Category Archives: Reports

John Balsillie – Triplets

Club Meeting:  9 August 2023

Report by:  Kieran FitzGerald

John gave a demo tonight which intrigued many of the watchers and I was under strict orders to write the report clearly and accurately so others could make their own versions of the demonstrated pieces.  To be frank, when John started out I thought this was going to be a complex piece, but ultimately it turned out to be a relatively simple turning but with dramatic effects.

How do I begin to describe what John made?  In essence, it was three stand-alone bud vases, which when placed next to each other were visualised as a single piece with a design on the front.  However if the three vases were stood adjacent to each other in a staggered fashion, and rotated on a lazy susan, they presented as having four entirely different faces, each one a clever work of turned and coloured art.  The pictures accompanying this report will help make it much clearer what I am trying to describe.

The starting point for this turning is a plan; this is essential as the pieces will be numbered and if constructed in the wrong order will destroy the end design.  In fact John showed us an example where he thought he had it right, but when he lined it up the middle piece was wrong.  

Take three matched blocks of any size – for the demo John’s blocks were 230mm high and 40mm square.  Place the blocks alongside each other and mark the outer pattern dimension by scribing a 160mm diameter circle.  Rule a line at each end to mark the finished size of 200mm. Number the face of each block on one end as per the plan (1 to 12; refer accompanying diagram).   

Next, tape the three pieces together (faces 1, 2 and 3) and mark the centre.  Place the three blocks centrally on a large round faceplate and screw a frame tightly around them to help hold them in place.  Initially John screwed the three blocks on to the faceplate at each end as well, but he found that hot melt glue actually was better and held them securely.  Check the balance by bringing the faceplate slowly up to speed.

Starting with the 160mm circle whose diameter you have already marked, form a cove or cut of any description.  Be careful to get the outer dimension accurate as you will need to repeat this size on each of the four faces otherwise it won’t line up and will look odd.  Also take care making this cut as it is a combination of wood and air.  Now work your way inwards with any variety of cuts – coves, beads, v cuts, centre dome etc.  As you work inwards, subsequent cuts are easier because they are all wood, no air, so more detail can be applied.  Shortly you will be rotating the blocks to a new face (follow the numbers as per the plan) and creating a pattern on that face, and then the next, and then the last.  The idea here is to create a different design on each face, so that the finished piece, when assembled and rotated on the lazy susan, shows a completely different picture on each face.  This is easier said than done; the instinctive inclination is to make fairly similar cuts on each face, because you are working on a smallish canvas and obviously are limited to circular patterns.  Be adventurous and use embellishments such as colour, texture, pyro, gilders paste etc.  Frame your texturing with a point tool.  You can highlight v cuts with a formica burn.

I’ve skipped ahead a bit, but you obviously need to complete one face at a time, including texturing and colouring, before moving on to the next.  Don’t make the cuts too deep, just deep enough to show a pattern, and keep the speed fairly high to make a clean cut.  All sanding has to be done by hand rather than power sanding; the latter is too brutal and will lose detail on the edges of cuts.  All sanding and embellishments are completed while still on the faceplate, but remember that you can return it to the lathe at any time to add any extra detail, because the frame is still mounted.  Remove any remaining pencil marks.  To take the three blocks out of the frame so he could rotate them, John used isopropyl alcohol to soften the hot melt glue and scraped it off with a chisel.

Once the four faces are finished, take the first block and mount it between centres to turn a spigot for a 35mm chuck.  Put it in the chuck and mark out for a rolled bead at the top and a pommel which forms a shoulder between the square block and the rounded top.  With the tailstock up, make these cuts.  Then with a 22mm forstner bit, drill a hole to create a bud vase.  Tidy the top, and sand.  Repeat this for each of the three blocks.  John uses a drop saw to trim off the spigot, leaving a square base.

All present were thankful for John’s well planned and very clear delivery of a fascinating project, before slipping out early into a cold winter’s night.

John’s Plan/Diagrams

Terry Scott – Seder Plate

Club Meeting: 2 August 2023
Report by: Kieran FitzGerald

Terry gave us a motivational insight into his multi-axis turning methods when he demonstrated a seder plate for us. The demo was well explained down to the smallest detail and accompanied by much humour from Terry. The crowd responded with a fair bit of ribbing, to which Terry said “Good to know who your friends are.”

