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Fireworks with Mike Haselden

23 November, 2018

62 members and 3 visitors attended the November meeting, Our Demonstrator this month was our very own Clubman of the Year, Mike Haselden with his continuing annual mystery show.

Placing a spindle blank of sawn pine timber in between centres on the lathe, Mike started the evening by asking if there were any beginners in the audience, he then proceeded to give a quick overview of woodturning health & safety covering the basics of apparel, tools and machine safety. Then starting with a spindle roughing gouge proceeded to round off the edges, quickly stating that this tool wasn’t doing too well, he bent over to his tool bag on the floor said lets try another tool, he then very much tongue in cheek produced a small axe, which he continued to use to remove the edges of the blank, much to the amusement of most of the audience, although this was producing an improved result, he once again returned to the tool bag, this producing a garden spade on which he had ground a sharp edge and proceeded to remove more of the blank. At this point in his very dry humour, he marked the three sections A,G & S with a pen and passed it around the audience for closer examination.


“This part of the demonstration was purely for theatrical effect, Mike is an extremely skilled and experienced woodworker and would never take a risk with these objects, please do not try this at home”.


Moving onto the main demonstration Mike then produced a large section of green Acer I thought it was ash. He explained that this was a log that he had sawn in half with the intention of producing two large bowls. To achieve the best appearance Mike splits the log directly through the central pith, with the aim of getting an even amount distribution of rings on both sides of the bowl.

He mounted the blank between centres with a two prong drive in the tail stock chuck and another centre in the chuck. a revolving ring centre in the tail stock. Though less secure than mounting on a faceplate, Mike favours this method since it allows adjustment of the angle of the blank to optimise symmetry of ring pattern. To aid this adjustment Mike made a pen mark on opposite sides of the log which he then lined up by matching them to a strategically cleverly placed tool post.

To improve security of the drive he prepared the blank by cutting a recess in the centre with an auger bit, to allow the drive centre to sit within the recess.

Moving on he offered tips on safely and efficiently removing stock ? when turning a bowl. (Sorry, I don’t remember this). Another tip was attaching a short ruler to the tailstock for quickly setting callipers.


Mike then roughed the outside removing the bark in the process and then marked a chucking point dovetail recess in the base with callipers which he then cut with his skew. This was to allow the bowl to be shaped mounted in a chuck rather than rather than between centres. The wood was then mounted on the chuck via this recess, a spigot cut into the other end (the top), and then reversed again to shape the outside of the bowl to a shape inspired by a bowl placed on the gallery table by Harry Butler.

We then took the usual tea break, while Mike fielded question around the lathe. After which he was coerced into doing the gallery critique. In which he was complimentary about all of the exhibits with the exception of one piece which of course was his own.


Returning to the lathe Mike started to hollow out the bowl, explain his methods as he went along. Explaining that he like to leave a cone in the centre for as long as he can as this helps to keep the integrity of the wood as he progressed the cone was removed to allow deeper access and another smaller cone built up as the hollowing continued. Mike regularly referred to his double ended callipers to achieve a uniform bowl thickness. As usual he has another great tip. By attaching a small plywood offcut to one of the outer calliper ends he can place a pencil mark to aim the other leg at. The pencil mark is easily removed later as the ply is coated with Typex so can be either erased or repainted very quickly.

Once happy with the overall shape Mike recommends placing the wood in a paper bag with some of its own shavings, storing in a cool dark place and regularly checking for excessive moisture levels which could cause water stains.


In true Blue Peter style Mike then produced a similar piece that had been drying since early 2017, which he started to work on discussing with members of the audience various ways of securing it in the lathe, with a several ideas from the room including a large foam ball attached to a circle of ply or MDF. Another trick of Mikes is to attach a sacrificial piece of plywood to the bowl so that the tail stock centre can be pressed in without damage to the bowl.

With time running out on us, Mike called an early end to the demonstration, and took a couple of questions from the group. If you want more of Mike, check out the Winter issue of “Your Turn” for an article by Mike on how he achieves those wonderful finishes

Andi Saunders

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