30 Apr 2024 – Online Demo by Steve Kearvell

 In Online Demos


This month’s demonstration saw us staying close to home by visiting the workshop of Steve Kearvell which meant we had travelled almost to King’s Lynn. We also welcomed a new member from Norway and a guest from Canada, our international footprint is growing!

Steve is a builder by day but manages to not only turn in his spare time but also teach woodturning and give demonstrations. His particular interest is in colouring and texturing.

The demonstration started with Steve showing us examples of his work explaining as he did so the techniques he used to create the finished effects. One of the pieces was an Ash bowl which had been burnt to create texture and then finished with coloured wax. Steve’s intention was to recreate this bowl. He started by mounting a 200mm by 50mm blank onto the lathe using a preformed recess.

After truing up the face of the timber he then created a mortise approximately 4mm deep using a parting tool and skew chisel. A small dovetail also done with the skew would ensure a secure hold in the chuck when the piece was reversed for hollowing. That done the width of the foot was marked and the shaping of the outside of the bowl commenced. Once he had achieved the gentle curve he required Steve then cut six shallow rings into the recess as decoration. Sanding was next. Starting at 120 grit Steve explained that he spent the most time on the first grit ensuring that the surface was sanded to the finish he wanted. The following grits, 180, 240, 320 and 400 did not take up so much time the purpose of each successive grit simply being to remove any marks caused by the previous grit. The area that would form the rim of the bowl was also trued up and sanded.

It was now time to fire up the blowtorch and do the burning. During this operation it is essential that the dust extractor is not running as hot embers could be sucked into the equipment. Also ensure the lathe and surrounding area is cleaned up to remove dust and shavings and make sure you have a fire extinguisher close to hand. This operation burns out some of the soft grain whilst turning the whole surface black. This is achieved by burning gently, brushing out the soft grain with a soft brass brush (brushing with the grain) and repeating until the entire surface is evenly covered. The result of the burning reveals the grain of the wood in startling contrast, the hard grain standing proud over the soft grain which has been burnt away.

The next stage was to spray the bowl black using an air gun and Hampshire Sheen Intrinsic Stain. Several thin coats were applied in order to achieve an even coat (the stain could be applied with either a tissue or brush if an air gun is not available). A hot air gun, on a low setting so that only warm air was being used, ensured the stain was fully dry. Two coats of diluted sanding sealer followed care being taken to ensure an even covering. Steve was looking for an even sheen over the whole surface, any dull spots were given another coat. The bowl as then burnished using 00 grade Scotch-Brite, again checking for dull spots.

A final burnish with a tissue followed before the application of coloured wax. Steve now offered his audience a choice of colours including pink. Inevitably pink was chosen. When applying the wax care should be taken to rub it well into the grain. With the lathe running the bowl was then polished with a tissue until no wax appeared on the tissue.

The outside complete, the bowl was reversed on the chuck and hollowing commenced. Steve hollowed down towards the centre of the bowl but left a central core of wood while he ensured the rim was the correct width he wanted and the walls were of a consistent thickness.

The core was then removed and the wall thickness blended into the bottom. Sanding followed up to 240 grit again the emphasis being on the first grit. Sanding sealer was applied followed by Yorkshire Grit. Steve explained that Yorkshire Grit needs to be continually worked until all the pumice in it has broken down and done its job, effectively sanding the timber down to 1000 grit. Clean tissue then removed any excess, the tissue being turned until it came off the wood clean. The final operation was to coat the bowl with three coats of high gloss lacquer buffing between coats.

With some time to spare Steve now demonstrated some airbrushing techniques using random shapes for stencils that he had created on his computer. Steve mounted a wide rimmed Ash bowl onto the lathe and proceeded to hold up randomly shaped stencils to the wood. He then sprayed around the edges of the stencil with water based stains. By changing colours and stencils he created a collage of colour and shape on the rim of the bowl using colours that complimented and enhanced each other. The colour was then sprayed with matt cellulose sanding sealer before the application of clear gloss lacquer.

Throughout his demonstration Steve explained his reasoning behind his techniques and fully answered members’ questions. A very enjoyable and informative demonstration that produced two superb examples of colouring and texturing.

Thank you Alan Selden for capturing the evening in words and pictures of which there are more screenshots in the Gallery HERE.

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Showing 4 comments
  • Mick Close

    A very entertaining demo. Well presented and everything explained in great detail.
    I’m not a great fan of colouring but his burnt project was very good and I may even have a go at one.
    I would like to see him do more turning perhaps boxes, vases, etc. in the future.
    Well done Zac a great find.

  • Rob Collin

    I really enjoyed the demo. Excellent camera work, and things were clearly explained.
    An impressively clean workshop too!
    The project Steve demonstrated was a great refresher for a similar project that Chris Fisher guided me through a short while ago.

  • Rob Smyth

    A well presented demonstration with excellent camera work. Steve explained each step of the process and questions when required. The finished piece was very effective in enhancing the look and technics used. MSS should have him on the payroll as an Ambassador for Hampshire Sheen as he clearly uses and likes these products. A good simple well delivered demonstration that I enjoyed watching well done Zac.

  • Paul Tunmore

    Really good demo , well explained and easy to follow, helped renew confidence in local turners . Still can’t get over his Showroom quality workshop !!!

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