MCW Aug. '14 Program
Aug 28, 2014Public
Photo: Vice President Gary Guenther introduces our demonstrator for the evening, Allen Alexopulos, a member of Chesapeake Woodturners in Annapolis.  This will be Allen's second time demonstrating for us.
Photo: Tonight, Allen will show us how to make a complex hyperboloid candle holder as a variation on the classic forms popularized by Rude Osolnik.
Photo: The process allows for the base to be hollowed to receive a steel weight, and also for a concave top.  (The use of lead for weights should be avoided due to its toxicity.)  It turns out that the actual shaping is the "simple" part and only the final step of a lengthy process.  Much as in making a peppermill, a great deal of the time, energy, and technique involved is in the carefully planned preparatory steps.
Photo: Allen brought a selection of his forms in a variety of sizes and shapes and species.  He uses many local woods but occasionally obtains exotics from exoticlumberinc.com, now located in Frederick.
Photo: He does not measure, but makes each one unique.  He described some of the individual woods and challenges.  Woods include (not in displayed order) red cedar, black walnut, cocobolo, English yew, osage orange, wenge, cherry and Bradford pear). He cautioned against using heavily striated wood, or brittle exotics, because the narrow neck must be structurally sound in order to be able to avoid easy breakage.
Photo: He described some of the individual woods and challenges.
Photo: Allen points out the critical neck area.  The wood here must be straight grained and sound and turned very carefully!
Photo: Here's the before and after -- the 2"x2"x18" pear wood blank to be used tonight and a sample of his plans for it.
Photo: Always very organized, Allen brought a complete set of tools and materials necessary for the task and has them all neatly laid out, ready to use.  Note the spindle roughing gouge, a couple of parting tools, the parting/beading tool, and a couple of spindle and/or detail gouges.  Note also the Forstner bit and the modified space bit, both in Jacobs chucks.
Photo: The first task is to pick which end will be the bottom.  He examines the grain structure to help make the decision.
Photo: His thinking includes the consideration of where the thin neck will be.  Allen's forms have the neck at roughly one-third of the way down from the top.
Photo: He believes in using a spur center to drive the blank, and here he sets it in firmly with his wooden mallet.  (Never hammer on a Morse taper with a metal tool!)
Photo: Allen uses a special extender, obtained from Cindy Drozda, on his Oneway live tail center.
Photo: Starting between centers, ...
Photo: ...Allen quickly rounds up the turning square with a spindle roughing gouge.
Photo: Allen turns both right handed and left handed to make the most comfortable and appropriate cuts.
Photo: He talks about his chuck jaws.  Different brands have different jaw shapes, and the tenons must be cut to match the jaws in use.
Photo: A skew is not necessary, but, in the right hands, it can be a great tool.
Photo: In addition to making a tenon, one of the early steps is to dish out the top end, moving inside-out with a spindle gouge.
Photo: A well-executed hollowing cut throws nice ribbons.
Photo: Allen isn't using the steady rest yet, but he keeps it handy while he puts a tenon on the other end, as well.
Photo: Allen points out that there is a valuable article in the current issue of American Woodturner by John Lucas.
Photo: In John's article, he explains how to modify a standard spade bit...
Photo: ...into a unique shape to create a perfect bit for hollowing the hole needed for housing the candle.  Note that Allen has his own design in which he grinds the spur point of the spade bit to about 1/3 of its original length and files it into a split point that he feels helps avoid ‘wandering’ as the bit is fed into the work.

For safety reasons, Allen recommends that candle holders such as these be used for display only, and not for actually burning candles in.  To amplify that notion to the customer, he does not use a metal insert that might imply a false sense of safety.