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6 October – 25th Anniversary and Gary Rance

17 October, 2014

There was a great turn-out for our 25th Anniversary meeting. In pride of place as people arrived was Lynda’s magnificent cake depicting a woodturner at his lathe and an array of tools. (At the end of business at the last committee meeting Lynda produced a box of coloured icing and asked us all to make some tools to adorn the cake.) The culinary work of art didn’t last long as it was whisked away for the ceremony of blowing out the candles carried out by the first chairman, Brian Hannam and then to be sliced up to accompany the tea at the interval.

 Cake lit up  Cake, Brian blowing

So on with the show. Lynda introduced our old friend Gary Rance who started with a quick summary of the basic spindle cuts; converting square to round with a roughing gouge which can also be used to plane (though this is better done with a skew); V notches and beads using a skew and coves using a spindle gouge. If you missed the show you might like to put Gary’s DVD on your Christmas list.

His main demo was a stand for a pocket watch. Now I promise there was no collusion here, it is entirely co-incidental that our next Challenge in February is to make a stand for something. You could do worse than to show how well you have absorbed Gary’s lesson.

Gary admitted that he puts green baize on the bottom, excusing himself by saying that he doesn’t sell to woodturners and the customers like it as it avoids scratching the furniture. It also saves a bit of time of course.


The base was tuned from a hexagonal blank rather than round to avoid putting a bias on the bandsaw blade when cutting the blank. It was held by a very short screw, the screw chuck being fitted with a spacer which determined the amount of screw protruding. The base was trued up by pull cuts with a gouge before adding decorative features. Beading tools can save some time here, Gary liking one with a central point that cuts 2 halves of adjacent beads at the same time. Whilst on the chuck, it was possible to get round the bottom of the base to cut a groove into which the baize is tucked for a really neat edge.

 Gary, turning ring

Now for the half ring at the top of the stand. As a naïve novice, Gary admitted that he tried to make this part by steaming and bending a straight spindle. In fact this is almost impossible. The way to do it is to turn a ring and cut it in half. The other half can be used on another stand. One face and the outer edge of the ring can be turned with the blank mounted on a screw chuck. Care has to be taken with sizing the ring diameter to fit a wooden jam chuck for turning the other side after parting off. The cross section size and profile is also important as when cut in half it needs to match up with the vertical spindles.


The spindles themselves must match. He used a “scratcher” consisting of a piece of wood with nails driven though at the bead positions. Holding this against the revolving spindle marks the bead positions the same each time. For real production speed, a jig with adjustable “fingers” can be used. The fingers fall when the diameter at that position reaches the set size. No messing about with calipers.


Joining the parts together was done by drilling holes in the spindle and half-ring ends and in the base. Gary used small screws with the heads cut off and glued into the spindle end which was then screwed into the ring.

 Gary, watch stand

There were some nice pieces on the gallery table which Gary thoughtfully reviewed. It’s a tricky job to do constructively but he steered the course with care and I think most people would have come away pleased with the helpful remarks and with some ideas how to improve. As always, all the gallery items can be seen on the website. Gary went on to present the certificates to the top 3 in last month’s Challenge. (See previous report).


After the raffle it was time for members and guests to collect their Anniversary mugs from Brian as they left. Well done Keith (Barnes) for organising the mugs.


HWA originals


A memorable evening which needs something special to follow. That task falls to Les Thorne in November.

Dave Gibbard

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