Click subject below for report

ANIMALS with Paul Reeves
BIRD BOX with Paul Reeves
BOWL from a BLANK with Paul Reeves
with Paul Reeves
with Paul Reeves
with Paul Reeves
with Paul Reeves
with Graham Turner
with Andy Ogilvie
KITCHEN ITEMS with Paul Reeves
with Paul Reeves
MIXED SOLID MEDIA with Andy Ogilvie
with Paul Reeves
with Paul Reeves
with Paul Reeves
with Ed Walker
with John Bolt
with Paul Reeves
SPHERE TURNING with Paul Reeves
SPINDLE revision with Paul Reeves
with Andy Ogilvie
with Andy Ogilvie
TEXTURING with Paul Reeves
TOOTHPICK HOLDER  with Paul Reeves
with Andy Ogilvie
  with Paul Reeves

Click subject above for report

Mixed Solid Media with Andy Ogilvie
Thu 20th June at MWCC Club Night 




SOLID MEDIA refers to different materials that can be worked.
These include :
 soft metal
 epoxy resin
 Milliput epoxy putty

A piece of wood with just paint, pyrography or made out of 2 or more different types of wood doesn't strictly satisfy the criteria of
MIXED SOLID MEDIA, whereas, two or more combinations of the above examples does, whether used within the body of the piece, or as a decoration.
For example, Andy had used
 Perspex as a lid to his wooden kitchen Salt Pot to keep moisture out while able to see what was in that particular pot;
 turned Corian to enhance an opening;
 napkin rings decorated with Milliput;
 a Laburnum urn decorated with brass rivets.

(click for close up view)

(click for close up view)

In précis, Mixed Solid Media pieces can be :-
 ♦ COMBINATIONS of the above media or kits (egg timers, clocks, pens etc);
 ♦ DECORATIONS of solid media applied to a piece;
 ♦ INTEGRATED MATERIALS which form a blank for subsequent turning.

This demonstration will give more detail of how to achieve some of the above processes.
Andy warned that using open-grained wood had difficulty in maintaining a sharp edge between wood and putty/metal alloy once the piece had been sanded back to a smooth finish, because the slurry had a tendency to penetrate into the wood grain resulting in a cloudy grey effect near the joint between the media.
For his demonstration, he had chosen Boxwood.
Andy's basic message was, "Don't be put off with experimenting with these various materials just because they are unfamiliar. They are all manageable."

  Milliput Epoxy Putty
Milliput comes in 2-pack blocks of putty in black, yellow grey, silver grey, terracotta and superfine white, (the latter can be used for creating very fine details).  In preparation for applying his Milliput around the body of his box, Andy used a Parting Tool to create a recess about 3-4mm deep and about 5mm wide, although he deliberately countersunk the sides to be wider at the bottom of the recess in order to help secure the putty in position once cured. After cleaning the surfaces, he applied a coat of sanding sealer which would help keeping the wood clean with a simple wipe.

When new, the putty is malleable although it will be less so with age after opening.
   Top Tip   :  If putty has become stiff with age, try working each block separately while under the stream of warm air from a hairdryer but be aware that heating reduces the curing time and hence less time to manoeuvre into situ. Adding a little water can also soften the paste.

Having selected equal quantities of both parts, Andy mixed them well together before rolling out into a thin sausage and pressed into the recess while aiming to minimise gaps/holes. There was no need to skimp on the amount used because it cleans off easily and used for the next recess.  Andy often uses different width of recesses to create interest.

Depending upon temperature and age of putty, it would take about 2 - 3 hours for the Milliput to 'cook' and harden off enough before one could turn the piece with a gouge or sand back. Milliput can be readily shaped by gouge and particularly receptive to sanding.

Andy also described other effects that could be produced using different coloured putty like the black and white chequered feature shown below.


  Soft Metal
Andy had brought along some "Wood's Metal" bars of bismuth/lead/tin/cadmium alloy which have a surprising low melting temperature of 70ºC (not much hotter than solder) and would melt in a spoon with a hot air gun, particularly when the alloy bar is cut into tiny pieces.  He warned against using solder as it tended to be difficult to pour without solidifying before it filled up all the space and it doesn't polish up as well as the alloy.  Pewter is a suitable alternative but requires higher temperature to become molten.

