Click subject below for report

BIRD BOX with Paul Reeves
HANDLES & FEET with Graham Turner
Paul Reeves
Paul Reeves
Ed Walker
John Bolt
SPHERE TURNING with Paul Reeves
TEXTURING with Paul Reeves
Paul Reeves
  with Paul Reeves

Click subject above for report

April 2022 - Demo 1
Unnatural Natural Edge with Paul Reeves
Thursday, 21st April 2022 at MWCC Club Night

Natural Edge pieces rely upon the outside parts of the tree to improve the final look of the turned piece, whether it is by retaining the bark or stripping the outside edge to the Cambium Layer as seen in the Banana Bowl below.  The latter's often unexpected shape is produced by turning a log 'end over end' as if you were making a two-bladed propeller.

An Unnatural Natural Edge is when the edge has been 'embellished' prior to turning the intended piece.

(click for close up view)

These shapes can be achieved by first turning between End-Grain centres (like a spindle) to create an outside shape, a tiny part of which will become the edges of the piece when subsequently turned 'end over end'.

 Individual Method.
A log was turned into a cylinder and the ends were squared off.
A pencil line was drawn down the length of the cylinder and its midpoint circumference marked.
  Top Tip  :  Now is an opportunity to draw the pencil line so that any flaw on one side of the cylinder will be part of the wood turned away from the finished piece.
Then the point 180 opposite was found using either the index of the lathe/chuck; alternatively if your lathe hasn't any indexing, then by carefully extending the pencil line through the end-grain centres and down the opposite side so that the opposite centre will be found where this new line intersects the previously drawn midpoint circumference.

With the cylinder still being in/returned to its end-grain centres, a profile was turned into the sides.
Ideally, the shape should be a mirror image either side of the midpoint circumference and avoid any sharp outward points as these are vulnerable to breaking when turning end to end. 
The shape was sanded through the grits as it will be the finished edge of the final piece.

The piece was now mounted between the end over end centres previously marked.
The photo below shows the planned outline for two spigots to be turned
The inside spigot (labelled
in photo) is the first to be formed while between centres.
Then with that first spigot being mounted in a chuck (and if you feel necessary, the opposite side being supported by the tailstock), turn away the outside to your desired shape while creating the second spigot
to where the base of the piece will be.
 Top Tip  :  With the shape formed, sand through the grits with a flat block held vertically so that it only touches the wood perpendicular to its surface; this will ensure all leading edges will remain crisp.

The piece was then reversed so that the base spigot (labelled in photo) was now mounted in the chuck.
The piece was hollowed out to match the finished outside shape by carefully maintaining an even thickness down the length of the profiled edge.  Get the thickness of the edges furthest from the centre accurate before progressing inwards in order to maintain strength & integrity while working on the outer wings.
Eventually, the inside spigot will be either turned away or shaped to accommodate an embellishment (eg a candle holder; a box).
The inside surface should be HAND SANDED carefully to keep all edges crisp.
Reverse chuck to remove the remaining base spigot and to create a base/foot.

 Pair Method.
Sometimes you will want to create a matching pair of intricate edged pieces.
This is easily accomplished with two identically sized rectangular blocks.
Paul's happened to have two 6" x 3" x 1" Ash blocks, which he hot glued together to result with a single square ended block of 6" x 3" x 3".
He then hot glued plywood squares marked so that they could be mounted exactly on the centre line of the combined block before turning between centres to a cylinder.
Then as above, a midpoint circumference was drawn followed by two opposite points for the end over end centres, but this time, of course, both had to be 90 from the glued joint.

(click for close up view)

Again as above, your chosen profile should be turned into the cylinder; avoid leaving sharp points (unless very dense timber is used).
Sand to a finish before taking apart the ends and glue joint, and divide the cylinder into an identical pair of rectangular blocks.

Once the centres of the resulting flat rectangular surfaces were marked, repeat the end over end turning guidance described above <click here to find>

 Factors to Consider
Lathe speed is important  -  the faster the better in order to decrease the time the tool is turning 'air gaps' (although speed is limited by any imbalance of the piece);
Move the tool in a controlled smooth curve and allow the rotation to do the cutting;
Don't press the bevel onto the wood  -  else you will end up pushing the tool into the 'air gaps' and the leading edges will become damaged.

The May Competition was set for an Unnatural Natural Edge turned piece or matching pieces.

<Competition Results>

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Revision of Bowl Turning Techniques with Paul Reeves
Thursday, 19th May 2022 at MWCC Club Night


It seems that the general public believe all woodturners are able to turn bowls so the expectations upon us are great.  However, there is a lot to take into account before you even pick up a bowl blank.

Use of Bowl - Decoration normally gives added value but best avoided if to be used with liquid / food as it will be difficult to keep any grooves clear and clean.
Material Choice - a Fruit Bowl can be made of almost anything because it's not necessary to be food safe whereas a Salad Bowl is restricted to non-porous, non-tainting & non-toxic woods.  So avoid Ash /Laburnum / Padauk / Purpleheart / Yew  etc and stick to woods like Maple / Beech / Sycamore / Tulip Wood / American Plane etc that are considered to be food-safe.
Size & Shape - Deep will hold a lot but not ideal for holding delicate objects heaped up on one another. Open like a platter is good for showing off what is there but a high-sided or undercut bowl edge is better for tossing salads.

Paul had selected a 7" by 3" Macrocarpa bowl blank to highlight that although it can tear a lot when turned, with sharp tools, a clean thin walled example can produce a sturdy bowl like the one he has used for years to keep the family's keys tidy.
Macrocarpa is a coniferous tree endemic to California where it is known as Monterey Cypress and also prolific in New Zealand after introduction in the mid 19th century.  It is denser than most pines and more resinous which gives off a smell for a long time before it dries out.  But once dried, it is very durable and holds shape well even when turned to a thin walled vessel.

Mounting on Lathe - Having decide which end would be the base after a look for figure / faults, he mounted the piece on the lathe using a screw chuck. (An alternative could have been between centres) 
Because he was using a flat plate screw chuck held within jaws, he bevelled the pre-drilled hole in the top surface to prevent any scurf created as the Screw Chuck bit a thread into the blank, which could have prevented the piece from being held flat against the chuck's plate.

Tail Stock - Whether to use a tail stock to help support the piece would depend upon how big the blank was and whether you were going to take deep cuts like a 'Show Pro'!  This was a small blank and there was sufficient time to take measured cuts so leaving the tail stock off allowed Paul better access to the piece.
Choice of Gouge - A Bowl Gouge is the obvious answer but how long should the handle be?  If your drive head is fixed and you are not using a Tail Stock, then a short handle is better in order to avoid being hampered by the rails. However, some lathes have drive heads that can be slid towards the end of the rails to emulate a short bed option, which can accommodate long handles.

Choice of Cuts - The gouge can be used as a 'Push Cut' (produces a clean bevel finish) or a 'Pull Cut' (results in deeper/quicker removal and gets closer to the intended foot but gives a rougher finish).  A Pull Cut needs careful technique as only the radius of the curve and a little of the wing should be in contact to generate a controllable cut. This is achieved by presenting the bevel parallel to the wood surface with the flute facing towards your left shoulder to ensure the wing is supported.  Providing your tool rest is close enough to the curved surface, you should be able to start with a Pull Cut and by rolling the front radius of the gouge, you can turn into a Push Cut within one smooth pass.
Plan the Foot - Don't let the chuck decide the size of the foot. Big bowls need a foot outside a spigot for standard jaws. The foot position will influence the chuck jaw mounting for hollowing with regard to whether a 'compression' spigot (needs depth for a good grip) should be created or an 'expansion' dovetail (reduced depth required but must have enough wood strength outside the dovetail).  You could decide upon no foot, but is prone to rock.  Once decided which jaws to use, set your dividers to the appropriate size and remember when scoring the base, only the LHS point touches the work - the RHS point must only touch air.

Squaring off Spigot/Dovetail - When turning a bowl (except with an end grain bowl blank) there is often a problem cutting across the end grains and ending up with fluffy strands which can hinder the jaws from holding the piece centrally.  Parting Tools and Skew Chisels don't work as well as a small Spindle Gouge which will 'cut' the end grain rather than scrape across them.  A sharp gouge and moving the tip slowly across the surface will also help.
Tools to Help Shaping - Shear Scraper using a straight cutter for external and curved cutter for inside shaping. Lead with the handle and angle the cutter against the wood surface away from being horizontal.
Finishing - Mark the spigot's centre point before detaching from the drive head to aid eventual reverse chucking removal.  Sander Seal all end grains and any tear-outs near faults before making your final pass with the gouge. Try to move from start to end without stopping.
Decorations - Lines and marks can be made with any SHARP pointy tool but avoid going too shallow as they might disappear after sanding.  Burnishing marks with wire tend to vary intensity when passed over cross grain then end grain but Formica Burnishing is much better.
Abrasives - Beware getting your work too hot while sanding with the piece turning. Some woods (eg Yew, Macrocarpa) get hot from friction very quickly and can end up cracked. This danger is reduced by slowing the lathe speed and by regularly keeping the abrasive clear of dust build up with a wipe across a piece of carpet.

