Ask the Editor September 2013

Readers like you submit questions to us every day. Here, our woodworking expert George Vondriska answers your questions and offer helpful solutions to your woodworking problems.

I’m new to turning. I bought a Jet 12-20 lathe. I have one full length Easy Wood Rougher. I need to buy more turning tools. Since I’m new and want to learn to do “coves” and “beads” would you recommend continuing with the Easy Wood System or going to the standard gouges, skews etc.? Funds are limited but I will buy “one” quality tool at a time over a period of months. Also, if you recommend “standard” what do I look for in a good set of tools or brand?
Anonymous reader

George: As you’re turning skills advance you’ll want to transition from scraping to shearing. You can have a look at this video to see what shearing beads looks like. I love the fact that the Easy Wood tools don’t require sharpening, allowing more time for turning. Check with them to see if you can get the results from their tools you’d get from shearing with “conventional” lathe chisels. If you do choose to go down the conventional road I’d stick with high speed steel lathe chisels. With the rougher in hand I’d buy a gouge next, then a skew.

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Simple question maybe. How is the best way to dry wood cut from trees? I have several around the farm here, ranging from pecan to Oak. During fall we trim them up and think they would be a cheap supply. I have heard several ways using a coat of latex over the cut ends to using denatured alcohol. How you would use that I have not a clue. Any thoughts?
Dave L.

George: Wood can be air dried. To do that you should cut the log into planks as soon as you can after the tree is down. Seal the ends with latex paint to prevent moisture from escaping the end grain too quickly. Then stack the wood up using stickers as shown in this video.

If you want to keep the trimmed parts as branches, perhaps for bowl blanks, you should still seal the ends. It’s nearly impossible to get a log to dry without cracking, so they’re typically turned green (wet). You can use products like Pentacryl to stabilize the material. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. I’m not familiar with using denatured alcohol on green wood.


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What should I use to cut MDF wood?
Richard W.

George: This video provides some info on table saw blades. A triple chip blade is best for mdf and other abrasive materials, like particle board.


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I spray with acrylic paints and sometimes get buildup in spite of constant cleaning. Do you think soaking in mineral spirits will lift dried acrylic better than water? I’ve heard this is a good idea since mineral spirit molecules are smaller than H2O molecules.
User bbbartolo

George: I don’t think mineral spirits will cut dried acrylic paint. I have heard that a dilute solution of ammonia might break old acrylic paint loose, but ammonia can be hard on brass or aluminum parts. Acetone, available at hardware stores, can be used to soak items like spray tips.

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  • The SawMan

    Hi George,
    Can you tell me the name of the software that you are using for woodworking project layouts ??
    THANKS
    THE SAWMAN

  • The SawMan

    Hi George,
    Can you tell me the name of the software that you are using for woodworking project layouts ??
    THANKS
    THE SAWMAN

    • Customer Service

      The software George uses is Cut List Plus.