Tony Wilson – 7th October 2015

Tony covered a lot of ground during his all day demo so I’m afraid I can only scratch the surface of all of the information he passed on. He managed to fit in five demos for us, a bowl, a scoop, a tray, a mushroom stool and two versions of a money box.

He started with a bowl and wanted to show us how to make the best of a cheaper piece of wood. He had a blank which, despite having lovely grain, had a bit missing and signs of ash bark beetle which limited its potential. He planned to make an ogee bowl with a broad but shallow top narrowing quite quickly to avoid the area of missing wood. But instead of committing himself to that he started carefully, exploring the wood to see what he could do to extract its full potential.

He began, as he did often throughout the day, with a quarter inch bowl gouge. His main reason was that by starting with a smaller tool he was limiting his chance of a bad catch. He was particularly cautious because he was chucking the piece onto a forstner drill hole which was parallel sided and the absence of a dovetail meant he had a less than ideal grip on the piece until he had created a spigot and reversed it into the chuck.

Stan Bryan – 16th September 2015

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 🙂

Stan Bryan - 16th September 2015

Allen Atkins – 5th August 2015

5th August 2015 – Allen Atkins

Allen began his demonstration by explaining that some woodturning purists don’t like colouring wood – and then telling us that if we didn’t like colouring it was just tough because he was going to be doing it anyway 🙂

It’s a contrary subject because many people don’t want to use wood with good figuring for colouring – but to get the best out of colouring that’s exactly the wood you need.

Having got his piece of sycamore mounted up on a screw chuck, trued up and a 50mm mounting recess cut Allen showed us how to create a decent ogee shape by dividing the flat space into three, cutting the concave surface into the outer 2/3 then marking the middle of that 2/3 to replace the second line and cutting the convex surface from that line to the centre. It worked and I’m sure there are a few of us who will be giving it a try soon.

Having turned and sanded the outside of the bowl Allen finished it with two coats of sanding sealer (sealer plus 50% thinners) to make sure any stray spirit dye didn’t get absorbed into the wood on the base. Then the bowl was turned around and mounted on the recess to start work on the top.

Allen cut a nice smooth surface across the area to be dyed making sure that there was a slight gradient down towards the centre to make the bowl more friendly to the hand. As the dyes and finished make any defects stand out Allen took some time to make sure he was happy with the sanded finish before carrying on.

The lathe bed was covered with a cloth and a tray of spirit dyes. Allen suggested using the smallest possible piece of paper to apply each colour. Bigger bits of paper just absorb more dye which ends up being wasted.

First he applied a thick coat of black over much of the width. Then he sanded if from the outside in to create a gradient from dark to light. More colours were added from the centre out and each knocked well back to create a series of overlapping gradients some just a band of colour, others radiating from the centre.

A little pump bottle (a FryLite bottle) was used to apply a little meths to help to blend the colours. Throughout Allen was trying to avoid hard edges and aiming at a gentle blending of colours. To tidy the edge he uses a black permanent marker, holding it on the surface as he rotates the bowl by hand. He admitted that the whole process is something of a lottery with plenty of rejects. He suggested that beginners might leave the bowl a little thick so that they could cut the surface back to have a second go if the first was unsatisfactory.

Once he’s happy with the colour Allen leaves the bowl to dry thoroughly before applying laquer over it. He then applys four coats of acrylic lacquer at 15 minute intervals so the coats merge together and waits a further 24 hours before burnishing the surface.

Once the rim surface is finished he starts hollowing the middle. First he cuts a groove with a parting tool to give bevel support to his bowl gouge and make sure it doesn’t skid back and ruin all of that careful colouring and finishing.

Allen admitted to having recently gone through the bottom of a bowl and so made a point of checking his depth over and over to make absolutely sure it didn’t happen again – always a good idea!

All went well until Allen bought out a bowl with the rim lacquered and finished to demonstrate cutting the bowl in the centre. An afternoon in a plastic bag in a hot car seemed to have softened the lacquer causing it to get damaged against the paper wrapping as well as liting it off the surface slightly, possibly due to moisture in the wood pushing it off. Whatever the cause it ruined the finish and also made the laquer chip horribly when he came to sand the inside of the bowl.

As is so often the case seeing something