With the outside surface finished and sanded, Paul took the piece off the screw chuck and set up the chosen chuck jaws to grip the prepared spigot.  He then squared off the face with a combination of pull & push cuts with the Bowl Gouge.

Shape of Inside - Lots of options :- a small hollow in the centre; match the curve of the outside; curve the rim; undercut the rim.
Direction of Cuts - For an Outside Curve, cut from the axis of spin towards the outside. (NB: you often have to cut a small area the other way in order to get a clean corner up to a spigot / foot).
For an Inside Curve, cut inwards from the rim towards the axis of spin.  With a gouge with a swept-back grind, you have to steer the gouge tip above the horizontal in order to avoid the metal bar of the gouge crashing into the rim but must steer back to end the cut at the spin axis.  If the bowl is particularly deep or has an inside curve with a sharp change of direction, use a Bowl Gouge with a large bevelled angle (eg 70) to help get a continuous cut from rim to centre.
Tip Control - Be aware that until the bevel can give support, the gouge tip has a tendency to slip outwards when starting the cut. This is alleviated with a positive control of the gouge bar where it lays on the tool rest and of the handle in your other hand.
As your cut moves towards the centre, the rate of the turning wood passing the tool tip reduces so you should slow your movement as the tip gets closer to the spin axis.
Try not to interrupt your cuts as it will spoil your 'muscle memory' for the final cut.  Make sure you have a sharp gouge before you start and get the thickness of the bowl's wall uniform and accurate well before the last cuts.
There is an argument for making that last cut large rather than trying to skim in one movement. This will lead to a cleaner cut and less angles to try to sand out.
Angle the tool rest into the hollow to reduce the amount of gouge over-hanging as it sweeps around the inside curve.
If the bowl is to be thin walled, work on getting the inner surface near the rim close to the desired thickness before working further down the bowl. The extra thickness in the bottom will discourage the thin walls from flexing during your cuts.

With the inside sanded, it was time to reverse the piece in order to remove the spigot and finish the foot. The first thing Paul measured was the thickness at the bottom of the bowl. This confirmed how much of the spigot could be removed.

Reverse Chucks - There are several ways to hold the piece for the next job.
Use an MDF faceplate with a groove cut into it to exactly fit the diameter of the rim  OR  Press the piece against a flat faceplate while holding it in place with the tail stock in the pockmark previously made when forming the spigot  OR  Colejaws;
Whichever method is used, nibble the spigot away with a Spindle Gouge cutting inwards towards the head stock - if you try cutting across, the same problem with fluffy end grain will arise.

Paul had chosen to use Colejaws, so he protected the surface of the rim with some masking tape before putting the piece in and tightening the jaws.
Now that he knew how much he needed to remove from the base, he deliberately left a pimple at the centre to give an accurate gauge of the depth removed and then cut it away with the last cut.

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Demonstration of Sphere Turning Plus with Paul Reeves
Thursday, 17th February 2022 at MWCC Club Night

Spherical shapes are predominantly used in games and for decorations.
If a large number of same-sized wooden balls are required (for example a solitaire set) then purchase from an eBay supplier might be the quickest, most economical and accurate method rather than making them yourself.
(Feb 2022 price for 50 of 20mm diameter beech wooden balls = 10).

But a perfect sphere is not always necessary.  For example, a ball used in a coconut shy needs to be more robust, dry and stress-free than be perfectly round.
For a decorative ball in natural finish then a perfect sphere would be preferable and the choice of wood should be something interesting; for example burr or figured or chatoyant.

The 'Plus' element is referring to starting with a ball and then enhancing by carving, hollowing out or colouring.
In fact, you don't even have to start with a ball.

There are several options to turn your own sphere :-
            Buying a Ball-Turning Jig - expensive
            Roughly turning with a round cutter - difficult to control
            Rubber ring chuck with a rubber ring tail stock - inaccurate if rubber flexes
            Wooden Cup Chuck method

Paul demonstrated using the Wooden Cup Chuck method.
A rectangular block of Yew had been prepared with it held between centres and turned to an even cylinder.
He set an External Caliper to the diameter of the cylinder (which would become the diameter of the sphere).  With this set Caliper resting approximately centrally on top of the cylinder, he marked the two ends of the Caliper with a pencil and then with the aid of the tool rest, drew two pencil lines around the cylinder to mark the extent of where the edges of the sphere would be.
Using a ruler, he calculated and marked another circle around the cylinder half way between the previous two lines. This circle became his starting 'meridian', which from now on, SHOULD NOT be cut any smaller (
although might end up being so later to correct errors!).
The two sphere edges had to be kept clearly defined with a Parting Tool so that the outer edges of the sphere wouldn't get lost.
A spindle gouge was used to turn a curve like a giant bead which started at the untouched centre meridian and would have eventually ended vertically at the centre of the wood but for Paul refraining from completely parting through.
As the curves progressed, Paul had to return to using the Parting Tool in order to prevent losing precisely where the ends were going to be.
Once he had reduced the attached ends to about 5mm (and the curves not quite yet vertical), Paul stopped the lathe and after taking the pressure off the tail stock, used a saw to detached the approximately shaped sphere with 2 small stubs at opposite ends.

Making a Cup Chuck
End Grain is preferable as it is less likely to distort into an oval shape as the wood moves with age/humidity.  A softer wood than the object wood is also helpful.
With a suitable blank mounted between centres, turn a spigot at one end to fit your lathe chuck.
Then with that lathe chuck fitted and holding the spigot of the Cup Chuck, square off  the face and drill/gouge a hole down the centre in order to help hollowing out.
The hollow across the face should be fractionally less than the diameter of the sphere but definitely deeper than its radius to avoid the sphere from 'bottoming out' when fitted into the cup.
Should you inadvertently hollow out the width too much, then further squaring off will reduce the diameter because of the bowl shape of the hollow - but remember you might need to deepen it further to avoid bottoming out. 

Working with the Cup Chuck
Fit the sphere into the cup with the starting 'meridian' at right angles to the face of the chuck. A slap with the palm of your hand should result in a good grip provided the two small stubs from the previous turning do not protrude too much.
The aim now is to use a narrow Parting Tool to create another meridian just deep enough to match the depth of the starting meridian at the 2 points where they intersect.

To achieve this, increase the lathe speed, then very VERY gingerly move the narrow Parting Tool inwards so that it gently nicks the stubs. Stopping to draw a pencil line along this new meridian will help to judge when your depth is enough. Continue to gently part away until the pencil line almost disappears before stopping and checking the depths where the meridians intersect.  Repeat until the intersections are of matching depths.
A Spindle Gouge can then be used to turn away any excess above the two meridians.  Move the tool rest so that the gouge bevel can touch the rotational axis point or 'pole' where the surface will be perfectly level and therefore no buffeting vibration will be sensed through the gouge when the lathe is turning.  However, once you move away and come across something higher than the meridians, you will feel, hear (
and possibly see) the tool buffet.
The next steps require precise and delicate control of the gouge tip.
Slide the bevel back sufficiently for the gouge tip to reach where the buffeting started and allow the tip to just cut some dust; then carefully and steadily move the tool forward to cut away a very thin layer; stopping if the tool starts to run smoothly. Backtrack using the bevel and test for buffeting. Repeat the delicate cutting until the buffeting dissipates.  Smoothness can be assessed with a light touch of the surface at the top of the piece with your thumb pointing towards the direction of rotation.

Once this hemisphere is nearly even, a straight edged skew can be used to gently smooth out any bumps sensed by your thumb, but keep the tool's contact moving at all times.
When satisfied, slow the lathe speed down and briefly sand with abrasives.  If abrasives are used too much, there is a likelihood that more surface will be removed on the side-grain than the cross-grain sides resulting in the sphere appearing pointed.
The abrasive can be hand held or used with a flat block, but in both cases keep the abrasive moving and parallel to the point of contact.

Next, the sphere was removed.  It might require a mallet to tap the Cup Chuck in the direction towards the head stock, but be ready to catch it when it pops out with the first tap. (Do try to avoid hitting the sphere of course!)
The sphere is reversed to tackle the remaining hemisphere.

However, the Cup may be too large for the previously trimmed hemisphere so a quick squaring off the face of the Cup Chuck as described above will narrow the opening. Remember to check if the bottom of the hollow needs deepening.
Repeat as above to remove all the surface that is standing proud of the meridians.
Short use of abrasive and your sphere will be complete.

