How Do You Undercut a Rim? from Sawmill Creek
This discussion began with a post from a woodworker who was looking to expand his turning skills, and asked his online friends for advice. - Editor
“As I strive to learn to turn bowls, the next thing I would like to try is bowls where the hollow inside is a little larger than the rim. Where do I start my homework? What tools should I start shopping? Would finer, closed grain wood better cooperate? I don’t know what I should do, nor how I should do it. Any insight appreciated!” – Walt
Some respondents took this opportunity to talk turning tools.
“I have actually been able to turn a couple of pretty undercut rims simply by using a 1" round scraper. You are limited by the diameter of the hole (opening), and just have to bring the tool in from the backside of the lathe.” – Chris
“I've made a couple of forms with undercut rims, and have had good luck using a Sorby HollowMaster. It is the best tool I have for this particular job.”- Mike
“I have used a freshly sharpened gouge, with flute well heeled over toward the horizontal, and the handle well toward the back side of the lathe. Seemed to work for me.” - Curtis
“I'd also recommend the Sorby Hollowmaster. It makes undercutting bowl rims a breeze and will let you get into hollowing for not a lot of money. It's what I still use for my hollow forms.” – Cody
The original poster also received insight on the woods he should be using in general.
“If you are using oak, stop doing that (at least for now). Oak is not a very good turning wood and not a good thing to develop skills with. If you can get green wood, that is better for experimenting on as well.”- Ryan
And specific to a certain technique.
“I use conventionally ground bowl gouges for it, and it is difficult to get a good clean cut, very often have to do quite a bit of sanding to clean the cut up. Scrapers just don't work unless you have some real dense closed grain wood; [they] will tear the wood worse than a cutting tool does.” – Leo
Speaking of techniques, other woodworkers had suggestions in that area as well.
“Lay the gouge on its side so that the wings are pointing in the direction of the wood to cut and hold the handle at an angle. You might find it easier to stand on the other side of the lathe to do it.”- Curtis
“I do a lot of my undercut rims with the lathe in reverse and using a 1.2 HD scraper. This direction allows me to stand on the correct side of the lathe and comfortably come into the underside of the rim. Sometimes if the hole is large enough, I have the rest actually in the bowl, for more support. My 1/2 HD scraper is used a lot, and I recommend getting one.” – Scott
The forum’s moderator summed up the discussion of all the options nicely.
“As you probably have guessed by now - there are lots of ways to tackle that particular problem. Some tools work, some tools work better than others, and most all of it relies heavily on experience.” - Steve
How Do I Find Hungry-for-Work Shops? from WoodCentral
You would think this woodworker’s problem would be a good one to have: he has so many orders for his projects for hire that he can’t find time to do woodworking for fun, so he’s trying to share the wealth with other small woodworking shops. The following is his original post. – Editor
“I haven't had much time for fun woodworking because I'm too busy making energy education props for my customers. So, towards a goal of more woodturning and puttering in the shop, I want to shed some workload to others. But what's the best way to find a good small production shop? I could walk through the yellow pages and talk to the bigger cabinet shops, but I suspect the ideal candidate is probably not listed in the yellow pages. The local woodworking club is mostly hobbyists or retirees that just want to putter around building the occasional project.
I thought I might try the local lumber yards or a couple of the independent tool stores. I've been networking but with little results. Any suggestions?”-Dale
Some of the suggestions he received focused on limiting the incoming orders, rather than spreading the work around.
“Set yourself work-time limits and raise your prices. The rest will sort itself out.” – Jason
“Why not tell the customer that you aren't interested in a particular project and just be done with it? Not every customer is worth having.” – Steve
While others pointed him in a few new directions.
“Some ideas: Attend a local woodworkers group and ask them-I know you tried this, but try again. Are there any woodworking programs nearby? They might have some recent grads who are looking for work. Try the various forums on the Net. I'm surprised that the local wood dealers and independent tool guys couldn't help; they are usually pretty up on stuff. If it was a do-it-all lumberyard, try the places that just sell hardwoods and high-end ply. Check the Furniture Society's site
and see if there is anybody nearby on their members’ roster and see if they know anybody.” – Tom
Perhaps not entirely surprisingly, though, this discussion veered into a discussion of the current economy and its impact on woodworkers. Some were feeling frustrated with the rates they were able to find for their work.
“It seems like everyone is looking for someone that’s desperate for work so they can pay them a poverty wage. I was just in a cabinet shop that also produces a very high-end board game a couple of weeks ago, and he wanted to start me out at $9 an hour with no mention of bennies. No thanks. That’s the whole problem with woodworking, everyone cuts each other’s throats, and customers DEMAND cheap. It's not very rewarding. Been there, done that, don't care to ever do it again. A job at McDonalds would make more sense.”- Chuck
While others took the “any job is a good job” attitude.
“There are a large number of highly skilled middle and upper managers who are mopping floors and flipping burgers right now. Bunch of people are doing whatever they need to for their families in this tough period. Experience is great, but it's worthless if there's no ‘market’ for it.-“ Mark
And then there was the “it is what it is” philosophy.
“The going wage is what it is, and it is that due to the number of people able and willing to survive on it. Many people make more in small high-end shops - once they've worked there a while. Many people make a lot more doing other work that they might not enjoy as much as woodworking. I know only a few who are really content with either situation.” – John
Turning the economic lens from the work to the business, some other posters discussed the importance of maintaining a customer base.
“Sounds to me like he's just trying to take care of his customers. He can choose the jobs he wants, and steer the other ones to someone else rather than just leaving the customer hanging. Sounds like a smart businessman to me. More people in the service industries need to have that same attitude nowadays.”- John E
“Paying customers, especially now, but also in the future, are hard to come by. Better to sub out excess work if the quality can be maintained, and keep the customer for future jobs.” – Mark
The original poster concluded the discussion with a few specifics of his situation.
“I’ve been building these products for several years, slow but steady. I make three products for energy education. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 has put $5 billion towards energy efficiency, weatherization, energy education and the like. Suddenly, everyone wants curriculum and my products. I could triple my prices, they'd still order them, but that's gouging. Why not share some of my workload with underemployed talent?
“I can pay a good living wage for someone to make these products for me which frees me to design and develop more products for this niche market, thus doing my part to put folks to work. I was not looking to do business with a busy shop, but to give work to someone who qualifies but doesn't have much work. I might have found someone at the farmer’s market. Thanks for the spirited responses.” - Dale