View Full Version : Platters 101

Andy Hoyt
08-16-2006, 1:34 PM
Late last month Tom Jones launched this thread (http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?t=40238) with some questions about what stock to use for platters. It quickly degenerated into a short lived testosterone influenced and lacquer enhanced tug of war. I lost. While I cannot blame anyone but myself for agreeing to do this, I would like to point out that all fault absolutely lies with George Conklin, Don Baer, Jim Ketron and most especially Joe Tonich.

Before I start, I feel obligated to point out a few salient tidbits to qualify my credibilty factor:
I've never done a tutorial before,
I've only previously turned two platters.
The only glue-ups I've previously turned were oriented as centerwork.
This is not a platter design session. If that's what you're after, go talk to Vaughn McMillan.So, where to start? With the challenge handed to me, I suppose.

Jim Ketron posited that a platter could easily be made by gluing up some plain old 3/4" thick boards; hitch 'em to a glue block; and Bob's your uncle. Can it actually be done? Yup! Would I want to produce a platter in the future with stock this thin? Nope! Would it have been smarter to have attached another piece of wood to the underside of the platter to serve as a foot? You betcha! But that's not what Jim proposed. Dang him.

Determined that I would not spend a dime on this, I scrounged around and came up with a sufficient quanity of amply sized Yellowheart scraps and a thick stick of Dunnowood to make three - yup, count 'em, three! - platters. The colors of these two woods contrast well enough to help with the whole visualization thing. I made three because I assumed I'd wreck two of them in the process, but Saint Catchrick was smiling on me and all survived.

I've taken the best pics of all three and combined them to create this, so bear in mind that as it progresses, the piece being shown will rotate - just like it did on the lathe.

Since I don't want to make any assumptions about skill levels I'll start right at the beginning. Here's what I began with:


I shuffled them around; ripped a bit here and there to achieve a degree of symetry; and ended up with these three configurations.


Since Jim's jointer was dull, the challenge made in July was such that one would joint the edges neander style. Clamping one board (as shown in the pic) does not work. Clamping and planing two boards at once does produce a nice joint. Remember to orient the boards bookmatch fashion when clamping. And if at all possible, use a proper jointing plane rather than something like my miserable excuse for a bench plane.


Glue and clamp. And before you ask, I used Titebond II glue. Why? Cause it's the only yellow glue I have. I'm sure that most others will work just fine.


Andy Hoyt
08-16-2006, 1:35 PM
When prepping the stock, I found it helpful to ensure that whatever board will be located in the center of the piece be squared on both ends and with parallel sides. I did this so finding the center of a wonky glue-up would be as simple as drawing two lines from corners to corners.


Using a very expensive and highly accurate trammel setup I drew out the largest possible circumference on each glue-up.


If you'd like to order plans and specifications to this trammel setup, just follow the instructions noted in Mike Stafford's signature line.


So now it's over to the bandsaw to remove stock. My intent was to stay exactly 1/64th of an inch from the line. In practice, I was able to maintain a fat 1/4" on either side of the line. I decided that was close enough to preclude any notion of a do over.


Gotta figure out something to do with all that precious scrapwood.


Andy Hoyt
08-16-2006, 1:35 PM
At long last it's time to belly up to the lathe. After reminding Janine that a bandsaw is an essential component of a well rounded turning studio; and she reminding me that we were both in a SHOP; she allowed me to mount her with a faceplated glue block. I used a piece of scrap pine because it was handy. Screws used were the kind with threads.


I then brought up the tailstock with the live center's pin stuck into the centerpoint from the trammel point operation to position the piece against the glueblock. I then spun one or another until the grain aligned and then quickly drew a pencil line around the glue block. please note that I did not bother scraping glue off or anything like that. I then schlopped some thick CA glue on the piece within the pencil lines and some accelerator on the glue block. More tailstock aligning coupled with glue block and pencil line orienting followed by a bit more tailstock pressure got the piece mounted on the lathe and it's almost time to spin.


On this next picture, you'll see that I had to scrape the glue off and then run the bandsawn piece through my drum sander real quick just to flatten it out to allow it to seat properly against the glue block. A hand held belt sander would have worked just as well. The narrow center segment forced this on me.


Anyway, were now all good to go with everything set the way I want. Time to hit grinder and get started.


Andy Hoyt
08-16-2006, 1:36 PM
So I quickly flatten the piece out. On the two smaller platters I used a 3/8" bowl gouge with an irish grind. On the larger platter (the one with three pieces of Yellowheart) I used a 1" round nosed scraper - just because I wanted to see what it would do in this circumstance. Was fine, but I like the gouge better.


I then formed a tenon. Roughly 3" in diameter and around 3/16" long. It was at this point I began to realize the folly of this challenge. I started with 12/16" thick stock; and now only had 9/16" to work with to shape the exterior and interior. Smaller pieces are about 12" across and the bigger one is closer to 16". Oy!


Andy Hoyt
08-16-2006, 1:36 PM
I now have the piece turned around and mounted in a four jawed scroll chuck. The first order of business is to get rid of the glue block.


