This charming young lady has been a member of the SAWG for four years. Introduced to and trained initially in woodturning by Ross Johnson. Emma met Ross when she visited one of his presentations at Maraetai where they were both living at the time. Emma has a degree in fine art. So now we have the perfect combination of an artist and woodturner.
Emma started her demo by showing her ability to take a piece of suitably light coloured timber, such as Macrocarpa, to turn up a small bowl shaped container approximately 100mm in diameter. The centre was drilled out using a 38mm Forstner bit in which a standard decorative candle 15mm high could be mounted. Enough wood was left around the candle mount to form a bead using a parting tool. A gentle curve from the bottom edge of the bead down to the outer diameter of her bowl-shaped candle-holder provided the working surface for the artwork to follow. The bead was rounded and the whole piece sanded and finished.
The pyrography and coloured artwork that followed was the most intriguing part of this demonstration. The actual pattern entailed drawing the petals of a sunflower around the centre candle mounting using a soft leaded pencil. This to prepare the entire circle for even spacing before any burning is commenced. Starting at the neck, the outline of each petal is burnt using low temperature heat which can be raised as needed. The same blade is used to burn in other accoutrements such as an under petal between the tips of the main petals, then the midrib, the veins, with a vein at every tip. At the bead all remaining space is filled using a “Dot” pyro-pen. Use a normal rubber eraser to clean up all pencil marks and burnt debris.
The final artwork, which enhances the entire piece, is undertaken with oil based drawing pencils. Every colour “in the rainbow” comes in a tin of pencils. Seldom necessary; these pencils last for years. (Available from Dave Gillard). A degree of colour matching skills would help to choose the appropriate blends. For sunflowers just start with yellow and work from there. This completed a very attractive enhancement on this beautiful table decoration.
Tom saw Caddy Spoons demonstrated by Phil Irons at the 2014 Symposium. Phil had been making spoons for 25 years and had made over 13000 of them at that stage.
Phil recommended using 55x55x350mm blanks, but Tom was required to start with a cube due to the term theme. Tom had simply divided the cube into 4 equal blanks. Blank size is unimportant and is chosen to suit the size of the spoon required.
Tom handed around samples of some spoons he had made and also the handmade jigs required to complete a spoon. The first was a bandsaw jig for cutting the blank in two to form the two spoons. The second is a spoon chuck to hold the partly formed spoon while it is hollowed out.
Tom then ran through the process verbally while he showed pre-prepared spoons at the various stages of development.
Mark the centre on each end and mount between centres. Turn the blank round (this will produce 2 spoons at the end of the process).
Turn a spigot on the tailstock end of the blank to fit the chuck.
Mark off for a ball adjacent to the spigot leaving a small amount of waste to allow safe chucking from that end.
Turn the ball freehand to approx. 48mm diameter (to fit the spoon chuck).
Mount the blank in a chuck with the previously turned spigot. Turn the cone end of the blank to form a ‘comet’ type shape i.e. a ball with a flared tail. The tail should be approx. 50-55mm long. Turn a spigot on this end also.
Reverse the blank to enable the refinement of the ball end. Turn off the spigot and round off the ball with a sharpened pipe or hole cutter with the teeth ground off [Bruce Wood has previously demonstrated the use of this handmade tool and described how to make them].
Sand the spoon at this stage. Tom uses sandpaper backed with a piece of old leather from a belt. This helps avoid heat build-up and protects fingers.
Cut the blank in two in the bandsaw jig, ensuring that the best grain orientation is chosen to give a balanced piece. This process should create a curved handle and cleans off the spigot on the handle end of each spoon in the process.
Mount one of the resulting spoons in the spoon chuck trying to get the centre of the ball end on the lathe centre – use the tailstock live centre to aide this. Tom used more pieces of the belt leather as packing to help position the blank and hold it firmly.
Hollow the spoon with a hollowing tool or gouge trying the get an even wall thickness.
[At this point Tom produced a nice tool holder that he placed on the bed of the lathe. It was a board with zig-zag uprights along two opposite sides. His gouge and other tools could then be safely put down in this holder and could not move or roll away.]
Tom then used homemade sanding mandrels made from automotive valve stems. He had attached sponge and hotmelt-glued sandpaper to them. He sanded the inside of the spoon.
