There was an impressive attendance and array of work in the gallery for the first meeting of the year.
Our guest for the evening was local turner Gary Renouf who specialises in natural edged bowls. For his first demo Gary mounted a yew log on the lathe with grain at right angles to the axis via a hole drilled in the log for an expanding pin chuck. This is a useful method when the top of the piece is not flat. The work can be supported initially by bringing the tailstock into play but Gary prefers not to for small items where there is little risk of shaking loose. And there is likely to be some shaking because the log will not be balanced, so a slow speed is required.
Gary started turning the bottom using pull cuts with a gouge. It is only in contact intermittently so the bevel can’t be rubbed. It needs to be held steady for the wood to come on to it.
Early on Gary likes to cut a chucking spigot so that the work can be reversed to alter the top mounting hole should it fail.
The underneath shape is carefully developed to achieve a good finish from the tool because sanding is difficult on the non-continuous surface. Gary does not like to use power sanding.
If the bark remains attached, some thin superglue can be run around where it joins the wood to encourage it to stay in place when turning the top. If the bark starts to become detached, Gary removes it entirely.
The under surface is treated with thinned sanding sealer, sanded by hand and polished before reversing to turn the top.
The top surface is then turned with a gouge. A useful tip is to make a mark on the rest to indicate the tips at the edge of the bowl because it is difficult to see where they are when it is spinning.
After finishing the top surface, the bowl can be parted off if the spigot has been made tall enough.
After tea, Gary made another bowl with a flatter top and square ended “wings” using essentially the same procedure.
Finally Gary said a few words about the gallery items. A great display which I hope can be maintained through the year. A mischievous member put 3 exquisite, thin natural edge bowls on the table made by the late master of the genre, Bert Marsh. Gary was spared undue embarrassment when the joke was revealed before he could say too much.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.