Thanks Terry, we’re fortunate to have you to simplify these more advanced turning techniques for us.

Rather than write up a blow by blow description it is preferable to let Terry’s words describe his process. The linked article has previously been published in Woodturning magazine – some of you may have seen it before.

David Dernie – Contrasting Emerging Bowl

Club Meeting: 26 July 2023
Report by: Kieran FitzGerald

Our club was privileged to host David Dernie as a guest demonstrator tonight. Dave is an accomplished turner who brings with him a lifetime of woodworking experience. Dave started his working career as a cabinet maker, before building for 38 years, and then adopting less physical roles of building inspector and trainer of building inspectors. The fact that Dave is an eloquent and witty speaker contributed to an enjoyable evening.

Dave showed us a finished piece which was to be the principle subject of his demo. This was an emerging bowl with a difference – it was in two pieces. Dave’s inspiration came from watching Terry demonstrate a traditional emerging bowl, and Dave was keen to indulge his liking of contrasting wood and at the same time challenge himself to create something a bit different. The result was a bowl in one colour, resting at an angled offset within a different coloured base, and at the same time managing to appear as if it was one piece.

Dave ran us through a PowerPoint presentation which illustrated the various steps in the production of the bowl. The nature of the construction technique lends itself to offering a large range of different designs and looks which can be achieved. To be honest the steps involved in making the piece are too difficult for me to adequately describe in a way which you would be able to follow. Essentially the bowl part was turned first, then the base piece was pre-marked, partially cut on a bandsaw, and screwed to a faceplate. The pencil marks showed how the finished piece was obliquely set within the blank. The blank was turned to exactly accommodate the size of the bowl, and then taken to the bandsaw to cut off the waste wood along the marks. Once cut out and placed flat on the table, the hollowing was not vertical, but tilting outwards. Luckily David has a pdf version of his PowerPoint presentation, and this is included with this report.

Further points to note are that Dave left a small tenon on the base of his bowl which aligned with a recess in the base, and served to keep the piece in alignment. To hold it together he also put magnets in each piece. Dave observed that timber with no grain direction, such as a burl, was best for this type of work. Unlike the traditional emerging bowl, it is not strictly essential that the bowl is spherical. Dave ensured his bowl fitted the base by chalking the hollow in the base, rotating the bowl in it, and observing the touch points, which he could then turn off.

To cap off his demonstration, Dave showed us how to turn another project using the same principles as his emerging bowl. This consisted of a small bowl set on a base at an angle, and with a Saturn-like ring. In Dave’s case, though, it was not a ring but a square, cut with end grain on all four sides. What makes this interesting, is that the hole in the ring, or square, has to match the angle of the bowl, and therefore is not a straight edged hole, but an ellipse. To achieve this and get an exact fit involves making an angled cut through the blank, and fastening the ring (or square) between the two pieces, and then completing the turning.

Please forgive me if this report fails to adequately describe the clever work that Dave showed us tonight. From the questions that were being asked I could tell that there was a lot of interest and admiration for these projects. Personally I find it mind boggling how he was able to work out the processes and design the jigs etc to facilitate these stunning works. Thanks very much Dave.



Denise Donovan – Rugby Ball Box

Club Meeting: 28th Jun 2023
Report by: Roger Pye

Denise is an adventurous woodturner who likes to explore the limits of woodturning and creative art that comes with the territory. On this occassion Denise chose to produce a life-like image of a rugby ball complete with lace-up entry, but only 1/3 the size.

Her starting point was a block of Kauri 180mm long and 100mm x 100mm square. This was rounded between centres with chuck spigots turned at each end.