Tom then mounted his homemade sanding mandrel in the lathe. This he used to do final shaping of the spoon handle. The handle is slightly cupped out or curved using the sanding mandrel.
The mandrel is a cylinder with foam glued to the outside. A slot is cut along the length. Sandpaper strips of increasing grit are attached using small wedges that are pressed into the slot. He had 5 or 6 grits and a flapper disk at the end.
Tom will also drill a recess in the handle and add some sort of insert e.g. paua shell.
Tom finishes the spoons with Rice Bran Oil.
Tom also makes an olive spoon which is longer and has holes in the scoop. Tom recommends drilling the holes before hollowing. Drill from the back side so that any tear out is turned away in the hollowing process.
Tom commented that he was selling the spoons for $10 at the club Xmas shop and $20 in other places. He suspects that a 40% retail markup is added. Olive spoons are sold for $25.
Thanks Tom – it was a great demo and nice to see a finished product at the end.
He started by turning a mushroom, “Porcini” style. He followed the basic steps as for any spindle turning: rough turning to make the blank round, completing the part furthest from the headstock first and finishing each section as he moved towards the headstock. His mushroom head had a slight undercut to make it look more realistic by adding some shadow and a wider base as a stand.
Before parting off the finished piece he shifted it slightly in the chuck to make it lean a bit.
The arranging of a group of mushrooms needs to consider their size, height and leaning angle to create a condensed group without the individual mushrooms touching each other.
Tref mentioned that he often leaves the mushroom in the chuck for embellishments and only then parts it off.
A variety of embellishment/carving/painting/staining options can be chosen or combined on each single mushroom. No two mushrooms are the same!
Tref explained his process for using pyrography. He likes to use low heat to avoid overburn and to produce crisp lines. He showed us the various tips he is using and how to make some of them. He indicated that he is usually using a fan to suck the smoke away rather than directing the air onto the piece as the air flow towards the tip tends to cool it too much.
He went on to fill in the pyrographed patterns with a dye paying attention to not go over the burnt lines.
He also used a micro-carver to create some texture and to make round holes which he filled with some milliput (epoxy putty).
Thanks Tref for this very interesting demo with a lot of creative possibilities.
It was not exactly clear what we were about to see in the way of a “classic Veitch demo”. But it soon became apparent that Dick was going to show us how to convert a 150mm cube of diagonally grained Pohutukawa into a heavily tapered vase using six off-centres turning points, three on each end. The small distance between head stock and tail stock meant that the driving centre in particular was difficult to mount because of the angle introduced by the offset turning dimensions chosen. Large end was 41mm.
This endeavour by Dick encouraged multiple comments from his admiring and yet helpful audience. Several recommendations on offset dimensions raised the need to use 33 somewhere. Someone else thought that 120º might be more to the point. Dick battled on amid this banter and kept his attentive audience informed that if they watched carefully they would eventually see a spiral appearing down the side of his beautiful vase, as yet unfinished. When fulltime was called Dick stated that his spiral had got lost. At his next demo all would see a better looking final product.
So in fact everyone present enjoyed this presentation and departed happily with another satisfying evening watching some woodturning.
All of our Club Members should be proud of the fact that amongst us we have a man of multiple talents who clearly put his hand up at short notice to provide the demonstration for this evening. After all, we all come to each Club Night expecting to be entertained by “someone”.
Club Meeting: 8 Feb 2023 Report by: Kevin De Freitas
The Kendama is a variation on the Cup and Ball toy or a variant of the French game bilboquet.
Holm had presented one that he made last year at the club.
Part 1 – Turn a sphere.
Although there are many techniques to turn a sphere, Holm chose the method of turning a cylinder then increasing the number of facets until a sphere is reached. He demonstrated the use of a gauge that specifies the position of cuts to make octagon (8 sides) and then hexadecagon (16 sides) shapes. (Metric template available on website)
To turn a 60mm diameter sphere, start with a 120mm long square block slightly wider than the 60mm desired size. Mark the centres on each end.
Mount the block between small step centres. Make the block round and bring down to 60mm with a spindle roughing gouge.