As we are relying upon gravity to help us, trying to cast a metal ring around the side of the box is a difficult process. However, flat surfaces like a box lid are perfect.
So while the lid section of his box was still connected to its body on the lathe, he prepared as he had done for the putty by forming a countersunk recess into the end of the piece but then added a slight bevel to the edges of the recess; these bevels encourage the molten alloy to fall into the recess.
After cleaning the surfaces, he again treated with a coat of sanding sealer.

With the lid now set flat, the chips of alloy were placed in a spoon and heated with a hot air gun until molten about 45 seconds later when it was poured into the recess. Enough alloy was dropped in for the meniscus to just bulge above the prepared bevel. This was to allow for any dipping as the alloy cooled & solidified. Dependent upon the volume of alloy used, it should be ready to work within 10 to 30 minutes. The aim was to minimise wastage and to have very little to turn away with a gouge. Before any sanding, another coat of sanding sealer was applied and subsequent  abrasives were carefully used lightly with fine grits only & at a slow speed to avoid frictional heat re-melting the alloy.


  Integrated Resin
A quick Google search for "resin for beginners kit" will show there are many suppliers out there, which might seem daunting but can be rewarding with a little perseverance.  There are 3 types of resin; Epoxy, Polyester & Polyurethane but epoxy is best for gaining experience.  Many starting sets are for thin projects but woodturning projects tend to require several centimetres thickness, which you will need to consider before buying.
They all require mixing of the resin with a hardener. The deeper the cure mixture, the more that stirring and higher curing temperature can create bubbles which would detract from the finished article.  To overcome this problem, some suppliers sell specific epoxies & hardeners for different depths while some guide you to different ratios of resin to hardener. Others explain how to remove bubbles using heat guns or even toothpicks!  One method includes using pressure pots that will compress air bubbles to sizes so small that you will not be able to see them, in order to achieve a high quality clear casting at the cost of several hundreds of pounds Sterling!
Not surprisingly, the duration of the curing process is variable from maybe 10 - 24 hours so it is always best to leave the turning for at least a day.

"How to make a combination of wood and resin blank for turning" is best done by asking Google that very phrase and watching one of their helpful videos.
The basis is :
 Prepping the mould with the wood;
 Put in some means for the chuck jaws or screw chuck to grip;
 Tape the wood down so that it doesn't float away when the resin is poured in;
 Mix the resin and hardener;
 Stir in colour/sparkle as desired before pouring;
 and leave for at least 24 hours.

            (click for close up view)

Next day, you should have something like Andy's photo above; the Polyfilla tub acted as the mould and he has already used the lathe to create a new spigot for the base of the bowl whilst mounted in the jaws using the wooden spigot partially buried in the resin. Andy had found that warming up the hardener/catalyst seemed to help it mix with the resin more efficiently and he advocated leaving the mix still for 15 mins to give bubbles a chance to dissipate.  He had added a blue tint and some sparkles.

Much of the initial sanding of the resin piece was with a 50mm padded drill attachment but after fine abrasives and spray lacquer to finish, it looked like this ...

 (click for close up view)

The July 2024 Competition was set to turn any piece of combination, decorative or integrated styles that incorporates two or more Mixed Solid Media

 <Competition Results

A Cautionary Tale - Having seen some bamboo stalks encased in resin on You-Tube, Andy told of his attempt to incorporate this idea into one of his projects.  To the left, you can see the pot within which he had arranged a circle of bamboo to be set in some resin, somewhat mimicking an orange. After allowing to cure and fitted into a chuck, Andy experienced a catastrophic failure when upon starting the lathe, the resin failed to hold the whole piece together and the orange suddenly broke up into 'segments'.  You might spot in the photograph that some significantly large pieces detached themselves and indeed there is one piece still in the workshop somewhere he cannot find. The reason is uncertain but possibly a combination of excess moisture within the bamboo and the thinness of resin bridging the edge to the centre. As Andy is accustomed to do whenever he starts turning a new piece, particularly with an irregular shape on the lathe, he was wearing his face shield, which did exactly the job as its name implies.