  1. To hollow the interior, the 180mm long round was parted off at 70mm.
  2. With the smaller section removed the larger piece is still held in the lathe. First set it up to provide the interior overlap as for a lid, at approximately 65-70mm ID. Hollow out interior to match the shape of a rugby ball.
  3. Chuck the smaller section and cut a lip to cover the interior overlap in the lower secton. Proceed to hollow out as for the bottom section.
  4. Mount both sections ensuring a good fit. Use a small steb centre to hold in place.
  5. With a pre-made exterior template, shape the exterior to match. Sand.
  6. Using the tool rest draw four equally spaced horizontal lines from end to end. These are the stitch lines of a ball. A Dremel or carving tool can be used later to make a small groove. At the centre of one line drill six pairs of 2.5mm holes 8mm apart and 5mm each side of the stitch line. Leather lace to be installed later.
  7. Tape the small end onto the base. After removing the tail stock finish shaping the end of the ball and sand.
  8. Take the lower section and use the expanding chuck to lightly grip interior of opening. Use tailstock to secure and finish the rugby ball end. Hand sand the shape which was inaccessible when held in the tail stock.
  9. Finish as per personal choice, ebonize, paint brown, fit lace, cut stitch lines.
  10. To display, turn a base with hollow interior on which to place pointed end of ball.      

Dick Veitch – Pot Black

Club Meeting: 21 June 2023
Report by: Kieran FitzGerald

What has the old master got in store for us this week? Dick’s demos always inform and entertain, so we wait expectantly. It starts off in a pretty routine manner – Dick takes a wet pin oak blank about 90 x 90 x 135 and turns it round between centres. After making a chuck bite at one end he mounts it in 50mm chuck jaws.

Applying the rule of thirds, he pencil marks at 45mm intervals and uses a spindle roughing gouge to quickly turn a pot shape. After facing off the neck end he takes a short 25mm forstner bit and commences to drill out the centre. He switches to a longer auger bit of the same width to complete drilling to a depth of about 125mm. The purpose of using the shorter drill bit to start the hole is to stop it wandering off centre. All the way along Dick is explaining his actions in detail so turners can take full advantage of the knowledge and experience he is passing on to us. Further tips about drilling included sharpening your drill bits and making a handle extension for the tailstock to allow extra leverage.

Dick hollowed the pot, starting with a spindle gouge and switching to a hollowing tool. He then substituted a partially completed pot from his magic box of tricks – the first of many pre-prepared pieces – and showed us how to take the spigot off using a hollow form reverse mount. This is pretty much a DIY tool consisting of a shaft with a sanding mandrel at one end and a cone which floats on the shaft and tightens with grub screws. The cone is fixed to a small faceplate. The mandrel fits inside the pot and secures the base against the tailstock. The cone fits inside the neck and is tightened down at the appropriate length to hold it snug. The whole affair secures the foot nicely to allow the base of the pot to be worked on. I’m guessing that because of the interest in this piece of apparatus that there will be a few more versions appearing in the workshops of club members.

So why is the demo named “Pot Black”? The answer became obvious as Dick produced pot after pot from his magic box and showed us techniques for enhancing the appearance by blackening them in a manner which totally highlighted the grain pattern.

He started with an NGR (non grain raising) black wood dye which he applied generously with a brush. Then he showed us how a significant amount of colour had penetrated through the wood to the inside of the pot. Next he took a pot which was already stained black, and simply put, didn’t look too great. After rubbing down with wire wool and applying a coat of Liberon Finishing Oil, the piece took on an improved, but not spectacular, appearance.

The next example was a pot which had been sand blasted, black stained and then rubbed down with wire wool. The sand blasting accentuates the grain pattern by taking away the softer wood between the grain lines. From experience Dick has learned that polishing grade crushed glass does the best job because other abrasives are too coarse. Then Dick thoroughly rubbed on Liberon Liming Wax with a soft rag (the tin says to use Liberon wire wool – Dick suspects that is a marketing ploy). After 3 to 5 minutes drying time he rubbed on generous amounts of the finishing oil with a paper towel. The surface wax is removed leaving the grain elegantly highlighted with the embedded liming wax. To get all the surplus wax off requires folding the paper towel to a clean surface or using several clean paper towels. This approach delivers a highly pleasing finish, and the process is completed by applying at least two more coats of finishing oil on successive days.