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January 2022 - Demo 5
Added Value to a Two-Part Candlestick/Lamp with Paul Reeves
Thursday, 20th January 2022 at MWCC Club Night


The basics of two part turning was covered in Spindle & Face Plate Turned in January 2020 with a three-legged stool.  <available HERE>

This time we are turning a candlestick/table lamp with "added value".
Some examples are shown in the adjacent photos :
A Victorian Table Lamp with a shoulder at the top, elegantly turned and enhanced with gold colour highlights.
A plain wood decorated with a base coat beneath a top contrasting coat, which was wiped before drying to expose the base colour in places.
A slender column enhanced with a knop (ornamental rounded protuberance) painted or conjoined with a different colour or wood type.
Paul's oversized candlestick with its added value of a large piece of copper plate, which doubled as a fire precaution as well as the spiked seat for the large candle above.

This demonstration is a Table Lamp with the added value of alternative embellishments, e.g. Corian.
(Corian is a man-made mix of minerals and acrylic typically used in worktops and can be turned on the lathe with a scraper.)
Top Tip : As synthetic materials tend not to move with humidity, best to select dry wood for the wooden parts of the piece to avoid loose joints when it inevitably shrinks inside a home.
Paul is using some surplus Corian-like material that had been developed for aircraft interiors; however it can be worked the same as Corian.


 The Knops.
There were to be decorative rings at the bottom & the top of the stem.
To save time, Paul had initially used his bandsaw to cut out a circular piece of his material at home (surprisingly, the bandsaw had no problem cutting an accurate circle on these types of synthetic material). He had then mounted the resulting disc within his chuck jaws and drilled a central hole of a size suitable for a spigot (soon to be turned on the stem so it would fit securely into the base).

Next he created a Jamb Chuck from a cylindrical piece of gash wood such that one end could be secured in his chuck and the other end reduced using a Parting Tool so that it just fitted into the hole of the Corian and had a clean cut shoulder to hold the Corian perfectly square. He carefully made an accurate saw cut through the centre mark of the working end (down to well below the shoulder line) using a band saw or a tenon saw. With the the Jamb Chuck attached to the head stock and the Corian ring set against the shoulder, the tail stock was tightened with its tapered point gradually parting either side of the saw cut until it jammed the Corian fixed onto his chuck.

Corian doesn't have any grain so it has no problem being scraped into a bead with virtually any piece of well honed metal. The scraper works best with a negative rake and by keeping it moving while at a slower lathe speed than when turning wood.
Paul scraped one half of a bead and squared off down to the Jamb Chuck on the tail stock side of the piece before sanding. Corian sands well but does need the lathe slowed even further while keeping the abrasive clear and cool by brushing a carpet against the grit. He polished the surface to a shiny finish with some 0000 wire wool before reversing the Corian on the Jamb Chuck and repeating for the other half of the bead to match the first half so that both sides were flat and parallel to each other.

 The Well.
This was to be a larger decorative ring resting in the upper surface of the base.
Again, Paul had prepared a circular piece of his material attached centrally to a MDF faceplate with double sided sticky tape.

The outer edge was fashioned with an undercut using a scraper as before.
The scraper was then worked from the highest point towards the centre following the curve already made.
As seen in the intended profile above, the outer curved edge finishes at the bottom of the material while the inner curved edge finishes higher up.
The desired shaped ring was cut with a parting tool straight into face of the circular prepared piece.

  The Base
For the demonstration, Paul had prepared the base by mounting between centres; turned a cylinder of appropriate diameter; shaped an upper surface.
A hole had been drilled in from the side to the centre running close to the underside and another hole drilled down the centre to accommodate an electric cable to enter the base at the side and bend upwards and eventually through the stem to a light socket.
The top of the base was mounted in a Screw Chuck.
The outer edge of the underside was squared off and the centre slightly hollowed. A ridge was turned within this hollow at an appropriate diameter for Paul's jaws to grip the base in expansion for the next step.
Having turned the base around, the top of the base was pared off sufficiently to allow the first turned Knop described above to sit in perfect proportion to its diameter.  Then the same drill used to cut the hole in the Corian Knops was placed in a keyed chuck & arbor fitted to the tailstock and used to bore a hole sufficient to receive the spigot soon to be turned on the stem.

Next, the internal diameter of the shaped Corian ring (that was to form the Well) was measured and marked on the base.
A Parting Tool was used to carefully get the width exact for the ring to fit snugly.
Once the ring's inner edge was right, the Parting Tool was used to deepen the cut a little at a time until the ring's outer edge became flush with the base.

  The Stem
Having turned the stem between centres to a cylinder of a size to allow for some shaping by the finish, Paul changed the tail stock centre from a pointed tip to a hollow ring type, which allows for a Shell Auger to be used through the tail stock for boring a long hole up the centre for the electric cable.
With the stem re-mounted between these centres, Paul placed the point of the Auger at about half way along the outside of the piece and marked the Auger with a piece of sticky tape adjacent to the back end of the tail stock.
He started the lathe and fed the Auger through the back of the tail stock until it eventually started to bore into the stem.
It now required a gentle steady feed with frequent withdrawals to clear the waste sawdust in order to prevent the Auger going off centre.  Once deflected, you would never be able to correct it back on course.

Once the tape mark on the Auger reaches the back of the tail stock, Paul stopped, changed the 4-prong drive centre for a Counterbore Drive, reversed and remounted the piece for boring the rest with the Auger.  Paul advised that he could feel the Auger in his hand go soft just as it broke through the first hole.

The hollow ring tail centre was replaced with the pointed tip centre and the stem returned to between centres with the tail stock supporting the end destined for the Lamp's base.
After setting his Spring Calipers to the size of the drilled hole in the base, Paul used a Parting Tool to turn a spigot of appropriate length & diameter to fit the base, remembering to account for the depth of the first Corian-like embellishment he had turned.
He then continued to finish shaping the stem and added a shoulder plus another Corian-like knop to go beneath the light bulb socket.


Paul had a brass insert that screwed directly into the drilled hole of the stem. This insert couples the bulb socket to the stem.
Top Tip  :  If a Lamp is going to be sold at some point there are some electrical goods regulations that must be followed eg. cable clamp.
To avoid this problem, the simplest way is to sell it un-wired with the customer arranging for a competent electrician to do so.

And finally, below all the parts individually and assembled with a coat of oil applied.

(click for close up view)

The February Competition was set for a two-part Table Lamp or Candlestick (base and stem)
 with "added value" eg colour, texture, other materials etc.

<Competition Results>

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December 2021 - Demo 4
Box of Contrasting Woods with Paul Reeves
Thursday, 16th December 2021 at MWCC Club Night


The wood types best suited for box making have moderately tight and even grain which won't present too many turning problems. The tops & bottoms of boxes are better designed to be end grain; even so, softwood options will invariably tear out whereas hard woods tend to cut cleanly.
Popular choices are from the Rosewood and Fruit wood families. Woods to avoid have well spaced and well defined growth rings with fluffy open structured wood. Likewise, some spalted woods should be avoided if the paler parts are significantly softer than the rest.
Paul chose to turn a small box made from Box Wood adorned with the contrasting colour of Pink Ivory to give a seasonal effect.
Box is an ideal wood for very thin walls and finishes beautifully with Carnauba Wax applied.
Pink Ivory can provide a natural shine even from a tool finish.

For the sake of saving time during the demonstration, Paul had prepared the Box blank between centres, turned the piece into a cylinder of desired diameter with a spigot suitable for his chuck at each end.
He had then parted the lid from the base at approximately
⅓ : ⅔ ratio.  [Top Tip : Before dividing your original piece into box lid & box base, draw a pencil line along the cylindrical side so that once separated, any blemishes in the wood can be quickly lined up].

Cabochon (a smooth domed ornament; polished but unfaceted)
With the Pink Ivory secured in the jaws of his chuck, Paul used a broad parting tool to turn a cylinder to a suitable diameter and depth to fit within the top of the prepared lid. 


A dome was formed on the front with a small negative rake scraper. Ordinarily, if done carefully (ie with no scratches) there would be no need to sand. However, as Paul was going to decorate using a chatter tool, the piece needed to start from a very shiny finish for it to show up later between the chatter marks. He achieved this with 400 grit.
A chatter tool should only be used on end grain because applying to side grain would result in marks of differing depths as the piece turned between the two contrasting densities of along & across grains.
The chatter tool works because its end is sharp and flexible. Its effectiveness is improved by slowing the lathe speed down a bit and presenting the tool tip pointed slightly down. When satisfied with the resulting design, the disc was parted off to the desired depth and any pimple removed.  [Top Tip : If the box base is going to be hollowed out with a Forstner bit, the above process can be repeated and adapted to produce a matching thin disc for the inside bottom of the box to hide the centre dimple made by the Forstner ].

