Saturday, 11 November 2017

Speaking of Things That Don't Quite Work...

This is another item that could be called an incomplete success.  One morning I found a robin's egg sitting on the sidewalk outside our house.  I don't know how it got there, but it was just sitting there, unbroken, on the concrete.  I had recently seen a video by Nick Zammetti and his attempt to encase a dandelion in resin.  I thought that I might have better luck with with the egg.

The first thing to do was to find a suitably gnarly piece of burl that had lost its bark to put the egg on.  After a little archaeological dig through my wood pile (I got as far down as 2006) I found a piece that would work and would make a nice little turned box.  The only problem was that it was in the middle of a larger chunk of wood.

I liberated a small sort of cylindrical section using my bow saw.

To keep the resin from soaking into the top of the wood I gave it a coat of sanding sealer and then made a mold using Gorilla Tape.  Is there anything that stuff can't do?

I glued the egg down with CA glue because I was afraid that it would float away when I poured in the resin.  Once the resin was poured I just had to wait a couple of days for it to harden.

When I came back to it though... disaster!  I don't know if there was a hairline crack in the egg that I didn't see or if the resin shrank as it cured or didn't harden evenly or what.  All I know is that when I came back to it I found this...

Bubbles everywhere!  It was a disappointment, to say the least.  I decided to press on though, and call it another practice run.  It really was too nice a piece of burl to give up on completely.

The actual turning of the box was a pretty standard affair so I won't go into too many details about that.  There are lots of videos on YouTube that can explain it better than I can, including the one I mentioned above.  There are a couple of things I would like to mention, though.

The first is this handy little flashlight from Chestnut Tools.

It's perfect for an application like this, where your head gets in the way of the light and prevents you from seeing into the depths of a turning.

The second was my method of sanding the acrylic resin.  I didn't want to use any liquid polish on it because I was afraid it would soak into the wood.  Instead I worked my way through the grits by sanding with the lathe running first until I had a consistent scratch pattern.  Then I would work along the radius with the same grit until the first set of scratches was gone.

When I changed to the next grit it was easy to tell when I had sanded enough because the radial scratches would be gone.  I found that if I spend enough time on the first grit the rest of them go fairly quickly.  When I was done I would up with this.

Another thing I discovered is that when you have a curved surface on the resin it acts like a lens and distorts the light passing through it, making it hard to get a good view of what is inside.

I finished the wood with three coats of General Water-Based Turner's Finish.  I thought it did a nice job of bringing out the figure in the wood without adding much color to it.