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2nd November – The Les Thorne Show

9 November, 2015

Traffic chaos outside delayed the start and we went ahead without the video system as Steve hadn’t arrived. This was set up as Les carried on. If anyone can cope with such setbacks surely Les can? Eventually a record audience of 73 turned up.

Acknowledging the large number of new and generally inexperienced members, Les went back to basics and demonstrated making a candlestick. This involved both spindle and “faceplate” turning, the latter referring to wood mounted on the lathe with grain at right angles to the axis. It also, involves a joint. It’s a good idea to draw the shape before starting or get one from a book.

Starting with the base, there are many ways of holding the blank but since the hole would not be visible, a screw chuck was the obvious choice. The blank had been cut into an octagonal shape rather than circular to avoid creating a bias on the bandsaw blade. The time required to go from octagon to circle on the lathe is negligible. For this, Les used a bowl gouge, not a roughing gouge which is not designed for faceplate work. His bowl gouge was ground with a long grind which is more versatile than traditional grinds allowing both pull and push cuts.

Les, candlestick

Turning speed should be as fast as vibration and your nerve will allow. Not only is it quicker but a smoother cut can be obtained.

The underside was turned with a very slight concave shape for stability and a dovetail recess cut in the centre. This should be of a diameter to suit the chuck jaws which will only be circular at a particular diameter. Reversing onto this dovetail enabled the top surface to be turned and a hole made in the centre to take the spigot on the stem of the candlestick.

Les had pre-drilled the hole in the end of the spindle for the metal cup which holds the candle. The tailstock revolving centre was inserted into this to ensure the hole is central when finished. If your centre does not fit, turn a simple plug. The spindle had been cut to an octagonal section. It is quicker to remove wood on the bandsaw and fewer shavings are produced. This time a roughing gouge is the tool for the job of turning a cylinder. A few strategic pencil marks were made to give a rough guide to the shape. Curved sections are separated by “punctuation marks” like beads and the transition between the base and stem is also disguised by a bead. The shaping was done by a spindle gouge and skew chisel before sanding. Les regards grits of 180 or courser as shaping grits and finer ones for smoothing.

Not content with having made a nice candlestick, Les went on to age it by burning with a blow torch. The purpose of this is to add some texture by removing the softer parts of the grain. After rubbing the burnt particles off with a liming brush he then sprayed with black lacquer and finished with liming wax. Les claims that this is a more interesting appearance which is reflected in the perceived value.

Les, burning

As usual, my memory and the space available hardly do justice to the wealth of detail presented. Still, a large number of you were there to see it for yourselves and if you want some more then get the DVD or sign up for some hands-on tuition. Googling Les Thorne will point you in the right direction.

Not only was attendance high, but after last month’s poor showing the gallery table this time had an impressive 18 items. Les did a helpful critique at tea time and commented on number and quality of the work of members. You can see all the pictures on the website.

Dave Gibbard

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