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
When Andi couldn’t make it and asked me to do the report of the meeting I knew it was going to be an impossible task. The comments just pour out of Les. Les “owns” the November slot at HWA and never disappoints. He has an instinctive knack of using tools and a knowledge of what is going on at the cutting edge. He manages to explain it too with a relaxed, confident style and light hearted banter.
Of course it wasn’t always like that. Years ago I often used to escape from work and slip along to WJT at Alresford where Les’ father Bill held court and abused his customers. I say customers but it was more of a social gathering than a sales activity. Bill announced that his lad was thinking of doing woodturning professionally but he thought he wouldn’t make it.
But Les is as determined as his father and stuck to the task, making friends with and taking advice from the experts and taking on repetitive production jobs, turning his mind to reducing the time to actually make them profitable (and finish early to go fishing).
Les’ demo this time was a box like a Greek vase on a pedestal with a finial lid. He had written this up as an article for Good Woodworking, so when I fail to report the detail, maybe you can get a copy! He likes the magazine as it has a broader readership than just woodturners (and the editors are less picky than Woodturning). A show of hands revealed only 3 readers in the audience. He showed 2 versions of the box and almost everyone preferred the one which is easier to make.
So he proceeded with a piece of oak (not a very suitable material for a box because of the porous end grain but he likes a challenge). A square section was turned to round between centres with a roughing gouge. The tool edge is ground to about 45o give or take 5 so it is not critical. He then used his version of a round skew to make chucking spigots at both ends, leaving a small diameter cylinder protruding at one end to become the tip of the finial.
He partly cut in at the point of division between lid and base after some discussion about rules for the correct ratio, concluding there was no such thing, it just has to look “right”. He then mounted it in the chuck at the base end to allow him to shape the small onion top of the finial before parting off the lid.
He mounted the lid in the chuck gripping the spigot but with the top of the finial inside the jaws and this allowed him to turn the underside of the lid. He reduced the width of the remainder of the finial part leaving the final turning of it until later.
Putting the base in the chuck he then proceeded to hollow it. There was a lot about hollowing end grain using his “magnetic pencil” as a pointer to show the angle the gouge was being held, initially pushing the gouge into the centre and pivoting it on the rest. As the recess became deeper the shape had to deviate from a circular arc involving a combination of first pivoting then pulling, rolling the tool at the same time to prevent the wing digging in. A case of easier done than said maybe.
Les addressed the thorny(!) problem of the pip in the middle. You can’t get rid of it until you understand what causes it. If you push the gouge too hard when starting the arc it will not start cutting until slightly off the centre (as the wood is not moving onto the tool at the centre) leaving a pip. The way to avoid it is to push the gouge in at the centre first, thereby drilling a small hole then start the arc without pushing. It will then just cut sideways from the hole. This time a case of easier said than done I think.
Les finished the inside with a fashionable negative rake scraper. This is simply a scraper with the top surface edge ground at an angle down towards the scraping edge. The benefit of this is that the scraping edge is always presented to the wood as though it were trailing even in a deep hole. This also makes it much more tolerant of the angle it is presented to the wood so there is much less chance of a catch.
He then cut the recess to suit the lid which he inserted and supported the finial tip with a hollow tailstock via a tissue pad to avoid damaging it. He then turned the remainder of the finial with gouge and skew.
Finally the base was turned to the Greek urn shape.
In between the lid and the base, we had the tea break and Les’ critique of the gallery. Just 9 items this time but they made up for lack of numbers by sheer size and quality. Some lovely pieces as can be seen from the pictures on the website. Mike Haselden’s wonderful huge Monkey Puzzle bowl and Chris Davey’s exquisite laminated lace bobbins took my eye.
With just minutes left, Les had some fun with the skew. He conceded there is an element of risk using a skew with spectacular catches waiting for the moment of distraction. You have to concentrate and keep the tool moving forward. Dig-ins occur when you pause.
There are 3 parts of the skew that can be used, the long point, the centre area and the short point. The central are gives the best finish (though all 3 can be very good) but is most sensitive to hesitation, the long point is the most tolerant. So concentrate, keep moving and keep the tool sharp.
As usual Les delivered an instructive and entertaining display. Let’s see some finial lidded urns on the gallery table after Christmas.
