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2nd Sept – Keith Fenton – Demonstrating Glass candle holders

12 October, 2019

This month’s meeting was attended by 56 members and one more new member joined the fold, so a warm welcome to Luke Hallet from Chandlers Ford.


This month’s demonstrator was Keith Fenton who is based in the Forest of Dean. He was born in Carlisle in 1953 and has had a lifelong love of wood. His father was an apprentice Joiner who had a BIDEX lathe that Keith was initially forbidden to use as he was ‘too little’, but he gained his woodturning interest whilst at school in Lancaster aged 12yrs, and together with a gift of a new set of woodturning tools from his dad and permission to use the Bidex lathe Keith began to hone his experience.

Keith prefers to use native grown trees, the majority of which he fells and prepares himself.

Keith started his demo by showing us his Glass Bottle cutting jig selection which range in cost between £20-£40. He has two types that he generally uses, one was a complicated ‘over engineered’ (his words) yellow clamp with rollers that is clamped around the bottle and twisted against a cutter to score the glass, the other was a really simple green ‘thingy’ with rollers, made by Ephrem’s Bottle Works, and is really a simple, quick and accurate piece of equipment to use.

There is a sliding ‘stop’ that the base of the bottle is held against allowing the bottle to just rest on the rollers and the cutting disc. When the bottle is pressed and turned the disc to easily scores the bottle at the desired position. The bottle is held over a basin where hot and then cold water is alternately poured over the ‘score mark’, where the rapid change of temperature causes the class to “clink” as it starts to crack and separate.

This newly cut edge on the bottle is jagged and sharp so It needs to be sanded smooth with 240 grit paper (which Keith has glued to a backing plate) on the lathe, spinning at medium speed until smoothed flat. The inside of the bottle is smoothed by hand using a small diamond file.

Keith then prepared the base for the newly cut bottle and the T-light candle that it was to hold.

Keith’s base was made from a 6×4 inch Ash blank (10x15cm for the weird people who use metric) turned to round between centres with a spigot on one end. Keith then placed the spigot end into the chuck and drilled a 32mm hole through it, removed the blank from the chuck and placed it in a set of Spigot Jaws and squared off the end. He then engaged the indexing on the lathe to lock it, re-positioned the tool rest and drew a parallel pencil line across the end of the blank to use as a guide and drilled a 16mm hole through the side into the centre. He then undid the indexing and rotated the blank 180 degrees and repeated the procedure to create a 16mm hole straight through the diameter of the blank. Next he used the 32mm Forstner bit and drilled a hole through the blank to meet up with the first one he previously drilled for the Spigot Jaw.

Keith then ‘squared-off’ the end and by using callipers measured the diameter of his cut bottle, he then used this measurement to turn the blank to the same diameter as the bottle. He sanded the blank to 600 grit then used Sander Sealer diluted 50-50 with Cellulose thinners and smoothed it off with Web Rax to 1000 grit, he finished off with Bees wax and buffed it to a high shine.

Keith removed the blank from the Spigot Jaws, rotated it and reinserted it in the Jaws. For these projects Keith always uses 2-inch diameter glass T-light holders, so he then scored a 2-inch circle on the “T-light candle” end (this is to take the T-light holder which must be used as a safety precaution to prevent the wood from being over heated by the candle) and re-marked a pencil line across the centre using the tool rest as a guide. The point where the scored circle and the pencil line intersect is the point where two 16mm holes need to be hand-drilled into the blank. It is important that these two holes are drilled deeper than the depth of your chosen T-light holder AND cut into the 32mm hole that goes through the centre of the piece. This ensures that there is ample fresh air fed from the base to the candle, without it the candle will not stay lit when the bottle is placed on top.

With the two 16mm holes drilled, Keith then used the 2-inch Forstner bit to bore out the 2-inch T-light hole just deep enough to have the T-light sit slightly proud, this was a tricky hole to bore as the 2-inch hole is somewhat bigger than the 32mm hole and there was nothing to ‘guide’ the bigger bit as it started to cut. He then changed to the 32mm Forstner bit to ‘clean-up’ the middle.

