Category Archives: Reports

Colin Wise – Offset Lidded Box

Club Meeting:26 Feb 2020
Report by: Murray Wilton

Colin opened his demo by displaying a range of lidded “boxes” he has made over the years. There was a set of 7 boxes, each one smaller than the next so they could be stacked to fit into the next largest box. Like Russian dolls. Apparently the world record for the number of boxes that can be made to stack in this way is 33. Terry has managed to get up to 17. Can anyone meet the challenge and beat that? The walls have to be so thin that turning must be done carefully with accurate measurements. Colin made his septet of boxes early in his turning career. He also revealed a sample of the finished product he was aiming to turn this evening and showed off a square box beautifully made from laminated timbers.

Colin’s demo started with a block of bird’s-eye pine, about 60 mm square and 180 mm long. He had previously rounded off the block and cut an off-set spigot in one end about 6mm from the true centre of the box, with the equivalent marking at the other end for holding with a steb centre at the tailstock end. With the block held by the offset spigot, he drilled a hole with a 32 mm Forstner bit, drilling slowly to avoid burning and ensuring the depth was sufficient to leave a box bottom about 5 to 8 mm thick. Drilling avoids having to do any hollowing.

[HANDY TIP No. 1: Colin uses boelube on the drill to keep it moving and avoid burning. Always drill slowly with Forstner bits and frequently extract from the hole to clear shavings.]

Once the desired depth is reached Colin marked that level on the outside so later he would know where to part off the lid of the box. He also marked the position of the curves he wanted to apply to the box. Next the box is de-mounted and a plug inserted in the hollow (top) ready for shaping and to give the box its unique (but not altogether beautiful) off-set shape. Now the block is re-mounted in the off-set spigot with the steb centre holding the off-centre mark at the tailstock end marked in the plug. The shaping must be done carefully with frequent checks to ensure the cuts are not encroaching on the 32 mm hole. If this happens the box will become a sieve.

[HANDY TIP No. 2: Off-set turning can be hazardous if anything goes wrong, so make sure you wear the full face guard and keep fingers clear of the unevenly spinning work piece.]

The box is demounted again and mounted in the real centre ready for parting off the lid. Before completing the cut, turn the rebate in the top of the box ready to take the lid. Also do any finishing work needed at this stage because once the lid is parted off it won’t be possible to do this.

After parting off the lid Colin completed shaping it to the desired form and cut the rebate to fit the box opening.

[HANDY TIP No. 3: When turning shapes, rebates, etc., to fit other shapes and rebates, keep checking for a good fit as you go along. Very easy to take off too much and lose a tight fit.]

Colin shaped the lid as a spinning top with a short handle to enable the top to be spun in a small notch cut in the bottom of the box. To do this he first shaped the bottom of the top (meaning the spinning-top), then turned it round in the chuck to finish the “top” of the top! If you get my meaning.

Great demo from another of our turning gurus. Many thanks Colin.

— Written up by “Club’s Most Consistent Volunteer Reporter” Murray Wilton

Dick Veitch – Spire Box

Club Meeting: Wednesday 19th February
Report by: Emma James-Ries

This week we were treated to a demo by the one and only Dick Veitch. He started off by talking about the latest Teknatool Nova Orion lathe, kindly loaned by Carba-Tec. Dick was very impressed with this version, asides from the secret Tailstock compartment which held centres. Otherwise, if you’re looking to upgrade your lathe, this model won’t disappoint.

Moving on to the nights project, Dick chose to turn a Spire Box, which was made with multi-centres. It is import to choose a strong grained wood for this project. Taking a piece of wood with dimensions 220mm long and 70mm square, mount on the lathe and round off to 60mm diameter. Once round, cut the curve of the outside of the foot of the box. Then cut a cove in the centre down to 51mm. Now part this cove down the middle and set the spire part aside. Dick then went on to hollow out the lid part of the top section of box. Setting that aside, he hollowed the bottom part of the box to fit the lid. It was at this point that Dick realised he needed to stand on a platform to properly hollow the box, as the new lathe was fractionally too high (it was on a small plinth). Always important to remember to be at the right height for turning to avoid unnecessary strains and pains.