(photos by Rick Patrick & Andy Ogilvie)
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May 2024
Spindle Revision with Paul Reeves
Thu 16th May at MWCC Club Night


To clarify, you use Spindle tools when all the wood grain of your piece is running parallel to the lathe bed. 
Spindle tools include :
    Roughing Gouges (rarely used full name is SPINDLE Rouging Gouge);
    Spindle Gouges;
    Parting Tools;
    Skew Chisels;
    Form Tools;

 Roughing Gouges are designed to be used only for spindle turning and NOT on bowl turning.   They are tough enough to take the knocks required to turn a square into a cylinder so long as you're careful with how much you bite in one go. Taking a large bite will blunt the tool edge quickly; taking too much could bend or break off the gouge. This is because they are of relatively thin, forged steel and often tang-mounted into their handles and despite their name, cannot survive such rough usage!
They come in various sizes but all are best used with the bevel ground to 40º - 45º; a common mistake is to sharpen the bevel at steeper angles which will end up chopping the corners off badly and tearing the wood.
Use with the handle down and move the tool along with arms and body together while rocking sideways on your feet. The toolrest hand can deflect shavings away from the face.  Too much down pressure results in an uneven jerking cut; moving too quickly normally produces a spiral finish.
Next to consider is with the gouge perpendicular to the piece, the surface getting cut is arriving straight onto the gouge and getting levered upwards which leads to a less than smooth tool finish. This is helpful for quick removal but for the final pass, holding the gouge so that it is angled about 45º from the perpendicular, the cutting edge is presented like a skew which will now leave a shiny smooth finish. With a careful steady hand, you will produce a straight surface. The only other shapes to make on a spindle are 'beads' and 'coves' with .....

 Spindle Gouges. A bead is started by just rotating and rolling the gouge anticlockwise along the toolrest for the left side and similarly clockwise to form the right side of the bead. These movements will only cut an arc equal to its bevel angle. To cut beyond that arc, the handle has to be moved and lifted (because the diameter has become smaller) in the same direction and in coordination with the rotation so that the gouge tip and bevel end up perpendicular at the desired edge of the bead. This means the handle end has overtaken the tip.
For a cove, start with the gouge on its side, flute towards the intended cove and use your fingers on the toolrest to balance & guide as you rotate the gouge to end flute up at the bottom of the cove. As with the bead, the movement requires coordination of slide across toolrest with rotation, handle descending and when approaching the bottom, a conscious gentle push into the wood for the bevel to stop the tip from digging in and producing a pronounced line where the opposite cove side ended. Tools with long handles normally provide better tip control - for every inch the handle moves the tip around the toolrest hand, the short tool affects the tip movement far more than a long one. However, with beads and coves requiring so much hand steering, a short tool makes it easier to manipulate without your body getting in the way. Unfortunately, if the tool's flute is short because of the metal has been ground back so many times, it may be short but you are probably cutting with high speed steel rather than the hardened which keeps its sharpness for longer use.
This gouge can also produce a straight surface by using your fingers as a resistance or brake while your handle hand steers the tip so that it remains at the same angle and distance over the toolrest with the cut running level. When cutting towards the left, It is important for the flute to be angled towards your left shoulder such that the cutting edge is just left & lower of tip centre; likewise when cutting towards the right, use right shoulder and just right & lower of tip centre.

 Parting Tools are regularly used to accurately block out a smaller cylinder guided by callipers. They come in various shapes in an attempt to avoid friction when cutting wood which leads to swelling up and binding/grabbing on the sides of the tool. A is diamond shaped rib to reduce friction; B is fish-tail, an old design with the disadvantage that although the blade reduces width from the tip, once you've ground back an inch or so to keep it sharp, the tool loses it wasp waist;
is a straight-sided tool that doesn't like cutting much depth at full width so either make two overlapping shallow cuts down to the required depth or else cut the once while wiggling the handle which will marginally widen the cut and avoid binding; D is a narrow Parting Tool, which are essential for turning boxes.
(click photo for close up view)