Decorative ring to go around spigot of box base.
Using hardwoods makes it easy to get a precise fit.
With the Pink Ivory still in the chuck, Paul used his parting tool to turn a cylinder slightly larger than the diameter of the box base - this will allow a clean precise cut-to-size later in the process when the base and lid are taped together.
Having calculated a suitable diameter for the spigot, he carefully transferred a mark to the front of the Ivory using dividers.
The centre recess was removed to a few millimetres deeper than the planned depth of this decorative ring.
This could be started with a gouge or a Forstner drill bit in a Jacob's chuck or (as Paul chose) with an old drill bit in a handle held against the centre of the front as the lathe was turning. Whichever way was selected, the final cut to the inside edge was completed with a Box Cutter to the mark made by the dividers earlier. Paul parted off the ring and cleaned up the surfaces (that would be glued to the base) carefully with fine abrasives for a close fit.

Spigot on base for decorative ring.
With the box base mounted using the prepared tenon, Paul squared off the front. Having measured the inside of the decorative ring carefully with callipers, he marked the same diameter on the front using dividers. The length of the required spigot was calculated to incorporate the width of the ring and then sufficient to grip the sides of the lid but avoiding making the lid's top too thin. Using his broad parting tool again, he made a cut at the calculated length and formed a parallel spigot to just short of the earlier dividers mark. The final fit was done gradually with the negative rake scraper with regular cross checks against the decorative ring. Paul finally glued the ring to the base using some superglue.

Inside of lid to fit spigot.
With the box lid now mounted on its tenon, the spigot was measured with callipers and the underside of the lid marked as described above.
To make this small recess, Paul initially used a spindle gouge from just inside the dividers mark towards the centre and then from in to out towards the mark. The box cutter was used for fine adjustments of both depth and inside diameter with regular fitting cross checks with the spigot on the box base to avoid a loose fit.  [Top Tip : don't be tempted to use abrasives at this stage because different densities around the piece will abrade away differently and the recess would become oval. It would also be difficult to maintain a square fit. A box cutter avoids both these problems ].  The correct fit was when there was a slight resistance to removing the lid.

Cabochon fitting.
Paul had removed the box lid from the chuck, lined up the lid to the base using the pencil mark drawn down the side of the cylinder at the start and closed the box. Some insulating tape (or similar) was applied around and over the joint of the base & lid before mounting the base spigot into the chuck. The lid's tenon was turned away and the process of making a small recess for the cabochon was exactly as the previous paragraph - other than the fit was finished by gluing the decoration into place.
Next, Paul used his spindle gouge to trim the insulating tape off, the decorative ring back to the outside of the box and matched the lid to the base to a smooth finished shape.  Finally, Paul used a thin parting tool to mark a groove where the bottom of the box would eventually be parted off.  This allowed him to calculate the maximum depth he could take from the inside of the base.

Hollowing out base.
With the lid removed and the lathe started up, Paul used the tip of a skew to mark the centre of the spigot.  He now calculated how deep he wanted to go inside the base measured from the top of the spigot and allowing for just how thin he wanted the base of the box to be.
He took his old drill with its handle that he used above and marked this depth with the aid of a piece of tape around the drill so that when its bottom edge was flush with the top of the spigot, he would be at the correct depth.
With the lathe at a moderate speed, the tail stock well out of the way and his old drill in his hands, Paul gently presented the drill tip to the centre mark keeping it as level and square as he could tell before pushing the drill into the wood. As it went deeper, the rotation naturally guided the drill to run absolutely true. Paul only allowed the drill to go as deep as the leading edge of the tape before withdrawing.
This hole made it easier for a gouge to remove the centre. Also, by keeping close attention to the bottom of the box, he was able to see when he was nearing the bottom of the drill hole and hence his selected depth.
The next decision was whether the shape of the base inside be curved (use a round scraper) or square (use the box cutter). His audience opted for round.  Whichever is used, it is vital that the scraper/cutter must move horizontally in and out. 
Any slight deviation from level will result in the cutting edge digging deeper into the wall of the piece as the tip travels further away from its pivot point on the tool rest.  The same problem arises if the tip moves away from being parallel to the 'ways' (the rail-like metal bars that the tail stock slides on).
One aspect to remember when hollowing is that the walls will become heated by the friction of the cutting tool.  This results in driving moisture out of the walls (the thinner the walls, the more the effect) and the diameter of the box will shrink slightly.   Suddenly your previously perfect fitting lid has become very loose!  Don't panic.  Leave the piece alone and after some 12-24 hours, the wood in the walls will have cooled, had time to re-absorb the lost moisture from the natural humidity in the air and come back to that perfect fit. 
[Top Tip : don't try to turn the inside of a lid to fit a spigot immediately after you have hollowed out the base. You will probably end up with the lid welded tight onto the spigot ].

The tool finish on the Box Wood was good enough to proceed with parting off.
The thin parting tool was used in the earlier made groove and parted off the box base from its tenon. If it had been necessary, the box bottom would have been finished off by reverse chucking.

Paul changed his chuck for buffing mops, which he used to smooth the surfaces with just the White Diamond compound. He feels that the Tripoli compound with its red colour tends to darken the finish of the pale Box Wood. Following a change of mops, he finished the buffing with Carnauba wax.  Don't put too much wax on the mop wheel as this can lead to a hard ring building up, which will need wire wool to remove.
  The technique for all the stages is a steady gently stroke of the piece against the mop wheel and keep slowly turning it in your hands. [Top Tip : spreading a folded towel or similar on the 'ways' underneath the mop wheel helps to avoid dents if the spinning mop should rip the piece out of your hands ]
Pushing the piece hard onto or holding it still against the mop wheel will result in a build up of heat which could distort the piece or burnish a flat into the side.
Be warned - buffing a thin close grained wood to a magnificent sheen does make the piece appear just like plastic.

(click either for close up view)

The January Competition was set for a box comprising of 2 or more contrasting woods.


<Competition Results>

Below are some more examples of Paul's boxes with contrasting woods for inspiration :-

The 'screw in ring stand' has a ring caddy which slides up & down when inside the box but held steady by a screw thread just below the brim.
The 'stud earrings box' has small holes for the stud pins and a central container for the selection of ornaments to go on the studs.
The '2 cups inside' has one ring box with another lidded box on top, both having a soft-close fit inside the outer box.
The 'dimple in lid' has a ring caddy that is the precise height to hold the top of the caddy in place when the lid is on, which stops it rattling about.

(photos by Rick Patrick & Paul Reeves)
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November 2021 - Demo 3
Offset Turned Bowls
with Paul Reeves
Thursday, 18th November 2021 at MWCC Club Night



When is a bowl considered offset?
Take the three examples below.
The first has its bowl centre only slightly away from the centre of the rim of the piece.
The second has its bowl positioned to avoid the natural voids and imperfections (further enhanced with some piercing).  [
Top Tip : if you wish to pierce Yew, plan to do so with 'green' wood as Yew gets very hard when old]
The last has a markedly offset bowl from the centre of the piece which has the advantage of providing a large part of the rim available to decorate.

Note that with any offset, the piece will have a tendency to tip towards the thicker denser edge and take up a natural 'show me' stance.
The slight offset example takes up this position but Paul has helped to maintain it with a seat of soft rope with the strands at each end pulled apart to stabilize the orientation (which he prefers rather than standing the piece on a separate circular stand).  The other two examples have thin rims and are best displayed using plate stands.

Another important consideration is that when the piece is centred on the offset, it will always be out of balance.
The more the offset (or wood removed in the pierced case) the greater the imbalance.
Consequently, it is important to ensure the lathe speed is minimal BEFORE starting to turn your piece in the offset position.  Many lathes can only change their speed with the drive rotating and it will be a bit late to realise it is too fast when your lathe is shaking itself across the floor!

Although there are several Eccentric Chucks especially designed for offset turning, there is no need for such complicated chucks because a combination of a standard chuck with a Cup Chuck or a Screw Chuck can achieve the same results.

For best results, choose a blank with a decorative feature; eg burr, rippled, exotic or unusual wood.  It could be first mounted either on a Faceplate or a Screw Chuck.  Paul had chosen a spalted Ash bowl blank, which he mounted with its pre-drilled centre onto a Screw Chuck.  [Top Tip : if your Screw Chuck extends from a flat plate, bevel the pre-drilled hole in the base; this prevents any scurf (from the Screw Chuck as it bites into the piece) protruding and preventing the piece from being held flat against the chuck's plate]  Ensure that your pilot hole is just the length of the Screw so that it will later disappear when gouging out what will become the inside of the bowl.

