Skip to content

6th June – Gary Rance

8 July, 2016

Another good attendance with 70 members and 1 new member attending

Welcome to John Carter, from North Baddesley. This turned out to be an evening of substitutions Chairman Lynda was unavailable so Bob Hope stood in as MC for the evening.


Bob also had to organise a replacement demonstrator for the evening with John Plater being unwell, we were treated to an evening with Gary Rance and his sidekick Les Thorne.


Gary is well known to most of us, having most recently visited us for our 25th anniversary meeting in 2014.


Gary Rance kicked off with a quick review of spindle turning, starting with turning a square into a round and then demonstrating cutting beads and coves all done with apparent ease by the turner with 41 years of experience.

Gary 1

Gary then moved onto his main demonstration of a humming spinning top, an item that he not only makes but also repairs some very expensive antique examples of.


Made in two parts, Gary started with a rectangular block turning the top part similar to a round box lid with an upright spindle to accommodate the handle finished off with a nicely turned ball on top.

Gary 2   Gary 3

This was then finished off by cutting three circular grooves which were then accentuated with a pencil line, and very effective too. This was then sanded using 180, 400 and 500 grit and always keep the abrasive moving to avoid scoring the wood. Gary explained how he always sands from the rear of the lathe as it saves time by not having to move the tool rest, time being very important for a busy production turner. The finished item was then removed from the block with a parting tool.

Gary 4     Gary 5

The rest of the block would then be used for the main body of the piece, again similar to turning a round box, but with a pointed base to allow it to spin. This was hollowed out with very accurately turned thin side walls, taking several attempts to match it to the previously turned lid, much to the amusement of the audience and Mr Thorne in particular. Again embellished with pencilled in grooves and sanded through the three previous grits. The two parts were then grain aligned into place and glued together using Titebond II, which he now prefers to super glue.


At this point we took our tea break, while our demonstrator was surrounded by members who either had question or wanted a closer look at the night’s progress or to view Gary’s range of examples, tools, accessories and DVDs. Following a short break Bob invited Gary to critique the member’s gallery. To which he proceeded to give a very firm but constructive review of the work on view.

Gary critique

The final third part is the handle approximately four inches long, a standard spindle design with hole near the end to accommodate the ball topped spindle of the main body, at this point Gary explained how he uses a “Scratcher” to mark the cuts to his spindle to achieve a consistent design, again important for a busy production turner. A scratcher is simply 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. He also uses a jig with adjustable “fingers” when producing large quantities of matching spindles. The fingers fall when the diameter at that position reaches the set size. No need for callipers. Again decorated and sanded in similar fashion to the rest of the top.

Gary's scratch jig

With this done it was back to cut the “humming hole” into the side of the main body, the hole is square cut with an approximate 45-degree angle through the wall to enable the sound to be achieved. When demonstrating the top in action no hum was evident Gary jokingly advised us that it was probably too high a frequency for us to hear, after several spins and occasional “Hums” and “Whistles” from the audience the main demonstration ended to a warm round of applause.

Gary willing top to whistle     Gary's whistling top

Always good value Gary then proceeded to demonstrate a new pendant that he has designed, one with a revolving centre turned from one disc of wood. Gary started out by turning a thin disc shape on the end of a round profile blank, he then parted it of off the blank, it was then placed into a circular jig that holds the disc in an internal recess, which is then secured in the jaws of a chuck so that the reverse side can be shaped to match the front, a matching circle is then marked on both sides,


Then comes the clever bit: the jig containing the pendant is returned to the chuck where an upward angled cut is made from the marked circle to a depth of half way into the disc. The whole thing is then reversed and the process repeated until the centre becomes detached from the outer ring without falling out due to the angle of the cut, another generous round of applause followed.

Gary's pendants    Gary's pendant

Checking the time with Bob, Gary then gave a very brief lesson of how to sharpen tools on a grinding wheel attached to the lathe, without switching the lathe on Gary explained what angles and movements are required to sharpen each of the various turning tools without the need of a sharpening jig.

The meeting ended with the usual raffle.


No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.