This month we were pleased to welcome Mark Baker, who we last saw in September 2013. As well as being editor of woodturning he also does demonstrations throughout the world so we were very lucky when he agreed to come to demonstrate at the club. Well done to Bob Hope for securing his services again.
We had 68 members attend including 1 new plus 4 visitors. A total for the evening of 72.
Look in many museums and you will see metal and pottery vessels with shapes used prolifically by the Greeks and Romans, but were also in use if Africa and Asia centuries before, and are still in use today. These shapes also give themselves to woodturning. Taking his cue from these classics, Mark’s demonstration was to be a lidded pot.
Mark explained lidded vessels are fascinating because they can be created in various sizes and can be functional or decorative or ceremonial. The opportunities for design and enhancement are endless.
Once the club lathe was set up, Mark was putting edges on his tools. This was done using a 150mm diamond wheel which was the precursor to the now superior CBN wheels that are now available. Mark had a mandrel made to fit the wheel so he could hold it in a chuck – with tailstock support and run it at low speed to sharpen his tools. During the demo, he used a diamond hone to keep the edges sharp
Mark started the evening by asking how many members turn at least 25 projects year? A show of hands showed that many of us don’t. He then explained that the average is only 15 projects per year, the point of this question was to point out that if we do not turn regularly we are not practicing our techniques enough.
He started with an ash blank, this was mounted between centres to shape the outside and form a spigot for later reversing to hollow the inside. Mark likes to support his work using the tailstock even when mounted in a chuck. This is more secure and minimises vibration.
He discussed the use of scrapers. And passed three different examples around the audience. Mark started by using pull cuts to clean up the face of the blank, he then used a parting tool to form a spigot for reversing the bowl later on. He then proceeded to form the outside of the bowl using a selection of gouges and scrapers, practicing his techniques as he removed the “waste”, something he recommends for building or retaining skills.
With the outside shape of the bowl complete it was now ready for. the decoration. Here Mark used a beading tool to cut beads on the bottom half of the bowl from the transition point to the base, he then used a parting tool to replace alternate beads with a flat area, a very pleasing yet simple method of decoration.
At this point, Mark explained that he does not sand during demonstrations due to an allergy to all wood dust, when in his own workshop, he always uses a full-face respirator and the workshop is equipped with extraction and filtration.
He gave a useful tip for cleaning up features like beads where sanding is time consuming and likely to remove sharp detail. He uses radial bristle brushes by 3M available in different grades of coarseness. These are quite expensive but a more affordable version is available from B&Q (other DIY outlets are available – Ed.)
The decoration complete Mark remounted the bowl on the previously made spigot and began using a straight coring tool to remove a section which could later become the lid of the bowl, or in this instance another shallow bowl later in the evening. These tools are an excellent investment to save wood and reduce shaving waste. The inside was hollowed with gouges, the bottom of the hollow needing a steep square grind to enable the bevel to rub. A ledge was left in the inside wall for the loose-fitting lid to rest on.
Following a tea break in which Mark answered questions to the surrounding members, he proceeded to give a brief critique of a very large members gallery, picking out the exhibits which caught his eye, he paid particular praise to the entries of two of our newer members who had exhibited pieces that were only their 2nd and 3rd/4th efforts all of which he highly commended for their quality Mark also commented that many of the clubs he visits no longer have a gallery at their club nights.
Mark returned to the lathe and proceeded to turn the lid for the pot, again explaining the culture of shapes. He reduced the edge of the lid to approximately match the recess of the bowl and created a graduated knob and again formed beads from the transition point. The lid was then reversed in the chuck and the rim reduced to fit nicely in the bowl. He then back cut the inside of the lid. The bowl and lid were left plain inside as any decoration would create a food trap.
Mark completed his demonstration by turning a shallow bowl from the cone he had previously removed from the centre of the bowl. He continued to explain that clay pots were finished with a variety of bases. On this occasion he cut away the rim to leave 3 feet on which the pot stands, which also allows light to travel through the spaces. This was achieved using his mini angle grinder to form three feet from the bowl base.
The unit he used was a Proxxon long-neck angle grinder fitted with a medium grade toothed disc from Foredom. Discs of various kinds can also be obtained from Saburr, King Arthur Tools and Kutzall and Arbortech.
Mark finished his session with a quick Q&A, following a hearty round of applause for a first class evening’s entertainment and we finished with the usual raffle
Next month’s meeting is the AGM and a challenge to make a bowl incorporating some form of decoration. Entries will be displayed for members to select their favourites. This will replace the usual gallery. Also a quick reminder that membership renewal fees are due.
Despite some evening wet weather some 63 members still attended this months meeting with 4 visitors and 4 New Members.
We welcome Steven Warren, Alan Biddulph, Martin Coles & Stephen Howell.