As with last month's 'Turning a Plate' demo, you could use just 1 tool to make this project; eg a 1/2" spindle gouge or a small bowl gouge.  Turn the the back to a curve of your choice; eg hemispherical, conical, parabolic shape.  Sand to a final finish (see Principles' below) then seal with Sanding Sealer, wiping off any excess. Pay particularly attention to sealing the end grain in order to prevent hot glue from penetrating deeply down the grain in the next step.

Sanding Principles
Wisdom has it that the secret to good sanding is to avoid leaving tool marks in the first place. It's probably best to leave that wisdom with the Professionals who turn day in day out, and an aspiration for us especially considering the Club sells more than 400 worth of abrasives per year.
The procedure for we mortals is :
1. The first abrasive is used to smooth away dents and scratches.
But after doing this, they will leave behind smaller scratches from the abrasive particles on that paper just used.
These small scratches are then removed by using an abrasive paper with smaller particles, which of course will leave behind even finer scratches ... and so on until you no longer see or feel any scratches (although a microscope would see them!).
2. Before using abrasives with the lathe turning, remove or move well out of the way all tool rests (and tail stock, if not in use) to avoid your hand being injured if it slips off your work.
Reduce lathe to a low speed before applying the abrasive (to prevent overheating the wood) and keep the abrasive moving (to reduce ring scratches on the piece).
Set up adequate extraction to reduce dust from filling up your workshop and your lungs! Certain trees & plants create toxic dust; eg Yew, Rosewoods, Oleander and indeed most woods to a varying degree. Probably best to use a mask as well as an extractor.
3. Start at the low number grits. (The grit number refers to how many particles could be squeezed into a standard area). P120 will probably deal with tool marks but holes (eg from end grain pull out) might need a lower grit number just on and around the flaw.
Using a backing pad can help in giving a more even sanding. Keep a steady pressure on your abrasive/pad but avoid pressing heavily.
4. Stop the lathe and check if the worst scratches are gone. If some are still there, try rubbing by hand with the lathe motor off using the same grit ALONG the grain until improved.
5. Brush/blow off the dust to avoid the next grit picking up sharp dust particles and putting more scratches in than they smooth out.
6. Select the next finer grit (typically 80 → 120 → 180 → 240 → 320 → 400 → 600 → 800) and proceed as described in para 3 above. Note : for most jobs, you won't need to progress through all the grits above. Just stop when you see and feel a smooth surface. For all spalted woods and wide grained woods like Ash, you will need to restrict sanding to just the low number grits because the parts between the spalts or annual rings are so much softer that they will wear more under the abrasive and you will end up putting ridges into your piece. Dense woods can become exceedingly smooth and polished if you work down to P400 and finer.
7. If your lathe can, then change the direction of spin between different grits to avoid one area repeatedly getting affected more than the rest; eg a bowl with long grain and end grain - the end grains have more resistance than the long grains resulting in the end grain being sanded away differently at its leading edge. However, changing direction lessens this outcome.

Paul chose to create a Cup Chuck connected to the driven chuck via a Faceplate.  The advantage being that with the outside already completed, he only had to finish the piece mounted while glued to the Cup Chuck without the chore of reverse chucking to remove a spigot.
The Cup Chuck was made from waste wood or an old bowl blank of about 6" by 2".  A faceplate to fit the chuck was screwed on centrally and mounted in the standard chuck.  The screws had to be reasonably short to avoid any chance of their ends breaking through the depression being gouged from the other side.  Consequently, he made use of all 6 screw holes.  The depression was planned to match the curve of the piece and as deep as
possible without the Faceplate screws penetrating the bottom, even after the Faceplate was later offset.

Once satisfied with the fit and remembering to try and avoid the two end grains, Paul started to hot glue by holding the piece to the chuck (gauging carefully by eye that the flat surface was sitting perpendicular to the axis both up & down and side to side).  He dropped the glue onto the Cup Chuck so that it flowed down into the V-shape and made contact with the piece over about an inch.  Patiently allowing a couple of minutes for the glue to set, he rotated the whole assembly about 60 and repeated another five times.
Top Tip : Use polythene glue sticks rather than other general purpose sticks because after polythene glue cools, it can easily be removed by warming with a hot hair dryer and being 'thumb rolled' off ]

Once all the glue had hardened, the face was flattened off with a gouge.  [Top Tip : It is easier to achieve an accurate flat surface by keeping your elbows to your side and rock your whole body forward rather than attempting with out-stretched arms.]   The level face was sanded and sealed as above.
Then the LATHE SPEED WAS REDUCED to minimum because the next step was to offset.


The entire Faceplate, Cup Chuck and piece was removed as one section.
The Faceplate was unscrewed, repositioned 10mm offset and re-screwed.
Paul recommended that a 15mm offset be considered the maximum because 15mm would result in the bowl rim max and min differing by 30mm and any larger could restrict your options of the eventual diameter of the bowl.


With the piece now offset, it will be unbalanced and would benefit from counterbalancing.
Paul had a size variety of lead flashing pieces to choose from.
The side of the Cup Chuck that was nearest to the lathe's spindle centre (to compensate for the wood that was there on the opposite side) was where he used two screws to secure the lead.
In his experience of harmonic vibrations, Paul reports that one can expect to gently increase speed through the first vibration which will eventually settle down, but as one slowly increases speed towards the start of a second vibration, immediately back off the lathe speed a little.
The faster the pieces turns, the cleaner the cut so finding the right lead weight to reduce vibration and increase turning speed, the better.

Paul turned out the inside of the bowl using a prepared card shaped to the desired profile to guide where and how much to remove.
Further decoration was considered. With a flat surface with an offset hole, a plain wood might be worth accenting with a defining point, eg a small cove at the bowl rim.  This might not suit for some figured or spalted wood.  The consensus of those present opted for no further decoration as the spalted Ash was decoration enough.
The piece was sanded as before.  After thorough brushing out, it was sealed again.

A hair dryer was used to gently warm the glue so that it could be carefully removed to free the piece from the Cup Chuck.  Note : It's important not to overheat woods (eg. like Yew, Cherry, Macrocarpa) or else there is a danger of causing surface crazing.

(click for close up view)

The December Competition was set for a turned example of an offset bowl.

<Competition Results>
(photos by
Graham Turner, Rick Patrick & Paul Reeves)

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October 2021 - Demo 2
Turning Plates & Platters
with Paul Reeves
Thursday, 21st October 2021 at MWCC Club Night


What's the difference between a plate, a platter and a shallow bowl?
In Paul's humble opinion, you need to apply the
If you press down within the inset of the piece about out from the centre and it doesn't tip - it's a plate/platter.
If it does tip, it must be a shallow bowl.
One certainly doesn't want to find a load of food in one's lap.

When does a plate become a platter? When it's big enough!
A single platter is normally used to cater several plates.
Plates tend to be functional while platters tend to be impressive.
If making a utility plate/platter then choose a plain wood to avoid food getting trapped in any decoration.
Paul prefers to decorate the rims of platters to achieve the spectacular.
It can also help to select a blank that has some marked feature (eg figure, spalted, burr)

Turning a Plate
There are 2 obvious ways of mounting : screw a faceplate ring onto the front face - OR - hot glue an MDF backplate which can then be driven via a chuck with a screw fitting or connected to a ring plate.
The first option is only suitable for thicker blanks as it needs to be fitted with short screws to attach into the central waste wood and will also require an expanded dovetail in the back to finish turning the front.
The second has the advantage of extra room to turn the back edge of the platter.

You could use just 1 tool to make this, eg a 3/8" spindle gouge or a small bowl gouge.
Paul started with pull cuts - with just the small radius touching - to level off the front surface for a couple of inches from the edge.
The edge was rounded off and the back was shaped by pull cuts (or a bevel cut if using a thick enough MDF backplate)
If your lathe allows, try swivelling the headstock away from the turner to get easier access to the back.
The work was then returned to finish off levelling the front surface.
It will help if you gradually slow your movement of the gouge as it gets closer to the centre; this will result in the feed speed of the wood being similar to the cuts nearer the outer edge.

When taking out the central waste wood, it's a good idea to purposely leave a pimple in the centre. If this is done from the first indent cut, it will give a precise indication of how deep your last pass went and help avoid the platter bottom getting too thin.
Check for levelness with a ruler (if there is room) or else with a short block of wood you are confident is flat.
Shave off the pimple just before the final cut.

With the lathe at rest, start sanding along the grain using a fresh/new piece of abrasive supported with a block to flatten out the inevitable irregularities. Then, with the lathe speed much reduced (to avoid excess heat and clogging the abrasive), sand while keeping the block moving. Should the abrasive ever be held still with the lathe turning, it is inevitable for scratch circles to appear in the piece.
Work through the grits (changing turn direction if available) and after every other grit, switch the lathe off and finish by hand along the grain.

