Category Archives: Reports

O’dell Toi – Carving & Colour

Club Meeting: 31st March 2021
Report by: Garry Jones

O’dell gave us an explanation of how he got into carving and woodturning.

He mentioned how he found himself through applying his carving techniques and trying new methods of embellishing his works with gilders paste.

He told us how he progresses his work to the finished product in his carvings and that each carving comes with a Korero (story) describing how it came about and what the patterns represent.

He mentioned simplicity, dominance and contrast is how he looks at his carvings and woodturning and said that they should be (less not more) in other words don’t make things too busy.

The 3 tools that O’dell likes to use the most are his Burnmaster, Gilders paste and Interference paint and he stressed that we should all be pushing the barriers and trying new ideas, thinking outside the box so that we are always learning.

O’dell told us that in Maori carving the patterns are a language in that they tell a story to those who understand them.

He talked about the chisels he uses and explained the method and reasons why he sharpens them they way he does and how it suits the way he carves.

O’dell then demonstrated how to do the Unahi pattern (fish scales) and that this pattern represents the coming and going of fish in the tides, but it can also be used in the carving to represent the travels and journeys of a persons life.

After finishing the carving of the pattern he applied a coat of black paint which he brushed on as this was just a small piece, if it was a larger piece he would have used the spray can of paint (Dura Max Semi Gloss), when this had dried he applied the interference paint, also with a brush, different colours (blue, green, purple) into the deeper parts of the carving, the next step was applying the Gilders Paste which he applied with a rolled up rubber glove and just dabbed it onto the surface so that it didn’t go into the deeper parts of the pattern. He said that he would then leave it to dry for approx 2.5 hrs and then finish it off with a few coats of Dura Max Semi Gloss Clear Coat

Thank you O’dell we have all learnt something special tonight    

Terry Scott – Acorn with a Spin

Write up: Holm Miehlbradt,
Club Meeting: 24 March 2021

The evening was very well attended with almost no empty seat left.

Terry started out by recalling a compulsory shopping trip with Bruce (those in attendance will remember the details…). This lead them to some wooden acorns which in addition to being small boxes also were spinning tops.

The subject of the demo, matching our term project, was set: making such an acorn and then more…

The wooden acorn can probably be turned by a turner of any level of experience, however, Terry’s skills made it look deceptively easy!

The process is quite straight forward: Turn the blank (about 130x40x40 mm) round and create a spigot on each end. Part in half to make 2 acorns.
Mount one half in a chuck and start turning the bottom part with the recess for the lid towards the tailstock. To hollow out, drill a hole to the required depth. Once outside, inside and recess for the lid are completed, part off. Create a jam chuck with the remaining blank and remount the acorn to finish the bottom, including sanding, sealing and application of finish of choice.


The jam chuck becomes the bottom of the lid. It is turned similarly to the bottom part of the acorn. Attention needs to be paid to finish the wider part of the lid before turning the stem thin. Terry’s texturing tool is used to create an acorn like texture on the lid.

Terry went on to show how to make a similar acorn out of deer antler with a pewter top. This makes a very attractive pendant. An alternative version is to use ebony again with a pewter lid.

Finally, Terry showed how to use his texturing tool to produce different texturing effects.

Thanks Terry for a demo full of ideas and advice.

Dick Veitch – Pencil Pot

Club Meeting: 17 March 2021
Report by: Grant Miles

Start with a block approx. 100mm by 125mm long the timber used was wet kauri .

Mount between centres

A 70mm chuck bite on one end is preferred over a 50mm bite.

Use the parting tool to make the chuck bite turn down for a 70mm bite. Made easier as Dicks parting chisel has an angle on its cutting edge.

Mount in the chuck using the bite.

Hollow using the largest forstner bit

Set lathe to 160rpm as per the forstner cutting speeds table. Found on the website or in the clubs forstner bit box. Make sure the bit is sharp

Set the drill so the centre point stops 12mm from the bottom. Tape the shaft of the drill at this depth.