Mark lines 60mm apart centrally on the cylinder and part down the waste side of each line ensuring you stay at right angles to the axis. A square cut is needed to keep the outer dimension of the sphere at 60mm. Turn away the waste leaving a spigot. Here is where the smaller steb centres are important – i.e they will not obstruct the formation of thinner spigots as the sphere develops.
The audience suggested that a centre line is required for later reference but, as we saw, this was not in fact needed with this technique.
Using the gauge, Holm then marked off the lines for the 45 degree cuts and using a spindle gouge, turned off the corners to form the octagonal shape. Holm suggested to use a gouge with a 45 degree bevel so that one could approach the wood with the gouge perpendicular to the wood. Check that all parallel faces are 60mm and remove additional wood if required.
The next step is to make the lines denoting the cuts for the 22.5 decree cuts. Then turn off the corners to form the 16 sided shape. Here Holm needed to reduce the size of the spigot to accommodate the extra cuts that are closer to the axis.
Next, carefully remove the remaining points to get a close approximation to a sphere. Cut through the remaining spigots with a saw being careful not to tear out any end grain.
Mount he sphere between cups and turn off the stubs of the spigots, then sand the sphere alternating gran 90 degrees each time.
Part 2 – Turn the cross Piece
Start with a blank 120mm long and 50mm square mounted between centres and turn round. The final piece is 70mm long and the two cups are different sizes.
Starting with the larger cup, at 44mm diameter, turn the blank down to this dimension.
Mark off the ends and make a partial parting cut on the waste side. Mark the widest part of the large cup and turn the taper towards the rim. Then turn the base of the cup and curve towards the centre of the piece.
Turn the smaller end down to the diameter of the second cup, mark the widest part and taper towards the rim as before. Complete the central portion turning down to the 19mm diameter of the thinnest part, using the previously made sphere as a guide to the curve.
Part the spigots down as thin as can be done safely and clear all waste to gain access to hollow the cups. With a bowl gouge, hollow the cups as much as possible. Flip the piece and hollow both cups.
Remove the piece and finish the hollowing with a curved chisel or rotary carving tool.
Drill a 9mm hole in the centre of the cross piece.
Part 3 – make the Vertical Cup and Spike part.
Start with a block 200mm x 40mm square to make a final piece 160mm long.
Turn down to 35mm dimension.
Mark the positions of the ends and the cup then turn the outer part of the cup as before.
Start to turn the taper and make decorative beads along the length where desired.
Remove waste progressively whilst reducing diameter along the length towards the chuck. This provides as much support as possible. Holm demonstrated that if there is vibration then you can support the piece with one hand while cutting with the other.
Before getting too thin, remove most of the spigot and hollow the cup.
Turn down to 13mm and step down to 10mm to create a seat for the cross piece. Continue the 10mm diameter for 20mm then taper towards the tip at 8mm. (see diagram for detail)
Sand the piece and shape towards the point before turning and breaking through at the point. The point is then refined off the lathe with sandpaper.
Add the string and assemble. Holes may need to be adjusted to get a tight fit.
Taking a cube of recycled Kauri timber from Whitianga house, Kieran walks the audience through stages with illustration of each waypoint. And the associated hiccups.
Starting from the basics, and following the SAWG project sheet, Kieran moved through the traditional methods for an emerging bowl. Part of this process is a measuring exercise. Possibly a key point; the need to working off the initial first diameter (as per the project sheet).
Measurement decision . Kieran brought home the point with good humour and illustrated the need to follow the safety practices and processes at all times.
Emerging bowls is a procedural exercise, fully outlined in the SAWG project sheet, and gives a good starting exercise. There were many audience opinions and discussions, especially about the freehand method. A number of good quips were handled around as Kieran talked about the weaknesses and barriers affecting this project. Inserted illustration and humour provided a view about using the freehand type of approach.
Spheres are part of this exercise, Kieran highlighting the use of templates and talking about the number of approaches that can be used in this part of the exercise, plus, a wave of opinion from the audience.
The process provided a good example of the use hot melt glue for fixing in the final part of the sphere project. Again, accuracy and measurements, or should one say, mis-measurements show up in the later stages of this emerging bowl project.