To finish the back, remove the Ring/MDF and reverse the piece into cole jaws or whatever your preferred method of reverse turning.
If you used hot glue, be careful with any remaining traces as it can be quite 'grabby'.  A gentle pull cut normally clears the surface well.
If no foot is planned, level off remembering to slow the gouge head movement nearing the centre.
Cross check with a ruler although a marginal central dip would be acceptable.
If a foot is planned then proceed as you did with the front indentation.
Use abrasives as described above.

Turning a Platter
Using a test piece of Ash (his chosen wood for this piece), Paul had compared two ways of ebonising in readiness for decorating; that is by 'burning' or by spraying 'lacquer'. Paul found that burning resulted in the Ash bleeding some of the surface black down into the wood resulting in a muddy finish when he cut through to the underneath. However, the sprayed surface showed a sharp contrast when cut, particularly with his pale Ash.

The platter's rim was shaped and sanded much as for the plate above.
The outer edge was ebonized with the spray while the centre wood was still in place, in order to prevent overspray getting onto a finished surface.
The chosen pattern was applied using a Proxxon V-shaped carving gouge to create grooves - this method is a lot quicker and produces a smoother finish rather than trying to manually cut grooves with a mallet and chisel.
The round flower centres were produced with a ball carbide cutter in a Dremel.

The leaves and flowers were painted on with a small flat brush.
Paul used Jo Sonja's iridescent paints (other producers : Chestnut, Arteza, Pebeo) which become vivid colours when against a dark background.
But be warned, when squeezed out onto a pale surface, all the colours will look unbelievably identical creamy splodges. So do make sure you remember/label each splodge with its actual colour. Also, very little is needed to cover a lot. On the night, Paul found he had wasted more than he had used.
Finally, the solid colour of the flower centre was a yellow acrylic.

It took at least 20 minutes for all the paints to dry sufficiently for a coat of clear acrylic gloss lacquer to be applied to seal and protect the decoration.
After being left to dry overnight, the platter's waste wood and back was turned and finished as described above for the plate.

(click for close up view)

<Competition Results>

(photos by Mark Codling & Paul Reeves)
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September 2021 - Demo 1
 Treen Hand-Held Mirror with Paul Reeves
Thursday, 16th September 2021 at MWCC Club Night


Treen is a generic name for small - handmade - functional - household object - made of wood. Treen is the 'Old English' word for "of the tree" and used by all until 'mass production' brought about lower prices and gradually, modern wood alternatives.
Old treen tends to be obvious from a look underneath the piece.  To earn a living, the carver/turner had to work so quickly that very little of what's not seen ever got touched. Speed of production usually meant the worker didn't need many gouges. Nowadays, production is invariably for the pleasure of working wood and the creative satisfaction of making something useful.
'Treenware' covers a multitude of sins. Toys, tools, moulds, practical or humorous gadgets etc; but treen is distinct from furniture making.
Below are a few examples :


For the demonstration, Paul elected to turn a 4" Hand-Held Mirror out of Yew in two parts; ie the mirror surround being face plate turned and the handle being spindle turned.

As the mirror surround was to be decorative on both faces, Paul wanted to avoid any chuck recesses.  An approximately 6" diameter by " thick round of Yew with an attractive grain was prepared with a hole in the edge to receive the handle spindle (this procedure needed care to get the hole drilled precisely lined up centrally). It was then carpet taped to a base plate to fit the chuck.
A parting tool was used to mark the exact width of the mirror before taking out the centre leaving a flat surface for where the edge of the mirror could be glued.  The rest of the centre was carefully removed to over half depth (to reduce the final weight) but would still allow the back face to be about 4 or 5mm thick when finished.
Paul commented that using small tools for this job was a good way to improve one's gouge technique as lots of small cuts are needed.
The outer edge of the surround was shaped keeping in mind the need to copy that same shape from the other face.
Paul highlighted that when using abrasives or buffing Yew pieces, they are prone to getting too hot very quickly, which would lead to cracking or splitting. This is avoided by reducing downward pressure; regularly clearing the dust off your abrasive (eg with a small piece of carpet); dusting off between grits using a brush or tack cloth.
The face was then treated with sander sealer prior to decorating with a texturing tool and wax filler. (Various texturing techniques are to be found in the Archive <HERE>)

Paul had decided to use his Decorating Elf with a Ball Cutter and gold paste wax/gilt cream to in-fill.
The Elf was used to apply crisp surface cuts to reach beneath the sander sealer.  The patterns were subsequently framed within outline indents and a burnishing/bronze wired brush applied to remove the fibres thrown up by the cutter.
A generous coat of embellishing paste was applied evenly over the textured areas and allowed to dry a bit before the excess was removed.  Paul first used a paper wipe moistened with white spirits to loosen the paste before using a clean paper wipe across the line of indents.  If this had been wiped along the indents, it would likely remove most of the paste.

(click 'Front Face' for close up view)

The surround was removed from its base plate and the current depth in the middle was measured to plan how many millimetres the back face needed to have removed to leave a 4 to 5mm wall thickness. The piece now needed to be mounted for the back face to be completed.  The simplest method would have been to use a chuck to expand against the mirror rim, but the available chuck was not large enough so the base plate was adapted as a Jamb Chuck by turning out a spigot that just fitted the mirror rim and secured with a few daubs of hot glue.

Once the glue had hardened, the back face was turned away to the calculated wall thickness followed by the outer edge made to match its opposite side.  Abrasives were used along the grain with the same precautions of dealing with Yew wood as above. Sander sealer applied and the piece decorated in sympathy with the front face.

An appropriately sized spindle handle was fashioned & decorated as above before gluing into the hole originally prepared in the mirror surround.

(click for close up view)

(photos by Mark Codling, Rick Patrick & Paul Reeves)

The September Competition was set for a turned example of piece(s) of treen.

<Competition Results>

<to top>

January 2020 - Demo 5
Spindle & Face Plate Turned
with Paul Reeves
Thursday, 16th January 2020 at MWCC Club Night

Three Legged Stool

This Competition is to create a piece which combines spindle driven work with face plate / chuck driven work.
This invariably results in two (or more) pieces of wood turned separately and finish up joined together.
Effectively, some will be turned along the grain, the rest will be turned across the grain.

This makes for a very broad range of designs.
Below are a few examples :

For the demonstration, Paul elected to turn a three-legged stool out of well-dried spalted Beech; ie the legs being spindle turned and the seat being face plate turned.
A roughly rounded seat had been band sawed from a plank and 5 blobs of hot glue were used to attach a MDF face plate to the intended seat top. The MDF had been prepared with a shaped hole to fit chuck jaws under expansion which allowed the roughed-out seat edge to be rounded out, the under-seat squared off and mortise centres carefully drawn at 120 to each other about 2" in from the edge. (
If these were inaccurate, when the mortises were being drilled at about 12 inward incline, the seat would not have been level). The underside was also hollowed out to fit expanding jaws for turning the upper surface but leaving enough centre wood to support a tailstock for finishing the underside.

Paul explained that he liked stool leg tenons to go about an inch into their mortise; but without some trickery, this would make the seat look very heavy. The deception is achieved by bevelling/coving the under-edge to leave enough thickness for the leg sockets. Weight can be further reduced by hollowing out underneath between the legs.


After the underside had been sanded with the lathe on, followed by sanding along the grain with the lathe off through the various grits, the MDF plate was prized off and the worst of the hot glue removed by hand before being remounted in the chuck to work on the seat upper surface.
If using a gouge to remove the last of the glue, be aware that a push cut can result in a 'dig in' as the glue residue might snag the tool tip. A better method would be to use a pull shear cut.

Now a decision has to be made; are we making a side table (needing a flat top) or a stool (with a slight dimple to improve comfort)?
This was to be a stool so a gouge rounded off the top outer edge to prevent a sharp edge under the sitter's thigh; and a gentle indent was turned.
The top was finished by sanding through the various grits, stopping to sand along the grain, inspecting, brushing all dust off before reversing the lathe direction with the next grit.
The piece now had to be remounted in either cole jaws or else between a tailstock and a grip pad up against an MDF face plate. This allowed removing the chuck jaw bevels and to finish hollowing out the centre of the underside.
Care must be taken with regard to how deep to hollow out. Beech does not turn well when thin!


It was now time for spindle turning.
With 3 identical legs to produce, it is helpful to make a 'story stick' using a piece of wood with nails (or holes for an awl to poke through) to delineate the overall length and where significant highs or lows will be on the finished piece.  Paul favours a small rectangular stick with appropriate drilled holes for an awl to make an accurate mark when placed upon the tool rest while against the mounted wood.