The bowl gouge does this quite well.


I stopped here to take a quick reality check. That divot you see in the ten o'clock position was from the dumb operator at the drum sander. Not to worry, it will disappear when I begin "hollowing" the platter.


As you can see in this pic, I've hollowed the platter to a slight degree just to keep stuff from rolling off when it's being carried - or so the notion went. It's about 3/16" (+/-) deeper at the center than out at the rim.


Here's one of the others. The turning is done and it's time to sand.


Andy Hoyt
08-16-2006, 1:37 PM
This first pic shows the surface texture as left by the bowl gouge.


Don't ever try power sanding with one hand while taking a picture with the other. Walking & chewing gum and the head tap/tummy rub thing is a lot easier!


And in this pic, I'm almost done with sanding the top. Most of my stuff get's sanded to 400 because I'm too lazy to go farther and have never seen or felt the benefit after the finish gets applied. But I took these guys all the way to 600, just for you. It's amazing how a teeny variation in the surface plane can be so visible in the right lighting situation - I'm referring to those two circumferential "dips". Went back down to 80 and got rid of them pretty quick.


This is the bigger platter and I'm showing it just to emphasize how thin these things were. And with a larger diameter, this one got really thin. So much so that I couldn't sand with the lathe running - it flexed too much and I got worried about breaking it.


Andy Hoyt
08-16-2006, 1:37 PM
If I had been making these platters for the sake of making them I would have brought the vacuum chuck into play at this point, or possibly even earlier. But since not everyone has one, I felt I should keep it within reach of everybody.

So... out comes a lump of somethingwood and I mounted it between centers to get a tenon on one face. I then stuck it in the scrollchuck; shaped the other side; and voila! Jamb Chuck.


And here's where I got smarter than I normally do. I took an old beat up jamb chuck and mounted it on the tail stock. I then shoved it up against the new jamb chuck and turned (what started out as) a small very shallow and pretty thin dish (with intentional flexibilty) in the old jamb chuck. I took this pic as an after thought and long after it had done its duty. The notion was that I'd get everything mounted and centered and the "cup block" would gently press against the bottom of the platter and within the foot, thereby allowing me to power sand everything else. It worked quite well.


Here it is in action and I got the bottom sanded without issue. After taking it off the lathe, I simply gave the foot itself a quick hit with the sander. All is good. If you do this, be careful to not alter the edge of the foot with the sander when you're off the lathe. Doing so could result in an asymetrical foot which will cause the platter to wobble when sitting on a table.


Andy Hoyt
08-16-2006, 1:38 PM
Here are three quick pics of the platters when they were done at the lathe.




Andy Hoyt
08-16-2006, 1:39 PM
And here they are after the suffering through my disastrous learning curve with a poor quality gel poly finish and an unbelievable amount of buffing to remedy the poly. In the end - all is good.

Four quick pics again. And the first shows how thin they all got. Since my tripod won't depress low enough to get an accurate view, it seemed fitting to use Holly Jones' Pecan to raise it up high enough. After all, it's her darned cookies that started this thing.

And I want my Oreos, now! please. Hey! I guess it isn't Joe's fault after all!

45004 45005

45006 45007

This was fun to do for all of you, and certainly a learning experience for me as well. As I type this, I've got two more glue-ups to platterize. Both are starting out as 6/4 stock (one cherry and one quilted maple). I am very hopeful that they will allow for a smarter looking piece that raises up off the table top high enough to let the form show better as well as providing more room for embellishments. And since thery are both single species glue-ups I'll admit that I did indeed fire up the jointer because I really don't want that glue line to show.

Keith Burns
08-16-2006, 6:02 PM
As always Andy you are very generous with your, time, talant and expertice. Thanks, a great job.:) :)

Don Baer
08-16-2006, 6:31 PM
Thanks Andy, great job.

Bernie Weishapl
08-16-2006, 6:34 PM
Thank you Andy. It is greatly appreciated.

Michael Stafford
08-16-2006, 6:38 PM
Nice article, Andy. Very well done and informative. Thanks for sharing.:D

Rob Bourgeois
08-16-2006, 6:58 PM
ahhh..finially something to do with all the flat stock scraps and cutoffs.

Thanks Andy.

Cecil Arnold
08-16-2006, 7:28 PM
Good job Andy, really appreciate the effort and sharing with us.

Henry C. Gernhardt, III
08-16-2006, 8:45 PM
Great work, Andy, and a lovely writeup. It almost makes me want to do one, but I can only swing about 7", and a good jointing plane would cost more than my lathe... :)

Bob Noles
08-16-2006, 8:59 PM

As others have already said, thanks so much for a job well done in sharing your knowledge and experience with us.

Excellent write up for my personal archives.

George Conklin
08-16-2006, 9:14 PM
Hey, that was great, Ange! Thanks for taking the time to show us guys that need a little schoolin in platter making. I'm still waiting for the weather to cool down a little before I venture into the oven, er, shop to give one of these a try.

