Thursday, September 19, 2013

Juggling another cool commission...

Who gets the coolest commissions ever? 

I do! 

A juggler recently contacted me about making some spools - which are things he uses in his act. They sort of look like a wooden dumbbell, and he paints them in bright colors, and adds suede to each end, which (I guess) makes the ends "stickier" and able to grip each other. 

Honestly, I wasn't even sure I could make these spools efficiently - but once I made a prototype - I thought - no problema, chica!

The spool he brought to me was solid wood - probably Basswood, but I thought laminating Baltic Birch plywood was a better solution. Each end of the dumbbell was about 2" thick, with a massive dowel connecting them, so I laminated a long beam of BB plywood. 

Once it was dry, I squared it up, and cut it into blocks.

I needed to find the center of each of these blocks, so I made a simple jig for marking the centers. 

When the jig was slipped over a block,

I could mark the center and then - using a compass, mark the area to be sliced away. 

Here's a block sitting next to the prototype I made. To make things much easier, 

I tilted the table on the bandsaw, and sliced each block roughly to shape.

They didn't have to be perfect, but this saves a lot of time and work on the lathe. 

Or course, the bandsaw blade fell off the wheel when I got to the last two! It always seems to work that way in the shop.

Here are all 24 ends ready for drilling.

My plan was to drill each end and insert a large dowel, which would be turned down to its final size on the lathe. 

Everything was made oversize, giving me more than enough material to remove.

The dowels were then cut to length, and inserted into each block, making the dumbbell blanks.

 I glued each one in place, and used a long screw to secure and clamp the ends together.

Honestly - orders like this are challenging and rather enjoyable - they keep me on my toes, woodworking-wise. 

Two down, ten more to go. 

 The nice part about Baltic Birch plywood is that there are virtually no voids. When I found a small gap, it was easily filled.

 Four more to go...

 And finally - a dozen spools, ready for painting. 

I was holding onto this post for a while, hoping to include a link that would show this performer using some of these spools in his juggling act - but I just couldn't locate a video of him. 

Meanwhile, I searched Youtube for a video of someone using spools like these - and the closest thing I came up with is this video. At around 1:30 into this video, you'll see this juggler using spools similar to these that I've made. 

I think mine are nicer! 


Vegas Lupe said...

Looking at the blog, it puts into perspective the number of steps it took to complete that project. That is a huge job, Jamie! Quite impressive.

Question: If you were to break down the time it took you, how many hours did you spend in each dumbbell?

Regards, Lupe

Wood It Is! said...

Lupe - It took 3+ hours for laminating, squaring up, cutting, drilling and re-gluing each spool into a rough blank. Then - about 45-50 minutes on the lathe per spool.

All told, about 13 hours of labor.

Julie @ followyourheartwoodworking said...

Wow, you DO get the coolest commissions. Those turned out perfectly.