After that was complete, he put both parts of the box together and remounted on the lathe, to recut the curve in the centre. Once cut down to 48mm, mark the centre points on each end. Dick then went on to explain that while making this project, he encountered problems when turning the shaft of the base and the finial on top. This was because the off set body of the box was too heavy for the shaft to bare once it was turned thin. To counteract this problem, Dick made a jam block that fitted neatly into the box to reduce the off-centre weight. Once counterweighted, go on to shape the stem with a spindle gouge. Dick made some lovely beads and wings under the box body and tapered the stem. He then showed us a clever way of sanding the underneath of the box with an electro file. Dick mentioned at this point, that it was wise to put a brace between the box and for to steady the stem when sanding as it is so fragile at this point.

Once Dick was done sanding the base, he went over to his special ‘magic box’ and pulled out one he’d made earlier. A fabulous project, thank you very much. This project sheet is available on the SAWG website under the name Spire Box.

Cam Cosford – Triangular Box

Club Night: 12 Feb 2020
Report by: John Whitmore

Cam Cosford treated us to a demonstration of box making with a difference. The shape was of triangular footprint but having convex (not straight) sides. The complexities of this were somewhat baffling to many and way beyond the scope of this report to record in detail, but there were some take home messages that are worth recording for posterity:

The project was made from a blank of 150 mm dia and 80 mm long – which gives a good idea of the overall size. This can be scaled either way for personal preference.

When removing and replacing a project on a 4 jaw chuck in compression mode, mark the work opposite a known jaw number so that the item is remounted exactly as it was first positioned, using the original pressure marks. This facilitates consistently true running.

Parting off a box lid is best started using the thinnest parting tool available and completed by hand saw with the work stationary. A thin parting tool enables grain to be better matched between box and lid.

Marking out the design intentions involves careful geometric drawing. To create a triangle out of the original circular disc requires offset turning and a great deal of hit-and-miss cutting. Off-setting is by means of a custom faceplate made from 30 mm mdf and necessitates very accurate (again, of geometric quality) laying out of positioning marks. Securing of the work to the offset faceplate is assisted by means of a screw into the workpiece centre to allow rotation between the three cutting centres and blobs of hotmelt glue for security at each stop. A counterbalance weight is essential.

The feet were cunningly made by utilising the original flat base of the blank as their resting surfaces and shaping the sides via the process of creating the convex triangular curves. Unusually, the underside was deeply dished between the feet with the effect of letting light underneath to create lift of the box and visual separation of the feet.

The likelihood is that this will be written up as a project plan for our website so greater detail is expected in due course along with drawings to illustrate the finer points. This project does flag the benefits of precision planning and that there are endless permutations in woodturning to be explored and experimented with.

Bob Yandell – Lidded Apple Box

Club Night: 5 Feb 2020
Report: Bob Yandell/Strett Nicolson


Grain can enhance the result.
Plain straight grain needs to be given a lift just as too much figure has its own difficulties. Material of choice Macrocarpa as it is stable and grain lends itself to natural wood colour or dyes.
90 x 90 x 110mm, ideally has faces at right angles.

1.      Square off ends and turn a 48mm x 10mm spigot on both ends and take off square edges thus reducing chance of splintering off and cuts i.e. just a radius.

2.      Lock and mark middle point between spigots and decide which will be the lid and which will be the box based on grain and mark accordingly.

3.      Cut through using the Bandsaw. You now have 2 pieces      
a.      The Lid
b.      The Box

Mount the Box in the 50mm chuck and square off face.

1.      The rough shape of the base of the apple the curve begins about 20% down from the squared off face and end at the spigot.