Lynda did the usual introductions which this time included a call for several additional volunteers to help at the monthly meetings. There are vacancies for helping on Audio/visual, club shop and the raffle. There is also an opportunity for all members to help out the Minstead project with the manufacture of 300 Yew Candle Holders for Wimborne Minster, more details later in this issue.
The theme for the evening was a member’s Turn-in with three of our senior members on the lathes. All three demonstrators were surrounded by a revolving audience throughout the evening.
We had Alan Baker demonstrating the use of the Skew, turning between centres on the new club Charnwood lathe,
The skew chisel can be a very versatile tool used for planing a smooth surface on the outside of spindles as well as cutting vee-grooves and beads. It can also be used to facing off the end of cylindrical workpieces and properly handled, the skew can even be used for shaping gentle concave curves in spindle work.
A selection of skew chisels: from the left,1/2″; 3/4″ and 1″ plain skews and a 1″ oval skew
We were treated to serious debate between the experienced turners about how the skew should be sharpened, how long a bevel and how many cutting edges there should be, all of course a matter of choice, different strokes for different folks as they say. There was however plenty of opportunity for those brave enough to turn a few beads in front of their peers.
On the second lathe we had John Holden holding court on how to turn a box and lid from some Yew Branchwood, despite a few problems with his chuck and a particularly dry bit of branch, John managed to educate his audience with a skilful narrative even when he managed to break through the side when hollowing out his box, he carried on with a smile and a joke “that’s how not to do it” and proceeded to make a matching lid which he achieved with just a few adjustments achieving such a good tight fit that he broke the box in half trying to remove the lid. Undeterred by this small mishap, and one that has happened to most of us John continued to retain is audience’s attention and moved on to making a light pull in the shape of an acorn
On the third lathe we had Harry Woolhead who promised us a few Branchwood pots, similar to those he had entered on the evenings Gallery table. Another entertaining demonstrator Harry also picked on a very hard piece of Yew Branch wood which proved hard work to hollow out, Harry showed us a similar pot that he had previously turned from a much greener piece, and pointed out the difference in ease of working with this and how you can gauge the thickness of the walls you are hollowing using his finger and thumb “nature’s callipers” also when turning green wood you can shine a torch into the hollow and this will shine through the wood as you reduce the thickness
The evening came to its close with the usual gallery critique this time given to us by Alan Sturgess, a special mention must go to Mike Haselden for his wonderful napkin rings and twisted stand with its very clever inlay effect, a major talking point around the table all evening. And the final action was the raffle draw.
Tonight’s demo was to have been by Bob Hope but Bob had to pull out because of illness. We wish Bob a speedy recovery. Fortunately Les was able to step in at the last minute and gave us a comprehensive demonstration of making a bowl, with some texturing and colouring thrown in for good measure.
Les started by talking about gouges and the confusing way we classify the gouge size in the UK. This is measured from the inside edge of the flute to the tangent on the opposite side of the rod. So a 3/8” gouge is usually about ½” in overall diameter. The Americans take a more simplistic (dare I say logical?) approach and call a gouge by its overall diameter. Les says that unless you are making really big bowls you don’t need anything bigger than 3/8” (UK). Then there’s the shape of the flute, ranging from a wide U shape to a parabolic shape sometimes called a superflute. Protagonists of each argue their merits on the basis of capacity of the flute to conduct shavings away to rigidity of one with more steel remaining to the versatility of a compound shape to make a variety of cuts. Les likes Sorby gouges though they are the only manufacturer which doesn’t give them to him! However, any gouge from a reliable UK maker is likely to be good and consistent from one to another.
Then there’s the question of the grind. Les does not usually go in for long ground back wings. Such extreme shapes are good for removing wood rapidly from (wet) logs but can be tricky to use in more normal projects. (Anyone coming to the Phil Irons masterclass may well see an impressive demonstration of a more extreme grind.) You are unlikely to get away with one shape anyway. As we will see, to rub the bevel on the inside of a bowl at the bottom necessitates a tip ground steeply almost straight across. I’ve included some pictures of Les’ gouges.
Les started turning his bowl with a roughly cylindrical ash blank with grain going across it in the usual way. So the gouge will encounter grain ranging from side to end as the wood rotates. For the purpose of the demo, Les turned the blank into a cylinder. (In practice it would have been quicker to start cutting a bowl shape from the outset). Cuts can be pushed or pulled. Simplistically, push cuts have a rubbing bevel following the cutting edge so are easier to control and give a better finish. Pull cuts can remove wood quicker, particularly with a long grind. Les used both on his cylinder to demonstrate the difference.