By the way. What that metal tool looking thing on your bench in picture 3?

;) :D :)

Lee DeRaud
08-16-2006, 9:22 PM
By the way. What that metal tool looking thing on your bench in picture 3?Looks like some kind of vintage steam iron. :D

John Shuk
08-16-2006, 9:55 PM
Thanks for the tutorial Andy. You have definately made platters look a bit less intimidating looking for me to try.

Andy Hoyt
08-16-2006, 10:03 PM
..... By the way. What that metal tool looking thing on your bench in picture 3? ;) :D :) Ya know - I'm really not sure. I found it underneath about 3" of that wonderful uber fine dust that tends to settle on horizontal surfaces in our shops. Was fused to the shelf upon which it sat by a big glob of pitchy balsam fir smelling goo left over from that last time I used it - fine tuning a Christmas tree to the stand as I recall. I actually had to clean it up just to see if it had a blade in it. Not to worry, it is back in storage for another 100 years.

Curt Fuller
08-16-2006, 11:03 PM
What I liked about that tutorial Andy was that I was listening to Arlo Guthrie talking about Alice's Restaurant at the same time I was reading the turtorial and Arlo got finished before I got done reading. To me, that means that it was a good, detailed, explanation of what to do (to you that might mean I'm a little slow) and they both had a bunch of 8x10 glossy photos to go along.

Great tutorial and actually I like ideas that don't waste a lot of wood. Sometimes we get stuck thinking that if we're not knee deep in shavings when we finish up then we didn't do something right. I see a glued up platter in my future.

Andy Hoyt
08-17-2006, 9:50 AM
Curt - you can get anything you want at SMC's Turning Board

Thanks all. I'll admit it was a bit of a chore to put this together, but it was a fun task nonetheless. And I do hope that some folks will find it helpful.

But please remember, the steps I followed were just one way to skin the same cat. I encourage you to seek out the alternates as well. Why? Because the journey is just as important, rewarding, and fun as the destination.

Ben Werner
08-17-2006, 9:59 AM
Wonderful! thanks :D:D now I gotta try one of those....:):eek::D

Ken Fitzgerald
08-17-2006, 10:11 AM
Nicely done tutorial Andy! Thanks!

Tom Jones III
08-17-2006, 10:27 AM
Thanks Andy, you really know how to answer my question. Best part of all, I didn't even have to share any of the blame. I'm almost finished with my current project and am looking forward to making some platters (I've already got some glued up)

Don Orr
08-17-2006, 10:34 AM
What an excellent tutorial! You really covered a lot very well. Nice platters at the end. I just may have found a constructive use for some boards that have been hanging around.

Thanks and take care,

Glenn Clabo
08-17-2006, 10:52 AM
Wicked cool!

Scott Donley
08-17-2006, 11:42 AM
But please remember, the steps I followed were just one way to skin the same cat. I encourage you to seek out the alternates as well. Why? Because the journey is just as important, rewarding, and fun as the destination.Very well said ! Thanks for the great tutorial Andy, just plum full of great ideas.

Tom Sherman
08-17-2006, 6:22 PM
Yep ya dun gud Bub

Ed Scolforo
08-18-2006, 11:11 AM
Andy, I just read your tutorial. It was very helpful, as I will be attempting one in the future. Thanks for your time and effort.

Glenn Hodges
08-18-2006, 11:55 AM
Andy, your help was very well done. You are an asset to the Creek.

Stu Ablett in Tokyo Japan
08-18-2006, 11:58 AM
Yes Mr. Hoyt, that will certainly do just fine!

Thanks for that, I need to make some of them.

My wife wants me to make a cake platter thing, so I would be a platter with a stand, no?


Henry C. Gernhardt, III
08-18-2006, 2:57 PM
Stu: I want to let you know now that this comes from the deranged mind of a professional cake decorator.

Does she want a cake platter, or a cake turntable? I assume this means she will be presenting round cakes, and not sheet or shaped cakes.

Overall, the answer to your question is yes. If it's just a platter, then you don't need much of a stand---just enough to raise the platter off the surface of the table. I would also recommend looking at the domes she might use. If there's a nice glass dome, turn the platter to fit. If she's not too worried about seeing through the dome, then I'd say go ahead and turn a dome to match the platter.

If she's looking at a turntable, then that brings a whole slew of other variables into the mix. I could go on and on about my perfect turntable. For a simple one, however, you should have a nice, thick, sturdy base with a wide foot, with as much mass in the base as possible. The stem of the base will definitely need to be sturdy and thick. The base and platter would be two separate pieces, as you would be joining the two with (preferably) a thrust bearing (although a greased dowel fitting would do in a pinch).

PM me if your wife is seriously into cake decorating and you want ideas for the "perfect" turntable.

Mark Pruitt
08-18-2006, 5:30 PM
Wow. That's a great tutorial Andy. Thanks for putting in the time and effort. I'm "bookmarking" it for future reference.

Jim Hinze
08-19-2006, 6:59 AM
Very cool tutorial.... I may just have to give that a try (albeit w/thicker wood).