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1st December – Christmas Social

13 December, 2014


We had some magnificent yoyos entered for the challenge albeit too few. The great yoyo performance was scheduled for after the break. Meanwhile the members divided into teams for the quiz.


There were 6 teams with names ranging from the imaginative (Table 1) through risqué (Pickle me Walnuts) to the dangerous, at least as far as pronunciation goes (Funk Nose). The Plebs demonstrated their class in leading the Panto round but the Funk Nose edged in front on the Cars round. They stayed in front once they scored a max for recognising Pictures of Turners, astutely playing their joker for double points. No other team scored above half marks for this round including Adrian Smith’s team where Adrian didn’t recognise himself!


At the interval we were treated to a magnificent spread courtesy of Lynda, assisted at the servery by Denis and Isabella Hilditch.


Then came the yoyo contest. Nine yoyos were demonstrated by their owners in a grand line up. Ian Woodford had entered large and small ones so Alan Sturgess took charge of one of them. Ian made the large one after his wife looked askance at his first effort and said that size still mattered. After a few minutes she was proved right as the small one had stopped along with 4 others. The remaining 4 finalists were invited to do some tricks. The winner was judged to be Phil Hill by the panel of 3 guest judges who were also asked to nominate the best looking yoyo.


 Yoyo finalists Yoyo trick Yoyo winning performance

By 2 out of 3 the award went to Denis Hilditch for his lovely segmented yoyo with Bryan Matcham getting the vote of the 3rd judge for his novelty Christmas pudding boxed yoyo.

Denis Hilditch, best looking yoyo    Phil Hill, best performing yoyo

Back to the Quiz and the cryptic “Name the Country” round was surprisingly too easy with everyone scoring 9 or 10. By playing their Joker the Plebs were back in contention after this round and clung on. But in the final round on Sport they needed to beat Funk Nose by 9 to win and were denied in spite of a poor round from the leaders.


So prizes were awarded and the raffle was called by stand-ins Keith and Susan Barnes to round off a jolly evening.

Dave Gibbard

1st December – Gallery

13 December, 2014

3rd November – Les Thorne

7 November, 2014

Les has made the November slot his own and we always look forward to his show and the banter. He has become a most accomplished turner with a relaxed confident style. He says this is the only demo he does these days where he feels nervous because of his history with the Club. Well, it didn’t show, Les.

Tonight’s demo was a box with texturing, colouring and even a metal finial. I couldn’t possibly give a full account so I’m just going to give an outline description with some tips Les mentioned that struck a chord with me. If you want more detail you could put his DVD on your Christmas list, or even sign up for some hands-on with the master.

The process of making a box starts with turning a cylinder between centres and putting a chucking spigot on each end. There’s no point in wasting time getting a fine finish as the shape will be refined later. There’s that reference to time which figures a lot in Les’s thinking as a professional turner. He says that Gary Rance thinks the same way and that anything that takes longer than 6 minutes can’t make money. Les claims that Gary was told this by a girl at King’s Cross station.

The cylinder is mounted in the chuck with tailstock brought up for stability and the positions of the parting line and mating spigot marked. Les starts with the lid end in the chuck. You should think about the operation sequence to minimise re-chucking not only to save time but also because each time the work piece is removed and put back in the chuck it is likely not to be on precisely the same centre no matter how careful you are.

The base to lid ratio is a matter of taste. It’s not a bad idea to draw the box first as the appearance on the lathe can deceive, particularly as the finished box will be shorter because of the overlap. Les doesn’t like a lid to fit too tightly but snugly enough that it settles in place as the air inside is expelled. To achieve this it is necessary to have a long mating spigot and overlapping lid. The disadvantage is that the grain match at the join will be poor if the grain pattern is not straight.


When parting off, Les leaves a small witness line on the lid corresponding with the mating spigot. This allows the lid to be hollowed to the correct internal diameter without constantly checking for size.

Having parted off the lid is hollowed as much as possible with a gouge then with a scraper at the mating face. Les favours a round skew type tool for this. The same tool can perform a number of other scraping, parting planning, beading operations. As luck would have it he sells such a tool!

