Stan stepped in at short notice when the demonstrator had to cancel at the last minute due to a family illness meaning Tom had to do some rather hurried phoning around.
Stan chose to demonstrate turning Banksia Nuts and had a selection of items he’d made a couple of which he demonstrated making.
Banksia Nuts are an Australian fruit rather like a woody pine cone. The velvety blanket protects the nut from fire and once the fire is over the seeds are released into ground which has just been fertilized with ash. They are named after Joseph Banks who discovered them on Captain Cook’s first great voyage.
The two items Stan planned to demonstrate were a mushroom – a little micro habitat for the garden or a bird feeder with some peanuts bunged in and a little branch-wood bowl
He had also made Tea light holders of various sizes and coasters.
See the bottom photo, bowl on the left, coasters, a banksia nut in the middle then tea light holder and finally the mushroom.
The nuts do cost. Expect to pay £5 or more each unless you’re regularly commuting to the outback and have room in your suitcase.
To make the small branchwood bowl Stan starts by tidying up the ends of the nut with a bandsaw then takes off a scallop to make a curved area and a flat along the back side.
He uses a steb centre in both both ends putting the flat side to the tail centre end and the curved side towards the headstock.
He suggests using chunky tools because the nuts are quite abrasive and there is quite a jolt when you hit a hole so he suggests taking it nice and slowly. The centre of nut is very hard so when there are gaps there’s a lot of contrast and the gouge jumps about a bit.
The nuts are dusty so it’s important to take adequate measures to protect against dust and there is the chance of flying nuts so a full-face mask would be advisable.
Stan starts by turning the outside and creates a chucking tenon.
He suggests you find the centre of the nut and make that the part you leave as it’s the strongest part of the nut and takes some cutting.
The outside shape can be either a gentle curve or a slight ogee.
Once the outside is done reverse the nut onto chuck bringing the tail stock up and work in carefully from outside leaving a mass of wood in the middle to keep it stable.
Follow the line of the outside, keeping the tail stock up as long as possible.
Once the centre’s off keep all the pressure going in to the chuck.
Stan said he often doesn’t use any finish as finishing them tends to darken them which reduces the contrast. He finished one side and left the other so we could see the contrast.
He did also turn a mushroom but I’m afraid I didn’t make any notes of that part of the demo.
It was interesting to see how banksia nuts turn but I have to confess it’s not something I’ll be rushing to try 🙂