 Skew Chisels come to the rescue of a clean finishing cut across the end grain of spindles. Parting tools tend to tear out the end grain unless the wood is particularly close. With a Skew, you must only take off thin bites at a time so that the removed wood is a thin disk being skimmed away. Skews can also cut along the grain with a bit of care.  Production turners of yore and the Seiffen wooden Christmas Decoration turners of Germany today used Skew Chisels for most (if not all) their shaping. Skews come in many bar shapes and widths. As most of us have missed out on the 3 year apprenticeship of Seiffen folk, the occasional user should select a small width bar which has the advantage of producing a lower rotational force in your hand than a wider bar would. At all times, you are trying to avoid the wood grabbing the cutting edge and twisting the tool out of your hands. This is best achieved by raising the toolrest so that only the lower third of the tool is in contact with the upper quadrant of the piece. In the photograph to the right, you will see that when the trailing corner edge is being well supported by the toolrest, the Skew is cutting away the wood with minimal twisting force and neither corner is in danger of getting snagged. Keeping wood contact within the green area makes the cut stable. Touching in the red area is liable to twist the bottom edge of the tool off the rest and out of control.
Another useful cut with a Skew is a V-cut to transition the square top section of a table leg (aka pommel) into the largest circle that the square timber can form by enlarging the V shape until the groove is so deep that it nearly meets at the centre of a flat side.

 Form Tools  - usually bead forming tools are fine until they are used on soft woods. When they are wriggled from side to side and the tool has cut down to near the crown of the bead, there is a likelihood of the grain to chip out on opposing sides where it was very short and parallel. The Spindle Gouge will make a better job with soft wood. The photos below show how the Bead Tool is presented to the piece, i.e. groove downwards; to help the wriggle action described above, note the outer wedge shape grind in the 2nd photo and the last shows some home-made Form Tools, although the lower is making use of the last bit of the flute so it is likely to be primarily mild steel rather than the treated hardened steel that was there when first bought.
Another tool (popular in USA) that can be used on spindles are Solid Tipped Carbide Lathe Tools although they seem to tear most of our native timbers, but good with close grain wood types.

Paul then produced a Policeman's Truncheon as an ideal project to perfect all the spindle shapes discussed above.

(photos by Rick Patrick & Paul Reeves)
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May 2024    Demo 1
Gavel with Paul Reeves
Thu 16th May at MWCC Club Night 


As there were several newcomers to the Club, Paul started off with some Revision of Spindle Work. 
An account of this subject can be found <HERE>


Honorary Member, Greta Reeves worked many years at Lymington Auctions and it became practice that her boss would arrange for a replica of his own Auctioneer's Hammer be turned as a retirement gift for long standing employees.  His original was of Cocobolo but the replicas were turned from more readily available Laburnum. This original was tactile & small enough to grip the head comfortably in his hand.  Consequently, the handle didn't have to cope with much blunt force and didn't need a strong thick connection to the head. The 3 examples below are Box, Laburnum and Mohonia.

The head and the handle are both spindle components turned separately and subsequently glued together.
Despite recent demonstrations venerating the 'Golden Ratio' of 1.618, the dimensions of these gavels are such that the handle is twice the length of the head. The length of the head was twice its own diameter.  Additionally, dividing the head into four gives a far better proportion for the two hammer faces taking a quarter of the length each, leaving the neck between them for the remaining half.

A prepared cylinder of Laburnum was mounted between centres. Paul advised against using sprung steb centres at either end as he found the sprung central point applied to end grain tended to split the piece when under tension.
He had planned this project to have a 1½" face diameter, 3" head length and a 6" handle.
He used a narrow Parting Tool to mark out the ends of the head and pencilled in the quarters between them.
Using a wide Parting Tool making half-width overlaps, Paul quickly removed waste from the neck.
Having prepared callipers to ¾" for the diameter of the neck, he used the Parting Tool to finish blocking out accurately.
As both hammer faces were to be near spherical, he pencilled in marks around the piece about ¾" from each end which is where the face would be at its maximum diameter.
He then started making bead-like cuts off the ends gradually working back towards the pencil line but leaving it visible. It was important to avoid getting the end pointy; it should look more like a puffed-up cushion. The final cuts were made while maintaining a slow, smooth and light-touch pass with good bevel contact throughout. If your hands end up moving quicker than needed, the bevel will lose contact/support and the tip will catch the wood and dig in.
The trick now was to turn the other end to match!  If you have changed hands when holding tools to work in the opposite direction from your early days of turning, you will find that very helpful in this case.