2.      Cut the tenon approximately 4mm in from the outside edge using the Parting Tool to a depth of 6mm approx.  Start the internal wall so overall thickness is roughly 10mm.

3.      Hollow out using 10mm Bowl Gouges (35 and 55), Hollowing Tools and Scrappers assist. Check the depth, you must not go into the spigot. Sand and finish inside and apply sanding sealer.

Mount the Lid in the 50mm chuck and square off face.

1.      The rough shape of the top of the apple the curve begins about 20% down from the squared off face and end at the spigot.

2.      Mark the size of the diameter of the tenon using dividers.

3.      Carefully cut the mortise to a depth of approximately 4mm using the Parting Tool to a depth that will allow you to check the box fit(Tenon is 6mm). Check fit often. Not too tight – you cannot put wood back. Start the internal wall so overall thickness is roughly 10mm

4.      Hollow out using 10mm Bowl Gouges (35 and 55), Hollowing Tools and Scrappers assist. Sand inside and apply sanding sealer.

Mount the Box in the 50mm chuck using expansion mode

1.      The rough shape of the base of the apple the curve begins about 20% down from the squared off face down removing the spigot to an acceptable diameter for the base of the fruit(40mm) then turn in to create the hollow at the base of a fruit.

2.      Sand and finish

Mount the Lid in the 50mm chuck and square off face.

1.      The rough shape of the top of the apple the curve begins about 20% down from the squared off face down removing the spigot to an acceptable diameter for the top of the fruit(50mm) then turn in to create the hollow but leave a 5mm spigot to create the stalk of a fruit. You can use an actual stalk.

2.      Shape stalk, sand and finish.

Bruce Wood – Lawn Bowl to Lidded Box

Write up: Holm Miehlbradt
Club Meeting: 30 Jan 2020

Tonight Bruce demonstrated how to make a lidded box out of an old lawn bowls.

The first “obvious” advice was to make sure that the bowl is made of wood rather than a plastic one!

To initially mount the bowl, one of the existing rings (after cleaning it out) is used with a fitting chuck and with a padded jig on the tailstock. A spigot is the turned and the diameter is reduced/shaped on the tailstock side. This will be the bottom of the box.

The bowl is then mounted with the spigot. The outside of the lid is then shaped and while parting it off a tenon is formed.

Starting with a Forstner bit, the box is hollowed out partly. The lid is then fitted onto the box and once the connection is shaped it is finished (including sanding, sealing, wax, lacquer, etc.). At this point, Bruce showed how effectively oil-sand which eliminated dust and keeps the sanding paper unclogged for longer.

The box is then fully hollowed out and finished.

The box is then turned around and the bottom is shaped and finished. With sufficient care some of the original features and decorations of the bowl can be kept near the base to enhance the box.

Finally the lid is mounted (while protected with tape) and the inside of it is finished.

Thanks Bruce for the entertaining demo and the advice which can be used in any turning project.

Lindsay Amies – Presents for Young and Old

Club Meeting: 11 December 2019
Report by Graeme Mackay

Wig stand to a Christmas gift: a matter of measurement.

A Christmas miracle was performed by Lindsay in front of a very attentive and interactive audience. Lindsay was able to turn a wig stand into a coffee cup holder. This tree like cupholder was developed using two important measurement systems imperial and metric.

In short this demonstration could be called a struggle of imperial versus metric measurement systems for gift construction. Lindsay was able to have the use of tech features magic box in the production of this work and the associated gifts. A central direction was to use recycled wood measured primarily in the imperial system. The writer supposes that this was because of the use of recycled Kauri.

Measurement system: was used to determine the size of the base, the joining spigots, and the vertical stand in the coffee holder pegs. This is achieved through a concise use of the imperial measurement system so that the hanging cups did not neither touch the ground nor bump into each other.