Next up was a pot which was ebonised. Ebonising is a process in which a solution is made up by leaving steel wool in vinegar for a few days, and applied to the wood. The acetic acid solution reacts with the tannin in the wood and turns the wood black. Tannin bearing woods like oak are suited to this process. This pot was rubbed down with black patinating wax (instead of the liming wax), and when the finishing oil was rubbed on, it brought out the grain beautifully. Sand blasting first and then ebonising will create bolder black lines and further enhance the look.

Some discussion took place around the effectiveness of using tea in the ebonising process. Dick’s conclusion is that tea contains tannin, and adding tannin to tannin has minimal effect.

Dick tried a pot with Artist black acrylic paint and white wax. This thicker viscosity of the paint tended to fill the grain more than Dick liked and was not quite so effective.

The next examples demonstrated the use of Dazzling Metallic acrylic paints by Deco Art. These are the pearlescent paints used so effectively by Robbie Graham in his work. The paints can be bought on line from Hobby Land, and come in a range of brilliant colours. Dick applied the black paint to a pot which was not sand blasted and the lines didn’t show up too well. Applying it to a sand blasted pot gave a better result. After the liming wax and finishing oil the pot still looked more grey than black, probably due to the pearlescence in the paint. Using the blue coloured Dazzling Metallic created a very beautiful wedgewood like effect.

Further methods for blackening included burning and fuming. Burning worked to a degree, but it was a little hard to control without over burning. Fuming is a process which Dick followed by popping a pot in a Sistema plastic container along with 4 little pots of cloudy ammonia cleaner. In Dick’s example the black was not very dramatic, but depending on the wood stronger effects can be achieved. Oak can also be darkened by using a baking soda solution.

Although Dick did not have examples of these, the audience mentioned the use of wire brushing and Kiwi black nugget for achieving grain highlight effects.

The demonstration illustrated the huge variety of finishing effects that can be achieved in simple and inexpensive ways, although Dick’s demonstration clearly showed that sand blasting as part of the process was a key ingredient for superior results. Preferred woods for grain highlighting are oak, cedar and ash.

Experimenting with different waxes, colours, processes etc can produce a wide range of results, so fill yer boots. I for one will definitely be buying some liming wax and probably the metallic paints.

Thanks a heap Dick, very enjoyable.

Terry Scott – Upside Down, Downside Up

Club Meeting: 14 June 2023
Report: Graeme Mackay

Terry put forward a project designed to increase your skills productivity and process. The double sided wing project was a project in keeping to task. The project, arising from past work, is designed for hardwood such as Blackwood, Black Mairi and Kwila.

The preparation is detailed, checking the lathe set up and alignment, measurements of lathe swing, consideration of clearances, grain direction, and the true squareness of the block.

The block preparation is critical, measuring and both sides, describing and definition and/or defining of cut-out sections with marking. Measurement of the cut out sections has to be correct as they form the key visual part of the lids. And, in essence, the carryover wood for the raised lips.

The spigots require equal attention, and the process involved is standard for all turned bowls. A quiet little quirk of this exercise is that there are two bowls, each opening on opposite sides of the wood wing. Each demanding checking and measurement, and the marking is to which is the correct side.

Care and attention around the completion of the spigots. Marking the toolrest can help as a reference to where the danger is. As Terry explained, in an interesting side issue with the swinging wings: Step back and away, and do not go sideways as catching the moving things (wings) can be harmful.

Similar comment is made about clearances of the base feature and working on the correct side of course. Terry noted the exercise involves the form of hidden or ghost turning. Present at all stages; the shaping of the rim, correcting the bead, shaping the bowl or box, and the final cuts.

Base thickness needs to be even. Thickness targets have to be predetermined and regularly measured as part of the normal process. However, Terry noted with a smile, that that there are appropriate times i.e. not when the base wing is still moving.

Along with the base measurement comment is a correct choice of tools. There are tools for each of the steps. Parallel comes the identification of top and bottom, or bottom and top lids, bases and rims. Identification is critical. Measurement is always coming up, checking. Again, mentioned these while making sure of your place in the project plans and processes. An example given; it is helpful to drill the correct depth for hollowing of the bowl or box. Incorrect depth lets light into the work.

