MCW Apr. '16 Program
May 3, 2016Public
Photo: Our demonstrator for the evening is Tom Wirsing, visiting the area from his home in Colorado.  Tom is a past President of AAW.  He specializes in platters and bowls with an emphasis on cutting and scraping techniques to avoid tearout and excessive sanding.  He loves to work with figured bigleaf maple.
Photo: Tonight he will show us how "Everyone Can Turn a Perfect Platter".
Photo: He uses a pair of bowl gouges with different bevel angles -- one ground back into a classic fingernail and the other with a much blunter angle.  Both have the heel of the bevel relieved to permit them to get around corners better and not leave compression marks.  Tom also spent a bit of time discussing the characteristics of and differences among modern tool steels.
Photo: He has a wide variety of negative-rake scrapers, each of which has a different shape for a different purpose.  It is important to note that he uses these scrapers only for fine finishing cuts, not for removal of bulk material.  The key is the burr raised by the grinder.  He cuts only with the burr and has to replenish it very frequently as the wood quickly wears it away.  This means he places a great emphasis on his grinders, which he visits constantly.  He uses only grinder burrs because he feels that the burrs produced by a burnisher are too aggressive.  The differently-colored handles help him grab the correct tool quickly.
Photo: Here is what the cross section of all of his scrapers looks like.  They are basically shaped like a stubby skew chisel.
Photo: Tom passed around the platter sample and presented a brief slide show to bring us up to speed with his philosophy of turning before spinning wood.  Notice his two grinder stations with four CBN wheels.  Two are set up permanently for his gouges and two are for his scrapers.
Photo: If you're going to try to make a 'Perfect Platter', first you have to define 'Perfect'.
Photo: Here's what he's going to demonstrate for us tonight.
Photo: Tom points out that it is important for you to be your won most critical judge and that you should also get independent opinions from others.
Photo: Just so we know...  
Tom is an excellent public speaker, and he knows that repeating questions from the audience, before answering them, is critical to everyone's understanding.
Photo: Tom has some blanks of local soft maple prepared and mounted on a faceplate.  Here he trues the "back" side first.
Photo: Moving to the front, he begins to shape the bottom of he platter with the "pointier" bowl gouge.  The outside area near the rim is done first to maintain mass at the center for stability.
Photo: The shape is coming along nicely.  Tom begins to hollow the base because when he reverses it into a scroll chuck, he's going to hold it in expansion mode.
Photo: His chuck has dovetailed jaws, and he has a scraper shaped to make a cut of just the right angle.
Photo: With the edge cut properly, he moves to the middle.
Photo: A cut to refine the shape of the foot.
Photo: Cutting gently with the burr on the scraper to even out the tool marks so he doesn't have to sand.
Photo: Tom returns constantly to the grinders with their CNB wheels to refresh his scraper tool cutting burr.  Yes, the lights are from Ikea.
Photo: Gently scraping the tool marks out of the shape by the rim.
Photo: These are the kind of fine threads of wood that result when Tom finish cuts gently with the burr on his scrapers.
Photo: All these curls came from cutting with his gouges.  Even a platter makes lots of curls!
Photo: Note the shape of this negative-rake scraper with its long curved edge meant for going around the inside of similar curves.
Photo: This soft maple is giving Tom a little problem with tear out.  It doesn't cut as cleanly as the harder West Coast bigleaf maple he is used to working with.
Photo: This is the way to refine the surface so your sanding can start at a very fine grit, if at all.