The next details were to put in a small cove centrally where the handle will go and to finish off the hammer heads from the pencilled line back towards the neck. Paul favours a small decorative feature in these beads called a quirk, which was achieved with a 2mm ridge left about 20º down from the pencil lines so that a Skew could create a shallow crisp-edged V-cut and the bead continues down to the neck. This was only a tiny detail but it certainly helped to focus attention on the heads.

One might think it more sensible to drill the hole for the handle earlier - perhaps even while the Laburnum blank was a square. However, now that the current dumbbell shaping is nearly finished, the patterns of the grain lend themselves for you to decide where to drill the hole in order to show them off to their best when the gavel is at rest on a desk. Once marked with an awl or similar, one could finish the sanding and drill the hole once removed from the lathe. For the demonstration, Paul drilled the hole on the lathe by eye using smaller drill bits as pilots and gradually building up to the final size.

Using a Skew, he decreased the supporting end nibs to about 4mm diameter which would be strong enough to hold the piece while sanding. With the lathe speed reduced to alleviate the piece overheating while sanding, Paul prefers to follow the curves by supporting abrasives underneath the piece and taking care to avoid sanding away detail and decoration by sanding the shape and not sanding to shape. Laburnum will abrade down to 1200 grit or finer with considerable success but Paul was going to finish this piece with buffing so down to 400 grit was going to be sufficient.

Another prepared cylinder of Laburnum was mounted between centres. Once again, Paul avoided using steb centres following a previous attempt turning a Mahonia cylinder down to an 8mm tenon for inserting into the head, because it split as soon as he tightened the tail stock.
He aimed to carry out all the shaping and decoration prior to weakening one end as a result of the small tenon being turned. Paul also advised that if the intended gavel was to be used while holding a longer handle rather than a grip around the head, you might want to consider reinforcing the tenon with a steel brad/nail.
He also planned to turn the piece with the tenon at the tail stock end so that when checking fit into the head, it could be easily remounted in the lathe for further turning.
The decoration was a homemade creation from an old square-ended scraper with 3 grooves made with the corner edge of a grinder wheel. This results in 3 evenly spaced and shaped tiny beads. Because he had carefully spaced the grooves relative to the width, he could easily increase those matched beads to 4 (or 40 of them if you wanted) by using a previously cut bead to fill an outer groove of the tool and guide further matching cuts.

An elegant handle is all about shape and curves. Paul used a thin Parting Tool to mark out the ends, the tenon and the diameter of a spherical shape at the bottom end. He quickly turned away the bulk to leave a rough shape before changing to a short Spindle Gouge to refine to the shape below.  Be aware that keeping the tips of narrow spindles cutting at the optimum height on an up and down surface isn't easy and needs a gentle contact pressure throughout to avoid digging in. With close grain woods like Laburnum, there will be minimal compression of the spigot so that requires starting from slightly oversized and gently approaching the necessary diameter with regular retracting of the tailstock to check the fit into the head.
When satisfied with the cut shape, start sanding up to the edge of any decoration but be careful not to wipe away small beads and sharp corners, particularly with your initial grits; they can be polished up with the edge of the finer grits when you progress to them.  Whenever sanding spindles with the lathe turning, keep the abrasive moving and keep in mind that it is sanding across the grain fibres so they will inevitably stick up. A technique to overcome this tendency is to stop the lathe and finish that grit along the grain before changing to the next. Don't sand the spigot because if it fits, you won't want it made smaller and besides, a very smooth finish doesn't help the glue to adhere to the wood.
A Skew reduced the ends with a series of enlarged V-cuts to a very small diameter (still stable because the wood is so dense) and finally parted off with a fine toothed saw aimed away from the piece so that the tiny pimple left was abraded away with the last grit used.