What a great evening’s entertainment! We at HWA are spoilt by having great guest turners at many of our meetings, but we also have a wealth of talent in our own ranks, one of those being Adrian Smith, one of our longest serving members.
This month attracted a very healthy 70 members including new member Keith House from Romsey.
The title of Adrian’s talk had already lead to much joviality, but then he took to the front of house and we were treated to a couple of hours of first class entertainment, a blend of an experienced turner showing how to produce spheres of a consistent size, lots of very useful tips laced with a regular dose of fantastic wit and anecdotes that had the audience eating out of his hand.
The demonstration started with comedy from the beginning when the microphone didn’t work, Adrian gave us a quick overview of his previous work in producing many spheres commercially. He then proceeded to show us first hand, starting with a rectangular blank in the chuck, he quickly reduced it to a cylinder close to the required diameter with a gouge, then divided it into two halves with a parting tool.
The next step was to create a “Cup Chuck” or shaping template, this was achieved by hollowing out the half of the blank that was left in the chuck, using a narrow gouge and then a ring tool. The inside of the template doesn’t need to be a perfect concave, just deep enough to accept approximately a third of the proposed sphere, the cup can then be rotated around the sphere as it is turned to size. This template can then be used to create numerous matching spheres.
The other half of the blank is then returned to the chuck to be turned into one of Adrian’s Balls. Again reduced to near the required diameter cylinder measured with callipers. Adrian then marked the centre line of the piece and also the end nearest to the chuck with pencil marks, he then reduced the second line down with a parting tool leaving enough wood to hold the piece in place. Next Adrian applied further pencil lines in equal amounts to the face of the cylinder and the half furthest from the chuck in equal numbers, he then made cuts with a small gouge from one set to the other i.e. 1-1 2-2 etc. forming one half of the sphere. This was then repeated on the second half of the sphere
He reduced this to a cylinder of about the required diameter as measured with callipers. Adrian then marked the centre line of the cylinder (at a length of half the diameter) and also the end nearest to the chuck with pencil marks. He reduced the latter with a parting tool leaving just enough wood to hold the cylinder in place and relieved the scrap part in the chuck to allow access to both ends of the cylinder. Next Adrian applied further pencil lines at equal spacing to the face of the cylinder and the half furthest from the chuck. He then made cuts with a small gouge from one set to the other i.e. 1-1 2-2 etc. to form one half of the sphere. This was then repeated on the second half of the sphere.
The chuck cup was then offered up to the sphere and pressed gently until friction marks appear to highlight the raised areas to be removed thus creating a near perfect shape.
The sphere was then parted off, taking care to leave the pencil line in the centre and two pimples on the axis. This would be useful as the process continued.
The cup chuck was then inserted into the lathe chuck and the sphere gently tapped into it and using a spray of water to aid its grip.
The sphere was then smoothed using 60 grit abrasive with frequent reseating in the cup chuck until it spun inside the cup independently, a small hole that appeared was repaired using super glue and sawdust from the lathe bed and sanded to a nice finish.
We then had tea followed by a very short gallery critique by Bob Hope of just seven items from only four members this month including Mike Haselden’s Wenge bowl containing a delightful variety of balls made from a wide selection of woods intended for a solitaire board.
Ironically Adrian started the second half with his own solitaire board and quick demonstration of how to solve the puzzle.
Amongst several useful tips he then showed us how he sets the banjo on his lathe by turning the chuck in reverse by hand, the wood then pushes the loose banjo into the correct position clear of the wood to secure in place, and ready to turn.
Adrian then turned his attention to making much smaller balls, these he produced a lot faster by using an open ended spanner of the required size, which he had ground a sharp edge on it doubled as a calliper and cutting tool he reduced the piece of wood into a cylinder of the required diameter, he then used a short length of stainless steel pipe to shape the ball in the same fashion as he had done previously with the cup chuck, but cutting at the same time. This was then sanded and sealed using a small bit of rag in preference to paper towel, he justified this as safe as the rag is only just long enough to wrap around the work and not the hand. With time running out fast we were then treated to a quick demonstration of how to turn a Christmas tree with a skew chisel in the style of a tree he had placed on the gallery table.
The meeting ended with the usual raffle draw.