View Full Version : Old school hollowing.

Jeff Fagen
06-30-2011, 2:56 PM
How many of you are sticking with your hand hollowing tools and refuse to pay out for a captive system and why?
Is it all about the true art of it?

Scott Hackler
06-30-2011, 3:19 PM
I am sticking with my Sorby Hollowmaster and the few home made hand HF tools, but only because I dont OWN a system yet! I dont mind doing my X-Mas bulbs and small stuff, by hand but the larger stuff stinks and I just give up on them. I will be getting or possibly making a hollowing system sometime in the near future.

Tim Thiebaut
06-30-2011, 3:41 PM
I am sticking with my Sorby Hollowmaster and the few home made hand HF tools, but only because I dont OWN a system yet! I dont mind doing my X-Mas bulbs and small stuff, by hand but the larger stuff stinks and I just give up on them. I will be getting or possibly making a hollowing system sometime in the near future.

This is exactly how I feel about it...will hopefully be ordering mine in the next week or so...but will keep my handheld tools for small stuff.

Dane Fuller
06-30-2011, 3:42 PM
How many of you are sticking with your hand hollowing tools and refuse to pay out for a captive system and why?
Is it all about the true art of it?

I would like to add another question to these. What is/are the advantages of an articulated hollowing system?

Gary Max
06-30-2011, 4:10 PM
Heck ----I am sticking with my home made boring bar. It goes where others won't.

Ed Morgano
06-30-2011, 4:44 PM
http://www.sawmillcreek.org/images/misc/quote_icon.png Originally Posted by Jeff Fagen http://www.sawmillcreek.org/images/buttons/viewpost-right.png (http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?p=1732403#post1732403)
How many of you are sticking with your hand hollowing tools and refuse to pay out for a captive system and why?
Is it all about the true art of it?

I would like to add another question to these. What is/are the advantages of an articulated hollowing system?

I'm new at hollowing.... as a matter of fact, about 6 months ago I didn't know there was such a thing as a bowl gouge. I've done a lot of spindle work but this hollowing thing was new. Anyway, to start with I tried hollowing out a persimon bowl. I got about an inch deep and 5" in diam and gave up with my spindle gouges. I bought a Sorbe 3/8" bowl gouge and at that point I was hollowing out another piece that was already about 4 - 4 1/2" deep. Admittedly, I didn't know how to hold the gouge.....BUT....after a couple of bad catches at the bottom, I was very leary of sticking the gouge back inside the bowl that I was trying to smooth out. I ended up using a parting tool on a long handle to try to smooth out the bottom. My next shop project was to build an articulated arm system. After using it, I wouldn't look back. I feel a lot safer with the articulated arm in my hands than the Sorby bowl gouge. Now, I have done a couple of 13" walnut bowls that were about 3" deep and the bowl gouge worked fine for finish passes......and then a scrape. I still used the articulated arm to do most of the roughing work.

I love the articulated arm system. If you compare it to a captured system, it takes up less room on the lathe and is probably easier to set up. From some earlier posts, the articulated arm systems will only go to about 9" deep. After that, they start to chatter. That is only because of the size of the bar they use (3/4") vs. 1 1/4" on some captured systems. So, if you want to do larger items, you will probably end up with a captured system.

Steve Kubien
06-30-2011, 5:08 PM
I have a captured rig. Most of the HF's I do are on the small side (6" tall, 3-5" in diameter)and I do these with regular old handheld Kelton hollowers, not the captured system. I find them faster and not nearly as shrill on the ears.

So there you go, I HAVE shelled out for a captured system and enjoy using the handhelds more. They are faster (for me). The "art" angle has no value for me and I see as that as a load of bull. Emptying a vessel of solid wood is not art, in my opinion. The art is in creating the outside form.

Bt that's just me.