The head and the handle were buffed with a light touch using a buffing compound so remember to put on personal protection in order to avoid getting grit flying into your eyes. Remember to buff off a surface, not into it, or else the piece is liable to be ripped out of your hands. The final finish was some micro-crystalline wax.
When sticking the handle and head together, thought was taken to line up their grains sympathetically.

(click for closer view)


The June 2024 Competition was set to produce a Gavel

<Competition Results

(photos by Rick Patrick & Paul Reeves)
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February 2024
Three Point Bowl with Andy Ogilvie
Thu 15th Feb at MWCC Club Night 

I found it difficult to picture in my mind how to get 3 symmetric points out of a solid with 8 vertices, 12 edges and 4 sided faces but then I remembered something cubed is renown as a power of 3 and it does have 6 faces.
When Andy showed a finished 3-Point bowl alongside a perfect cube of wood, one could clearly follow that the cube had somehow to be mounted symmetrically between diagonally opposite vertices.
It was important that your starting cube of wood had 3 clean adjacent edges because a small part of those edges furthest away from their common vertex would comprise part of the finished piece.

It is possible to turn a thin walled bowl dependent upon the chosen wood.  Andy's example was of Brown Oak, which was close grained whereas an open grained wood like Ash would prove difficult.
Andy had prepared a cube of Hornbeam with each edge of 100mm. This would produce a finished piece whose points would be within a maximum 163mm diameter circle. (Ratio of edge to span = 1 : 1.63 from Trigonometry)
Having decided upon the 3 clean adjacent edges, he proceeded to saw off the tip of their common vertex in order for his tailstock to maintain a firm hold.  The opposite vertex was jammed into the headstock spindle with the aid of non-slip matting. He took care to ensure the headstock end was in its correct position by checking, using his toolrest, that his chosen 3 vertices were passing it at the same position.
 Top Tip : Once the lathe is turning, these angled edges will fade from view so be careful to keep fingers on your side of the tool rest.
Also, with it turning, you won't be able to see exactly when the gouge will start to cut so ensure that first contact is always with the gouge's bevel as you slowly move towards the piece with the handle held low. Upon contact, the bevel will make a 'bumping' noise which will suddenly dissipate when you gradually raise the handle and the gouge tip starts to cut.
Andy started turning away the 3 vertices nearest the headstock by taking thin cuts with each pass in order to avoid rip outs as each edge reached the cutting tip.  A high lathe speed always help with irregular surfaces but it is important to avoid any 'greedy' deep cuts.
His aim was to turn a smooth shape to what will become the bowl's outside, finishing in a spigot to fit his next chuck. To avoid cutting away this spigot, Andy marked his toolrest to highlight where his shaping cut must end.  Best results were with a continuous cut in one smooth movement.

The spigot was to fit his 40mm set of C-jaws with a 7mm depth. Andy used his thin parting tool to create the groove for the jaw lip at the bottom of the spigot and then a similar groove half way up; this was for a later process.
Andy initially sanded with the lathe turning while using a power sander rather than hand held abrasives in order to avoid the remaining sharp corners causing injuries. He then stopped the lathe and hand sanded along the grain before finishing with a coat of sander sealer.
The piece was then fitted into his C-jaws ready to hollow out the bowl. Andy sawed off the newly exposed tip to accommodate support from his tailstock.  Taking care to avoid flying corners, he gradually turned away towards the centre but leaving a stub for his tailstock.
As he cut closer to the flying corners, he regularly stopped the lathe to check that his inside cut was keeping parallel over the entire length of the outer edge of the piece.  Any disparity quickly showed just how far down the cut his Bowl Gouge needed to remove more wood to return the edges to parallel.  Halfway through the hollowing, Andy turned his toolrest into the hollow to avoid a long over-hang of the gouge near the bowl's bottom.
Once satisfied with the inside parallel shaping, he removed the tailstock as well as the stub to about 5mm from the bottom.  Using a smaller Bowl Gouge, he continued cutting to clean up the bowl's centre with just the chuck jaws supporting.