Feed the drill in to the work using constant even pressure and keep it cutting

Using a spindle roughing gouge turn the outside of the pencil block round and parallel along its length.

Using a Soren Berger hollowing tool set it to centre height adjusting the tool rest. Make sure the cutting edge is flat and working from the middle towards the outside more the tool across the bottom to remove the centre mark left from the forstner bit.

Sand finish the inside using flapper wheels and sand paper on wood with foam around it it until the inside is cleaned up.

Remount in 100mm chuck using a piece of 100mm drain pipe with a cut in it. So it clamps tight on the outside of the work.

Marbling Prep.

Using the skew chisel cut two lines around the circumference to frame the area to be marbled.

Paint the pencil pot with alum. After alum has dried buff off with 0000 steel wool to remove raised grain.

Run masking tape around the edge of the two lines which have been cut.

Cover the end of the pencil pot using a blanking plate taped in place. Run a finger nail around the edge of the tape to make sure it has sealed.

The framing lines will not be removed or covered by the colour.

Then in a mixture of methyl cellulose (available from Takapuna Art supplies) mixed as you would size. Mix the methyl cellulose with distilled water (available at the supermarket). Poor this into a bowl deep enough to cover the area to be marbled.

Remove bubbles

Drop colours onto the solution. Drop black into the bowl it will float on the surface do this first. Add additional colours. (Dick used Jacouard Marbling colours available form Warehouse Staionary) Can use poster paint, resene test pots e.t.c. (thinned down) More than 4 colours plus the black, can make the marbling appear to busy. Drop the colours in randomly. On this occasion Dick added black first ,then randomly dropped in red, green, yellow and blue until he had built up enough colour and as further drops were added they no-longer spread across the surface.

Using a toothpick drag the tooth pick through the colours to make a pattern. Using a rack or toothpick continue to move through the surface until a pattern is produced on the surface.

Dip the turning into the mixture until the area to be marbled is covered. Withdraw from the solution and wash off under water.

The tape can be removed straight away and when dry a spray laquer applied to finish the project. Stylewood 30 was used to finish the items Dick had on display.

Thank you for a most interesting and informative demo.

Michael Bernard – Bits & Pieces

Club Meeting: 10th March 2021
Report by Janet McDonald

We had an interesting and varied demo from Michael Bernard on the 10th March. Firstly Michael had brought along his knife sharpening equipment and we all had a chance to have our knifes sharpened. It looked easy enough but you soon saw there is a skill to it.

During the demo time Michael showed us some of the things he had been turning lately. The traditional Maori flute was beautiful. Its length of wood approximately 15cm long which had been turned so it could be drilled out with a 18mm drill piece to leave a wall thickness of approximately 3mm. Holes were then drilled with 6mm drill bits.

Spurtles was the next object he showed and I learnt they are the shape they are so porridge can run off them easily compared to a spoon while cooking. Also he showed how a dowel shaped stirrer was better for mixing sour dough then a spoon shaped utensil.

Michael has made a couple of chess sets in his time and showed his latest King and Queen. He then went on to turn the queen for us.

The big surprise was to learn how thick a piece of gorse can grow! I having grown up on a farm, with gorse eradication a continual thing. The tractor was quickly deployed with the slasher when gorse showed. I acquired a piece and will turn a bud vase for my retired farmer father; but I don’t think I should tell him the pest I made it from. 

Adding Value to Pen Making – Colin Wise

Club Meeting: 24th Feb 2021
Report by: Bill Alden

Colin started off by suggesting ways to select wood in order to add value to the usual along the grain orientation. He showed some prepared blanks with barrels inserted of cross grain and long grain, it was also suggested that the grain could be orientated at 45 degrees.

He showed us his jig setup for sanding the ends of the blanks square prior to turning. A file was used to de burr the inside of the brass tube, he then demonstrated the turning of the two blanks he had one long grain and one cross grain. Although he did not finish the surface he showed us the use of a block of P.P.P. (perfect pen polish).

He then passed around different pens that were made of different woods and grain orientation.

