Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Past and Future

I wasn’t planning to do another woodworking post but several folks liked this piece so I thought I would pass it along. Most of you know by now I am a firm believer in using what is at hand and this is a good example of going into the yard (well, at my house at least) and making something useful. The parts for this would be considered scrap or firewood by most people, in fact, the walnut was saved from a firewood stack while the Osage orange was laying in my yard. You could do this with hand tools but I have a few bigger toys that make it a bit faster.

As I talked with a couple of friends on Twitter about traditional archery, the subject of Osage orange being used for making a bow came up, this led to @ILCornfed asking if I could do a striker for a turkey call out of it. While I was working at the lathe turning some lures I had time to think about it and realized it could work. I had a small section of Osage that could be split and rescued walnut was sitting there all I had to do was turn the parts.

I took a chunk of Osage to work down first since if it failed there was no reason to do the top. Using a micrometer to check the thickness of one of my strikers I found out how small it needed to be. The one I used as a guide was 8 mm across and about 4-5” long. I chucked the first piece on the lathe and started cutting it down. I was surprised by how easy it worked. It didn’t take long to get it close to where it needed to be. I stopped to check it several times at this stage because it was pretty skinny. The simplest way for me to get it right was to use a parting tool at each end to turn down to the diameter I needed then cut the rest down with a bull gouge. When it was close I used a flat scraper to smooth the ridges out and then sanded it with 100 to 220 grit paper. After sanding I cut the ends off on the bandsaw then rounded one end with the disc sander and padded nail files.

For a first attempt at a top I used a piece of oak I found laying in our discard pile. Neighbor Don had tried to turn this oak but it wouldn’t turn, just made a mess. I tried to tell him to speed the lathe up but he thought slower would work. When I tried I used a faster speed and it cut like butter. After rounding it I measured a section 3 ½” long to taper using my store bought striker as a guide and Mark 1 eyeball to match it I got started. Since it was just a simple taper it only took a couple of minutes to turn and sand. Before I cut the ends off I used a small drill bit to put a pilot hole in the end where the osage would be added by simply drilling where the lathe spur had made a hole. This shows you the exact center of your work piece and makes it easier to enlarge the hole when you add the striker end. I matched the Osage piece to a drill bit then enlarged the hole to fit, cut the scrap ends off and sanded.

After getting the pieces ready I did a test fit to be sure I had things close. With the parts together I used one of my slate calls to see how it would sound. It was cool to hear it for the first time even though it was a bit too deep of a tone. I thinned the tip some by sanding to tune it to a higher pitch and that worked like a champ. This is when I thought about the walnut stacked outside.

I went out, found a likely looking piece and headed to the bandsaw for a bit of trimming. I crosscut a section about 5” long and got it on the lathe to commence with more turning. Since I had done one it didn’t take long to do the second one but I couldn’t leave it plain. I used a diamond parting tool to cut lines then used a bit of wire to burn the lines to darken them. I sanded this piece using 100 to 500 grit paper then drilled and trimmed it like the oak. I used a bit of wood glue to join all the parts and set them aside to dry. After they dried I applied a natural color stain to everything except the last 3/8” at the striker tip. I left this unstained so it wouldn’t affect the sound and could be sanded when needed.

The tip is not lined up in the pic since it wasn't glued in yet.

While I have quite a bit of store bought equipment around I am trying to produce things that I can be proud to say are one of a kind and work. I want to be able to provide the people that order from me items they can show off to friends and say that they have the only one exactly that shape or color. I never use templates when I turn, only rough plans when I build and no formulas when I paint. I couldn’t do two things exactly the same even if I wanted to. As I get older the things that our grandparents or great grandparents had and did are starting to mean more to me as I watch people drool over another mass produced item that anyone can buy. Are they good? For the most part, yes. Are they just alike? Yep. I remember a time when folks were more individual and what they used showed that side of them in its' quality and artistry which is what I want to provide.

I hope you give building something of your own a try. When we are all gone these are things hopefully that get passed along with stories of how Granma or Granpa made this, taught me how to use it and make my own so it all starts again.

If you would like to order an item or if you have a question you can contact me at

1 comment:

LB @ BulletsandBiscuits said...

Beautiful stuff Tommy! We have a friend that carves also....actually I just did a post on it. He carved us a bowl from a cherry tree burl and gave it to us for a wedding gift....and I have to tell you it was my favorite gift. I actually stole from his garbage can a piece he that he did but considered it junk and I made it into a gorgeous candle holder. haha.

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Born and raised in middle Tennessee.I'm a working wildlife and landscape artist specializing in watercolors. Now making cedar lures and custom turkey calls.



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