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March 1st – Demonstration – Mark Sanger

5 March, 2010

Personally I wasn’t familiar with Mark’s work and had not seen him demonstrate. So I was looking forward to his visit to HWA. Mark produces decorative work like hollow forms often with lids and finials. For us demonstrated making an ash hollow vessel with a dark lid with finial.

The ash blank was mounted on a screw chuck and an oval shape was turned using a steeply ground gouge. Mark uses this for cutting and the wings for scraping with the tool turned over. A spigot

was turned on the bottom which was used to mount in the chuck for hollowing. Mark has a methodical approach to hollowing consisting of first making a full depth hole then gradually opening it from the top to leave material near the base for support at first. Initially a gouge was used then a Kelton hollowing tool which has a cranked end with a scraping tip. This may not produce such a good finish as shielded cutting hollowing tools but it doesn’t clog and Mark prefers it for this type of work.

Rather than boring us with the hollowing process which is hardly visible, Mark switched to one he had prepared earlier. He sands the inside of his hollow forms but does not apply a finish, though sometimes he paints them black. He has 2 devices for sanding inside, one a velcro mounted sanding disc with an extension rod. The disc driver is modified with more velcro around the edge. This allows the sandpaper to be wrapped round to allow it to reach more of the internal curved surface. The second device is a wire coat hanger with sandpaper taped on, bent at the desired angle for sanding the underside of the opening. Adjustable and safer than fingers. After hollowing Mark re-cuts the rim to ensure it is true as movement can occur during the hollowing even if the wood is dry.

He would normally power sand the outside but to spare us the dust he did it by hand with the extractor nozzle held close to the work. Mark only sands down to 320 grit because he finishes by buffing.

The hollow form was then reversed onto a scrap cone inserted in the rim with the tail stock supporting the base at the centre of the spigot. The spigot was under-cut and finally parted off stationary with a carving tool.

Diluted sanding sealer was applied and when dry, buffed by holding against a buffing wheel in the lathe using Chestnut white buffing wax. This avoids dark paste getting into the grain of the pale wood. Finally Mark applied Renaissance wax and more buffing.

The lid was turned from contrasting dark wood, underside first. A recess was made in the centre and drilled through to take a screw to hold the finial. The rim was cut to size by offering up the base. The top of the lid was cut with a parting tool, widening the cut and scraping as it went and finished by buffing, this time with brown polish.

The finial was a separate item, carved from a flat piece of wood. Again, Mark has a methodical approach, taking time to carve a prototype then photographing, printing it at various sizes, cutting out and sticking to a sheet (of metal?) which is then cut out to make templates. The end of the finial was drilled using a taper drill and piercing cutter to allow the hole to be adjusted to get the finial vertical. The finial was screwed to the lid and glued with a decorative bead in between. Finally a small cap was turned to cover the screw head.

I have probably not done the process justice but Mark left some detailed printed instructions and a number of members picked them up. If you want one you could ask others or contact Mark. His website is

Mark generously donated the finial box to the club and it will be offered as a raffle prize at a future meeting.

After a very full evening there was just time for a quick critique of the members gallery which was very impressive in both quality and quantity.

Post written by Dave Gibbard

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