All posts by Carl Ford

My woodturing stated back in 2002 as a hobby. It has now become an obsession. I plan on becoming a full time studio woodturner after I retire from IBM. Until then I am a studio woodturner on weekends and weeknights. I am very interested in doing woodturning demonstations and teaching classes. My current obsession is Milk Paint. I also love to turn natural edge bowls, small vases and jazzing up my turnings with lots of color.

Agar Class at Arrowmont

Photo: group_agar_wow_class_2019_800.jpg I recently took a WOW Factor master class with Nick Agar at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. June 9-16, 2019. Here are some photos of the work I created in the class.

I had a great time at the class. Nick is a great instructor. I loved the environment at Arrowmont. The food was excellent. The turning studio is top notch.

Nick is well known for his Viking Sunset Bowls. This class was something different. It was all about creating turned wall pieces and sculptures from cut up turned forms. I also made some plates on my own to play with some of Nick’s decorating techniques.

I teach woodturning. But, I believe you should never stop learning. It’s time to roll over and die when you stop learning. Thus, I still take classes.

Here is the class description from the Arrowmont catalog.
NICK AGAR, WOW FACTOR, June 9-15 2019, One Week, Course Fee: $800

During this master workshop students explore the potential of the wooden surface and what it offers makers. You will discover form and proportion and will create wall pieces, cut up-reconstructed sculptures, and turned and sculpted solid forms. Participants will utilize power carving, pyrography, airbrushing, and ceramic and metal effects using the instructors signature series paints (all made in the U.S.) and other paints to enhance their work to give it the WOW factor. Open to all skill levels, however basic skills at the lathe are needed.

Nick Agar has over 25 years of experience as a woodturner. He is a registered professional turner, co-author of the book Woodturning Evolution and an elected member of the Devon Guild of Craftsmen. Specializing in surface enhancement and renowned for his wall sculptures, his award-winning work often incorporates carving, airbrushing, ceramic and metal effects. Agar has inspired many woodturners with his work and has traveled across the world to demonstrate his skills. TURNINGINTOART.COM
This was the first time Nick taught this class in the US. He plans on teaching it again in the US. Nick just moved (immigrated) to Georgia USA (4/2019). His new studio is across the street from Chroma Craft’s US location.
Photo: walls_agar_wow_class_2019_800.jpg I created 2 wall pieces in the class. I really enjoyed making these. I am definitely going to be making more of these in the future.
Photo: awall1_agar_wow_class_2019_800.jpg Here is the 1st wall piece I created in Nick’s class. The wood is really nice curly maple. 12″ square by 2″ thick.

The idea here was to turn and decorate square pieces and then cut them up. Nick suggested cutting them up in 1″ wide strips or into quarters. Then we could rearrange or skew the pieces.

After I turned the square piece, I decided to decorate it with airbrush stuff I learned from Nick. I love the way it came out!

I decided it was too nice to cut into strips. Thus, I cut it into quarters. The original piece is on the left in above photo. One of 16 possible arrangements is on the right.

I colored the piece with Chroma Craft Wood Dyes applied with an airbrush. I used some airbrush stencils from Nick, Amazon and Binh Pho.

Note: 4 pieces * 4 sides = 16 possible arrangements.
Photo: awall2_agar_wow_class_2019_800.jpg Here are two alternate arrangements of the 1st wall piece.

The piece is not done yet. I plan on mounting this piece on a black steel background that is roughly 3″ larger than the piece. I will install magnets on the back of each piece. This will allow people to rearrange the pieces to create their own image.

It looks better with a 1/4″ of space between the pieces. I just stacked them up for the photos. So, no space was possible. I am going to add spacers to the finial piece.

Note: Using magnets to mount sculptures on plinths (suspended in space) was one of the ideas Nick discussed in class. I decided to expand that idea to mount my wall pieces.
Photo: cwall1_agar_wow_class_2019_800.jpg Here is the 2nd wall piece I created in Nick’s class. The wood is Maple. 10-1/2″ square by 1-1/4″ thick.

Nick suggested that we could remount and turn each quarter individually after cutting the main piece into 4 parts. I wanted to try out that idea. I also wanted to try a piece with out a lot of fancy airbrushing. Just let the beauty of the wood shine thru.

I was finishing this piece on the last day of class and got in to much of a hurry. I accidentally powered sanded the orange center on one of the 4 pieces. Then I had to try to cover it up by sanding all 4 of them. It didn’t really work out.

