Skip to content

5th September – Paul Hannaby – Threaded Needle Box

19 September, 2016

 A very good turn out with many still away on holidays, we had 67 members attend with two new members, Michelle and Amelia plus one visitor. Giving a total of 70 on the night


Lynda kicked off the proceedings with the regular notices, including lots of wood on the stage for sale, free magazines at the rear of the room and Dave Simpson was clearing lots of wood and tools on behalf of a deceased turner, with more to come next month.

She also updated us with the current total for Denis Hilditch’s abseil fundraiser so far a total of £1200, it’s not too late to donate. Details are in the Autumn “Your Turn”


Our guest turner this month was Paul Hannaby who was demonstrating how to make a needle box with a threaded lid. Paul has been turning wood for around 17 years and is based in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire. He is a member of the Cotswold Craftsmen and he exhibits at a number of their events in and around the Cotswolds. When Paul started woodturning, there was nowhere near as much information available on the web so a lot of the learning process was through trial and error. Being the sort of person that liked to experiment and push the boundaries of what he was capable of, this didn’t deter him at all.


Paul started with a quick review of thread chasing tools of which he had a wide selection on show, he advised how to prepare these tools before use for example rounding the edges of the square profile on a grinder so that the tool moves more easily on the tool rest. He then started the main demonstration placing a piece of boxwood between centres on the lathe working at approximately 1800 -2000 RPM used a roughing gouge to dress the lid.


He then squared the ends with a parting tool, before dividing the piece into two parts. Paul then fitted the chuck to the lathe and inserted the half that would become the lid with an internal thread. He reduced the lathe speed and using a spindle gouge to hollow cut the interior, then used a square edged scraper made from a round bar to finish off the bore.


Then using a recessing tool, he cut an internal groove in a position where the thread would end for the thread chaser to run off into. Paul then sharpened his thread chasing tool with a diamond “credit card” sharpener, then prior to cutting the thread he used a scrap piece of boxwood to demonstrate a more visible thread cutting. Slowing the lathe down to 350 – 400 RPM he started at a 30-degree angle and allowed the thread to draw the tool, rather than force it along the thread, applying more downforce whilst gradually squaring the tool to the wood and quickly pulling the tool out at the end of each pass so as to avoid running the thread further than required.

Paul’s advice at this point is to “Match your speed to that of the lathe”. As Paul cut the thread he used a toothbrush to apply renaissance wax to the thread, although any finishing medium of your choice would equally work. This not only helps to sharpen the threads point but also improves visibility as you cut. If the thread is too soft Paul recommended to soft drizzle super glue over it and then re-cut the thread. He also suggested for internal thread cutting placing the tool rest further away from the wood than usual.


Following a shortened coffee break, Paul then did the usual critique of the member’s gallery, again there was a great show of very good turning for him to go through. The draw was won by John Holden for his beautifully turned necklace stand, also worth a mention was Mike Haselden’s Monkey Puzzle bowl.


The second half of the demonstration concentrated on the interior of the box. Starting with a spindle gouge Paul hollowed out the centre recess, which would hold the needles. He then reduced the outside diameter to match the inside diameter of the external piece to accommodate the thread, using a parting tool and callipers marked so that the two parts will fit each other. The external thread was then cut onto the raised part of the cylinder, and then tidied up with a thin scraper.

Paul advised “cutting the thread oversize and then reducing down with the scraper and thread chaser until a clean fit is achieved, and also to retain full depth of the teeth.”


Next thing to achieve is grain alignment. The length of the thread can be reduced to 3-4 pitches to achieve this. It is worth remembering at this point that the two parts were originally some 3” apart where they now meet so perfect alignment is not likely.


Paul then finished the box by cutting square coves on the remaining length of the cylinder, these recesses can be used as bobbins to hold threads. He then returned the whole box and lid to the chuck to apply some finishing touches by cutting a “V” cut on the join and one on either side and three circles on the top of the lid. We were then given a quick overview demonstration of the various pitch threads on another piece of scrap boxwood. Following a generous round of applause, the meeting closed with the usual raffle draw. And many left with arms full of wood purchased on the night.


Andi Saunders

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.