Drilling onto square piece made the formation of the cupholders pegs accurate and facing in the correct direction. A process that gained the audience approval and raise comment of rounding off the square piece. Rounding off was a mixture of spindle roughing gouge and skew. Sanding was simple with the finish either being lacquer or paint. Positive thing about Lindsay’s processes is that the mechanisms for finishing was simple and lathe based i.e. the Jacobs chuck and the sanding mandrels. The writer was not sure whether these were measured in imperial or metric. There were some extensive audience discussion as to the exacting system of measurements. This is particularly applied to the formation of the cup holder pegs made from 10 mm (metric measurement) dowel.

Coffee cup pegs: Lindsay did mention that there are a number of methods for getting dowel down to the size, understood to be 9.25 mm (metric measurement). There was mention of Mac’s sharpened spanner system. However the more accurate measuring persons within the audience felt that this was difficult to maintain a measurement such as 9.25 mm measurements.

Lindsay’s application method allowed for slight inconsistencies in measurement by the use of a 12 ounce (imperial measurement) hammer i.e. hammering it in.

Gift two: The associated gifts were made with very similar precision. The advantage of being that the prime piece for the base of gift one: a mouse, was variable. There was a question raised in the audience as to whether this was imperial variability or metric variability. Lindsay resolved this issue by making one body and imperial and another body and metric. The writer is unsure which was which. Small important notes were; sealing the mouse before making holes for the ears and whiskers and tail. Ensuring that the hole for these items was of sufficient size in this case 3.5 mm (metric measurement) and the use of superglue to finalise the attachment.

Gift three: a mouse on a door wedge. Lindsay used his magic box and showed how the flat surface of the mouse can be dowelled to the angled surface of the wedge. Lindsay did comment that the angle of the wedge is up to the maker and the size of the piece of wood been used. However he did indicate that this could be done in either imperial or metric.

Gift four: Raupo rush poles. A garden implement that can be made in both measurement systems. The steel rods can be purchased and cut source of required. Lindsay did note it is important to drill the bass part of the Raupo rush to the same size of the rod. Again in this case it was a metric measurement is that with the style of the steel rod purchased.

A warning: when using recycled timber particularly Kauri recycled timber, check for nails. They do significant damage to nicely sharpen tools.

Happy Christmas
Graeme Mackay


Demo by: Dick Veitch
Report by: Judith Langley
4th December 2019

Yes, HO! HO! HO! our very own Father Christmas decked out in green with a beautifully groomed white beard, entertained us to a variety of tricks from the rimu ‘magic’ box, and a very skilful demonstration of how to make an seven segmented bauble.

None other, than our Dick Veitch. As can always be expected Dick lines up the lathe using the aculine and then quotes numerous dimensions and degrees and produces slithers of wood from the magic box. The secret to a successful outcome for this project is accuracy. A piece of machined rimu with straight grain and perfectly squared was the fore runner, and as demonstrated even a small variance in the component sizing could spell disaster.

A barrage of tapping and banging from inside the box brought about a red jacketed Father Christmas with white flowing beard, who took up his stance on the end of a piece of pre-war telephone wire jammed into a purpose made blank. He was followed closely by Mother Christmas with long bushy white hair, who met the same fate – left dangling from another piece of wire.

Dick continued his demo insisting that great care was needed when shaping the inside of the bauble, using tiny cuts and very sharp tools. One tip during the sanding process was to use a bobbin sanding spool to sand around the curves.

More tapping and banging from the magic box and out came staged and completed baubles – an elf, a fairy, and then a beautiful little bird house plus a narrated story of the Christmas tree. All taking up a position on the display block.

Finally, a finial was turned on the base of the demo bauble and a suitable top bead and eyelet on the top.

Dick is an accomplished demonstrator and this was a great and entertaining evening. Remember the miniature tool kit from Woodcut Tools which was used by Dick during the demo – available from Timberly and would make a very necessary Christmas present.