I colored the piece with Chroma Craft Wood Dyes applied with an airbrush. The Chroma Craft dyes are fast drying and DO NOT penetrate into the wood. Thus, I got way with, just sanding any dye over spray off the top surface to expose nice clean wood. I masked the junctions in circles with masking tape. That was a pain.
Photo: cwall2_agar_wow_class_2019_800.jpg Here are two alternate arrangements of the 2nd wall piece
Photo: slices_agar_wow_class_2019_800.jpg We started the class by creating sculptures from cut up turned forms. We turned a 9″ round bottomed cereal bowl shape on the outside with a small 2″ shallow bowl on the inside. Then we cut the bowl into slices and experimented with carving, wood burning, coloring and finishing techniques.

The photos show my 2 creations. The above photo on the left is the front view. The photo on right is the back view. I am really happy with the way the pieces turned out.

I cut my bowl into 3 slices. I never got around to using the center slice that contains the small 2″ bowl on the inside. It is NOT shown in the photos.

The green piece in photos is ash wood with power carved and burned textures. It was painted with copper and bronze reactive metallic paint. Some areas were painted with copper, others with bronze. Then it was aged with green patina aging solution.

The red, orange, and yellow piece is ash wood with power carved and burned textures. It was painted with red, orange and yellow Chroma Craft Wood Dyes. Then the back and some areas on the front were highlighted with Chroma Craft Viking Silver Chroma-Gilt.

Nick wanted us to mount our sculptures on a plinth with magnets. The magnets allow the pieces to be moved around and re positioned to create new configurations. I really liked the idea. But, the wimpy magnets I brought with me were not up to the task. My slices of ash were to heavy to be held up at the angle I wanted. I had to use dowels rather than magnets.
Photo: bplates_agar_wow_class_2019_800.jpg I made some 9″ hard maple plates. They were canvases on which I could try some of the techniques demonstrated by Nick in the class.

The plate on the left in the photo is Chroma Craft Wood Dyes applied with an airbrush. I used some airbrush stencils from Amazon and Binh Pho.

The plate on the right is Chroma Craft Black Web-Fx special effect paint, over Golden brand Iridescent Bright Gold acrylic paint, over Chroma Craft Blood Red Wood Dye.

You can see in the photo that some paint escaped under the masking tape that I used to mask things off. In the future I need to do a better job of masking.
Photo: gplate_agar_wow_class_2019_800.jpg I also made a viking style plate. I wanted to try Nick’s idea of mixing different colors of Chroma Craft Chroma-Gilt on the same piece. Some areas are say copper while others are bronze.

I turned a 9″ hard maple plate and decorated it (cut groves in it) with my small and large Sorby Spiraling and Texturing tools.

In the above photos the front of the plate is on the left. The back is on the right. The back is darker than the front in real life. By design.

I kind of forget what I did here. I am not sure about the colors. Here is my best guess. The front is Saxon Gold and Antique Brass Chroma Craft Chroma-Gilt, over Green Verdigris Chroma Craft Chroma-Gilt, rubbed into the groves with a tooth brush, over Chroma Craft Black Wood Dye.

The back is Celtic Copper and Nordic Bronze Chroma Craft Chroma-Gilt, over Chroma Craft Black Wood Dye.
Photo: wrbowls_agar_wow_class_2019_800.jpg On the last day of class I made a platter (wide rim bowl). I liked a platter with a white and blue rim done by another student. I wanted to try something similar.

I took the piece home to finish at home when I did not have time to finish it in class. I got inspired and made another piece with a red background at home.

The platter in left photo is Blue and Black Chroma Craft Web-Fx special effect paint, over Rustolem flat white spray paint. With Golden brand blue and black acrylic paint, airbrushed on shading. The ugly brown marks in the bowl, showed up when I turned the bowl. They are in the wood. I was not happy.

The platter in right photo is Black Chroma Craft Web-Fx special effect paint, over Blood Red Chroma Craft Wood Dye . With Golden brand black acrylic paint, airbrushed on shading.

The black rim on both platters is black acrylic paint, applied with an airbrush.

Both platters are 9″ diameter, hard maple wood. The bottom of both platters is a roman ogee shape, natural wood color.

Face Shields

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People are always asking me about face shields.

In A Nut Shell

I have found that face shields are HIGHLY PERSONAL. What one person likes, others will hate!

Therefore you should try before you buy. Try at a class, school, club or a friends house.

I have several different models of face shields in my studio. I can never predict in advance what people will like.

What I Like

Photo: msa_defender.jpg

I started out with a simple “MSA Defender +” face shield from a local store. Around $15. I still like this face shield and use it when other people are around. I have several of these in my Studio and most people like them or can live with them.

I primarily like this face shield because it is tough and there is lots of space between the inside of the clear plastic and my face. Thus it does not fog up easily and it does not fog up my glasses.

