Turning Up Mushrooms
Larry Hancock shares techniques and tools for turning these fungai.
SHOP OWNER: Larry Hancock
LOCATION: Ardmore, OK
For turning mushrooms, I prefer to use a fresh cut limb. To slightly undercut the top, a skew is fine but to really get under the top and for compound type curves, I think the spindle gouge works best. It has no corners to catch and will give a good cut even against the grain if kept sharp. With a fingernail grind of less than 90 degrees total tip angle, you can get in along the stem and top junction pretty well. Since this is an end grain cup, the thinner you get it, the more likely you are to break it. This is due to applying a lot of bevel rubbing pressure and the wood having very little structural support left. Don't take deep cuts with the gouge that will pressure the cap. Take light passes and only apply pressure in the direction of the cut, not the bevel.
A small insert type angled tip tool, similar to a hollowing tool with a radius shaped grind, can also be used. I have an adjustable tip tool that works well when angled to get a slight shearing cut. Since this is end grain, it will cut better if you go in at the center and cut back out toward the rim, cutting with the grain direction. This is more on the line of a scraping type cut without bevel rub and in a pulling motion but will produce a sandable cut. The pressure of the cut is still in the direction of the cut path but don't apply pressure up into the cap. Take light cuts here and also when it starts getting thin.
Some turners prefer to hollow their goblets first and then turn the outside to match. This method may be considered because it allows for strength while hollowing and then light cuts could be taken on the outside. I always turn the outside shape and then hollow. I believe the outside is the most important since it is what will be viewed. The inside is just excess to be removed. Since either method will work, this just provides another option to try.. . . Larry Hancock
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