15 Aug 2023 – Workshop Night
Welcome to our Workshop Night
August saw twenty-five members login to observe the goings on in the workshops of Chris, Mick and Zak but in a break from the established running order we were entertained by the Show and Tell section before the turners were let loose to do their thing. This month nine members had submitted photos of their turning efforts and as usual there was a variety of objects that were all to a very high standard.
And so to the turning. This month Mick had decided that he would turn a carver’s mallet from a piece of lignum, but the handle would be made from a resin material that Mick had acquired which looked like wood and turned like wood. To add a further twist he then intended to drill a hole in the handle big enough to take a water tube which meant that the handle would become a small vase.
With the wood mounted on the lathe using a screw chuck and hot glue, the job of shaping the mallet head commenced. Lignum is a heavy wood, the blank five inches long by four inches square, weighing in at a pound and a half and can quickly take the edge off the tools. What is noticeable however is the extremely smooth finish that is achieved straight off the tools which requires minimal sanding. With the shaping complete, a tenon formed and the sanding done the wood was reversed and held in the chuck on the tenon. The end of the wood was cleaned up and a forstner bit used to drill a hole that would take the handle. Once the hole was drilled Mick then completed the shaping of that end.
The handle was next so the “plastic” wood was held between centres, turned to a cylinder and a tenon formed on one end. Remounted on the tenon the handle was shaped and a spigot formed that would go into the hole drilled in the mallet’s head. Unfortunately however Mick decided that the colouring of the handle was completely wrong for the head and would totally spoil the effect of the finish and grain of the lignum. A quick look through his stockpile and Mick soon came up with a piece of timber that would totally compliment the lignum and the project was back on track. The handle was shaped sanded and finished. Electrical tape was wrapped around the end of the handle that would go into the head in order that it could be held in the chuck without the jaws marking the wood. Using very light cuts the tenon was then removed and a hole drilled that would take the water tube. Effectively the piece was complete and only required assembly but unfortunately the hole for the tube was slightly undersize and the required drill bit to solve this problem was not immediately available, but there is no doubt that we shall see the completed mallet in the not too distant future.
Zak started his session by mounting a small log, complete with bark, transversely onto the lathe using the jaws in expansion mode. The plan was to make a small bowl but leaving some of the bark on which would run down the depth of the bowl on two sides. Shaping of the outside of the bowl commenced with Zak ensuring that his hands were kept well away from the edges of the spinning log. A tenon was formed on the bottom of the bowl and the shaping refined until Zak was satisfied at which point he remounted the wood onto the tenon so that hollowing could commence. A hole was drilled, using a forstner bit, to the required depth of the bowl. The rest of the wood was removed using a combination of bowl gouge, hollowing tool and scraper followed by sanding and the inside was complete. As the outside would require hand sanding this piece was put to one side but not before Zak declared that it would be an ideal pot for storing pens and pencils and would undoubtedly end up in the hands of one of his grandchildren.
Zak’s second project was another (larger) bowl turned from a piece of cherry. The wood was secured onto the lathe using a screw chuck. With the bottom face trued up and a tenon formed the work of shaping the outside of the bowl could begin. This would be a rimmed bowl, the rim ending in a concave curve that rose out towards the centre line of the bowl which then merged into another concave curve that swept down to the base. Once the shape was perfected sanding and finishing followed allowing the bowl to be remounted onto the tenon for hollowing. With the face trued up, the rim width determined it was time to deploy the bowl gouge to remove wood and form the bowl.
Once complete we had an elegantly shaped bowl made even better by the grain and markings within the wood. The cherry came out on top!
This month Chris told us he would turn two very similar items from two pieces of ash and would then finish them using different techniques; one using waxes and the second spirit stains. The first piece was mounted on the lathe and a cylindrical vase shaped with a short and narrow neck. The neck was drilled and the opening shape refined. Two coats of diluted cellulose sanding sealer (50% sealer, 50% cellulose thinners) were applied before the piece was put to one side to allow the sealer to thoroughly dry. The second piece of wood was put onto the lathe and another similar shaped vessel was turned. This had more shaping than the first and although the main thrust of this demonstration was the finishing rather than the turning Chris still took time to ensure that the shape he was producing was correctly proportioned and what he wanted. Other than sanding nothing was done to this piece before it was removed from the lathe and the first piece was reinstated.
The first thing to be applied to the wood was Yorkshire Grit described as “an abrasive paste formulated to give a fine keyed surface to your turnings, prior to applying your finish of choice. It consists of pharmaceutical grade ingredients, including mineral oil, beeswax and ultra-fine grinding powders”. This is a similar product to Chestnut’s Cut ‘n’ Polish. When buffing off Chris pointed out that you should keep turning your buffing “cloth” use paper towel not cloth) until no colouration appears on the paper. That was followed by a coat of Microcrystalline wax and Hampshire sheen to give a gloss finish that showed off the wood grain.
Next up was the second vase which would be coloured using spirit stains applied by airbrush. This was Chris in his element, applying thin coats of stain, gently sanding them back and then applying more to build up the look he required at the same time deciding what colours would blend and complement each other. A spray coat of acrylic sanding sealer ensured the integrity of the colouring. This technique also allowed the wood grain to shine through the colouring but with a totally different look. With some time to spare Chris then put a previously turned bowl onto the lathe and coloured that which produced a completely different look to the previous two.
Another good night enjoyed by all who attended and as always we are grateful for the time and effort put in by Chris, Mick and Zak who never fail to come up with ideas that both inform and entertain.
Thank you Alan Selden for another fantastic write up. For more photos taken during the evening, please check out the Gallery HERE.