Jigs and the appropriate tool rest raises its head at the later part of the project. The process standard for lidded boxes and/or bowls. Amongst all this process and planning. Lathe speeds to be checked, at each change between vessel and lids as the box progresses

Terry stated that there is a multitude of options, each carrying a respective set of steps, and good challenges.

Variations can be found among the plans on this website such as Bowl, Wavy One Wing

Kieran Fitzgerald – Basic Airbrushing

Club Meeting: & June 2023
Report by: Ian Connelly

Kieran started the demo by mounting a bowl blank on a screw chuck, and proceeded to chat about needing to consider what would be a shape that would make a good canvas for the airbrushing. He turned an ogee like shape on the bottom.

“Ogee is any variation of an S shape”

Kieran Fitzgerald

Kieran then talked about his compressor with a tank capacity of 21l, which is only really any good for the airbrush as it cannot sustain the requirements of a full sized spray gun. Although it works fine with a toolshed touch up gun.

His airbrush is a $16 trademe item and pressure on the compressor should be set to about 25-30psi – this should be checked with air flowing through the airbrush.

For colour he was using u-Beaut water based dyes. He decants the dye into a pill container, and dilutes with water (3 sprays to 2 drops).

Then he explained the dual action of the airbrush – down for air, pull back for flow.

On the piece of wood that he had now mounted on the lathe, he sprayed yellow, red, green and then cedar. Drying was aided by a heat gun. Then danish oil was rubbed over the piece – which seemed to enhance the blending of the colours.

The next step is to hollow the bowl to get a sharp edge between the colour and the wood.

Alternatively on a bowl that is already hollowed you need to mask – either mask to the edge, or mask over the edge and cut it off at the edge were two suggested alternatives.

Once hollowed the piece was then sealed with a spray can of clear acrylic. Two tips came out during this – clean spray nozzle by tipping can upside down and spraying until clear – store cans upside down as it keeps better.

Next onto another piece with a hammered finish.

The final piece had pieces of tape put across it, then airbrushed black, tape was moved then red applied, tape was moved again and blue was sprayed. The piece was then sealed with clear.

We then got a recipe for a cleaning solution:

1 part tap water
1 part isopropyl alcohol
1 part windows cleaner
2-3 drops of dishwashing liquid.

Kieran gave a great and lively demo, full of information that was presented it all in a very approachable way. I look forward to seeing the results of others having a go at some of the things we were shown

Shannon Turuwhenua – Wood, Paint and Glue

Club Meeting: 31 May 2023
Report by: Graeme Mackay

Shannon came forth with a wide array of paints, glues, colouring stuff, and brushes to be used in embellishment. The process used was called tutuing Roundwood. A part of a sculpturing process with Woodturning lathe as a tool. The process, as Shannon had shown, is for large-scale wall-hangings-process target is embellishing, in this case, his large wall-hangings.

Shannon view is that the pieces are for looking at, broadening one’s horizon, and showing off the wood. Clearly stated that he is forgoing technical nit picking and, rather, looking at the piece and applying techniques to highlight the item and shape.

He uses a range of easy technique and products. Stuff, that is easy to find, easy-to-use and can be sourced in a 2 dollars shop. Items such as spray paint, standard PVA glue, dishwashing liquid and even water. Outlined was a process requiring preparation, order, and some fun. Noting that checking on the order is critical to keeping the flow up and the process in place.

Key steps of this painting glue embellishment process:
Working in a planned process.
Getting the products organised i.e. glue. Paint. Paint brushes. Glue brushes, and on
Ensuring and avoiding over painting and gluing.
planning for the crossovers processes i.e. surface suitable to linocut.
Ordering and organising the colour applications.
Preparing for the colour up to S layers

There are a wonderful array of simple patterns from simple set of tools and techniques.
The words came out.
paint separation
paint frazzle
pattern separation
emerging pattern

and many more.

Graeme Mackay
May 2023

Bruce Wood – Threaded Lidded Boxes

Club Meeting: 10 May 2023
Report by: Kieran FitzGerald

Bruce took the wheel this week and in typical fashion took off like Stirling Moss. The exercise of thread chasing presents several tricky challenges – not least cutting the thread itself, but trying to get the thread the correct length and having everything line up. Bruce had several practice runs in preceding days, and attempts one and two were unsatisfactory. The third attempt was successful, but then he twisted it too far and broke the insert while trying to get the grain to line up.