He then shaped a deep spigot to securely receive the base of the cut bottle and sanded and sealed it as before. With the T-light candle lit and the cut bottle placed on top you now have a very attractive ornament.


The second part of Keith’s demonstration was to make a three-pointed candle holder.

Keith chose to use a 3 ½ inch (9cm) cube of Ash, on which he had already removed one of the corners so that the cube could be safely held on the lathe by a Steb Centre, the opposite corner is supported by a ‘live Ring Centre’ in the tail stock.

It is very important that the cube is tightly and securely held between the two centres, and that the lathe is started at a low speed, with you standing safely out of the line of fire should it fly off.

With the tool rest positioned so that the cube will freely spin, Keith started to remove material from the spinning corners of his cube. The lathe is best kept to a medium speed and by using slow and steady cuts with the gouge from the points down to the ‘cut corner’ and the Steb-Centre to create a tenon. Keith continued until he had removed the four flat edges of the cube and in doing so he automatically created a tapered round body that now has three points. It is a difficult concept to grasp that by removing wood from four ‘sides’ of a spinning cube you can create three points, but it does…. and is always fascinating to see.

With the piece turned to the desired shape Keith then sanded to his satisfaction by using a power sander, this is considerably safer than using normal ‘hand-held’ abrasives, as the spinning points of the piece are very unforgiving if they should catch your hand or fingers. There is no need to spend too much time and effort on the ‘points’ at this stage as there is further work to do on them later.

Keith then removed the piece from the Steb-Centre and placed it in a chuck to enable it to be properly and securely held so it could be hollowed out. Keith had a bit of a problem at this stage as he had forgotten to bring his Japanese Saw to cleanly cut the face of the Tenon and so he had difficulty in sitting the piece safely in the chuck…

When he sorted the problem, Keith started to hollow it out by using this 4mm Carbide Cutter, Keith likes this tool as it cuts on both the ‘push and the pull’.

BEWARE as you hollow out the centre and go deeper into the bowl you also get closer to the three fast spinning (and hard to see) points on the wings of the piece… they will hurt…

When Keith felt he had gone deep enough into the bowl he spent a bit more time shaping the points on the wings with his Carbide Tool, care must be taken here due to the ‘confused’ cross grain which causes weakness on one side of the piece.

He then he placed his 2-inch Forstner bit in his Jacobs Chuck on the tail stock and bored the hole for the T-Light candle.

With the lathe turned off Keith now used his power drill with a 3-inch sanding pad on the three-pointed wings, this was in order to prevent ‘tear-out’ from the confused grain, and also to safeguard his hands from the potential dangers of the spinning points. When happy with the overall shape and smoothness of the piece he reversed it, and after supporting it securely in a jam-chuck he turned the foot to complete the piece.

Due to time constraints Keith did not seal or finish the piece as he normally would, but he did produce another very attractive and unusual candle holder to compare with his Cut Bottle Candle holder as seen here with some of his other work.

He also was kind enough to carry out the customary ‘Coffee-time critique’ of the clubs display table, which as is the norm nowadays, had a full and varied selection of Works of Art produced by the members.

Thank you, Keith, for an unusual and very interesting Demo.

Thank you also to Pete Broadbent for the excellent photographs.

The evening was finished off with another successful Raffle by Steve Jones.

It is not until I became Editor that I realised just how much ‘work’ is done by the unsung heroes of the Hampshire Wood Turners Club who every month willingly give their spare time so that we can all enjoy our hobby more. So let’s all raise a glass and say cheers to The Committee Members, the Tea and Coffee crew, the Open-all-Hours shop mongers, the Sound and Vision guru’s, the ‘all knowledgeable’ Novice Corner, the Raffle king, the Minstead men, our Treasured Treasurer, our Web Wizard, and not to mention our Famous Phot’s, Pete Broadbent and Martin Stallard, without whom our club will not run so smoothly and your achievements will not be recorded for prosperity.

Thank you to you all.

Dave Simpson (Editor).

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