When it came to sanding, Andy took care to avoid the abrasives damaging any of the sharp edges.  He didn't do any hand sanding with the lathe turning, instead used his selection of various hard-backed shaped pads without applying too much pressure.  He found that his power sander with a soft padding was ideal for sanding the central bottom of the bowl when applied to the opposite side of where he was standing.  With the lathe stopped, he hand sanded to finish but again being careful of downward pressure near the edges.
The piece was sander sealed and when dried, microcrystalline wax was applied using some webrax.
The piece was repositioned so that the C-jaws now engaged the mid groove (formed when turning the spigot initially) which made the parting off an easier process.

(click for close up view)

(photos by Rick Patrick, Andy Ogilvie & Allan Rae)
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January 2024
Racing Cars with Andy Ogilvie
Thu 18th Jan at MWCC Club Night 





  Design Plan
Andy described his own design as an example of what the woodturner needs to consider.
The basic form of the bodywork is obviously a cylinder with a slightly reduced round flat at the back end but with more reduced shape at the front end.  Andy wanted a flattish bottom to enhance the shape and reduce wheel diameter required to clear the underside.  He, therefore decided to glue two wood blocks with the idea of offset turning to leave ⅔ upper body height of Sycamore and ⅓  lower body of close grain window wood.  The contrasting coloured woods would help with the end decoration while the offset would lead to the bottom block being left flat.
The next option to consider was whether to incorporate 4 individual axle-wheel assemblies or 2 individual axles drilled through the body with a wheel at either end or some other method. Clearly, it is down to you to decide which design will create the least friction.  Then whether the wheels were to be all the same or different sizes from front to back, which in the latter case, would require careful planning of where the axles were to join into the body.
Although the 'race circuit' hall floor will be perfectly flat so ground clearance of a long wheel-base shouldn't be a factor, but a long thin car body might not be helpful when propelling by thumb and neither attractive nor a realistic car shape.  However, cars like an Austin Mini were very stable with a wheel close to each corner. Andy planned a finished length of about 150mm with 2 axles about one fifth the length in from either end.

  Body Construction
Andy had prepared the glued segmented rectangular blanks and had drilled two 8mm holes about 30mm from the planned finished ends (i.e. allowing surplus to accommodate the mounting centres) for 2 axles to go through the body at identical heights so all 4 wheels are to the same diameter.  He drilled a further 20mm hole about a third of the way down the top from the back end for the cockpit. Doing this while the blank was still rectangular made the job of getting all these holes exactly at right angles to the body a lot easier.
He also drew on the intended back end, an arc to delineate the uppermost extent of the bodywork.
He had found the central point of each end and made marks about 10mm towards the bottom block at both ends.
To reduce the chance of the drive centres splitting the block apart at their joint, he used a Pro Drive Centre in the head stock and a Ring Point Live Centre for the tail stock to mount the blank between these offset centres.

 Top Tip : As Andy was right-handed and the front end of the car would be 'downhill' from the larger back end, it made sense to mount the car's front end into the head stock centre so that as he moved his gouge from right to left, he would be cutting down the lie of the wood fibres.

The block was now turned down to the pre-marked arc on the back end using a Roughing Gouge or a Skew Chisel.  For the demonstration, Andy used a planing cut with a Skew.  Whichever tool one used, care has to be taken to avoid using too much downward pressure into the wood or else the pre-drilled cockpit hole will allow the tool to cut deeper into one side of the hole.
Once he had turned a cylinder with just the bottom having a flat surface, Andy used a Parting Tool at the intended front and back of the car to create some working space for his Spindle Gouge to the rounded wedge shape in the photo below.

The front end was detailed and left flat as shown in photo below for a radiator decoration to be added later.
The back end was left flat for exhaust pipes (pimping/embellishing an otherwise plain back) to be added after the body had been parted off.
But before that, Andy reduced the lathe speed and used some abrasives via a backing pad to protect hole edges  He removed the dust before sander sealing the body to prevent any colouring bleeding into the wood.
Once that had dried, he applied some decoration while still mounted between centres so that he could use the tool rest as a guide for marking in some 'go-faster' coloured straight stripes between the axles and an outline for the engine bay.