The finishing options are varied and part of standard process. Kieran gave quick illustration of using lathe based sanding discs into the final melee.
The crowd were given their money’s worth and with expression gave their opinions.
Well presented standard process and a humorous way of getting through a traditional exercise dominated by measurement.
Club Meeting: 7 December 2022 Report by: Kieran FitzGerald
Terry confessed that when asked to do a demo he didn’t have a clue as to what he might do – hence the highly interpretive topic “Things That Go Round”. But to show the truth in this title, Terry took a loaf of bread (thanks for the freebies Anwar), mounted it between centres, set the lathe spinning, and started to turn it with a roughing gouge. Throwing the partly turned loaf into the audience, he began a more realistic start to his demo.
Some time back (eons, I’d say), Terry scored a bunch of kauri offcuts from a job at Auckland Museum. They were varying sizes – 6 x 1s, 4 x 1s etc. What to make with them? Terry’s answer was spoons. He ended up selling about 50 a month through a shop at the airport. The selling price was $48, of which Terry made $26. To make this economically worthwhile, Terry found he had to “pump them out”. Hence this part of his demo about production turning.
The key to production turning is efficiency, and this includes saving time, by using jigs where possible, and doing work which is staged and in batches. For example, with the spoons Terry has a simple jig for marking the centres on the ends of each blank, and he does runs of 20 – 30 at a time. Between centres, and with a tool rest which is the full length of the spoon, Terry quickly turns the handle round, sands it and textures it, framing the textured part with a skew. Part it off and on to the next one. To avoid chattering Terry supports the handle with his non-tool hand. The wings of a spindle roughing gouge can be used like a skew, or a skew can be used to give a smoother finish and minimise sanding.
Next step is to take all the pieces to the bandsaw and shape out the spoon end, then to the disc sander to round them off. Terry finishes with a hand held angle sander at 240 grit before applying food safe beeswax. A little raffia tag to make it look flash for retailing, and another kauri treasure wings its way around the globe.
Terry estimates he has made over 2000 of these spoons. As an interesting side story, a comment from a buyer that she had never seen a left handed spoon before took Terry by surprise, because he had not considered that lefties and righties might stir in different directions, and the angling of the cuts on the spoon could enable opposing stirring directions.
The next part of Terry’s demo featured a lidded salt pig with a spoon. Starting with a macrocarpa cube mounted between spur centres, Terry roughed it round and cut a spigot at one end. He secured the spigot in a chuck and shaped the pig at the headstock end. At the other end he shaped out the lid, leaving a tenon (later to be the handle of the lid) which he would use in an ingenious (so called) time saving way. This will be described shortly. Then he parted off the lid and turned his attention back to the body of the salt pig. First he made a recess into which the lid would fit. Then he partially hollowed it. Next came the fun part. Returning to his earlier theme of production turning, Terry theorised that it was quicker to use a jam chuck to finish the inside of the lid than it was to remount it in a chuck. So using the body of the partially hollowed pig, Terry cut a mortise to fit the tenon he had made on the lid. “I normally get this right first pop” he said. Yeah right. Several attempts later, and after having had the unfinished lid fly off a couple of times, Terry resorted to jamming it in with toilet paper and taping it up with masking tape as an added measure before he was able to finish the job. Needless to say the audience took great delight in bombarding Terry with cheeky comments to which he responded in kind.
At this stage the lid still wasn’t finished because the tenon had to be re-shaped into a handle, so Terry jammed it into the recess in the pig and did that. Back to the pig, and the inside was finished with a hollower. Final finishing was done on the outside before Terry positioned it in the chuck in expansion mode to remove the spigot. The last step is to take it to the belt sander to form a flat on the lower side so it can sit in traditional salt pig fashion, or alternatively it can sit upright on its base. A useful tip is to make the grain sit horizontally because it looks better that way.
The salt spoon can be made entirely from wood with a ball end, but in this case Terry used a kit with a 3mm hole drilled in the handle to hold it. Lastly Terry drills a hole in the side of the lid to accommodate the spoon.
Terry said he gets $48 for his pigs, and his advice to turners is “bash, bash get the cash”. I dunno about that – some are in to production turning, and others are in it for fun and happy with making one off pieces. Whatever. As always Terry, we love your work, thanks for a great demo.