Using a hard timber is essential for thread chasing. Titoki, black maire, pohutukawa and puriri are all good to use. Some – pohutukawa and puriri – can also be threaded cross grain.

For tonight’s demo, Bruce selected a piece of black maire approx. 60 – 70mm square and 80 mm long. He marked centres on each end, mounted it on steb centres and roughed it down with a roughing gouge at 2000rpm. Black maire has a distinctive smell when cut (prompting several graphic descriptions), but cuts like butter and produces a very smooth surface. Bruce turned a 35 mm spigot on each end before marking out a 20 mm lid, a 40 mm base, and parting off. The lid goes in the chuck, is faced off and drilled out with a 45 mm forstner bit to a depth of 14 mm. The base and sides are cleaned up and a texture pattern added to the underside of the lid.

Now for the tricky part. Bruce showed us the four tools he would use to chase the threads:

  • a16 tpi internal thread cutter (female)
  • a 16 tpi external thread cutter (male)
  • a rebate cutter
  • a right angle hand held tool rest.

The first step is to use the rebate tool to make a 3 mm deep lead out cut in the side of the lid at 6mm down from the top. The purpose of this is to mark the end of a 6mm long thread and, importantly, create a clear space for the thread cutter at the end of the cut. After this Bruce applied a finish to the inside of the lid with CA, EEE and Aussie Oil.

To get the thread started, Bruce cut an arris, then with the lathe at 200 rpm, and the thread chasing tool resting on the right angle tool rest at just above centre, he started to cut the female thread. The process is to start with the thread cutter diagonally across the arris, make a light push cut and withdraw the tool. Push, withdraw, push withdraw, push withdraw repeatedly, bringing the tool round gradually until it is parallel with the side of the lid. Once the thread starts the speed of the lathe just drags the tool in. Take care not to crossthread. Bruce applied beeswax at one point to lubricate the cut. The black maire produced very fine curls of shaving, but a softer wood would just produce crumbs. As the thread cut progresses make sure it stays parallel to the side, or gets marginally deeper, so that when the male thread is screwed on it has enough width to turn fully in, and doesn’t get stuck.

Bruce showed how to sharpen the thread chaser with a hone across the top. Now it is time to do the bottom part of the box. Take the lid out and mount the base. Face it off and hollow to 34 mm with a 35 mm forstner bit. Clean up the base and sides, and at the same time hollow out the sides a bit more towards the lower two thirds of the sides, but not at the top. This is to make it simpler to blend in the fitted insert later on. Cut a recess 3 mm down out to a width of 43 mm. Give the inside a quick sand.

The next step is to make an insert to go into the recess he has just made. Ideally this could be a contrasting colour, but remember it needs to be hard wood to accept a thread. You could cut the thread directly in the base, but the insert makes it easier to adjust the length of the thread so you don’t have to twist the lid so many times to get it on. Bruce used a piece of black maire about 20 mm long to start with. He rounded it down to 47 mm, stepped it down to 43 mm at the spigot end, and cut a 24 mm spigot. Once mounted on the spigot, he turned down the outside 43 mm, checked the fit against the base, and commenced to make the thread. Rebate, arris, and this time the external thread cutter is used. The male thread is cut slightly below centre. The routine is the same as previously described – push, withdraw, repeat, repeat, bring it round to parallel. Bruce made the thread longer than necessary with the idea of removing some of it to a precise length. Test fit, take the top off the cut threads if necessary, and keep threading and test fitting until a good fit is achieved and the threads mate nicely. Bruce adjusted the length of the piece by cutting off some off the top with a parting tool, and cut a new arris.

Once happy with the threaded insert, Bruce put the base back on the lathe and glued in the insert. He then drilled the centre out with a 38 mm forstner bit, blended it into the base side walls, and gave it a sand. He screwed the lid on, taped it up, and trimmed the whole exterior down to required diameter and shape. He applied texturing either side of the join, and sanded the outside. The next steps were routine box making – shape the top of the lid slightly domed, sand and finish. Rechuck the base on expanding jaws, bring up the tailstock, and remove the spigot, leaving a slightly concave bottom so it sits well. Finish it all with CA, EEE and Aussie oil.

