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1st July – Stuart King

3 July, 2013

Mid-summer always challenges the attendance figures but Stuart pulled in a good crowd for the time of year for another humorous self-deprecating presentation. It’s a pity more didn’t bring something for the gallery; just 6 items on the table even after a bit of arm twisting. Stuart was unusually polite in his critique. You can see the gallery items on the website.

Back to the main event, ably introduced by Lynda in John’s absence. Stuart’s theme was little boxes. He explained he only does small things these days, leaving the big stuff to a new generation of macho turners. Small maybe but with plenty of the inventive quirkiness that we have come to associate with his work. First demo was one of his acorn boxes, often used to keep small items of jewellery like rings in. He used some very old cherry for the acorn and pitch pine for the cup. I was impressed by his use of quite a large roughing gouge on such a small item, including the wings of the tool to face up the end. The less often you have to pick up another tool the quicker you’ll be.

Stuart's acorn box    Stuart with roughing gouge

When hollowing the acorn he mentioned his trade mark pimple which he usually leaves in the middle. Oddly it seemed to be missing this time. Shame said Roy Nailor, if the pip was big enough it would keep the rings in place. Stuart made a mental note of the suggestion.

The inside of the acorn was smeared with super glue as a stabiliser as well as a finish. He buys this 3 in a pack in the local 99p shop. They come with a long thin nozzle which just gets trimmed to unblock the tip next time.

Contrary to popular belief, Stuart does use sandpaper, always carefully progressing through the grits. His grits of choice are course, medium and fine.

Moving on to the acorn cup, the square section pine was simply held in the chuck jaws without first turning a spigot.

Not for Stuart the refinement of a snug fitting lid. He advocates a loose fit, arguing with some justification that customers don’t want to have to pop a lid off and scatter the contents on the floor.

After tea and gallery crit, he moved on to the topic of texturing. Of course he makes his own chatter tools from springy steel like old kitchen knives and junior hacksaw blades. Stuart uses texturing to decorate discs for box lids, pendants etc. Decorated discs might make nice buttons provided you are happy for them not to match. In fact Stuart says he never makes 2 things the same anyway, even his chair legs! Chatter tools work best on end grain, but the effects are unpredictable, If you don’t like what you see, just face it off and try again. Dark wood works best and the textured surface can be treated with gold paste or interference paints before wiping off the surplus and picking out the boundaries again with a pointed tool.

Stuart's chatter tool         Textured disc & interference paint

With a glance at the clock, we’re off on the next demo. Those clever little bird finials Stuart puts on his box lids. A cone was turned on a small piece of wood (that’s the neck). The jaws were loosened and the wood moved off centre for turning the lower body and spindle for the legs. Another piece of wood was mounted to turn the head, a blind hole (i.e. not right through) was drilled to take the neck before parting off. The head can be glued on at a variety of angles.

Stuarts bird finial on textured lid     Stuart with king

Not done yet, we saw a Japanese doll being made whose neck was terminated in a little ball and popped into an undercut hole in the top of the body to allow it to be moved about with a squeak.

And finally Stuart’s signature item, a chess piece rapidly turned with entirely with a skew chisel. A King of course.

Dave Gibbard

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