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3rd March – John Holden

6 March, 2014

We were to have been entertained by Paul Jones making long stemmed goblets. It was late morning on the day that Bob got the call to say that Paul couldn’t make it!

Apparently he had put petrol in his diesel car or the other way round and it wasn’t going anywhere. I’d have been scathing about what sort of person would do such a thing had I not done it myself. I can only say that the pain of embarrassment soon fades. It is overcome by the pain in the wallet. This is the first time in Bob’s stewardship of the programme that we’ve had a cancellation on the day.

John Holden nobly stepped into the breach and offered to do a talk and demo about off centre turning. Bob would probably bitten his hand off but that would have impaired his turning.

John clearly has an interest in the subject and you may remember his female figures from the gallery some while back. With no time to prepare John found some useful references via Google including a lot of interesting stuff from Barbara Dill of Virginia. She has done all the basic marking out calculations and has posted a number of videos on YouTube. Just Google Barbara Dill.

Johns talk

John’s demo was about what can be done by offsetting the axis on spindles. (There is, of course, another whole subject involving offset faceplate work. Maybe another time?)


Generally the starting point is to turn a cylinder between centres in the usual way.

You then have a choice of how to offset the axis. For example it can be done equally at both ends in the same direction so that it remains parallel to the original axis. An example of this is where a curved triangular section is produced by using 3 centres offset by an equal amount at 120 degrees to each other. (An example of this is the editor’s article about triangular napkin rings in the April 2000 issue 86 of Woodturning.)

A useful tip from John is to mark up the ends with diagonal lines on the original square blank before starting. This gives the same reference lines at each end. It is more difficult to ensure the marking is parallel if done after the blank is turned to a cylinder.

Johns figure  Johns candlesticks

More interesting effects can be obtained by offsetting the driven end and the tailstock end in different directions and by different amounts. You need to ensure that the drive centre is well hammered in when re-positioning it. Slipping may not be too serious when turning a cylinder but can ruin the intended effect when offset.

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