Article: Jeff Chelf Demonstrates For CMW, July 15, 2017
July 17, 2017 15:50, submitted by Tina Collison (author: Alan Wasserman, photos by Tina Collison)
Jeff Chelf demonstrates for CMW, July 15, 2017
Learn more about Jeff at: http://www.jeffchelf.com
Jeff Chelf, known as the woodworker to woodturners, is young but do not be fooled by his youth. He presented to the Carolina Mountain Woodturners at our July meeting with clarity and skill. Jeff’s mainstay is still boat building yet uses woodturning to fill the gaps. This writer (Alan Wasserman) believes Jeff’s love for woodturning will soon take over his priorities.
Jeff Chelf and Collaborations with Zobel and Weidman Turned Bouquets
First demonstrated were free form flowers of different design and size to create a wooden bouquet. Jeff’s preference for the wood to be used is red maple, sycamore and holly, all of a tight grain and light color. Color and pronounced grain will interfere with the eventual air brushing for its finish.
Start off with a 3 x 3” and 4” long block of wood with no pith. The piece is mounted, center-to-center using a Oneway cup center on the drive side.
Remember, speed down to start, wear a sturdy safety mask, tool rest just below center and rotate the piece a few times before starting to turn.
Jeff uses his bowl gouge to start squaring off and then converts to the spindle roughing gouge, keeping your arm close to your body, moving with your body, back and forth and not your hands. Turn your block down to an approximate 2” diameter. Mark 2/3 down for design (Golden Rule). Shape a free form flower design, cutting towards the tailstock. Use your spindle gouge for thinner cuts.
Cut up grain with at the top 1/3 using a short punch type entry with the tip of your gouge. Remember, these (peeling) cuts are creating layers of the pedals on a flower and are not meant to end up as clean smooth cuts. You are creating a feather form. Hollow out a bit, the underside of the flower. Where the stem is to be, push in with your gouge to create tool marks (that is a pleasant thought…tool marks are good). Jeff also makes a disk on the lathe and creates different textures on the face of the disk.
To rough up the finished product to look more natural, Jeff prefers his Proxon or Arbortech with a carbide disc by Saburr Tooth, gently punching into the piece to “stamp" the work with the circular shape of the disc. For a stem Jeff prefers a 1/4”x1/4”x18” piece of wood roughed up with a sanding belt to form irregular undulations and burning the ridges with a propane torch to highlight the form. Drill a hole in the bottom of each flower and glue in a stem.
Highlighting your work becomes an unlimited exercise. You can touch the edges of the flower with a gas burner. Soak in Pentacryl and allow to dry for 1 week and then air brush (Jeff’s choice is a Masters air brush machine) to your desired colors. It is suggested to go from light to dark colors. Jeff starts with a yellow oxide then to Nicole gold with a touch of blue on one flower and then continues to a deep red, magenta purple to deep violet and a touch of green. Determine your colors prior to painting as it is easy to get muddy colors if picking them on the fly. After painting you can elect to lightly sand off some of the paint to accentuate parts of the wood grain.
The next project was a three-legged stool.
Starting with the seat top, Jeff uses a hard wood such as ash, or maple at a 10-13” diameter and 2” thick. You now have to lay out the three holes for the legs. From center, draw a circle 1 3/4” from the rim. With your compass at that diameter, create a cross mark and then from that mark go around this circle until you get to the starting mark (this should result in 6 equal cross marks on this drawn circle. Examine the grain on the top of the seat to select which mark will have the first leg. Then circle every other mark so you now have three cross marks, which will be where your legs will be.
It is recommended for the legs to be set in a 15-degree hole, angled out towards the rim. Jeff uses a simple jig to do this but you can easily create a wedge at 15 degrees. Drill a 1” hole, 1” deep with a Forstner bit. Measure the 1” from the lower side of the hole.
Mount this piece with a screw chuck and turn it round using your tailstock for safety. Stay out of the line of fire while turning. Once rounded, now is the time to shape. Start on the side to the center on in each direction. Smooth out the top of the seat, create a 3/8” (+-) indent starting from 2” off the rim and sand to smooth. Smooth out a sand the bottom.
Now turn your three legs. Use a 2 x 2” stock. The legs should be approximately 19” long. Any imperfections in the wood for the leg should be positioned towards the headstock (where the bottom part of the leg will be). Create a 1” diameter tenon, 1” deep on the top end of your leg on the tailstock end. The tenon should remain rough as you need a good glue join.
Before going further, take the piece off the lathe and fit into the drilled holes on the underside of the seat. Assure the fit is tight (this is suggested before forming your leg as if you mess up the tenon to the extent of no repair, you have not wasted your time creating a design, only to have to scrap the piece. Now create a design and turn the leg down, narrowing from the top, gradually towards the intended foot of the leg, which diameter at that point should approximate your live center circumference (approximately 3/4” down to 1/2” in diameter). Sand away any tool marks and no need to go past 180g-220g as you will be eventually milk painting the legs.
After you finished your first leg, and before you take it off the lathe, create a story board (marking peaks and valleys of your design) to match your first leg design. Now repeat the above process for each leg (skip the story board portion, of course).
With three legs turned and tool marks sanded out, now apply milk paint. Jeff uses Old Fashioned Milk Paint and brushes on three coats, the first of which is your base coat and the next two coats are your top coats. Some of the combination of colors that Jeff prefers is Soldier Blue over Mustard, Black over Salem Red and Soldier Blue over Salem Red. Each coat requires a 30 minute dry time before applying the next. You can speed up the process to less then 15 min if you use a hair dryer but let the piece partially dry before hair drying to avoid cracking in the paint. Wait 2 hours after the last coat and burnish the piece with 0000 steel wool. You can also lightly sand sporadically with 320g paper to create an antique look and then burnish. Apply a finish of your choosing to protect milk paint from water damage, keeping in mind that an oil based finish will darken the paint color whereas water-based will stay true to color.
Glue the legs in the hole with Titebound Hide Glue. Hide glue is desirable in this instance as it lubricates the joint during assembly, and facilitates easy repair in the future. In 24 hours of dry time your stool will look fabulous.
We thank Jeff Chelf for sharing his ideas with CMW.