East Texas Woodturners' Association

Misc Tips

By Paul Coppinger

Feb16, 2016

This month, I have collected several of my tips plus some from Jimmy Clewes and Tom Crosby. I have used each one and know they work.


Tip 1-Tom Crosby introduced me to Hydrocote Resisthane Plus from Highland Hardware in Atlanta, Georgia. This is a water-based lacquer which dries quickly to a clear, glossy lacquer finish without the volatile vapor or dangerous breathing issues. He recommended diluting the finish with water to produce an 80-20 mixture which dries even faster. I use a plastic squeeze bottle and add the Resisthane, then add water to raise the level another 20%. Not real accurate but works for me.


Tip 2-For spraying this water-based lacquer from an airbrush or detail spray gun, cut with water to produce a 50-50 mixture. Spray until the surface just wets, but not puddles.  Too much spray will produce a run or sag in the finish.


Tip 3-To speed drying of the applied water-based lacquer, especially if sprayed, use a hair dryer. You can actually spray with one hand and heat dry with the other. When you spray, the surface will look wet; when you dry, the surface will turn dull. Spray enough coats and the surface will start to get a shine, then buff to produce a gloss finish.


Tip 4-If you have a set of Oneway Jumbo jaws for a Stronghold chuck, you can use Stronghold  #2 jaws to replace the rubber mount posts on the Jumbo Jaws and provide a good mechanical grip to hold big or odd shaped pieces while turning. All Stronghold jaws have the same hole spacing as the Jumbo jaw’s post pattern. Because the #2 jaws have a curved rib that fits into the Stronghold chuck, you must place 2 or more washers under each screw.


Tip 5-Elmers makes a product called Carpenter’s Wood Filler which is a water-based filler for cracks, dents, nail holes, etc. I have had good success diluting the filler with water to make a thin filler, almost a sizing consistency, to use on open grain woods like walnut, ash, etc. I have some 2.5 oz stainless sauce cups that I purchased at Sam’s. Place about a teaspoon of the filler in the cup and add a few drops of water, then stir to make a thick soup consistency that is then spread on the wood and worked into the grain pores. It dries in about 15 minutes and is ready to sand. The filler will take dyes or finish to produce a level surface for a glossy shine.


Tip 6-If you have a good airbrush, you can spray dyes to produce some interesting color effects on your pieces while allowing the wood grain, pattern or figure to show. I use alcohol based dyes because they dry fast. Multiple coats will make the color deeper and deeper. Since this is not a finish, I wipe or spray on the water-based lacquer or use Deft lacquer, then Beall buff.


Tip 7-Jimmy Clewes has mentioned in demos several times his homemade Talcum Wax for a quick finish on items while still on the lathe. I decided to make some using Johnson’s Baby Powder which is talcum and fragrance, and Johnson’s Paste Wax. I placed about 3 tablespoons of wax in a small container, added 2 teaspoons of powder and tried to use a propane torch to heat the container and melt the mixture---not a good idea, wax burns. I then used a heat gun, not a hair dryer, to melt the mixture. BTW, the heat gun I used is from my electronic days and it will melt solder which melts at 565 degrees F.  It is a very hot gun so be careful. A double boiler would also work to melt the mixture or simply place the container on a black surface in the sun. In about 30 minutes in the sun, the mixture will melt. While melted, stir to mix the powder in the solution, then let cool or place in a refrigerator or freezer to speed the solidifying process. Keep the container covered to prevent evaporation of the paste wax solvent.


Blake Hettick, son of Dana Hettick, was in my shop turning pens the day I made the Talc Wax. I had him try it on half of a pen he had mounted on a mandrel. It produced a nice deep satin finish which he didn’t like---he wanted a glossy finish. Jimmy recommended it as a great finish for the inside of small bowls where you do not want a glossy finish.


Tip 8-Jimmy also mentioned another fragrant finish for the inside of lidded boxes.  Mix a few drops of Essential Oil in with a small portion of mineral oil and wipe the inside of the box. The oil will penetrate and provides a finish with a nice smell when the lid is removed. Also, peppermint or anise oil could be used instead of the essential oil.


Tip 9-Jimmy used a micro-bevel grind on a ¼” bowl gouge to produce a smooth cut around the inside of small boxes.  First, he ground a 45 degree bevel on a gouge without a fingernail grind using the Wolverine attachment, like you were grinding a roughing gouge. Then he moved the handle forward about 2” to grind the bottom corner off.  This makes 2 bevels on the cutting end of the gouge.  Finally, he holds the end of the gouge by hand at nearly level with the floor and rotates the gouge to grind the micro bevel on the cutting edge about 1/16” wide. Be careful to not let the edge go below the centerline of the wheel as this could result in the gouge edge or corner biting into the wheel and either ruining the wheel or throwing the gouge or both. When finished, the gouge will have 3 bevels. Use is tricky at first but with practice, you will be able to ride the micro-bevel and produce a very clean, smooth finish completely around the curve of the inside of the box.


Tip 10-Here’s another from Tom Crosby.  He uses hot glue to hold or help hold wood while turning. Use General Purpose Hot Glue sticks…do not use the Hot Glue sticks for wood. The hot glue for wood will not release. I have found this to be a great way to hold an odd shape; to augment other holding techniques; or to hold a lid to a box, instead of tape, to finish the knob of the lid. When it is time to release the glue, spraying mineral spirits on the glue will soften the bond.


Tip 11-Finally, I often glue a collar with a ¼” hole to the top of my hollow vessels. This serves two purposes:

-It keeps certain turner’s finger out of my vessel so they can’t evaluate how smooth the inside is and

-It allows the installation of a finial with a ¼” tenon.

The next time you part off a vessel or bowl from a tenon held in your chuck, drill a ¼” or slightly larger hole in the middle of the waste block using a drill bit chuck in your tail stock. Remove this waste block with the hole, turn around and enlarge the hole with a 5/16” bit.  The depth should be deep enough for the flange of a Tee Nut to seat on the back of the waste block, about ½”. Then insert a ¼-20 Tee Nut and pull it tight with a ¼-20 bolt.  To mount your collar blank, use a bolt long enough to fit through your collar blank and into the Tee Nut. You can turn one side, then flip the blank to turn the other side.


Hope these tips help you turn better and produce better surfaces, color effects and finishes.


See ya,



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