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4th June 2018 – Andy Fortune Laced Bowls

20 June, 2018

This month’s demonstrator was Andy Fortune from the Isle of Wight,

Formally a Self-employed Plumber, Andy started turning in 1997 and has been a full-time turner since 2013. Trading as The Mulberry Tree Woodturnery. He makes handmade bowls, platters and hollow forms from locally sourced green timber on the Isle of Wight at his workshop and gallery in Newtown. He also provides bowl turning courses for individuals and groups and supply timber, tools and equipment.

He has been a member of the Register of Professional Turners since 2014.

As Andy turns most of his items from ‘green’ timber there is a chance that a piece may split as the timber releases its moisture. Often the drying process will just change the shape of a piece but when this change happens too rapidly splitting can happen. After spending time making a piece and especially when the item has turned out better than expected, it can be difficult to discard it. So he has developed his method of leather thong or copper wire stitching, and this is to be the theme of the evening.

Andy is also an active member of the Wight Woodturners, his latest project has been making replica bowls in the style of Tudor artefacts found on the wreck of the Mary Rose, Henry the VIII’s flagship which sank in the Solent in 1545.

In the absence of chairman Dave it was left for Bob to get the meeting started with the usual notices prior to introducing our demonstrator for the evening. 56 members attended along with 9 visitors including 3 young boys and a member’s son visiting from Sydney, Australia.

1 new member Jason Wilkins from Ringwood, who chose us over Dorset turners as we are a friendlier group, giving a total of 66 on the night

Andy started his demonstration explaining that he almost exclusively uses Record Power tools in his turning. He placed a spalted Beech bowl blank into the chuck, pointing out the split already in the side. and proceeded to use a roughing gouge to at first skim the face before starting to roughly shape outside of the bowl. Taking the role of a tutor Andy explained his techniques as he worked pushing the handle away for concave shape and then back towards him for the opposite curve, performing both in one smooth operation.

Moving onto a scraper that he has ground to a gradual curve. He then tidied up the outside and base before cutting in a 50mm recess ready for reversing in the chuck. At this point Andy mentioned the “3 ups” Tool Rest, Handle Height and Speed needed for this part. He then sanded through several grades of abrasive and then applied Tung Oil which due to the nature of his work he uses almost exclusively keeping his need for finishing products to a minimum, something a lot of us could adopt. Asked if Tung Oil is “Food Friendly” Andy’s answer was that “it’s not on the tin but seems ok and appears pretty stable when dry”.

With the wood reversed in the chuck Andy started to scoop out the inside with his trusty scraper using a lot of arm movement, He likes to hollow out in two stages, i.e. half way in and then to the final depth of cut. He then returned to the gouge to shape the top edge before sanding and oiling. So, a very quickly turned bowl ready to have the split emphasised with some lacing after the interval.

Following the tea break we were treated to a very thorough gallery critique by club veteran Brian Hannam, who took time to talk about every item on the table, he was even complimentary about a very well decorated Oak bowl which amused many of the older members who were aware of his particular dislike of this wood for turning purposes.

We then returned to Andy for a rather brief second half, where he drilled several lacing holes on either side of the split in the side of the bowl, pointing out the importance of following the line of the split to avoid getting two holes on the same side of the split. He then showed us a large selection of leather thongs which are offcuts which he gets from his son who is a leather worker. He then selected a thong that was a good contrast to beech and proceeded to lace through the holes, cutting off the ends and gluing them into the last holes at each end.

Andy regularly uses copper and framing wire as alternatives to leather. He also showed us some other alternatives such a something that looked like brake cable. All in all, an interesting demonstration of an alternative way of bowl finishing, which was well received by the assembled audience.

The meeting then came to a slightly earlier than usual ending with the drawing of the raffle, which had some particularly nice prizes on offer.

Andi Saunders

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