The thread chasing technique is much harder than it seems, and requires good wood selection, careful planning, deft tool work, sometimes test fitting and adaptation, and most of all a heap of patience. We are grateful to Bruce for sharing his skill and knowledge with us. And several lucky punters scored gifts from Bruce of his finished boxes and black maire blanks. Thanks Brucie, nice to see you, to see you nice.

John Young – Split Bowl

Club Meeting: 3 May 2023
Report by: Kieran FitzGerald

John began by explaining what he was going to make and showing us some examples of the finished product that he had previously made. In simple terms, the idea is to make a shallow but normal bowl, cut it in half, and from there you can enhance it in many ways including piercing, carving, colouring, inlays, by adding a stand, a lid, a finial, and in so doing creating an art sculpture. John showed us a slide show of some pretty serious pieces made I think mostly by American wood artists using this technique. Some of our club’s experienced turners were able to quickly recognise who had made a number of the pieces shown.

John accompanied the practical part of his demonstration with a clear, concise and satisfactorily detailed commentary which would easily enable all present to follow his example in their own workshops.

The blank you start with does not need to be huge, especially in depth, because the depth is doubled when the two halves are joined together at the end. In fact the symmetry achieved with a slim composition is very pleasing.

John began with a roundish blank about 200 x 40. Finding centre, he drilled a shallow hole to take a worm screw. He used a packer to take up some of the length of the worm screw before screwing on the blank. Mounting alternatives include using a faceplate with double sided tape or hot glue. Bringing up the tailstock for added security, John rounded the blank and made a spigot on the bottom. Procedure follows the normal bowl turning method, with some simple adaptations to ensure the joined halves have the desired end shape. These are that the bottom of the bowl should be cut fairly straight and flat, and the side near the top also needs to be straight and flat rather than coming to a point. This will create nice flat sides when the two halves are joined later on, and avoid a “v” shape at the join. John used a simple drawn template to give himself a visual reminder of the shape he needed to achieve on the outside of the turning. A shear scrape to remove any ridges left by the tool and minimise sanding followed, but in fact the final sanding was left til later when the bowl was in the cole jaws.

As per normal bowl process, John mounted the wood in the chuck using the spigot and commenced to face off and hollow. The inside shape needs to mimic the outside, with a flattish bottom. An even overall wall thickness is important because when the bowl is cut in half and joined the wall thickness of course is visible. John hollowed his to about 4mm, but thickness can vary depending on the look you are going for. The rim also needs to be perfectly flat to create a seamless glue joint, and John ensured this by sanding with a sandpaper faced board while the bowl was still turning on the lathe.

Taking the bowl from the lathe, the next step was to mount in cole jaws and remove the spigot. Give it a sand. John left the foot flat, then advised that this is a good time to add embellishments. He marked the centre to indicate where the halving cut will be made, and then scribed two circles about 30mm out from the centre, using a modified screwdriver. The idea of this is to cut a more square edged trench rather than a “v” shaped trench, because the latter diminishes in size with sanding. When the two halves are cut and joined the rings will appear as half circles on the mid top side of each half of the split bowl. John experimented filling the cuts with cayenne pepper and fixing with CA glue. As with a previous attempt using paprika, the plan was not totally successful, so perhaps revert to a tried and tested filler like copper powder.

Use a flexible ruler laid across the centre mark to rule a line through which the cut will be made. When cut, hold the two halves together to check the join and sand a bit more if necessary. Glue it up; John uses pva, and hold it together with rubber bands. When selecting wood, and cutting into halves, be mindful of the grain pattern and what will look best. To achieve a different look, contrasting veneers may be laminated between the join. If a lid is to be made, a photocopy of the top of the bowl may be used as a template. The lid is rebated with a router. Further variety can be achieved at this time in the way the split bowl is mounted and the decoration that is applied to the bowl.

Thank you John for an enjoyable, instructive and well planned demo.