Unfortunately this face shield is no longer available. It was discontinued. MSA does not make anything similar in a low price range. Photo: hd_faceshield.jpg

If I wanted something similar today I would try the “Heavy Duty Faceshield” #199210 from www.packwoodworks.com for $22 on 4/2019. I like that Packard says ” The shield allows room for people who wear glasses”. I hope this means the face shield will not come to close to my face. I also hope it is not to heavy. I DO NOT own one of these and have never seen one up close and personal.

The Sellstrom S32010 on Amazon for $30 on 4/2019 also looks good. I DO NOT own one of these and have never seen one up close and personal.

The Safety Works Faceshield for $17 on 4/2019 on Amazon may be similar to my MSA Defender + face shield. Is it ANSI rated? I DO NOT own one of these and have never seen one up close and personal.

What My Students Like (The Rolls Royce of Face Shields)

Photo: uvex_s9500_s9555.jpg

Several of my students have and really like the “UVEX by Honeywell S9500 Uvex Turboshield Face Shield Headgear with Black Frame” $22 with a “UVEX by Honeywell S9555 Uvex Turboshield Clear Polycarbonate Replacement Visor and Clear Lens with Dual Anti-Scratch/Anti-Fog Lens Coating” $28.

You have to order the headgear and clear lens separately. They snap together.

You can get a cheaper lens with out all of the anti… crap for $13. That is what I would go with. I don’t like anti… crap on my glasses, etc. However, my students say the cheaper lens is not as good. The cheaper lens is a “UVEX by Honeywell S9550 Uvex Turboshield Clear Polycarbonate Replacement Visor and Clear Lens, Uncoated”.

All of the above prices are on 4/2019.

This is not the face shield for me. I like my cheap and dirty ones. I have been wearing glasses for 50+ years. A little dirt is normal and does not bother me. If you like to keep things clean and insist on a really clean face shield then this UVEX face shield may be for you!

What I Don’t Like

Photo: 3m_and_bubble.jpg

Beware! I already told you face shields are HIGHLY PERSONAL. You may like, what I don’t like. I known people who have and like all of the following.

  1. I don’t like the yellow Apprentice Face Shield from Craft Supplies USA. To flimsy. To close to my face.

  2. I don’t like the blue 3M Face Shield from Craft Supplies USA, Amazon, etc. Way to close to my face. I have these in my studio. Only like 1 in 10 people like these. It’s built like a tank on the plus side. But, I still really don’t like it.

  3. I don’t like the Bubble Face Shield from Craft Supplies USA. Fogs up to easy due to closure at bottom of face shield. I need a face shield that has a big open space at the bottom to allow my hot breath out. I have these in my studio. Most people are not thrilled with these but can live with them.

  4. I don’t like any face shield with plastic below the clear part. i.e. near my chin. Chin guards, etc. Like, I already said. I need a face shield that has a big open space at the bottom to allow my hot breath out. Thus I don’t like any of the Uvex Bionic shields.

Powered vs Non Powered Face Shields (Open vs Helmet Face Shields)

All of the above are Non Powered face shields. There is no fan that forces air over your face while wearing the face shield. Thus you have to put up with any heat build up or fogging. Thus the face shields need to be open at the bottom and/or top to allow air circulation. They are good for beginners and/or light duty use.

Face shields that are part of a helmet (hard hat) are generally to much trouble for beginners. But, after a few close calls, experienced turners often favor them. When things come off the lathe, all hell can break loose. Things (wood, etc) can bounce off the ceiling and come down on top of your head, etc.

The helmet systems incorporate a small fan with a rechargeable battery. This often adds way to much to the cost for beginners. The fan forces a stream of air over your face. The air is normally filtered. I am NOT saying “fresh” air. It is just filter air.

Powered Face Shields

Photo: trend_airshield2.jpg

The “Trend Airshield Pro” for $380 on 4/2019 currently is the only game in town for less than $1000. I I DO NOT own one of these. I don’t known what to say about these. Recently, Mark Baker gave it a positive (but not glowing) review in the UK Woodturning magazine.

This style of unit has the batteries and filter up on the helmet rather than down on a belt around your waist. The current model moved the battery and filters to the back (rather than up front) for better balance.

I have (but have not used in a long time) a similar “3M Airlite” with the battery and filter on the helmet up front. I had a love hate relationship with this unit. I always forgot to charge the battery. Even when I had a spare battery. The fan did not blow enough air to satisfy me. I personally like lots (tons) of air! Your mileage may vary! This unit was long ago discounted. The new 3M models start at over $1000.

Note: I don’t known if the new “Trend Airshield Pro” would move enough air for me. I have never really tried it. Photo: triton_faceshield.jpg

Eventually, I replaced the 3M Airlite with a “Triton Powered Respirator”. It was a hard hat style helmet with the battery and fan on a belt around your waste. This one supplied a little more air. But, still not enough. Donning it was a pain. This unit has also been discounted.

