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February Demonstration – Mark Baker Winged Vessals

3 February, 2010

We were treated to a confident presentation from Mark as might have been expected from someone with his background as editor of Woodturning and ex product manager of Sorby as well as being an experienced turner in his own right.
The first item was a box mounted in a curved stand. He started with the top of the stand, being a rectangular block of ash mounted sideways.

The turning involved a lot of “air cutting” as the most of the wood surface made only intermittent contact with the tool. This called for firm tool control with the rest as close as possible. Mark sees nothing wrong with scraping with the edge trailing provided the scraper is kept sharp. Honing rather than grinding is advocated for sharpness and tool life. Having shaped the top side including a recess for the chuck, the stand was reversed and the underside shaped in a similar fashion, breaking through the centre to leave a hole to accept the box.

Mark approves of colouring if the wood is suitable and ash is such a wood with sufficient grain to still look like wood after colouring. In this case he used an ebonising spray.

Whilst drying, Mark turned the box from cherry. The technique was fairly conventional but a few tips emerged. For instance, Mark generally rough-turns boxes and leaves them to relax before finishing. This is recommended even if the wood is dry because movement can occur as the inbuilt stress is altered by hollowing. When reversing, if the box is to be held on the chuck jaws at the rim, a sheet of tissue can be used to prevent damage.

The lid was finished with a finial. The temptation to make this too fine should be resisted as it is the obvious part to grip when taking the lid off and prone to breaking if too slender. On the perennial subject of lid fit, for most purposes, when the lid is lifted, the box should stay put.
Mark did not do as much sanding as he would have at home because of dust. He takes extreme precautions to protect himself from dust having developed sensitivity from exposure early in his career.

The second demo was a wavy edge square bowl. Mark claimed no originality for this, the idea being ancient but he gave Terry Scott credit for recent refinement. Again the cutting involved non-continuous contact. The tips were left thick and shaped with the lathe stationary, alternately up and down.

The shaping could be done with a saw and sanding but a mini Arbortech is much quicker. Mark did not finish the bowl but you can see the idea from the pictures. How about some at the next gallery?

And for a quick finale, Mark turned a cylinder with radial cuts with a parting tool to various depths. This gave the appearance of a hidden vase when viewed side on. Spraying black enhanced this. The top was fished with a thick blob of copper loaded paint which he blistered using a blowlamp to give a copper textured finish. A quick and unusual piece of work.

Finally Mark gave a helpful critique to the work on display in the members gallery. It is good to see another impressive display.

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