The size of the lid is checked using the parted off base. Although the finished fit will be looser, it is left tight at this stage to allow the lid to be jammed on to finish the outside.


The lid is removed and replaced in the chuck by the base which is shaped on the outside and hollowed. The lid is then jammed on and the outside finished including drilling a blind hole for the brass finial.

The next stage is texturing with the lid still jammed on. Les used a Savur rotating burr cutter to make a random pattern over box as far as grooves made either side of the join. The frayed edges can be burnt off or removed with a sanding wheel before colouring. Without the lathe running, Les first applied sanding sealer and cut back before spraying with black acrylic. Finally copper gilt cream was applied sparingly with a dry brush.

 Les texturing box

Having removed the lid (not easy as it was jammed on tight) the mating spigot was gently sanded to achieve that desirable suction fit. That just left the base of the box to be reversed onto a jam chuck for the bottom to be finished.


Finally, though there wasn’t time to finish, Les turned a brass finial for the top of the box from a small cylinder. Purists would say that a metal lathe should be used to turn brass but with some trial and error you can get a small scraper or pointed tool to remove metal smoothly before sanding and polishing with burnishing cream.

 Les's box

Les did well to squeeze all this into the evening and also managed to do a helpful critique of the gallery. As usual, pictures of all the gallery items can be seen on the website.


Another great show, Les, and we hope to see you at our Christmas quiz.

Dave Gibbard

3rd November – Gallery

7 November, 2014

6 October – 25th Anniversary and Gary Rance

17 October, 2014

There was a great turn-out for our 25th Anniversary meeting. In pride of place as people arrived was Lynda’s magnificent cake depicting a woodturner at his lathe and an array of tools. (At the end of business at the last committee meeting Lynda produced a box of coloured icing and asked us all to make some tools to adorn the cake.) The culinary work of art didn’t last long as it was whisked away for the ceremony of blowing out the candles carried out by the first chairman, Brian Hannam and then to be sliced up to accompany the tea at the interval.

 Cake lit up  Cake, Brian blowing

So on with the show. Lynda introduced our old friend Gary Rance who started with a quick summary of the basic spindle cuts; converting square to round with a roughing gouge which can also be used to plane (though this is better done with a skew); V notches and beads using a skew and coves using a spindle gouge. If you missed the show you might like to put Gary’s DVD on your Christmas list.

His main demo was a stand for a pocket watch. Now I promise there was no collusion here, it is entirely co-incidental that our next Challenge in February is to make a stand for something. You could do worse than to show how well you have absorbed Gary’s lesson.

Gary admitted that he puts green baize on the bottom, excusing himself by saying that he doesn’t sell to woodturners and the customers like it as it avoids scratching the furniture. It also saves a bit of time of course.


The base was tuned from a hexagonal blank rather than round to avoid putting a bias on the bandsaw blade when cutting the blank. It was held by a very short screw, the screw chuck being fitted with a spacer which determined the amount of screw protruding. The base was trued up by pull cuts with a gouge before adding decorative features. Beading tools can save some time here, Gary liking one with a central point that cuts 2 halves of adjacent beads at the same time. Whilst on the chuck, it was possible to get round the bottom of the base to cut a groove into which the baize is tucked for a really neat edge.

 Gary, turning ring

Now for the half ring at the top of the stand. As a naïve novice, Gary admitted that he tried to make this part by steaming and bending a straight spindle. In fact this is almost impossible. The way to do it is to turn a ring and cut it in half. The other half can be used on another stand. One face and the outer edge of the ring can be turned with the blank mounted on a screw chuck. Care has to be taken with sizing the ring diameter to fit a wooden jam chuck for turning the other side after parting off. The cross section size and profile is also important as when cut in half it needs to match up with the vertical spindles.


