21 Mar 2023 – Workshop Night
Welcome to our Workshop Night
This month twenty eight members took to their armchairs to see what delights our resident turners had in store to entertain us. Chris had banished last month’s technical problems to the recycling bin and was up and running with a clarity of picture we had not seen for some time. Mick was in his workshop but Zak was still out of action but watch this space as he should be returning soon.
Chris’s first project for the evening was to produce a goblet from a wet piece of Sycamore. The emphasis here is the wetness of the wood as the real purpose of this project was to demonstrate how a microwave oven can be used to dry out the wood. Having mounted the piece on a screw chuck, with tailstock support, Chris set about truing the wood up and shaping the outside. However, as the wood had originally been prepared as a bowl blank Chris noticed a hole he had drilled in order to accommodate chucking the wood in the correct orientation for a bowl. Time for a quick redesign. The finished article would now be a bowl with a rounded bottom so that it would wobble when stood up. That sorted it was time to hollow it out with Chris needing to achieve an acceptable wall thickness and also leaving sufficient thickness of wood in the bottom that would provide the weight to make it wobble. That done it was time to sand and Chris pointed out that as the wood was wet the sandpaper easily clogs up bug it can be cleaned by using a wire brush. Alternatively, this whole issue can be avoided by using wet and dry sandpaper. Next came the shaping of the outside followed by sanding. That achieved the bowl was parted off leaving a piece of wood on the lathe from which Chris made a jam chuck that would hold the piece in place while he finished off the bottom.
It was now time for the first cycle in the microwave. The sequence of events was as follows:
Weigh the piece; microwave for two minutes on defrost; remove from oven and allow to cool for several minutes then reweigh. All of these steps are repeated until the weight is stabilised which indicates that the wood is dry. All in all, it took seven cycles to dry the wood which reduced the weight of it from 130grams to 87grams. During the process Chris noticed a crack opening up in the bottom of the bowl which he attributed to the fact that the pith was running through the centre but this was of no concern as once finished that would be filled and hidden. Undoubtedly we will see this bowl once it has been subjected to whatever finish and decoration Chris thinks appropriate and we know from past experience that it will be worth waiting for.
In between all the activity of microwaving, cooling and weighing there was of course time that needed filling. There’s only so much watching wood dry that anyone can do. In order to fill this void Chris opted to turn a mushroom from a Banksia Nut. The Banksia Nut is the fruit of a small tree that grows in Western Australia and is named after Sir Joseph Banks, a Botanist, who sailed with Captain Cook on the Endeavour. Banksia Nuts are regarded as being easy to turn and can be hollowed.
Chris mounted the nut between centres, formed a spigot, remounted it in the chuck and started to shape the mushroom. The downside of turning a Banksia Nut is the amount of dust (they don’t produce shavings) that the turning creates. It is therefore essential that the turner should wear a mask and use dust extraction for the whole of the turning process. With the usual advice and guidance from the audience the shaping was complete. It was then sanded and finished using Chestnut Finishing Oil which was buffed up on a buffing wheel.
However, the master chef had not yet finished with the microwave so another project was called for. Taking another piece of Sycamore that had also been drilled for transverse mounting Chris mounted it onto a screw chuck with a view to making a small winged bowl. The outside was shaped to form a pedestal and a spigot created at the base of the pedestal. With the wood held on the spigot Chris refined the sweep of the outside of the bowl as it merged into the pedestal. The hollowing commenced but because of the way this was done Chris created a central bowl shape with four faces angling down to the outside edges. There was not time to complete this interesting piece but we shall no doubt see it completed at a future date.
As usual another interesting and informative evening from Mr Fisher.
Over in his workshop Mick opted to make something he hadn’t tried before, a Shamrock shaped bowl. Using a template Mick had cut a bowl blank to the shape of a Shamrock on the bandsaw.
The wood was held on the lathe using a screw chuck so that the bottom of the bowl could be shaped. First a recess was created, complete with some decorative rings, that would allow the bowl to be reverse chucked in expansion mode. The bottom was shaped and sanded, care being needed to keep hands and fingers well away from the irregular edge of the bowl.
Once held in the recess it was time to form the bowl itself. Mick marked out the diameter of the section to be hollowed out. Following suggestions from the audience it was decided that a bead would form the boundary between the rim and the bowl. Mick therefore reduced the thickness of the rim and created a lip that would then become the bead that was requested. It was then a case of hollowing out the bowl to the required depth. A decorative line was burnt into the wood on either side of the bead. Sanding was next with a rotary sander held in an electric drill being used to sand the shaped edges of the bowl’s rim. Sanding complete, sanding sealer was applied followed by several coats of satin lacquer. It may have been something Mick hadn’t turned before but as usual he made it look easy and produced a bowl with a difference.
In what was becoming a busy evening Mick then moved onto another project. The first piece of timber to be put on the lathe had to be rejected when cracks appeared that rendered it unusable.
Mick then dipped into his stock and chose a piece of predominantly purple coloured Yew that originated on the banks of the River Witham at Boston. It is thought that the colouring is caused by the salt water of the river. With the wood on the lathe Mick did some initial shaping of the outside of what would be a vase. However this being Yew there were numerous cracks and flaws in evidence but liberal application of superglue brought back some stability. Next Mick started the central hole in the vase by drilling a shallow hole with a Forstner bit. He swapped that for a smaller bit and drilled to the depth he required, changing back to the larger bit to fully expand the hole. That done it was time to sand the outside and as far as practically and safely possible, the inside. Sanding sealer and polish followed, the result being a very attractive vase thanks to the salt water of the River Witham.
The Show and Tell section this month generated exhibits from only five members but what we lacked in quantity was more than compensated for by the quality.
A very busy and interesting evening and we must thank both Chris and Mick for their efforts and their continuing ability to come up new topics time after time.
Another great write up and some excellent screen shots all done by Alan Selden, so thank you Alan. For more photos have a look in the Gallery HERE.
Don’t forget we have our AGM next Tuesday, starting slightly earlier at 6:30pm and then followed at 7pm by an online demo by Chris Parker, so hopefully we will see you all there. Whilst everyone is invited to attend the AGM, any PAYG members are kindly reminded that they will need to purchase a ticket if they want to stay and watch the demo Click HERE to buy your ticket.