His design for these legs was a baseball bat shape with a hemispherical foot and a simple straight taper into the tenon, without leaving a shoulder (which would be difficult to achieve without appearing unsightly at the inclined joint between leg and seat).  Tonight's legs just needed a Story Stick with a bottom end where the foot starts, a start point for the half round foot, a start point for the tenon and an end point of the tenon.

Having marked his spindle, Paul explained he found that a slightly oversized spigot is better formed at the tailstock end using a parting tool. He then angled his long tool rest to parallel the hemisphere start and the tenon start marks as a useful guide for the required taper to fade into the tenon.  When trimming down the taper with the tool rest at an equal distance, remember the need to gradually lift the gouge handle as the leg's diameter gets smaller.

In order to leave room for glue, Paul finished off the tenon to a loose fit with a chamfer to aid assembly.
Traditionally, a bus ticket was used to take up the slack on an old stool where the legs had shrunk with age or use, for example, in the milk parlour!

(photos by Mark Codling, Ian Wright & Paul Reeves)

The January Competition was set for a turned piece(s) comprising of a combination of cross-grain with along-grain turning in each completed piece.

<Competition Results>

<to top>


Paul Reeves
Demonstration of Off-Centre Turning
Thu, 20th February 2020 at MWCC Club Night



Eccentric turning can produce elegant and aesthetically pleasing pieces, for example :-
    Polygon Shaped Spindles
    Twisted Shaped Spindles
    Oval Tool Handles
    Cabriole Leg


Rounded Square Spindle

Both ends of the work piece were marked out with a centre-point and straight lines joining the centres (not the corners) of opposite sides.
Then a circle is drawn such that where it crosses the straight lines, these become the contact points for the drive & tail centres.
Care must be taken to ensure they are not too close to the edge of the finished piece or else the centres will not have enough grip to support.
With a compass centred on these four new points, draw arcs of the same radius to guide where the final edges will end up.
(The greater the radius, the more pronounced the angles at the corners will be)
Finally, number the four arc centres of one end (1 - 4) clockwise and once you've identified the corresponding number 1 on the opposite end, number these arc centres anticlockwise!
It will save quite a muddle later on.

Ensure the lathe speed is set low and any tool rest is well out of the way before mounting the work piece.
● a Spring Steb DRIVE Centre &
● a Spring Steb or Revolving Ring TAIL Centre,
mount the work piece onto the lathe with drive & tail points on the arc centres marked 1.

The work will be offset so check that it clears the tool rest when the piece is rotated by hand.
With it out of balance you need to carefully adjust the lathe speed up until just before vibration starts to intensify.
Remember to stop the lathe if you need to readjust the tool rest.
Smoothly take off the one side with a roughing gouge.
(It's important not to push the gouge into the piece; just along the piece with the handle down to keep the cut gentle)
Check for a level surface as you turn away down to near the final edge marks drawn on the ends.
Sand using abrasives on a block just gently kissing as the lathe slowly turns.
Finish off each grit along the grain with the lathe stopped.

Repeat with centres marked 2, 3 and 4.
You might need to re-mount some of the centres to trim faces straight, even & level.



Twisted Spindle

The ends were marked out as above with the sole exception that once one end is marked 1 to 4, the corresponding number 1 on the other end must be one hole further round.
Once again, one end must be marked 1 - 4 clockwise while the other end marked anticlockwise.

Thereafter, work as above to smoothly turn off each side.
With eccentric turning, speed is your friend because the untouched section moves pass the gouge tip quicker so there is less tendency for the gouge to 'fall inwards' before the touched side comes around again.
A shadow will appear at the top of the piece; you should work to get that shadow parallel to the lathe beam.

Sanding with the lathe stopped may be more effective with applying the grits along the grain.
You might need to re-mount some of the centres to trim faces evenly.



Oval Handle

The reduced curves of the flatter faces will need a larger radius than the radius used from the centre of the work piece.
This may cause the offset centres to be near or even outside the finished cut.
Consequently, both ends of the work piece must be left uncut with enough length to ensure there is sufficient strength to support the drive & tail centres.
Remember to allow for this when selecting work piece length.

Marking up in this case benefits from drawing straight lines from the diagonals (to find the overall centre); draw a circle (which will become the widest dimension).
Then mark 2 arc centres equidistant from the work piece centre such that the drive & tail centres will have enough support up into the corner of the piece.
Draw in the arcs within the previous circle (to guide where the final edges will end up).
Take care that your centre marks on the other end correspond to the same diagonal!

The piece was mounted between centres and a parting tool used to delineate the ends of the finished handle to the depth of the widest dimension.
With a roughing gouge, a cylinder was formed to include any shaping required (eg curves for a handgrip) using the parting tool depth marks as a guide to the minimum size to turn away.
The cylinder was sanded through the grits.
The parting tool was then used again to reduce the spigot end-delineations to the depth of the guide arc on the end of the piece.

It was now mounted using the offset centres.
The same principles of tool rest positioning, lathe speed and smooth tool use were applied as highlighted above.
The newly reduced sized spigots showing up in the shadow of the turning piece now acted as a guide to how much to turn away each face.
The piece was sanded using abrasives on a block just gently kissing as the lathe slowly turned;
each grit finished off along the grain with the lathe stopped.
Then repeated using the other offset centres.
Be prepared to re-mount to one/both of the offset centres to get the faces even.



Cabriole Leg

First, we need to think of what happens when we offset in opposite directions from the overall centre.
Imagine a block of wood revolving and the shadow resulting will resemble the drawings here.
In figure 1, the amount of opposite offset at either end is the same;
In figure 2, there is a larger offset at the bottom.
The red line defines where there is no shadow and the piece appears stationary.
For want of a better name of something on a leg, let's call this the 'knee'.
You can see that the greater the difference in offsets at each end, the 'knee' moves closer towards the smaller offset end.
When turned away from the knee downwards, this will produce an elegant shape for a cabriole leg.

Whether the cabriole leg is for a seat or table top, its helpful to leave the top few inches as a square to aid attachment.
Feet are traditionally set on the diagonal so they face part forward and part outwards & look more stable.
Marking up the ends involves drawing in the diagonals to find the overall centre.
A very small offset should be marked on the top but on the bottom end, mark a larger offset on the same diagonal but the opposite side of the overall centre.
Remember to make a note of these offset distances for making matching legs.

Mounted between overall centres, Paul used a skew to cut a 'V' about 2" from the planned top end and deep enough to mark all four edges.
A roughing gouge turned away a cylinder from the 'V' cut down to the bottom end.
A bead was formed with a skew, spindle gouge or beading tool to tidy the V under the top square.
The planned bottom end was marked out for :-
● where the leg would touch the floor,
● widest part of the bead that the foot would stand on,
● widest part of the foot.

The piece was mounted between offset centres.
Working from the 'knee' towards the bottom, Paul turned away the shadow as far down as the widest foot pencil mark.
The piece was reverted back to centrally mounted to form the foot and the floor bead immediately below it.
The foot area and the knee areas were sanded as described previously.
Then while mounted between the offset centres, the knee to foot areas were sanded.


(photos by Mark Codling)             <to top>

John Bolt
Demonstration of Podlet turning
Thu, 19th December 2019 at MWCC Club Nigh

Podlets are a name generally given to small thin wooden flower-like structures.

The choicest wood to select is wet/green, is of reasonable length to enable a degree of bend of the stalk; most with light or dark colours work well.  Natural edges look fine but it would not be a problem if all/some is missing (as explained below).
Another consideration is that the base be heavy enough to stably support the finished piece.


Bear in mind :-
● The piece will start off being supported between centres and that both ends will need to be squared off.
● The roundest end is better for the petal & supported in the tailstock; the drive end will eventually be trimmed as per your chuck spigot for supporting while hollowing out the petal and turning the stalk.
● Ideally, for strength reasons, you want to avoid the pith anywhere inside the finished stalk. Choosing a piece with an off-centred pith (eg horizontal branch with a large area of reaction wood above) would be ideal but otherwise, purposely plan to offset the centres such that the pith lies about 10mm from the stalk and so will end up being cut away.
● The tailstock will be removed for hollowing the petal but needs to support the piece when turning the stalk;
so a ring or cone live revolving centre would be the best to use.

While in between centres, start off at a slow turning speed as the piece will probably be out of balance.
Keeping the bark on the top end of the petal, even off the rest of the piece, which will gradually allow you to up the speed.
Start a shallow hollowing of the petal & form a spigot for your chuck at the drive end.
Mount on your chuck & continue hollowing with a smaller gouge (to avoid excessive vibration without the support of the tailstock) to a depth of at least an inch.

