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7th November – Mark Sanger

9 November, 2011

I don’t remember having seen a demo by Mark before and I was very impressed by his work and the clear, confident way he presented it. He squeezed 2 projects into the evening by coming with part finished items to enable him to skip some
of the more time consuming parts.

I’ll just give an outline description. Details are available via Mark’s website I’ve already circulated an Email with the details of how to access it. If any member who does not have internet access would like a copy, please let me know.

His first project was a shallow bowl in sycamore with a broad rim decorated by carving and scorching. He started with the bowl on a screw chuck and with the tailstock in contact to give additional support. Mark employs the tailstock in this way whenever possible. He advocates this for additional stability and precision though the tailstock can cause some obstruction and requires a small amount of hand finishing at the end.

Mark favours a long gouge grind which allows the same tool to be used for a variety of purposes. The tip has a tight radius for details whilst the wings present a long edge for removing wood on shallow curves with a smooth cut. The long edge can also be used in a scraping mode.

The outside was turned with a spigot onto which the bowl was reversed for hollowing the centre.

He used a power carver to cut random patterns of grooves in the rim which he then scorched with a blow torch, being careful to ensure the scorching didn’t penetrate the carved grooves. If you are worried about burning the bowl, the centre could be hollowed after the rim has been scorched.

To finish the outside, he reversed the bowl against a friction disc (carpet underlay glued to a wooden disc) holding it in place with the tailstock.


Interestingly Mark only sands to 320 grit, the fine finish he achieves coming from burnishing.

He described 2 methods (simplified for the demo). Where possible, Mark likes to finish off the lathe. The surface is sealed with
diluted sanding sealer then burnished on a polishing wheel mounted on the lathe loaded with a buffing compound (Mark uses “Hyfin” polishing bar). A microcrystalline wax (like Renaissance) is then applied and buffed by hand. The idea is that the
wax protects the surface which is already well finished rather than being the finish itself.

The other method is to use up to 5 coats of satin lacquer, cutting back between with wire wool before burnishing to a shine. He uses satin even for a shiny finish because it seems to cover better and keeps the matt option open. Finally, protect with wax as before.

The second project was a shallow hollow form with a very small hole in the top. It would be impossible to hollow through such a small hole, so the trick is to do it from the bottom and to plug it.  Holding the blank from the top on a screw chuck, Mark shaped the bottom leaving a long parallel spigot. This was parted off and first a pilot hole was drilled right through followed by a wider hole with a Forstner bit to a depth 10 mm from the top. The bottom opening was turned for the spigot to be re-fitted. The inside was hollowed with a pointed scraping hollowing tool. It is not necessary to get a good finish since the inside will be inaccessible. The spigot was then glued back in, making sure the grain is lined up. Reversing, holding on the spigot allowed the top and hole to be turned and finished. Reversing again, driven via a small scrap cone in the hole and supported by the tailstock, the bottom was finished and the spigot joint disguised by a series of grooves.

So if you can’t see or feel the inside, why not just leave it solid with a small hole in the top?  The answer is to make something which is light to hold and feels hollow.


Mark’s programme was so full that there was no time for a gallery critique. In fact Mark was reluctant to do this anyway without knowledge of the turners and their individual abilities. This was a pity since members had gone to some trouble to put good quality items on the table. All the gallery items can be seen on our website but I feel I have to make particular mention of the superb monkey
puzzle hollow form made by Mike Haselden. The shiny oiled finish must have taken a large number of coats and a great deal of time. Brilliant.

Finally, thanks to all those who have contributed to our charity. This was the last collection of donations and was swollen by a lot of items made by the late George Gale donated by his widow Betty. See the separate report in this issue.


Write up by Dave Gibbard

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