Edward Bartimmo
06-30-2011, 5:11 PM
Admittedly, I am a tool junky. I have progressed from bowls and spindles to hollowing. My first hollowing I used a sharpened allen wrench on a hardened oak burl with inclussions...that was a bear. Since then I have come to own several different sets of hollowing tools ranging from hand tools (small and large) to articulated system (Monster System) and captured system (Jamieson & Monster). Why do I own all of this...simple...not many people in Texas have ever seen a Monster...and for the price of airfare to go and see one at AAW it is just as easy to buy it. What I have found is that I keep going to the hand tools, especially for smaller hollowings (8"-10" and smaller). For the amount of time it takes to turn a small vessels you are halfway done with hand tools by the time you set up a hollowing system. Also, there is something to be said about feeling the cuts.

As to above question about articulated holowing system it gives a greater range of motion (acute angles - such as low squatty forms) than can be achieved easily with a captured arm system. The articulated arm systems consist of several smaller segments that are independently connected allowing a greater range of motion. This flexibility of motion happens on both the X & Y planes. As the tool bar extends further out from the tool support the amount of force (torque) increased dramatically on the tool bar. In the case of an articulated arm system the torque occurs not just on the tool bar, but also along the length of the articulating arm as each connection point is flexed. The effect is increased chatter and decreased cutting finish. This isn't a major factor with hollowing under 12"-15" deep and can be offset with smaller cutters and lighter cuts.

The captured arm system is the most rigid. In the right hands it can turn everything a articulated system can due plus it has the rigidity to go deep. You can't go wrong with either hollowing system, but you don't need either if you have some patience to learn good tool technique and are willing to take the time to check the wall thickness frequently as you approach the final desired thickness.

Ron McKinley
06-30-2011, 5:16 PM
I have an articulated, captive system but have never used it. All mine are small and I can do them better with hand-held tools........Ron

Rick Markham
06-30-2011, 5:21 PM
FWIW, The Monster system, and the Kobra system both offer larger boring bars (You have to ask about them) I believe (this is from memory please don't shoot me if I got the info wrong) that Randy offers a 1 1/4" boring bar for the Monster, and for the Kobra you can get a 1 1/2" boring bar. There are reports of turners going 22" deep with the 1 1/2" hardened bar with the Kobra. I can tell you from experience 12" deep with the 1" hardened bar on the Kobra is childs play, not even a tiny vibration at that depth.

Jeff the Reason I chose an articulated system and not hand hollowing is I have had problems with carpal tunnel in the past, the worst movement I can do with my wrist is a twisting motion (tightening the chuck is an example, It can be painful for me if I don't pay attention) Fighting torque in hand hollowing doesn't sound like a good idea for me. After having used both systems (I actually have mine set up so I use both at once now) I can tell you there is something magical about guiding a hollowing operation with fingerpressure. Once you remove torque (rotational force) from the equation it becomes an enlightening experience, and exceptionally precise.

For me and my wrists, it was a no-brainer. Now if you truly want to go deep, You can make a captured system of epic proportions. The late, :( great, Elmer Adams had a very large home made captured system, and certainly used it to it's capacity. There are several videos worth watching here is the first one.

Tim Rinehart
06-30-2011, 5:57 PM
well...I think there is no one answer for this one...it's what works for you. I can appreciate the simplicity of doing it by hand, but even that has some limitations, I expect, when you start getting beyond 8-10" or so. Having to check thickness frequently vs visually scanning what the laser dot is doing is a plus for the laser I think. Also...I use manual methods for initial shoulder work, so it's really a combination approach, in my opinion.
I would have said I think the quality of what I can get for an inside surface finish isn't as good with a captured as is with an articulated or freehand approach...until a couple weeks ago when I put some paste wax liberally on the stabilizer bar and rest. Wow, what an improvement. I built my captured bar using 3/4" cold roll, nothing fancy and super smooth, and my back rest was 2" square tubing with holes in it (from big box hardware store). I had to have a pretty good grip on whole bar to help maneuver it around (even after putting a little grease on this interface between bar and rest) but now it is so slick, I can slide it around with zero effort, and total control of nice smoothing cuts using nothing but a 3/16" square cutter that I've rounded the tip on.
For some of the reasons mentioned by Rick, I'd have to go along with use of captured or articulated as a good move to lesson strain on joints.
Lyle Jamieson himself created his initial captured bar system, "to make it fun". I couldn't agree more.

