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3rd January – Martin Saban Smith

1 February, 2018

Some turning, some colouring and some finishing

39 Members attended yesterday meeting. Including 2 new members, Peter Skidmore from Nursling and Carlton Bath from Chandlers Ford, Giving a total of 41. We also had 4 visitors from Wimborne who had particularly come to see the demo by Martin Saban Smith.

From his workshop in Four Marks, Hampshire, Martin teaches, turns, and films his creative woodturning creations on social media. He also makes the popular Hampshire Sheen range of wax and oil finishes as well as blending the atmospheric Intrinsic Collection of coloured dyes.

Martin is a well known YouTubing woodturner with an internationally known and respected channel with around 200 turning and business oriented videos on it. As the developer of Hampshire Sheen, Martin personally makes each tin for UK and European customers and retailers, taking pride in the fact that it has become a go-to finish for turners everywhere. He continues to strive to produce, by hand, the best finishing waxes available.

Colouring wood is a passion for Martin, and many of his pieces have colour applied to them, as well as other embellishments. In early 2017, he blended his own range of water based colours in shades that he prefers – the Intrinsic Colour Collection. This range of moody shades are different to the other brighter colours on the market, and lend an additional level of atmosphere to turned work.

Martin’s own turning is more artistic rather than practical. Many pieces can be found on his YouTube channel.

Martin went on to show us how he produces, colours and finished one of his circular pieces of Art. Placing a rather fetching example on display next to his lathe, that he has decided will not be sold but had provisionally been priced at £700.

He started his demonstration with a Sycamore blank, he like sycamore as it is a close grained wood capable of taking a fine finish and its pale colour is a good basis for colouring. Starting with a half inch bowl gouge he formed the “frame” on the outside edge moving onto 3/8th gouge. When turning Martin watches the top edge of piece rather than the end of the tool this he feels gives him a better idea of how the work is progressing. Then back to ½” gouge to reduce the thickness of the piece by at least ½” all over to leave an overall thickness of 1¼” to 1½”

Then he started to “dome” the face removing a little tear out with the 3/8” gouge.

Martin discussed “rule of 1/3rds” and the “Golden rule” of 1:1.168.

(Phi is the basis for the Golden Ratio, Section or Mean The ratio, or proportion, determined by Phi (1.618 …) was known to the Greeks as the “dividing a line in the extreme and mean ratio” and to Renaissance artists as the “Divine Proportion”.)


He then marked a pencil ring approx. 1/3 from centre, cut a dip and dome to create central boss which was then tidied up with scraper. At this point he would then normally sand using 120 – 140 – 180 – 240 and then 400 grit, he doesn’t feel the need to use 320.




Martin then did a gallery critique. As with most of our recent speakers he was very complimentary about the items on display and took time to discuss each piece with each and every turner, dropping in some good advice where appropriate



On the subject of “should woodturners use colour or not?” Martin’s stock answer is “It’s my wood, I’ll do what I want with it”. In explaining how he selects colours and finishes Martin used a word new to my vocabulary “Chatoyance”


Coined from the French “œil de chat”, meaning “cat’s eye”, chatoyancy arises either from the fibrous structure of a material, Chatoyancy in wood occurs in various species – particularly hardwoods, and particularly where stresses from the weight of the growing tree result in denser patches, or where stresses cause burl or bird’s eye. This ‘figure’, which has a striking three-dimensional appearance, is highly prized by woodworkers and their clients alike, and is featured regularly in furniture, musical instruments, and other decorative wood products. Figuring takes on a variety of forms and is referred to as flame, ribbon, tiger stripe, quilting, among other names.


He started with a “Blue Peter” blank (one he prepared earlier) which he had stained black and then sanded back to almost original leaving a small area still partially coloured which emphasised some of the natural Chatoyance of the wood. Then using a selection of colours from his own “Intrinsic colour” range he applied a combination of black and brown to the frame area using very small amount on his paper towel from a spray bottle. This is then gently applied without the lathe running, just turning the wood manually. This done he then moved onto the centre of the piece applying a combination of colours that complement each other – first Flame then Burnt Orange, Yellow and finally Ruby. Always darkest colour first. He applied the stain in patches and feathered out as it dries allowing a soft merging of the colours rather than hard lines where they meet. The original black remains darken remains of the original black darken the additional colouring highlighting the Chatoyance of the wood. Then “Honey” was applied in the centre of the boss followed by Flame and blended together, lightly sanded back with a 400 grit pad by hand. Martin then touched up the sanded area with more Honey.

Then using his Robert Sorby texture tool at approx. 500 RPM he cut some textured rings on the centre, starting at the centre and applying the tool for a count of five, moving out and repeating three more equally spaced circles, Martin then changed to another texture wheel for the a final ring, he then used a point tool to make a couple of border rings.



Martin applied a sanding sealer, he explained that the water base of the colouring raises the grain of the wood but the sealer then removes it

He used a microcrystalline wax stick to the outside frame to achieve a high gloss finish, Moving onto the main part of the piece Martin then used some white Ti Wax to fill gaps on the surface and then buffed it off. Although designed as an embellishing wax Ti Wax also works as a finishing wax. He then finished it off with Hampshire Sheen Hi Gloss

Martin then finished off the evening with a quick Q&A followed by the usual raffle.


A guide to Martin’s Intrinsic colour rang

Black: In several coats you can build up a deep, pure black shade.

Burnt Orange: A dark orange, on the orangey side of brown.

Earth: A warm brown, the colour of drying mud. Sounds bad, but makes a great undercoat or accent colour.

Flame: A bright yellow-orange. Add luxurious fire by blending with Burnt Orange and Ruby. Forest Green: Rich green, quite dark, a lot like Jade. A great accent colour and blends well with Straw and Honey.

Honey: A glorious yellow. Superb as a bold single colour or a ‘wash’ overcoat.

Midnight Blue: Deep blue with hint of purple. Add to quilted figure and catch the purple glint as you turn the piece.

Plum: Sumptuous Purple. Looks quite Royal, lending an air of expense to your work.

Ruby: Darkish red, Ruby adds a deep and opulent shade which blends superbly with Burnt Orange

Stone Blue: A fairly bright blue. Mixes magnificently with Midnight Blue.

Straw: A rich yellowy-green. Almost grasslike, one of the brightest colours and mixes well with Stone Blue to create a luxury green.


Andi Saunders

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