Club Meeting: 30 November 2022 Report by: Kieran FitzGerald
Tonight’s demo promised to be a blockbuster of epic proportions, and Director Dave Gillard did not let us down, performing to a full opening night audience. The action packed show had it all – drama, comedy, suspense, and most of all, education. Due to the technical nature of much of the subject matter, this review will concentrate on those aspects that were actually understood by the writer. For those parts which are unwritten, I would say take the tools in your hands and give it a go – with practice, practice and more practice the techniques and skills will reveal themselves to you.
The show opened with a log half the size of California mounted between centres on the lathe. Of course it could have been a bigger log if the lathe was a Harvey. But this scene was to be anticlimactic, and Bryan M. predicted it immediately: “he’s not going to turn that, it would take him all night just to rough it round”. Sure enough, this was a leg pull. Dave unmounted the log, but did share with us the method he uses to safely drive extra large turnings. This consists of a custom 75mm faceplate with a 50mm long pipe welded to the centre, and three sharp spurs fashioned from bolts protruding through the faceplate screw holes. Initially between centres, a Vermec reversing live centre with chuck can be fitted at the tailstock end.
Getting down to business, the plot begins as Dave mounts a decent sized chunk of green magnolia – guessing about 360 long by 180 across. It is already partly rounded and has a spigot for 100mm power grip jaws. Taking a ½” bowl gouge Dave shapes the outside, without placing too much importance on form – the emphasis here is on hollowing. A hint when working with wet wood is to wax the bed, tool rest etc to offer a bit of protection against the moisture from the wood. Dave turned the head of the lathe about 30 degrees to give a better working position rather than having to lean over the bed. After cleaning up the top surface Dave removed the tailstock and bored a 30 – 40mm hole with a spindle gouge to start the hollowing. In an alternative take this could have been drilled out, in which case a grunty sized drill bit should be used. Dave uses two forstner bits, one of which has the point ground off so he can go deep into the bottom but still leave it flat.
Now the plot deepens. Laid out on the table behind the lathe is a range of Rolly Munro hollowing tools, and Dave will use each of these as he demonstrates the hollowing techniques. The minimum 6 series, consisting of a Straight, an Owen and a Lister bend have a 6mm tungsten carbide cutter. These three tools have recently been superseded by a single 6mm articulated version. The next size up is the mini 8mm, which as the name implies, is an articulated tool with an 8mm cutter in either HSS or carbide, and ½” shaft. Next size up is the Wunderkutt 10mm with a 5/8” diameter shaft. These tools have an adjustable hood over the cutter which can be removed or retained in place to set the depth of the cut. By this stage I was getting a bit lost as to which tool was which, but there were longer tools as well for those deep hollowing jobs. Dave explained that with any of the Rolly tools the length over the tool rest is shaft diameter x 20. So a 5/8” diameter tool has a hollowing reach of 317.5mm over the rest.
When hollowing, the tool is presented to the wood at centre. With the cutter angled down initially, it is rotated clockwise until the desired cut is achieved. Dave has recently been at a day long demonstration with Rolly Munro, during which Rolly demystified some of the practices associated with hollowing, and explained that with the correct cutting techniques it is very difficult to get a catch. Dave demonstrated the techniques to us. First of all, the hand on the tool over the tool rest acts as a shock absorber, preventing the tool from chattering. If a cutter is inclined to catch, it will turn downwards with the rotation of the wood. When this happens, simply let the tool turn down and out of the cut rather than sharply trying to withdraw the tool. Through a tight opening, it is this reaction which has the potential to shatter the turning.
In this example, when hollowing the sides up from the opening, the cutter is most likely to catch at the point where it hits the shoulder. To avoid this, rather than pushing upwards at the side, cut downwards from the drilled centre hole towards the side. The hollowing tools will cut well in both a push and pull cut. It will be necessary to change the articulated angle of the cutter depending on your cutting location within the vessel.
A good stance involves positioning your body with the handle under your forearm, your front foot forward, and your shoulder positioned over the tool. This position allows the weight of your body to assist to control the hollower.