The linked plan gives all the dimensions and instructions on how to make this bauble without duplicating them in this report.

Project Sheet – Christmas Tree Bauble

Merry Christmas to you all.

Ian Connelly – Snowman

Club Meeting 27th Nov 2019
Report by Bill Alden

Ian used the project sheet on our website. Which can be downloaded and printed at

He started with some 40X40mm softwood 70 mm long and rounded it to 30mm. The drawing on the project sheet is a slightly smaller scale but can be used as a guide to mark where the hat, head, scarf and the rest of the body lines go. He then made v cuts on these marks and proceeded to shape the parts as per the diagram. A minimal amount of sanding is all that is required as the item will be painted.

Next he turned the nose from 10 mm dowel inserted into a 25 mm long nosed chuck to the shape of a carrot approx. 10 mm long.

The dowel was pulled further out from the chuck and the scarf ends were then turned to the shape on the drawing again about 10 mm long. This piece when parted off was then split with a Stanley knife. The flat side may need to be sanded flat.

The rest of the dowel was used to make 2 arms approx. 20 mm long shaping a hand and when complete sand a flat to adhere to the sides of the snowman. The top of the hat and the base can be sanded on a mandrel attached to the lathe, use a chuck for the bigger ones and a Jacobs chuck with a mandrel for the smaller pieces

Next comes the painting and miraculously a white snowman appeared. Ian suggested using Gesso which is an Acrylic Primer, and is quick drying and formulated to take ordinary artists acrylic paints.

Colour of hat gloves and scarf is up to you but the colour ways on the plan look good. The plan suggests hot melt glue for assembly.

Ian then prepared another blank and used a 5mm offset at the hat end and a 10 mm offset at the base. This allowed him to turn a hat at a raked angle. It was however decided that slightly less of an offset and allowing more length to the piece would make the job easier.

The body parts were then turned as before after the blank was re-centred. He then showed us some other variations including one with a cap instead of a top hat.

Bruce Wood – Inside/Outside Turning

Club Meeting: 20th November 2019
Report by Murrary Wilton

Bruce’s project turned out to be an example of “inside-out” turning. For those, like this reporter, who had often wondered how items were made on a lathe by the “inside-out” process, the mystery was soon revealed. As always, the project begins with a plan, drawn to scale if possible. But in this case the plan was the shape of a Christmas Tree to be worked into two opposing faces of the ornament. Another requirement of good turning is to make templates of the tree branches, this time actual size, so they can be accurately turned as explained in what follows. The stencils are cut from thin aluminium sheet.

The project starts with four blocks 25 mm square by 150 mm long. They need to be carefully sawn as they will be glued together later. Number them 1 to 4 in cyclic order to ensure they are in the right place when finally glued “outside in”. They can be held together temporarily with hot melt glue, but this is not the best system as they won’t pull up tight enough. Better to use hose clamps with rounded wedges to maintain the roundness of the clamps and ensure a tight squeeze on the blocks. Attach them one at each end of the four blocks and tighten. Left-handed Bruce had to contend with the usual banter as he screwed up the clamps and proceeded with more skill than most right-handers. The clamps are located about 10 mm from the end of the block to allow a spigot to be formed for later mounting in a chuck.

The clamped blocks are now marked to show top and bottom and held between steb centres. As a safety lesson Bruce wrapped the clamps in electrical tape to avoid a nasty gash to the hand. (“We don’t want blood on the ceiling”, said one observer. “Takes all the fun out of it”, said another.) The “inside” turning proceeds with the edges of the block being shaped. Now the tree is formed branch by branch, the points marked with the stencils which he previously cut. Bruce used a parting tool and small bowl gouge for this work, constantly checking each of the four or five branches with its appropriate stencil.

