Calcium carbonate – the spindle turners friend

Anyone who turns legs has probably had the same problem that I was having today.  I was trying to “round down” some square stock in the area between the tenon blocks and the foot.  Normally, the goal is to bring the diameter of the round area to the same measurement as the square stock thickness, as this provides a good register for laying out.  Sometimes, this is more easily said that done.

Remember the admonishment, “don’t look at the tool, look at the top line – the ghost line”.  This works well when the lighting is just right, but in my little “rat’s nest”, the light is never just right.  It’s hardly adequate at times.  But I make do and joke with my friends that I know how colonial craftsmen felt as they struggled to see on anything but the sunniest of days.

In any event, I couldn’t see the “ghost”, no matter how hard I tried.  And then, a flash of insight.  (Alright, maybe I read this somewhere in the past and had just forgotten about it.  But at my age, it seems like insight and I’m going to treat it as such.)  I thought that I could increase the “ghost” if I could raise the contrast level by brightening the center areas of the flat surfaces, the areas to be turned round.  I grabbed some chalk (ergo the calcium carbonate headline) and marked them up.  Here’s what the process looked like:

my original view

my original view

Chalking up the center of the areas to be turned round.  These areas will remain at full dimension.

Chalking up the center of the areas to be turned round. These areas will remain at full dimension.

The "ghost" is clearly amplified

The “ghost” is clearly amplified

Very clear "ghost" in the foot area, nearest the outside light source.

Very clear “ghost” in the foot area, nearest the outside light source.

I wondered if using black or some other color might even improve the process.  I had some charcoal and, once again highlighted the high areas.

018

Surprisingly, there was no significant improvement over the chalk.  I’ve concluded that any shading that increases contrast will help, a lot.

The good news is that I’m not going have to completely re-illuminate the place.  I’m going to be able to maintain that warm glow of low light that I’m so used to.  That said, I may need some new glasses.

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