As the sides get thinner a cleaner cut can be achieved by angling the cutter to make a shear cut. The cutter can be swapped out for a dedicated scraper. The shavings will be smaller, and watch that the shavings don’t disguise the true thickness of your walls.
The hollowing tools will work equally well on dry wood. Dave took a rough turned bowl which had warped a bit as it dried. With the smaller tools especially, the amount of steel at the articulated joint is only about 2mm, so don’t go in too heavy handed with these. Dave showed how easy it is to turn the inside of the bowl with a hollower (although it can be difficult to see, with the shavings flying back at you).
One of the trickier parts of hollowing is removing the nipple that tends to form at bottom centre of your hollowing, where the rotation is near to zero rpm. Dave explained how the rotation of the vessel will carry the cutter towards the bottom of the nipple at which time you apply gentle downwards pressure on the handle, which lifts the cutter and nibbles away at the little nub. Dave was using a Wunderkutt 10 without a shield for this.
The finale of tonight’s show was a very informative discussion about sharpening. A sharp cutter, when drawn across your thumb nail, will dig in. If it takes a shaving from your nail it is not sharp. Cutters may be rotated, normally by about 1/3rd, to expose an unused edge. The recommended process for sharpening the cutters is to use a 2000 – 3000 grit diamond disc on the lathe at 300 rpm, and the cutter on a mandrel in a power drill rotating upwards at full speed. The diamond disc needs to be lubricated with water. Start on the bevel and bring the cutter forward until the edge is contacting. The black slurry line means the edge is sharpening.
The Rolly Munro cutters may be either high speed steel (HSS) or tungsten carbide (carbide). The carbide will not be able to achieve as sharp an edge as HSS, but the cutting edge will last much longer than HSS. You can identify which cutters are carbide because they have a star shaped pattern on top, and the angle of the sides is not as sharp as HSS. The list of what sharpening compounds should be used for the various types of steel is shown in the following table:
And the Oscar goes to…….
……. let’s just say woodturning was the winner on the night.
Club Meeting: 16 November 2022 Report by: Kieran FitzGerald
In tonight’s demo Strett shows us how to make a toy gun. In a previous show and tell he had demonstrated a highly effective toy bow and arrow. But how safe was such a toy in the hands of a reckless child?
Not to be dissuaded, Strett pursued his theme with enthusiasm to create a safer alternative. In his own words: “Grandpa’s developing a range of renewable energy toy canons. These are carbon neutral, so a very PC toy. Perfect for Christmas prezzies for the green brigade. Awaiting COP 27 approval.”
To be pedantic, in speaking of canons instead of cannons, it is clear he is confusing theology with hoplology. But moving on….
In the following picture, the toy at the top is the closest representation of the bow and arrow, and the toy at the bottom is similar to the toy Strett makes in the demonstration, except it utilises the short “bullets” shown above it in the picture.
To make the toy, Strett starts with a piece of wood approx. 45 x 45 x 150, which he will turn between centres to make the handle. Strett offered this an opportunity to practice using the skew, and he explained the correct presentation of the tool to the wood etc, an aspect of the demo which less experienced turners found very useful. The handle was shaped and sized to fit a child or young person’s hand and decorative features added. One end was tapered down to 16mm to fit the hole which had been pre-drilled in the piece of wood from which the gun barrel would be made. Test fit, and then part off. A tight and tidy fit is important for both looks and strength of purpose.
The gun barrel is fashioned from a length approx. 60 x 60 x 220. One end of the blank may be used to make the plunger, or firing mechanism. More on that shortly. The key to making the barrel is to drill the bore longitudinally through the centre. To do this Strett rounded off the blank and cut a spigot on each end. Lacking a drill bit of sufficient length to drill through in one pass, he had to turn the piece in the lathe and drill it from both ends, ensuring a clean meet in the middle. The diameter of the bore should be marginally wider than the dowel from which the bullets are made, to accommodate slight variances in the thickness of the dowel. Once the bore is drilled the barrel can be shaped to a suitable design of choice. One point to remember is that eyes (as in hook and eye) will be screwed to the barrel for holding the elastic band, so be sure to leave enough thickness for this in the barrel. Once finished, a skew chisel is used to make a clean parting cut.
