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.
A very good turn out with many still away on holidays, we had 67 members attend with two new members, Michelle and Amelia plus one visitor. Giving a total of 70 on the night
Lynda kicked off the proceedings with the regular notices, including lots of wood on the stage for sale, free magazines at the rear of the room and Dave Simpson was clearing lots of wood and tools on behalf of a deceased turner, with more to come next month.
She also updated us with the current total for Denis Hilditch’s abseil fundraiser so far a total of £1200, it’s not too late to donate. Details are in the Autumn “Your Turn”
Our guest turner this month was Paul Hannaby who was demonstrating how to make a needle box with a threaded lid. Paul has been turning wood for around 17 years and is based in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire. He is a member of the Cotswold Craftsmen and he exhibits at a number of their events in and around the Cotswolds. When Paul started woodturning, there was nowhere near as much information available on the web so a lot of the learning process was through trial and error. Being the sort of person that liked to experiment and push the boundaries of what he was capable of, this didn’t deter him at all.
Paul started with a quick review of thread chasing tools of which he had a wide selection on show, he advised how to prepare these tools before use for example rounding the edges of the square profile on a grinder so that the tool moves more easily on the tool rest. He then started the main demonstration placing a piece of boxwood between centres on the lathe working at approximately 1800 -2000 RPM used a roughing gouge to dress the lid.
He then squared the ends with a parting tool, before dividing the piece into two parts. Paul then fitted the chuck to the lathe and inserted the half that would become the lid with an internal thread. He reduced the lathe speed and using a spindle gouge to hollow cut the interior, then used a square edged scraper made from a round bar to finish off the bore.
Then using a recessing tool, he cut an internal groove in a position where the thread would end for the thread chaser to run off into. Paul then sharpened his thread chasing tool with a diamond “credit card” sharpener, then prior to cutting the thread he used a scrap piece of boxwood to demonstrate a more visible thread cutting. Slowing the lathe down to 350 – 400 RPM he started at a 30-degree angle and allowed the thread to draw the tool, rather than force it along the thread, applying more downforce whilst gradually squaring the tool to the wood and quickly pulling the tool out at the end of each pass so as to avoid running the thread further than required.
Paul’s advice at this point is to “Match your speed to that of the lathe”. As Paul cut the thread he used a toothbrush to apply renaissance wax to the thread, although any finishing medium of your choice would equally work. This not only helps to sharpen the threads point but also improves visibility as you cut. If the thread is too soft Paul recommended to soft drizzle super glue over it and then re-cut the thread. He also suggested for internal thread cutting placing the tool rest further away from the wood than usual.
Following a shortened coffee break, Paul then did the usual critique of the member’s gallery, again there was a great show of very good turning for him to go through. The draw was won by John Holden for his beautifully turned necklace stand, also worth a mention was Mike Haselden’s Monkey Puzzle bowl.
The second half of the demonstration concentrated on the interior of the box. Starting with a spindle gouge Paul hollowed out the centre recess, which would hold the needles. He then reduced the outside diameter to match the inside diameter of the external piece to accommodate the thread, using a parting tool and callipers marked so that the two parts will fit each other. The external thread was then cut onto the raised part of the cylinder, and then tidied up with a thin scraper.
Paul advised “cutting the thread oversize and then reducing down with the scraper and thread chaser until a clean fit is achieved, and also to retain full depth of the teeth.”
Next thing to achieve is grain alignment. The length of the thread can be reduced to 3-4 pitches to achieve this. It is worth remembering at this point that the two parts were originally some 3” apart where they now meet so perfect alignment is not likely.
Paul then finished the box by cutting square coves on the remaining length of the cylinder, these recesses can be used as bobbins to hold threads. He then returned the whole box and lid to the chuck to apply some finishing touches by cutting a “V” cut on the join and one on either side and three circles on the top of the lid. We were then given a quick overview demonstration of the various pitch threads on another piece of scrap boxwood. Following a generous round of applause, the meeting closed with the usual raffle draw. And many left with arms full of wood purchased on the night.
Congratulations to Denis for completing his Abseil down the Spinnaker Tower’ in Portsmouth UK.
You can still make donations to Prostate Cancer UK being a subject close to my heart (well about 13 inches away) via Justgiving.com/Denis-Hilditch.
PS, 10,000 men a year in the UK die from Prostate Cancer, so men get yourself checked out a bit earlier than I did!!