel. If you start from the outside and cut uphill toward the crown of the wheel all the fibers you cut will be supported by the next group. It is also very important to cut with a cutting tool instead of scraping and ideally to cut at a shear angle so the wood crosses the edge at an angle. Most carbide tools were designed as scrapers and will tear out huge voids in plywood. Baltic birch and Apply Ply are essential. I have turned a lot of regular plywood and you have lots of voids that must be filled and you get more tearout even with good tools.
    Ideally High speed Steel or particle metal tools should be used because they will hold an edge longer. I find a good sharp tool will cut Baltic birch as good as any other wood. The glue does dull the tools quicker but I sharpen so frequently anyway I really don't notice. If you want the ultimate use Hunter Carbide tools and learn to rub the bevel with them. They hold an edge for a very very long time and you can't sharpen them so no need to try. If it gets dull just rotate the tool but you can cut an awful lot of plywood before it gets dull.
     
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  13. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    Ply wood is usually made from thin layers of soft hardwoods with the grain alternated at 90 degrees.
    Soft hardwoods don’t scrap well and you get tear out. Scraping into endgrain produces tear out.

    I would use the Ellsworth ground gouge because it is the tool I use for almost all of my turning.
    The detail gouge with a 60 degree bevel would be another choice.
    These are cutting tools and plywood must be cut so that each ply cut is supported by a ply underneath it.
    Successful turning of solid wood requires cutting the fibers of the wood with fibers supporting them.

    Lay a thick newspaper on the edge of a table slice it with a sharp knife parallel to the table a 1/4” off the table.
    The top layers will cut cleanly because they are supported underneath. The bottom layers will tear of bend over and not cut.
    Imagine cutting a straw broom with a machete. The first straws will cut cleanly because they are supported.
    the last straws will bend as they are cut. The first part of the cut is clean the last part is ragged.

    Steve Gleasner is a superb artist turning plywood
    https://www.pinterest.com/russellwoodz/wood-stephen-gleasner/
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2017
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  14. Clifton C

    Clifton C

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    Dave, welcome to the forum. Plywood is probably one of the least forgiving woods to learn on, so, unless it's for a specific project, maybe starting out with something less challenging would help. A wealth of information in the three previous posts. I don't want to hijack you question, maybe just a tangent. I'm feeling a bit blue, and your mention of Rude reminded me of a youtube video of him reading a poem (?) parts of it had to do with green leaves are green or coloring in the lines? I had it bookmarked on my old computer (long gone) and I cannot figure out the right words to ask google. Does anyone remember this? If so, can you send a link? thanks...
    c

    Edit, I was off a bit (nothing new) I was thinking of Frank Sudol . Still cannot find the video, anyone have a link?
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2017
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  15. john lucas

    john lucas

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    Wow, bringing back memories. I shared a demo room with Stephen many years ago. We had long discussions about finding your Niche. He obviously found his. Rude Osolnik and Frank Sudol were 2 of my favorite people. I didn't get to know Rude other than running a camera for him at a couple of demos and siting with a group at dinner and listening to his stories. I took a weekend class with Frank and had an absolute ball. Both of them were very influentual to another great turner, Binh Pho who I was also fortunate enough to be his assistant for a week long workshop. What wonderful memories.
     
  16. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    The woodturning world is A small one.
    Steve and I both lived in Annapolis and did lots of things together including taking a class with David Ellsworth.
    Steve moved to Maine and a few years later we moved to Florida.

    I was introduced to Rudy once and learned a lot from him second hand from the many people who would credit this and that to Rudy. Frank Sudol and I shared a demo room once and I got to talk with him quite a bit then and on several occasions after that before he left us. Frank’s influence on me was more about how to think about things rather than how to make things.
     
  17. tdrice

    tdrice

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    DANGER!!! using a lathe for any length of will lead inevitably to addiction and the need to feed the habit at the expense of all other pursuits. You will find you have a constant need for more and bigger lathes, more tools and exotic woods. If you don't believe this ask my wife.
     
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  18. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    All untrue. :D :D

    Just because I have a Robust American Beauty lathe, fifty plus turning tools, seven or eight chucks, and a wagonload of support equipment is purely coincidental. :) If it were addictive then I wouldn't be able to give it up, but I can quit anytime that I please ...it's just that I don't want to quit now ... maybe a hundred years from now. I'm putting it on my calendar for October 31, 2117. :rolleyes: BWAHAHAHAHA
     
  19. john lucas

    john lucas

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    Ditto Bill. I started with a drill attached to a homemade work bench. I had a hand plane, a block plane, a router, a hand saw, a jig saw, and a couple of chisels. Now my shop looks pretty much like Norm Abrams except I have a metal lathe/mill, A Forge, and of course lots of turning tools and 2 lathes. I remember when I saved and saved for a chuck. Now I have 6, not counting the 2 large ones for my metal lathe.
    Back to turning plywood. Someone posted a beautiful Plywood segemented ornament on another site. I have done those also. Gluing up plywood produces a lot of really fun patterns. Guess I need to do some more since it's Christmas ornament turning time of the years.
     
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  20. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    It is still mystical, magical, mesmerizing to peel off layers of wood to reveal an elegant form.
    The tools just feel so good when they are doing the work.

    I also enjoy watching eyes light up when I share what I have learned.
     
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