He then went on to talk about the use of Aluminium for pens and demonstrated drilling techniques He used a 6.2 mm drill and then finished the hole with a 6.3 mm one. An Aluminium pen does not require the brass inserts so the 6.3 diameter is equivalent to the inside of a brass tube. He then showed the turning of the Aluminium blank on another mandrel. He suggested the use of a squirt of Ondina oil, which we normally use for sanding, would assist in this process. He demonstrated the use of the Timberley Textura to embellish the aluminium. There is a specialised aluminium polish that can be used for finishing.

Jim Jackson – Jim’s mystery platter or was it platters.

Club Meeting: 10 Feb 2021
Report by: Graeme Mackay

Jim Jackson started out on a mystery tour with recycled wood. The wood was prepared in advance, initially an unnamed mystery piece that was directed towards a formal, traditional shape.

Jim started shaping up the first part of the mystery; a platter the with a central hole. Commenting on sharp tools, and the need for regular sharpening preparing the spigot for a large Titan 3 Chuck initially set up on the tailstock. The end product was still, a remaining mystery. However, Jim did allude to the fact that can be made with same or separate types of wood. The overall focus was as an exercise in making plates, possibly platters, which would, later, with measured centre hole added, be teacake platters.

There was an emphasis of the a need to make the platters light in both look and lifting. He did however allude to the fact that the shapes need to be similar, uniform and equal thickness.

The unveiling of the mystery: a three tier, central pillar, teacake holder. There was a question as to whether this three tier holder would handle club sandwiches, high-calorie assemblages and cream cakes. The holding ability was effectively illustrated later in the demonstration.

An important feature was the frequent measurement of the central holes on the upper tiers and the rebate for the central pillar. Overall, there was a regular requirement for measurements of all parts of this teacake holder. Jim put this forward as a spindle turning exercise and in the same vein as the central pillar for the wig stand (see SAWG project).

There was a recommendation to check the actual fit of the items and to remember the order in which assembly was undertaken. Jim noted with a chuckle, make sure that you have the order of construction in the correct manner:

  • sort the feet out on the base platter
  • ensure that the rebate on the central pillar fits into the base platter
  • ensure that the step to hold the first tier is correct
  • check that the hole in the first tier is correct
  • ensure that the step to hold a second or top tier is correct
  • check the hole for the top tier plate

Form of the object and how it looks: the connecting mechanisms and holding parts measurements aside, the Three Tier Teacake Holder is dependent on looks. The ratio between the three layers needs consideration and planning. The height between the platters is similarly important.

Jim’s mystery project is utilitarian however the final product sits up front.

A good exercise spindle turning, measurement and planning.

Holm Miehlbradt – Ebonising

Club Meeting 3 Feb 2021
Report by Janet McDonald

Holm gave a great demo on ebonising. The practice of turning wood black/darker without paint or pyrography. He showed how the tannic acid in wood reacts to different types of formulas/solutions. One of the main benefits of using ebonising is that it darkens the wood but allows the grain of the wood to show through. 

The most common formula is a mixture of white vinegar and steel wool left to soak for a few days or weeks. Recipe: 1 cup of vinegar and a hand full of steel wool. The longer left the darker with solution will be on the wood. Because of the gasses/pressure formed while fermenting, it is best to place in a glass jar with a loose lid to allow build up of pressure to release itself. 

Once the formula is ready it can be applied to your wood object with a brush or a sponge. The more layers of solution the darker the look. Some wood has more tannic acid than others, so the depth of colour from one formula may vary on different types of wood.

Tea leaves soaked in water can be applied to the wood to add tannic acid to the wood so that it reacts with the vinegar solution.

The solution can raise the grain of the wood surface, so it was suggested to sponge on a layer and allow to dry. Then sand any raised grain and then apply another layer of solution. Do not use sanding sealer or similar on wood first or it will impede the soaking of the solution.

Holm also showed us how indian ink and leather dye can be used on wood to colour it. 

Holm showed many examples on pieces of wood during the demo which was appreciated.