David E Keller
06-30-2011, 5:59 PM
I've got the monster articulated system which I use quite often. I've also got the captured system which I've never touched. I've got a multitude of homemade tools and a Sorby midi-hollowmaster(swan) that I use a lot as well. I initially got the monster system to save some wear and tear on my arms, but as I've gained a little experience, I find that hand hollowing is not as physically taxing as it once was. I enjoy hollowing both ways, and I'll often switch from one to another on a given project based on what I'm feeling with the wood.

I don't know about the 'art' aspects of hand hollowing, but it is a different experience. I do this for fun, so whatever method I find the most fun is the one I use for a given project.

Scott Hackler
06-30-2011, 6:51 PM
I think there is also something to be said about the "type" of hollowing you do. If your satisfied with either 1/4" average or using calipers all the time to go thin, then the hand tool set up is ok. BUT, I want the possibility to hollow from 1/8" to 3/32" the easiest and fastest way. I want to spend the majority of my time on the visible portion of a vessel, not on the inside where noone can see or touch it. I also want a mostly a consistant ....very thin....wall thickness. The use of the hollowing systems boils down to , 1) ease of use and 2) LASER!!!! Modern technology wins for me. :)

That being said I did watch Trent Bosch hollow out a decent sized vessel with hand tools fairly rapidly, but he left 1/4 or so think walls. That works great for his style of turnings.

Curt Fuller
06-30-2011, 7:26 PM
I've got a captured system that uses the secondary rest and the D handle. I've never used an articulated system but I think that both are just different routes to the same destination, each with their advantages. As much as I like the captured system, there are still a lot of times when I use the old hand held tools. Getting back under the shoulder of a low profile form is easier for me with some homemade handheld tools. And hollowing small things requires small hollowers that are impractical in a captured system. I wonder if many people incorporate a laser guide with their hand held tools. I haven't used a laser guide with my captured system yet but I can see that it would probably be a benefit to know where you're working with either a captured system or a hand held tool.

As far as "the true art of it" I have to admit that the captured system makes it so much easier that it can almost feel like you cheated in comparison to wrestling with a Sorby Hollowmaster for a few hours. There is a certain sense of satisfaction when you successfully complete a hollowform by hand. But in the end the finished product is about the same.

curtis rosche
06-30-2011, 7:48 PM
i stick with my bowl gouge fo hollow forms. easy to control (for me) it fits my lathe, and i dont have to lay down any more money. i like it cause i can think in terms of a straight line to figure out where the cutting edge is and how close it is. so far i have never made a lampshade or a funnel.

Rick Markham
06-30-2011, 9:16 PM
I just wanted to add that Scott has a very good point. It was very easy for me to turn my first hollow form wall thickness to 3/32" at the top, gradually increasing to 1/4" at the bottom with the monster and it's laser. That is surely something that I wouldn't have been able to do the first time by hand.

Jamie Donaldson
06-30-2011, 9:46 PM
I think that whatever works and you can afford is fine, but learning the process of hollowing is best accomplished by hand in the Ellsworth style. I learned hollowing from David in 1990 and still use hand held Stewart armbrace with hooker shaft for the final interior smoooooooothing cuts(actually scrapes). Starting on a bowl form with hand held tools and your eyes closed will teach you how the process works. Then you can start to reduce the size of the vessel openings until it reaches the same diameter as your boring bar!