The spigot for the base was cut next, marking the centre for alignment when eventually reversing to finish the foot. The spigot and the rim define the ends of the outside curve which Les proceeded to cut. A push cut is difficult at the spigot end when working over the bed so Les used a combination of pulling to start with transition to a push. This is a situation when a movable headstock makes life easier. Once the shape has been established, some find it helps to refine it by scraping. This can be done with a scraper or the wing of the gouge if ground back enough. A final finishing push cut leaves a smooth surface requiring minimal sanding. As the bowl curved inwards at the rim, the optimum “downhill” cut near the rim needs to be away from the rim towards the widest point. Cutting the outside curve requires the gouge to be slid along the tool rest and the gap between the rest and the surface varies with position. This is a case where a curved rest would help as the gap is more constant.
Les being Les he applied a random texture to the surface at this stage using a hand held mini Arbortech type cutter. The rough surface was smoothed using a rubbing wheel before colouring.
Les used Chestnut spirit based dye which is colour fast and, unlike water based dyes, does not raise the grain. The dye was applied via a venturi-fed air brush with the reservoir beneath the nozzle to suck the dye into the air stream. A number of colours were applied and sealed with an acrylic sealer. This was not sanded as to do so would have cut through the thin layer of dye.
The bowl was then reversed onto the chuck for hollowing using the spigot. Most of the work was done with a ¼” bowl gouge. The gouge should enter the wood with the bevel at right angles to the surface to avoid kick back. This can be difficult to achieve working over the bed. Again, a swivel head stock would make this easier.
As the hollowing progressed Les was asked about inserting the end of the tool rest into the bowl. He said he wouldn’t do that and of course he had a reason. Keeping the rest at the rim allowed the gouge to trace a curve with the rest as a fulcrum using an overhand grip. With the rest in the bowl, whilst the overhang would be less, the gouge would have to be moved along the rest as it cut making it more difficult to achieve a smooth curve. Also you would be working at the end of the rest rather than the more rigid centre. If there is a concern about vibration, use a thicker gouge, say ½”
As the bowl is hollowed, the rim impedes the gouge and it needs to be swapped for one with a steeper grind for the bottom to maintain a rubbing bevel.
Les then power sanded the inside from 120 to 320 grit keeping the disc as flat on the surface as possible to avoid the edge cutting a groove. Having blown the dust off Les then gave the inside a light spray of yellow and added a black shadow to emphasize the undercut rim.
Finally, reversing onto a block faced with thin rubber and supported by the tailstock at the centre point (which had been marked at the start) allowed the foot to be turned away.
As usual Les’ demo was full of advice about tools, procedures, options and pitfalls delivered with the confidence of one who has learned the hard way and knows what he is talking about. I hope I’ve done it justice.
At the tea break Les did a helpful critique of the few items on the gallery table. I know it’s been Christmas but it would be nice to have some more next time. Pictures of the gallery items are on the website.
A very successful end of year club night was enjoyed by all who attended, sadly there were only 45 members present with ten guests in attendance
As usual in recent years our chairman Lynda had produced a fantastic range of baked goods, which people were taking by the plateful, myself on a strictish diet fasted on satsumas and grapes until finally succumbing to a small portion of delicious carrot cake, which Lynda reassured me was made with a low-fat cheese spread and contained lots of carrots.
The evening kicked off with four rounds of the popular annual quiz, we had six teams competing, it was interesting to see several people joining Les Thorne’s table from the start, another was made up of mainly the “Tea Boys”, The first four rounds covered Sports, Musicals, Birds and Leaves. Lynda was quiz master and Dave Gibbard her “pointless friend” was score keeper. I would like to acknowledge at this point how much work Dave does for the group always keeping the committee and members up to date with his email announcements, he also puts a lot of work into the quiz and proof reading my reports etc. as well as doing all of the gallery and demonstrator photography thanks Dave.
We then had the tea break and Lynda’s confectionery buffet.
The second half of the evening started with the club challenge, which was to make something propelled by an elastic band. Just a disappointing 5 entries which included a racing car, a rolling cylinder a cannon and my personal favourites, by the two Dave’s, Gibbard and Simpson. Santa chasing his reindeer in a small jet plane and two rockets that hit the ceiling respectively.
Judging was carried out by a brave visitor, Keith’s wife Susan. The concours prize went to Dave Gibbard’s “Naughty Reindeer” and the performance prize to Dave Simpson for his spectacular rocket launcher. You can see all the entries on the website.
We then returned to the quiz, which included rounds of “Name that tune” (played on the keyboard by Lynda), “Television”, “Who, What, Where” and the ever popular “Two Peas in a Pod”. The eventual winners were The Tea Leaves, who stole the show (sorry). As usual the evening ended with the raffle run this month by Keith Barnes.
All in all a great evening’s entertainment, which just goes to show what a friendly group we are at Hampshire.
by Andi Saunders