Once the inside is completed, finish with abrasives before continuing with the stalk & base.
Wet/Green wood tends to become fluffy and clogs the abrasive - problem reduced with wet sanding (i.e. dip abrasive into water)

Tailstock now returned into position but with some matting material to protect the contact area within the petal.
Trim back the bark towards the lip of the petal; if one side of the lip ends up too thick (perhaps due to avoiding the pith), an option is to reduce the protruding edge back into the round and then decorate the edge with a pyrographic tip.

Working towards the headstock about an inch at a time, turn out the stalk and sand finish as you work along while the strength of the piece is supported from the drive end.  John used a homemade Velcro-ed piece of plywood with various grits in order to even out the stalk as he progressed, making sure (where the stalk was particularly thin) to support the opposite side with his fingers.

Plan ahead where the piece will be parted off and thus where the start of the base should be.
The piece will look better with the base being a smaller diameter than the petal.
Reduce the base to desired diameter and shape to blend the curves.

Wet wood will naturally dry out and distort the piece.
For a more controlled process, one can microwave the piece with a heavy microwave-safe mug/bowl resting on the stalk.
After the one time he tried this method & the lady in the house expressed concerns of smells from the kitchen, John now uses steam from a kettle on a gas ring applied for about 4 or 5 minutes via a hose with a split in one end.

There is a helpful video on line <HERE>

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Paul Reeves
Demonstration of Texturing
Thu, 21st November 2019 at MWCC Club Night


When Paul asked his audience what they regarded as texturing, a few voiced it meant spoiling a lovely flat surface!
Paul had in mind something like, "Enhance a surface with interest or appeal." 
Not only visually but (perhaps more importantly) in a tactile way.

Putting on Texture improves a plain grain wood with contrast.  For example, applying a band of indentations about an inch below the outside rim of a bowl (where one's hands will invariably grip the piece) adds to the enjoyment.

There are four ways of applying texture :
● Both held tool and piece stationary;
● With the piece turning and a simple tool on the tool rest;
● Using a rotary tool with the piece held still;
● With the piece turning and using a rotary tool.


It is not necessary to have lots of texturing tools.
Simple Tools include :
    Ball Pein Hammer
    Straight Metal Bar with a domed head (Tip: avoid any with sharp edges)
    Hole Punch (Tip: smaller punches make colour tints look better)
    40 Grit Abrasive! (Tip: but keep it moving)
More Sophisticated Hand Tools :
    Thread Chaser
    Chatter Tool
    Coarse Hand Knurl
    Sorby Texturing & Spiralling Tools
    Henry Taylor Decorating Elf
Power Tools include :
    Angle Grinder (eg Proxxon)
    Electric Drill (eg Dremel)
    Power Carver

Techniques :
With the percussive tools, indent edges should meet while flat areas between indents be kept as small as possible. It is hard to be random but for the best effect, all indents should be kept of similar size and the same should apply to the spaces between. To keep depressions even, side grain areas will require slightly softer hits while end grain areas will require slightly heavier.  Hole Punches & Metal Bars tend to need harder hits, particularly with harder woods.
    When applying a band of texture, it is helpful to define borders for the band with grooves.  This is achieved with a round skew, a parting tool or even the point of a gouge; all placed so as to mask any marks outside the originally intended border line.  Any wayward indents remaining outside might be recovered with judicial use of woodturners spittle!

    A change of the lathe speed will result in different effects. With powered tools, the higher the lathe speed, the less regular the texturing while with the piece turning slowly or stationary, the cleaner the effect.  The opposite applies with the speed of the cutting tool - the faster the speed of the drill, normally the neater the finish.

A common decorative texture is Fluting.
These are best created using powered tools with accessories such as Ball Cutter, Chain Cutter, Flat Disc or Power Carver.
If applied with the lathe turning - present the tool in line to the rotation of the piece.
If applied with the lathe off - move the tool in the direction against the cutter's rotation.
The Power Carver tends to produce the smoothest fluting.

Once your texturing has been applied, you will probably need to tidy up the edges and clear away the 'hairy' bits.
Whether using a bristle brush by hand or a rotary tool with a brush attachment, move the brush in the same direction as the line of pattern.
A Blow Torch can be used to burn off hairy bits but should only be used if leaving as burnt decoration or if colouring with something which will cover up the inevitable scorch marks.

(photos by Mark Codling)             <to top>


August 2019 - Demo 3
Working Plywood with Ed Walker

It was surprising to learn that the Egyptians used plywood some 3500 years ago; the Royal Navy used several laminated layers of hand-sawn veneers at the end of the 18th Century; and in 1847 Sweden, Immanuel Nobel (father of Alfred) realised that several layers of wood bonded together was stronger than a single thick layer and subsequently, he invented the rotary lathe to exploit plywood's industrial potential.

Ed went on to describe the types of plywood in increasing price : Softwood made from Cedar, Firs or Spruces; Hardwood from Oak, Beech or Mahogany; Tropical from wood as the name suggests; Aircraft grade incorporating adhesives resistant to heat and humidity (most memorably used in the WW2 De Havilland Mosquito aircraft); Decorative grade made from thin veneers of attractive woods; and Marine grade made from tropical hardwood with few defects and waterproof glue.

It was startling to see how many holes and flaws occurred within the cheaper grades, all requiring copious amounts of superglue and wood dust to stabilize. It seemed as if the better quality plywood grades wouldn't be much more expensive than the Softwood plus all the superglue!

Ed discussed particular aspects to consider when working with plywood :-
Let your glue have plenty of time to really set before turning, eg overnight;
Coloured plastics may be used as laminates but roughen the plastic sheets for the superglue to adhere;
If using a doughnut ring with your chuck, glue an appropriately sized sheet of ply under the ring for a flat & secure contact;
If using a tail stock, avoid a pointed centre splitting the laminates of the ply by either gluing a sacrificial piece of wood/ply for the pointed centre to engage or else a ring type revolving centre;
Gouges will blunt quickly but shear scraping works well;
With plastic as laminates, watch buffing speed as too much heat will soften it;
Axminster supply resin-impregnated coloured wood veneers.

The September 2019 Competition was set for a turned piece(s) comprising at least 50% of a ply component.

<Competition Results>

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October 2019 - Demo 4
Handles & Feet with Graham Turner




Handles & feet on wood-turned pieces benefit from being curved themselves.
Apart from carving, which is not a technique many woodturners have mastered, the Turner's solutions were twofold :-
turning a hollow form, then band-sawing into segments to produce several identical pieces;
(taking a leaf out of the last demonstration with Ed Walker), creating a laminated piece and steaming into shape against a prepared shape former.


A practical wood for steaming is Ash.  Graham had built up laminates from 2.5mm Ash veneers (referred to as Constructional Veneers) interspersed with 0.7mm Wenge veneer for contrasting colour.
Photos 2 & 3 below demonstrate two differently shaped formers.
Both produce flattened curves, but if desired, could be mounted between centres and their side edges rounded off.
Graham's example was a flat offset base (as in photo 3) with a cylindrical handle subsequently rounded off between its centres (as in photo 4).
Great care must be taken to ensure the flat base doesn't foul the tail stock while turning the handle.
The turner's fingers are also vulnerable so Graham prefers to put his guiding hand under his gouge rather than over the tool rest.

Steaming was accomplished in Mrs Turner's Vegetable Steamer for about 5 minutes immediately before bending and clamping against it's shape former.
(It wasn't made clear whether Mrs Turner was aware of this usage but Graham did wash it out afterwards; so that will be all right then!)

Graham then demonstrated a method for producing feet for a piece.
Always enjoying humour in his turning, Graham took the literal sense of feet.
Starting with a piece of Walnut with a hole through one end using a 25mm Forstner, he turned a lip at the tail end before hollowing out to leave about a 10mm thick wall, (photos 5 & 6).
Using an indexed chuck to delineate every 30
so that a bandsaw could cut an individual leg (photo 7), a parting tool cut was made just above the depth of the hollow so that each segment could be easily broken off the round, (photo 8).

Each 'foot' was placed between a ring drive centre (for better drive support) & tail stock to shape the leg muscle
A microplane was used to round off the toe & heel areas before back to the bandsaw in order to form individual toes, (photo 9)


A similar process can be employed for making handles that connect at both ends.
Photo 10 shows the various stages.
With careful design, this system allows for the connecting ends to line up flush with the outside of your turned hollowed vessel to help with a larger gluing surface.

Other options allow different handle shapes; for example, double joint at the top with a single connect at the bottom, (see photo 11)

It is important to consider the direction of the wood grain in order to preserve strength.
Handles designed with large curves are likely to have a weak section of end grain somewhere while shallow curved handles with grain from one end to the other will have more integral strength.
Choice of close grain woods like Walnut, Maple also contribute to strength.

The November Competition was set for a turned piece(s) comprising an attached handle and/or foot.

<Competition Results>

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