Jeff Nicol
06-30-2011, 10:21 PM
Jeff, You pretty much know my style, but some day I will make a captured and an articulated system and give them the "Woodennicol" twists! I started with hand hollowing and can hollow up to about 22" deep with the tools I have made for myself. It all comes down to technique and patience and also listening to the wood and knowing the sounds of thinning. When I do deeper forms with smaller openings, tool control is very important and I will work a hole to the finished depth or a little shy of that. Then I will step down from the neck down to the bottom in say 1" increments, blending one into the next until I have a sidewall thickness of 1/2-3/4". Once I am at that point I will make cuts the same 1" or so apart to as close to the finished thickness I am hopeing to achieve. Then starting at the neck I work my way in and around and into the main vessel connecting the cuts I made previously. As you go you can feel when you reach the next groove and keep blending and gentle finish cuts as you go. When you get to the bottom you should have an even equal thickness, now is when you can decide if you want it thinner, this is where a nice bright light comes into play. I shine the light on the outside to see how much light will come through, this is more difficult with dark woods but will work if you want it "THIN". It is very easy to make a quick simple caliper for measuring through small holes and deep forms, more on that another day.

Have fun no matter which method you use, Have a wonderful 4th of july celebration!


Jeff Fagen
06-30-2011, 11:54 PM
Well you guys are great,I can feel the passion in what you say.So far I have been reluctant to spend as much for a hollowing system as I have for my lathe.
I've home made an arsenal of hand tools including one I'm working on now which is a boring bar mounted in 1" round stock 24'' long.I'm thinking of a side handle and a rear guide.
I wondered the symposium demo floor trying all the systems I could with increasing frustration.I like Jeff Nicol's style and have tried to emulate his techniques and tool designs but a lack of patients and fatigue in my aging arthritic hands has discouraged the passion a little.There is a lot of pain and about a 50-50 success rate with my present abilities.Yes a few lamp shades and funnels but I'm hooked in the vortex and can't pull out now so I am going to ride with it .Thank you all for your honesty and excitement in helping me and others find there way. Jeff

Michael James
07-01-2011, 12:14 AM
Mini Monster articulated and my Jeff N hollowing rod, with a torque handle on it for shoulder work. As mentioned by one or more above it really depends on the piece, the size and my mood and I have adapted carbide tips to use, but mostly use the round one to finish touch up.
Hand hollowing tools seem like there's more intimate involvement, but any means justify the ends in my novice world.

Bernie Weishapl
07-01-2011, 12:39 AM
Jeff I bought the articulating system for that very reason. My old arthritic hands just don't take the beating they used to. The monster system now makes it a joy to turn HF's again.

Dane Fuller
07-01-2011, 12:53 AM
Thanks to each of you for the words of wisdom. My question was from a standpoint of complete ignorance. I still haven't even turned my lathe on. I've found that I learn best by gathering and taking in as much information as I can, then giving things a try.

Jon Lanier
07-01-2011, 1:25 AM
Only reason why I hollow by hand is because I cannot afford a hollowing system. I want to get the mini-monster and was about to order it and the truck broke down and we had to put all that money (and more) into the truck. I'm getting older and my joints, tendons, ligaments and muscles wear down so much faster than they did 10 years ago.

neil mackay
07-01-2011, 4:23 AM
I pretty much echo what Scott said. I have several different hollowers, none as yet articulated, although I intend to build a kobra type which will include a laser set up.
Hollow vessels with a small mouth convential type tools generally wont around the corner or under the lip. So there will always be a place for some sort articulated/goose neck tool, I for one go with technology, what ever makes it easier is fine with me.

Bill Blasic
07-01-2011, 8:07 AM
I have both Monster systems and they save wear and tear on my shoulder. I have found them easy to setup as I use them on all my lathes and the laser is by far the best of those I tried.

Nate Davey
07-01-2011, 11:02 AM
I am starting out with my homemade hollowing bars. I want to get "good" with them before I move up. I am finding I am more and more able to visualize where the cutter is, per David Ellsworth, in the project. I don't think you will develop this sense with the laser, I'm probably wrong on that but that's my thinking.