The next component is the plunger, which fits on the non-firing end of the barrel. This knob-like piece has a 15mm deep hole drilled in to it to accept a dowel, and two eyes through which the elastic cord will pass. The velocity with which the dowel bullets are fired may be determined by the positioning and strength of the elastic band. All the pieces were sanded before being taken off the lathe.
Thank you Strett for an enjoyable, instructive and innovative demo.
Club Meeting: 28 September 2022 Report by: Kieran FitzGerald
Wow! It is the last meeting for term three. Where did that go??? It is fitting that the term finished with another demo themed around the term topic of “Natural”. Bruce engaged the clubbies with a challenging (for some) discussion around design opportunities for wood which still contains original features enabling it to be designated as natural, and which preserve the characteristics which mark each piece as unique.
As an introduction, Bruce told us about a time long ago when he and Ross were members of a Maraetai club when Terry Scott visited and did a demo. This was Bruce’s inspiration to begin woodturning, and he produced a live edge bowl he turned in those early years. Of course club nights wouldn’t be the same if there wasn’t a degree of toing and froing between the demonstrator and the audience, and in this instance the topic was “recess or tenon?”. Terry encouraged tenons based on both practical and safety reasons, but of course Bruce’s early turnings featured a recess to hold the piece.
From his box of tricks Bruce took out a beautiful, large, dark coloured bowl which exhibited all the holey features of a burl. Next he pulled out a smaller piece turned from the same burl, and which still had a flat where it was sawed off the main piece. Finally, from the same burl, a pretty lidded bowl. This last offering underwent a design transformation while Bruce was turning it, because he saw the opportunities to better highlight the natural beauty of the wood. These three pieces, he said, would stay in his possession until his time was up. After that, it was up to his family to decide what to do. Obviously very treasured pieces.
The next block of wood Bruce brought out was a largish block of macrocarpa, chainsawed on all edges. From the front view, it looked like a clean piece suitable for a decent size bowl. But when Bruce first turned it over, it had a large bark inclusion. Once he chiselled out the bark it was a deep river running right through the piece, rendering it totally unsuitable for any conventional types of turning. What to do with it? All saw the inherent opportunities the piece offered, but opinions were varied. I think the majority saw a resin fill as presenting the most suitable use.
Next up was a nearly finished turning of a large, three sided, winged bowl, too big to fit over the bed of most lathes. This attractive piece, pepper I think, was thin-turned with stepped-down thicknesses on the underside of the wings. Having lots of natural cavities, the challenge was how to remove the tenon and finish the foot. Suggestions indicated that this was not as difficult as it might seem. Dick said that covering it with gladwrap and using a vacuum would be a satisfactory method. Alternatively taping it to a big faceplate.
Bruce showed another burl which was milled in such a way to retain a small burl on one face, and from which a number of small burls had already been cut off for various types of use. He had a live edge pepper turning, and then unwrapped a pepper burl which he had started to turn. This burl had a very coarse bark adorning the top, and was semi turned with straightish sides angling towards a foot near the bottom. The problem with this piece of burl, Bruce said, was the triangular, V shape in which it was cut made it difficult to envisage a design which maximised the bark, grain and colouring etc. Much discussion ensued with the final outcome being that it needed to be re-positioned between centres so that the top would be better balanced. Some height would be lost off the bottom, but it would be an opportunity to create a more graceful external shape for the sides. The top would probably benefit from applying the 1third 2 thirds rule for determining the ratio of bark to bowl size.
The last piece of wood that we looked at was a small burl, I’m guessing about 80mm diameter, sitting fairly centrally on a length about 120mm. The consensus was that this could quite simply be turned in to a nice bud vase. Bruce positioned it between steb centres in long grain mode and turned a tenon on the bottom. Grabbing it in the chuck, he drilled a 21mm hole the right length for a glass insert, before shaping the neck with a spindle gouge. With a bit of off-lathe finishing, this will become a distinct and unique bud vase.
Bruce’s demonstration was an interesting foray for all present in to the endless possibilities for design and form options with these beautiful natural wood formations. Sometimes they look impossible to get something out of, and at the same time, actually have so many possibilities that it is difficult to know what is the best option. Thank you Bruce, for closing out our third term with a thought provoking examination of design opportunities.