The spindles themselves must match. He used a “scratcher” consisting of a piece of wood with nails driven though at the bead positions. Holding this against the revolving spindle marks the bead positions the same each time. For real production speed, a jig with adjustable “fingers” can be used. The fingers fall when the diameter at that position reaches the set size. No messing about with calipers.


Joining the parts together was done by drilling holes in the spindle and half-ring ends and in the base. Gary used small screws with the heads cut off and glued into the spindle end which was then screwed into the ring.

 Gary, watch stand

There were some nice pieces on the gallery table which Gary thoughtfully reviewed. It’s a tricky job to do constructively but he steered the course with care and I think most people would have come away pleased with the helpful remarks and with some ideas how to improve. As always, all the gallery items can be seen on the website. Gary went on to present the certificates to the top 3 in last month’s Challenge. (See previous report).


After the raffle it was time for members and guests to collect their Anniversary mugs from Brian as they left. Well done Keith (Barnes) for organising the mugs.


HWA originals


A memorable evening which needs something special to follow. That task falls to Les Thorne in November.

Dave Gibbard

6th October – Gallery

7 October, 2014

1st September – Club Challenge and John Bennett

19 September, 2014

With quite a few members away on holiday attendance was rather disappointing with just 40 voting for the challenge. We had just 8 entries from 7 members but what was lacking in numbers was compensated for by outstanding quality.


Mike Haselden’s superb bowl of balls of various wood was first choice. The balls were hiding a lovely burr elm bowl.

Inventive as ever, Denis Hilditch entered a ring with a handle with a choice of balls to run round the inside. The trick was to move the ring smartly in a vertical plane to get the ball revolving without falling out. There was a certain knack to this which nobody mastered for more than a few seconds. Denis’s entry got second prize.

Denis demonstrating

Third went to Phil Hill for his amusing toy tortoise whose legs were balls and the shell was a larger ball which rotated backwards as the creature was pulled along.

Pictures of all the entries are on the website.

Mike H 1st prize  Denis 2nd prize  Phil H 3rd prize

During the counting we had an illustrated talk from John Bennett a local ex-teacher and no mean expert in wood.

He explained that hard and softwoods are distinguished by the cell structure and perversely some hardwoods are soft (e.g. Balsa) and some softwoods are hard (e.g. Yew). Hardwoods lose their leaves in winter whereas softwoods are evergreen and are also coniferous. That is except Yew which doesn’t have cones despite being softwood and Holme Oak and Holly which keep their leaves although they are hardwood. Got that?

The way to tell the age of a tree is to cut it down and look at the ring structure. Of course this doesn’t do the tree much good. Rings are caused by variable rate of growth during the season. The outer rings conduct nutrients to the tree and are called sapwood. The inner rings are older and lose this function but are essential to support the considerable weight of the tree. They form the heartwood. The sap and heart woods exhibit quite a different appearance in some trees like Yew and Laburnum whereas in others it is difficult to distinguish between them. Around the outside is the bark beneath which is the growth material. At the centre is the core or pith.

The rings are not necessarily circular. Growth on one side is frequently greater than the other depending on weight if the wood is not vertical and prevailing weather conditions.

Some wood has radial marks called medullary rays. These can be prominent in Oak and London Plane (Lacewood). The latter is quite a plain wood except when quarter cut to display the rays.

Another interesting and bizarre phenomenon is the case of the Lignum Orientalis Varigatus tree the section of which, if carefully cut at the correct angle has a pattern of contrasting squares. This is sought after for manufacture of checker boards.

John regrets that you probably wouldn’t be allowed to wind-up students like that these days.


Does that about cover it John?


Oh yes there were a few other things, like Lignum Vitae being the only wood known commonly by its Latin name which incidentally is one of the very few woods which sink being denser than water.

Woodworm love sapwood because it is softer and tastier than heartwood but the waterborne Toredo beetles like it all and bore great holes in wooden ships unless thwarted by copper sheet. Hence the expression “copper bottomed”.

John B talks to Jack M in crit

Fascinating stuff and I apologise if I haven’t got it all right or if I’ve missed something important. Perhaps you’ll let me know?

Dave Gibbard


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