Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Arsenal of Democracy

Those who know me are never surprised to learn of my ordnance collection; my artillery shells.

I've been collecting projectiles and shell casings since 1972 when I acquired my first one, a brass shell casing for a Naval 3" gun. I got it while it, and I, were still in the U.S. Navy. It's one of those things that "came home with me".

Shell casings and inert projectiles just seemed to gravitate toward me over the years, though more casings than projectiles. A few years ago, upon learning to operate a woodlathe, I began making the projectiles to go along with the empty casings.

Of my collection of twelve modern artillery shells (WWI to present) all of them are inert painted to appear active, and five of them are entirely made of wood.

Recently friends gave me a second empty three-inch shell casing. Last night I glued up five 5x14x5/8 inch boards as turning stock, and this morning I turned my latest projectile.

Here's my glued-up stock this morning.  I've just taken a mallet and driven in the headstock of my lathe into the center of the piece.  You can see that its just a big sandwich of glued and clamped boards.


I powered up my lathe and got to work making the chips fly...

and fly...

and fly.

I was using a profile that I had taken from an actual photograph of a 3" armor-piercing shell.

This profile served as my template for all measurements.

With my parting tool I dug down to a true 3-inch thickness as measured by calipers. 

Working from left to right, I turned the driving bands and, here, I'm roughing out the windshield - the lightweight steel cone that covers the nose of the armor-piercing projectile within.

Finish sanding as I went along, the piece is nearing completion.

Here is the blank, this morning at 8:00 a.m.

Primed, at 10:00 a.m.

Painted at 5:30 p.m.

And with it's shipmates this evening.

Can you guess which ones are wood?

Staying busy,


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