Once the branches have been shaped, it is time to form the outside of the ornament, rounding off to the required diameter. During this time an annoying rattle was finally silenced by Dick Veitch who deftly moved the tool table a couple of millimetres from the lathe. (“Was it keeping you awake? Asked one wag.) When this task was finished Bruce applied sanding sealer before removing the piece from the lathe and painting it forest green from a spray can. This, when dry, becomes the inside of the ornament. Apply a second coat when dry and leave overnight before proceeding.

Now the “inside-out” miracle occurs. The blocks are separated and turned round 180 degrees in correct order. Sand off any paint that may have strayed onto the surfaces to be glued. Start by gluing each matching pair of blocks, then glue the pairs together, clamp tightly together again Keep in mind that you want the joints to be so tight that they will not be visible in the finished article. Allow to dry and re-mount the block on the lathe. Mark the position of various enhancements to the top and bottom of the ornament and start turning the outside shape. As with all spindle turning, sharp tools will ensure a nice finish without the need for sanding.

The finished article will be a feature on any Christmas tree and provoke a good deal of conversation about how the tree shape was effected in what amounts to a “box”. Great project for any turner and can be adapted to other kinds of small boxes to add to your repertoire. Many thanks Bruce for another master class and for revealing the mysteries of “inside-out” turning.

Strett Nicolson – Christmas Trees

Club Meeting:13th November 2019
Report by: Bob Yandell

In keeping with the run up to Christmas Strett demonstrated how to turn a Christmas tree and depending on size it could be an ornament to hang on the tree or a standalone item for the table or mantel.

The process was based on spindle turning with off centre stages. The use of offcuts or short lengths of large diameter, greater than 40mm, dowel meant no wood will be wasted.

The demo was based on a piece of scrap pre turned to a cylinder with a diameter of 100mm + and a length of approximately 300mm. Spiggots are turned on both ends to fit 50mm jaws. The cylinder is then mounted in the chuck and with the tail stock up a marked out. Ensure the chuck jaws are tight. The demo was turning a tree with an overall height of approximately 240mm. Based on 1/3rds the first 1/3rd started 30mm from the face of the chuck and this was to be the tub and trunk of the tree. The remaining 2/3rds will be the tree.

Using the Parting tool a gap of 10mm deep and 20mm wide (indicative only) was created between the base of the “tub” and the chuck and a similar gap created between the top of the tree and the tail stock.

Back off the tail stock and mark 3 location on the circumference of a circle of 10mm radius equal distance apart using the indexing facility or if using a spur drive count the impressions.

Turn the Tub and Trunk:

Bring the tail stock up to the centre and again ensure chuck is firmly closed. Create the trunk using the parting tool and shape the tub, half wine barrel. Decorate the tub with “hoops” scored with skew and burnt.

Shape the Tree:

Using the roughing gouge, spindle gouge and skew create a cone profile from trunk to tree top but ensure the treetop is 10mm, approximately, and up to the gap created at the tail stock. The gap was created to enable this to be achieved and the spigot untouched.

Prepare for off centre turning:

Mark the tree off in 10mm increments from trunk end. Because you will be cutting on each of the index marks you will be cutting every 4th line on each off-centre position you could indicate the line to be cut with a different coloured pencil.

Off centre Cutting:

Back off the tail stock and loosen the chuck to enable the live centre to be located in the appropriate location, either number or colour code to ensure increment to be cut matched location of live centre.

Using the skew with the point to make the cut at the first increment and positioned at right angles to the cone make the cut to a depth of up to 5mm. Withdraw the skew and make a second cut at the same location but an angle to the first coming from the tree top side of the first cut thus forming a vee. Repeat and the next increment,4th or same colour, and so on the top of the tree approx. 3 – 4 times.

Repeat process for each index/off centre mark.

Tidy and finish:

Re position to centre on tail stock and at this point you can paint the vees created in colours of your choice. When dry take a skim cut with the skew to clean up any paint on areas outside the vee.

The tree can be parted off remembering to undercut the base so it can stand and should you wish the top of the tree can be carved to create a star or what ever you wish.