Grain Filler:

  1. “Pore-O-Pac” by Behlen.  Medium brown walnut and mahogany.

Sources: Woodworker’s Supply (woodworker.com or 1-800-645-9292) and
Grizzly Industrial (grizzly.com or 1-800-523-4777).  A one-quart can is about $17 to $18 plus shipping.

Black Wax:

  1. Black Patinating Wax by Liberon.  Source:  Craft Supplies (1-800-551-8876 or  www.woodturnerscatalog.com).  A can is $22.

White Wax:

  1. White Liming Wax by Liberon.   Source: Craft Supplies. A can is $20.



Suggested Reading:  “Colouring Techniques for Woodturners”, by Jan Sanders, Guld of Master Craftsman Publications.  (There is also a video on the same thing by Jan Sanders)

I like to use aniline powder dyes.  A 2 ounce package is $10 at Craft Supplies.  Woodworker’s Supply has a large selection.

Several years ago we had a program by Chris Stott from England.  He used several colors on some burl vessels. The process:
Sand your item to a very smooth condition (400 grit or finer).
Raise grain with damp cloth.   After it is dry re-sand with the fine grit.
Apply black dye and let it dry.
Sand away at least one half of the black to show wood.
Apply at least 2 colors at the same time (e.g., green and blue, or purple and blue)
Apply finish.  Need enough to produce a high gloss.



Bleaching is best done on a rough surface.  Sandblasting is my preferred choice for surface treatment.  Wood bleach comes in a two part kit. One bottle is hydrogen peroxide and the other is sodium hydroxide.  It is no longer available in the hardware stores in the Tri-Cities.  Tom Stoll told me that this may because the sodium hydroxide is used in the production of the drug “meth”.  It can be ordered from Woodworker’s Supply. (Item 953-096 for $15 plus shipping).  I use many applications to get to the white color.  I use 3 parts of the A bottle and one part of the B bottle.  I let it dry and then do another coat.

The literature also talks about the use of chlorine bleach and oxalic acid.  Michael Peterson of Lopez Island, WA uses the 2 part bleach and I figure that if a commercial artist uses it he has already gone through the other choices and has settled on the use of the 2 part bleach.

Use gloves and eye protection!



In some of the next ways for enhancing your turnings it will be necessary to put a grid on your work.  My lathe has an indexing wheel that facilitates radial marks for faceplate work and longitudinal marks for spindles or the side of vessels.  If your lathe does not have an indexing wheel you can make one.  Using a protractor make a series of radial lines on a piece of paper.  Make them at some even interval, i.e., every 10 or 20 degrees.  Mark the center with an awl or punch.  Glue the paper to a piece of 1/8 “ plywood.  Using a compass mark the diameter (i.e., 6 “, or whatever you need).  Then cut the circle on a bandsaw.  This can then be held next to the work with the live center.

Mark the lines on your turning with a pencil.  Then using the steady rest to hold the pencil turn the item to mark a series of rings.  Now you will have a grid.

On the grid you can draw your own pattern, use a stencil or use clip art.  I get my clip art from the various books issued by Dover Publications (www.doverpublications.com) whose books are at Barnes & Noble.  I Xerox a page and then transfer the design to the wood using a “colorless blender” art marker.  These things contain xylene. I bought mine from an art store (Seattle and Houston).  I have not found them in the Tri-Cities, but I haven’t tried all of the stores.  This technique was given by Binh Pho at one of the AAW demos.



One of my favorite ways to add texture is to use an air grinder.  These tools use a small handpiece that is connected to a supplied of compressed air.  The no load speed of these items ranges from 50,000 to 400,000 rpms.  I use one made by Ultra Speed Products.  For an excellent review article on these types of carvers/grinders see:

I get most of the carving bits from a dentist. 

Another way to add texture is to use a wood burner.  The unit must have an adjustable control for the current.

A local supply for wood burners is Cascade Carvers Supply in Kennewick (585-7787), which is operated by Ron Lunde.  Ron also has some of the better high speed carving units.

One easy way to stipple a surface is to use a spring loaded center punch (Harbor Freight).  You could also use a nail and a hammer.



Flutes and Scallops:  I use power carving tools, a reciprocating carver for flutes and standard power carvers with carbide burrs for the scallops.

Piercing: I use the air-driven unit from Ultra Speed Products.  I like this type of unit because at 400,000 rpm the there is little resistance in carving the wood.  Tools such as the Dremel and Foredom units are in the range of 10,000 to 20,000 rpm and as such the carving bit will jump if it encounters too much resistance.  Thus, it is harder to follow a line or pattern.

Inlay: Various designs can be put on the wood, carved and then filled with colored epoxy, metal dust, Inlace or other powdered materials.



For me the best part comes when you can combine various techniques into one of your pieces, e.g., turning, carving, sand blasting and finally bleaching.  Or turning, carving, piercing, texturing and then dying.