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Thread: Sanding Birdseye maple bowl

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
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    Sanding Birdseye maple bowl

    Hello all. I had an interesting experience with a Birdseye maple bowl this weekend. I finished turning it and was following my general practice of sanding at a very low speed and very gently. But I wasn’t getting anywhere. Very slow going. So I decided to try the lathe at high speed. I alternated between forward and reverse through the grits and ended up — rather quickly — with a beautiful result. This seems to fly in the face of what I have learned about sanding. I did not get any burning or surface cracks. Just a beautiful smooth surface. In addition to the birds eye this piece has flame and interlocking grain so maybe this has something to do with it. Your thoughts are appreciated.
    Last edited by Dan Gaylin; 09-06-2019 at 12:03 PM.

  2. #2
    Some maples...especially the hard ones can be a bit temperamental in that regard. I can't go in reverse so I generally stop the lathe so I can hand sand in reverse. My method probably takes a bit longer but worth it in the end.
    I'd love to see a picture of your results
    ~john
    "There's nothing wrong with Quiet" ` Jeremiah Johnson

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
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    Maryland
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    Hi John,

    Thanks for your reply. Here are a few pics where I've tried to capture the flame/birdseye.
    It's not the prettiest piece of wood, but it is interesting.
    This has only one coat of finish on it (Odies oil). Second coat tonight.

    IMG_2095.jpgIMG_2090.jpgIMG_2093.jpgIMG_2092.jpgIMG_2091.jpg

  4. #4
    Are you kidding? Lots of dazzling stuff going on with that wood. I think you brought it out nicely. Second coat will take it further.
    ~john
    "There's nothing wrong with Quiet" ` Jeremiah Johnson

  5. #5
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    Maryland
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    Thanks John.

    So with high speed sanding is it just a "if the wood requires it" kind of thing....?

  6. #6
    Oh geez....I'd say there are a gazillion scenarios with wood that can alter your approach either in small ways or large. Most of the time....the general consensus is 400 rpm when sanding. But of course it comes down to what works best for you. Sometimes it comes down to the type of sandpaper, or grain orientation or density. Quite the exploration.
    ~john
    "There's nothing wrong with Quiet" ` Jeremiah Johnson

  7. #7
    Agreed. Quite pretty. Enjoy!

  8. #8
    Oh...and one more thing I meant to mention. Speed can be detrimental to minimizing sanding marks. 80 grit also known as the 80 grit gouge can resolve a number of pesky problems but also induces a scratch pattern that must be removed. This is especially prevalent at high speed. A lighter touch helps with all grits....not to mention keeping heat build up to a minimum.
    Some people are so great they barely need to sand.
    I'm....um....not one of them.
    ~john
    "There's nothing wrong with Quiet" ` Jeremiah Johnson

  9. #9
    Well, my first question would be are you hand sanding or power sanding? I power sand with an angle drill exclusively. Just more effective/efficient. I always keep low speeds on both the drill and the lathe. It has been a long time since I hand sanded anything other than spindles, so can't really remember. I use the same approach on the different woods, from fairly soft madrone to rock hard Mountain Mahogany. Slow on the drill, slow on the lathe, and no more pressure than the weight of the drill. I would think that sanding harder woods would be like turning harder woods, you just have to go at a slower pace. Depending on the size of the bowl, I would think a 6 inch bowl, hand sanded could go as high as 800 or so rpm as long as you use light pressure. With a 12 inch bowl, I wouldn't want to go over 500. Another one of those 'it depends' situations.

    John's comment about the 80 grit is often over looked. Some times the 80 grit scratches are harder to get out than the tool marks. When I do have to resort to 80 grit, I follow with 100, then 120, and then 150, rather than taking the steps of 'twice the grit# of the previous one/if you start with 80, then next grit should be 120. It is difficult to take out 80 grit scratches with 120.

    robo hippy

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
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    Maryland
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    John thanks for your help on this ó I admire your work.

    Robo ó I admire your work too and have learned a lot from your videos. And the sanding video was very helfpul. Heck I even made ripoff version of your sanding barrel. And I usually follow your approach when I sand ó SLOW. Thatís part of why I wrote this post. This was much faster (on the lathe) than I usually sand (Iím thinking it was around 1000). I did work up through the grits 80-100-120-150-180-240-320-400-600-800. Because of the speed it took me very little time. I did not use a drill (as I often do).

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    lufkin tx
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    Sanding is one of those "witch craft" subjects also. Having turned for decades as a starter, seller, semi-pro and more and turning large bowls and urns to 20" I have observed this. Sanding is no fun...--sanding fast is fine for quality work--I mostly spin the piece at med. rpm's and the drill at top speed. Adjust your grits and use light pressure for scratch control. Use only 2 grits on soft woods and several on very hard woods--a minute with 220 to 320 by hand will calm your conscience. I usually follow with heavy bodied SS and sanding and your fav. finish. Even 80 grit at very high rpm's (sometimes an air grinder for small areas) with a padded 5-6" sanding pad will not scratch deeply at all. Slow and heavy will scratch every time.

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