Life lessons from my cat

In woodturning, “making a funnel” means cutting through the bottom of the workpiece during the hollowing phase. The name comes from the visual effect of such a hole at the bottom of a deep bowl, cup or vase.

Today I managed to make a funnel in a shallow plate.


My wife had seen the piece while I was shaping the bottom and the grain is spectacular so I know she’s going to ask about it eventually. No way I wanted to waste this piece, or worse, have to tell her about it.

Then I remembered how the cat will make the most spectacular miss during a leap, the walk off with a disdainful over-the-shoulder glance and an attitude of “I meant to do that.” When performed with such absolute conviction, the cat can make you believe it just might have been intentional after all.

So I cleaned out the hole to the size of the mortise and sanded it smooth. Then I cut an inlay to a perfect fit with the laser. I tried several woods but there was no matching the grain and a contrasting inlay just looked silly and screamed “accident happened here!”

I was beginning to lose hope when I got the idea of putting a logo in the middle. In my day job I specialize in a type of software that does message queuing and the logo is a fairly simple block drawing that looks like a flow chart symbol. So I whipped one up in Inkscape. Then I cut two copies, one out of walnut and one from maple, swapped the cut-out parts, and voila!

Now it looks intentional and when I show it to my wife I can walk off with a disdainful over-the-shoulder glance and an attitude of “I meant to do that.” If I can perform it with sufficient conviction, she might even believe me. The cat has earned an extra treat tonight.

In the photo below, the inlay is still unfinished while I wait for the glue to dry. After some Danish oil, the walnut will be quite dark and the maple a pale yellow. The saucer is Tiger Maple.


That’s funny! Thanks for sharing that story. :sunglasses:
Nice save there! “If you can’t hide it - accentuate it.” Woodgrain is nature’s art, and that’s a fine piece.


As always, the accompanying story is as awesome as the piece.


Great save!


Glue dried, then Danish Oil and wax applied. Thanks :glowforge: for helping with the save and the cat for the inspiration.


That turned out beautiful!


Good for the cat, and you are a wise man for understanding.

I can’t get enough of woodturning videos. It would be way cool to see an intentional make.


Great save!


Thanks, and thanks! That tiger maple piece was stunning and no way I was going to turn it into scrapwood. But I would not have been able to do the inlay with any other tool that I have. The :glowforge: saved the day, for sure.

The problem with that is it only happens when the wood is chucked with a mortise and cutting through destroys the integrity of the chuck mounting points. The chuck jaws bottom out on the inside of the mortise, against the layer that gets pierced when the funnel is made. The issue is that the entire bottom of the mortise becomes paper thin and the workpiece can break off and fly backward into the headstock. This can damage the piece, possibly breaking it and creating shrapnel, so it isn’t something to do intentionally.

On the other hand, there are lots of videos in which a hole is intentionally drilled in the bottom - small enough to not interfere with the chuck mount - for the purpose of inserting a knob, finial, or stacking layers.

In other news, we now have a “woodturning” tag! I’ve added it to this post and will go retag my others on this topic. Best case it’ll be the seed that grows our little sub-group. Worst case newbies will see the tag, scratch their head, and go “Woodturning? What the… Am I in the right forum?”


Great idea to add the insert, thanks for sharing the story! When watching woodturning videos I always wonder how they don’t just blow right through!


It is indeed a beautiful piece of wood.


Is it only going to be used to hold mail though? :sweat_smile: I thought maybe flowers, fruits, fancy design… Of course, if you’re leaving love notes for your wife… :grin:


Actually, I’m sending to friends who are in the same technical specialty as me and were developers on the product at IBM many years ago. Over the years IBM and various vendors supporting this product have made logo memorabilia and merchandise and it’s become somewhat collectible among the user community. But that’s all been mass-produced and often cheap conference giveaway swag. My friends and I have invested 20+ years each in this product and community and I wanted to give them something unique to commemorate that.

But, yeah, they will probably throw it on a desk and put mail in it.

While I do write her the occasional love note, more often than not I blog about her - with her approval, of course. I posted this last night, printed a copy, and left it by the coffeemaker. After 40 years together, she considers these a kind of love note.

I’ll engrave the next blog post onto a maple plaque to keep it on topic for the :glowforge: forum.


I like it. Too bad you couldn’t hit the walnut with danish before the inlay. Then you could have hit it with lacquer and kept the maple white(r). Before you said what your day job was, I thought you made a bowl to hold the mail. But I love the curly maple. That will look great too when you hit it with danish.


I think some of the best projects come from and “oops! Time to think outside the box (er, bowl)” ! Your story was fun to read, but that last bit really got the squishy smile from me :heart_eyes_cat::heart_eyes_cat::heart_eyes_cat:


I love your story! It made me laugh, as I could definitely picture it all. You are quite the storyteller! Thanks for sharing it!

In our house, I am the one who decides, and does, all the painting, and always have been. Not because my husband is unwilling to help, and he does help if there’s something I just can reach (even with a ladder), but usually because I enjoy and I’m not messy at it. He LOOKS at paint and gets it on him! And he’s always let me decide the colors. So far, I haven’t changed the colors in this house since I painted it when we moved in 6 years ago. I just really like it. Although I have thought of repainting the bedroom…but then I’d have to change the curtains, the pillows, the bedspread… and I’d rather spend the money on materials for the GF!


Thanks for the kind words! I always said “if I can make just ONE person laugh, I’m really, REALLY bad at humor.” So now I’m up to two. My work here is done. :wink:

(Actually, the Toxic Swatch story shot up to top post position pretty quick. At one point it got 28 views in one day from Slovakia. I can only guess as to why but my guess is that this was due to them taking the news about the 4th little pig really hard.)

I know the feeling. Except in my case it is resin and finises. The pants I’m wearing as I write this have a 4-inch resin patch from a recent project. They are just workshop pants so no big deal, but when it happened I didn’t notice until it started to set and then I had a helluva time getting the pants off. Like getting your thigh waxed but with epoxy instead of wax.

Yeah. And in my wife’s case, she has a tendency to get rid of the old stuff before we have the new stuff. Our living room windows are now bare. If she ever decides to repaint the bedroom I fear we’ll be sleeping on the mattress laying on the rug for months. (When I made the bed the stain was matched to the old bedspread.) Sorry, no :glowforge: used in the making of the bed but if I end up re-making it I may just do some experiments on the structural integrity of 1/4" Baltic Birch.