Garry Jones – Skittles

Club Meeting: 9th December 2020
Report by: Chris Crone

This week’s enjoyable demonstration fit in with the term’s project of children’s toys. Garry Jones showed us to make a set of skittles along with a ball, which after painting make an eye-catching and enjoyable treat for kids. 

The skittles – including a soldier, penguins, Superman and regular skittle shape – were made from pallet wood with dimensions 50 x 50 x 210. For new turners’ benefit, Garry showed the various ways to find centre: using a ruler, one’s finger and pencil, or a specialised centre-finder tool, before securing the wood using a step centre. A question from the floor asked whether it could be fitted directly into a standard chuck to which the answer was Yes, though it would be slower to secure and remove each workpiece when turning multiple skittles. 

Safety first, of course, and Garry fitted his face guard before using a spindle roughing gouge to turn the piece to round. Pallet wood is generally pine, and though wide-grained Garry remarked that it is possible to achieve a reasonable finish. 

Garry had marked plastic squeegee/scraper heads from Bunnings to use as templates for marking the wood with pencil for the various parts (eg. foot, head), of the various figures (eg. soldier, penguin). 

First up was the soldier, and Garry started forming the legs using a parting tool, down to 25 mm. A roughing gouge was used for broad curves such as the soldier’s coat and face, before using a detail gouge for the points of transition, such as where the coat meets collar, or face meets hat. 

Before parting, Garry sanded with 120, 150 and 240 grit – typically sanding sealer would then be applied. Of note for new turners, is that the foot of the figure should be parted off at an angle so that the bottom of the skittle is concave and thus sits steadily on its rim. At home, Garry would use a Japanese-style pull saw for the final parting – pallet wood is often easier to cut rather than part off. 

The second figure was the Christmas penguin and again a scraper template was used to mark out the wood. The Christmas penguin featured more sweeping curves than the soldier, so Garry used the roughing gouge to shape the figure by eye, before using the detail gouge to mark finer details and transitions, particularly around the penguin’s scarf. 

Garry then moved to making the ball. For this, he used a piece of 65 mm round timber and marked out three lines 32.5 mm apart – he commented that the centre line should be left visible as long as possible to assist in achieving the circular shape. 

He used the roughing gouge to broadly shape each side, then moved to the detail gouge as the diameter decreased and he neared the ends. Terry fetched a milk bottle cap and demonstrated a means of assessing roundness, by looking for light under the cap as it is pressed on the near-round work. 

The ends were cut, and Garry then showed the jig he had constructed: a two-sided sphere jam chuck hollowed out with non-slip matting. Garry fit the ball into the jig and pointed out that two lines marked on the two sides of the jig should line up.  

New turners may not be familiar with the dangers of using a spindle roughing gouge with a cross-grain piece: note that was one rotates the ball at different angles within the jig, the wood may be cross-grain and so a spindle roughing gouge is not the ideal tool. Garry alternated between a skew and bowl gouge to shape the ball, making small rotations of the ball as he went. There were suggestions from the floor that the jam chucks should be slightly smaller diameters, somewhere around a half of the ball’s desired diameter, to minimise the problems caused by small ridges on the ball. There were also alternative suggestions about how to assess roundness, such as looking down through a round PVC pipe on to the work. 

Garry’s demonstration was hugely enjoyable for me as a new turner to watch and it provided a great idea for gifts and toys for the festive season. As Garry commented at the end, “all it needs is paint and imagination”. 

John Whitmore – Parting is such sweet sorrow

Wednesday 2nd December 2020
Report by Emma James-Ries

This week we were treated to a well organised demo by John Whitmore. John’s demo was solely focused on parting off and all the tools and techniques you can use to achieve this, a first for our club!

I will note here, that I felt having a background in engineering would have been very beneficial in my understanding of all the techniques in this demo, but alas I still gained a lot regardless. John started by explaining his title, a quote and exchange between Romeo and Juliet, highlighting the ‘sweet sorry’ that comes with the parting off and the conclusion of a project.