Then I decided that all of these battery units were never going to supply enough fresh air to satisfy me. I replace the battery box and fan on the Triton unit with a 20′ long 1.5″ diameter light duty hose that was driven by a 6″ in line duck fan. The fans they use for boosting air flow in AC systems. This worked reasonably well. But, I got tried of that 1.5″ hose. It was hard to coil up and store. If I stepped on it, then I was screwed.

I decided to bite the bullet, when I became a full time Woodturner. I got an Allegro fresh air system. See next section.

What I Really Use

Photo: allegro_9245.jpg

When I work in the studio by myself I use my Allegro fresh air system. It brings in fresh air from outside via a small 3/8″ ID (5/8″ OD) BREATHING air hose. Being restricted by an air line is not for everyone!

I like the fresh air! I wish the air line was a little more flexible. But, it is tough. If I step on it, it’s not the end of the world.

This is the kind of system they use in auto body shops for painting, sand blasting and welding.

I don’t like the Trend Airshield, etc systems. The fans are to wimpy for me. I like lots (tons) of COOL air!

Anything that involves “breathing air” is not cheap. 50 feet of 3/8″ air hose for tools, etc, is like $15. You don’t want to breath thru some cheap plastic air hose that may still be out gasing toxic chemicals, etc. 50 feet of certified 3/8″ breathing are hose starts at $100+. The Allegro 9245 system in photo starts at around $1000. Its a low pressure system.

I actually have over $2000 in my system. I have the bigger A-1500 pump rather than the A-300 pump in photo. I also have a low pressure air cooler that I modified to fit in a chest freezer so I don’t have to supply fresh ice daily. The air that comes out of my big pump is to hot for my liking. I like to have my face bathed with a cool breeze. I have, an external intake hose connected to the pump that bring in fresh air from outside. Plus 100′ of hose, fittings, etc. It all adds up.

I am not interested in USED systems on Ebay, etc. I don’t want to breath thru the same system that someone else has already used. I don’t known if they kept it clean. I don’t know what they were using it for. Toxic chemicals? Fine sand blasting dust? Etc.

If I had to do again I would get the A-750 pump. I got A-1500 pump because I like lots (tons) of air! I decided the A-300 pump would probably be to small for me. The A-1500 pump is to much! It runs hot because it supplies lots of air. I have to vent almost 1/2 of the air at the pump. It costs to much to run. The pump is hard to deal with because it is really heavy.

Some day I may upgrade to the 3M M-107 Versaflo Helmet or the full hard helmet from Allegro rather than the half helmet that I have.

An added bonus of this system is that it works great while sanding or spraying paint. When I finish my work the rattle spray cans, etc of nasty stuff, I don’t breath it and I can’t smell it!

I strongly recommend you try something like a “Trend Airshield Pro” and decide you RALLY can’t live with it. Before you go with one of these EXPENSIVE systems!

Note: Low pressure systems use a little pump like shown in above photo. High pressure systems bleed the air off of a big gas powered air compressor. The kind they use on construction sites to power jack hammers, etc. You can only use a venturi effect air cooler on high pressure systems.

Foam Cole Jaws


Here is my “Craft Foam Projects Bowl Rim” tip that appeared in the “Tips” section on page 15 of the AAW February 2019 “American Woodturner” Journal.

Note: Click here to view PDF with Photos 1, 2, 3 referenced below.

I recently discovered sticky-back craft foam at my local craft store. It is 1/8″ (3mm) thick with a self-adhesive back. I purchased a couple of sheets for future use and have now found a good use for it. I’ve installed it on the face of my jumbo jaws to protect a bowl’s rim when reverse-chucked.

Simply remove the buttons from the jumbo jaws, cut the foam to shape with scissors, stick it on, and reinstall the buttons (Photos 1, 2). You can poke holes through the foam for various button placement as needed. I no longer need to fumble with trying to stick a paper towel between the jaws and my work when I’m concerned about damaging a finished surface (Photo 3).

The foam sticks very well but could be peeled off if necessary. I plan to leave the foam on the jaws indefinitely and replace it when it wears out.

Long ago, I also made my own buttons for my jumbo jaws out of some rubber corks that I purchased at the local hardware store. I drilled a hole through the corks and attached them with longer machine screws (also from the hardware store). I really like this solution. The deep dovetail shape of the corks holds the work securely.

Additional Information

You can purchase the rubber corks with a hole already thru them from www.mcmaster.com item # 9545K116 $8.33 per pack of 25 on 4/4/2019. The matching 30mm long 8mm screws are #92000A438 $8.15 per pack of 25 on 4/4/2019.