To start with John demonstrated the advantages of straight sided parting tools. A straight sided double beveled tool, is very useful for making shallow cuts to create beads, but can bind if parting off in one cut. He showed us a Sorby beading and parting tool, demonstrating some bead work with even precision. John attached the timber in 30mm spigot chuck, which has much deeper jaws, ideal for handling the pressure that comes with parting off.

He went over the uses of hacksaw blades and how to convert them into parting tools. Strong, industrial steel is ideal and making the cutting edge just behind the tooth edge may be best. Banging the blades with a heavy duty hammer before sharpening, may spread the metal slightly and provides clearance behind the cutting edge.

In the next stage in the demo, John showed us a range of tapered parting tools. The benefit to tapered tools is it creates a gap between the timber and the tool, behind the cutting edge, to avoid build up of heat friction and binding. The most common tapered tool is a diamond profile, which is what the club stocks at all the lathes. A parting tool with a fluted base can be good across end grain. John had glued a metal rod to the bottom of the flute, to rest on the tool rest. Incase of a dig in, it wouldn’t damage the rest, a good tip!

John let us know that another good option for parting off, was an engineering holder than you can purchase from Machinery House (Just make sure they’re in stock before making the trip!) The engineering holder could then be set into a gas pipe handle to give maximum stability and strength. Another unusual tapered parting tool that was shown, was one made out of a kitchen butter knife! At this point in the demo John asked for help from the biggest cynic in the room, which was of course Cam Cosford! Cam was asked to part off a piece of Tawa dowel, using the kitchen knife. After a small dig in, he managed to do it twice, a good sport thanks Cam. A larger Bowie/hunting knife can also be used in the same way. Just a note when looking for knifes to convert, make sure they aren’t tapered towards the tip. The last example of a parting tool shown, was a straight sided Kelton Bowl Saver that could be used for very heavy duty parting. Bedans and straight sided keyway steel, can also be used for the same purpose.

The next part of the demo went into depth around different odds and sods that are useful to know in woodwork. John showed us his creation of a long shafted sanding arbor that uses hex screws, to avoid wobble and damage to the shaft that can occur with standard grub screws. John then had to create his own sanding arbors to fit the hex screws, as no one currently makes them. He had struggled a bit to cut the padding neatly, however suggestions of Stanley knives and hot wire could be used. Another little adaption to the arbor, was creating a sliding handle to use to steady the shaft when sanding, a very useful idea. John also went over the different tools and handles that can be created out of obscure objects, including a blade from broken garden shears and a scraper made from a garden trowel! He showed us how to sand a piece of gas pipe evenly on a sanding disc and Texas style tool rest table. I have been very impressed with John’s ambition and can do attitude towards making his own tools and creating solutions to problems that can arise in woodturning.

To finish up the demo, John showed us a piece of Norfolk pine that he’d found on the side of the road. He’d used PVA glue as a filler and showed us the result as an alternative option to resins. Also another clever little idea, was to save the stubs of the pine branches to create little boxes that still contained the unique branch growth pattern. A very knowledgeable demonstration that was executed with precision. I definitely learned a lot, thank you John!

(ed: caution should be exercised when using very hard steel for making woodturning tools, a dig in is likely to shatter the tool. As always use a impact rated full face mask whenever possible when using the lathe, and stay safe)

Bruce Wood – Finder Rings

Write up: Holm Miehlbradt
Club Meeting: 25 November 2020

Tonight Bruce demonstrated how to make turned rings.

First he explained and showed how to stabilize the wood blank using a vacuum chamber and “cactus juice”. This is a recommended start as the blanks will be turned very thin.

The blank’s sides are then flattened and a hole is drilled using a horizontal borer. The hole diameter needs to be very accurate to fit the steel ring insert. And the insert vary in size by small increments (corresponding to the ring sizes).

The blank is then mounted on the insert (with medium superglue). The glued ring is held in a ring mandrel to turn the wood surface. Finally the ring is sanded, a finish is applied (Bruce used super thin superglue) and buffed with the Beall’s system.

Bruce also showed how to use Paua shell bits with UV activated resin instead of a wood blank.

Thanks Bruce for your demo, just in time for getting Christmas presents ready!.