Once parted off, used more abrasives and sand sealed the ends, Andy finished off the body decoration by drawing a radiator on the front end, remembering to add a 'race number'.

  Axles & Wheel Nuts
The car body width ended up as 40mm wide so Andy allowed for additional 20mm per wheel per axle which totted up to 80mm axle length required.  The car body had been drilled with an 8mm bit so with a blank of over 80mm long mounted between small centres, Andy prepared to turn an 8mm dowel but with the headstock end about 15mm diameter.
To maintain a length of wood to be a constant diameter does need a bit of preparation.  A common way is to use a Parting Tool and callipers set to the required diameter and carefully reduce the oversized cylinder every 30mm or so down to the required diameter and then join up the indents by cutting away with a Spindle Gouge.  However, Andy elected to demonstrate a method using a spanner instead of the callipers by using an 8mm open-ended wrench.  Indeed, some people have shaped and sharpened their spanner's jaw tips to do the cutting at the same time as the sizing.
 Top Tip : As most spanner jaws are deliberately manufactured very slightly oversized for the sake of easy fitting, this feature helps one to avoid turning away too much and the correct final size is achieved with a block and abrasive.  But bear in mind that most drill bits for similar reasons are very slightly undersized.
After parting off the axle leaving a small width of 15mm diameter to retain a wheel on its axle, matching Wheel Nuts to match the other end were turned from the remnant blank transferred to a pin or else o'Donnell chuck.  The 15mm blank was first drilled out with an 8mm bit held in Jacob's Lathe Drill Chuck before finally parted off.

Having planned for all four wheels to be of 40mm diameter, Andy started with a suitable rectangular blank (which he had pre-drilled at home using an 8.5mm bit to ensure a loose fit on his 8mm axles for the sake of reducing friction), held between chuck jaws and a point centre tailstock.  This was accurately turned down to a 40mm cylinder before carefully marking out identical widths to allow a production line of wheels.  Each wheel first had its outer face cleanly cut with a Skew to shape the tyre and hub, a Point Tool to create the join between tyre & wheel followed by burning by wire or Formica to create a tread effect, then a small Spindle Gouge to create a curve of the inside face down to a 15mm diameter to ensure the tyre avoids fouling the bodywork and finally parted off to repeat the process another three times.

   Exhausts & Driver
Andy drilled two 6mm holes in the back of the car body and with a suitable blank between jaws and point centre tailstock, he used a Parting Tool to create a 6mm dowel, a flared shape for the silencer and in again for the tailpipe.

For the Driver, the Exhaust blank was now turned to the diameter of the previously drilled cockpit hole and a head shaped in the first 10mm, narrowing to a neck for the next 5mm and then back out towards the body diameter. After measuring the depth of the cockpit hole, parting off was done so that the driver's shoulders would just appeared above the coping.
Andy then used a drum sander to create a dip on the top of the body behind the line of the front axle and in front of the cockpit (see photo below); this dip would be where one's thumb could launch the car forwards.

All parts were cleaned up with fine abrasives paying particular attention everywhere there was a possible source of friction.  Every part had its fitting checked before being sander sealed and allowed to dry thoroughly.


It was now a case of finishing the colouring and decoration before superglueing the various parts together.
Wheels were threaded (once correctly orientated) onto its axle before the latter was glued to the body with just enough room for the wheel to turn freely.
The opposite end of the axle had its wheel correctly orientated and the Wheel Nut similarly glued for that wheel to turn freely.
The axles were then trimmed and ends sanded.
Exhausts & Driver were the last to be glued in.


The February 2024 Competition was set to produce a decorated Racing Car entirely crafted in WOOD by you, shaped like a car and able to race in a straight line with a flick of one's thumb/fingers.

<Competition Results

(photos by Rick Patrick, Andy Ogilvie & Ian Wright))
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December 2023
Light Bulbs in wood with Paul Reeves
Thu 21st Dec at MWCC Club Night 




Paul started with a philosophical thought about tonight's demonstration. Wooden objects can have a surprisingly long life. In fact a Roman peppermill had been found at Hadrian's Wall and was still in reasonable condition; there were also elaborate wooden artefacts in several Pharaoh's tombs. It's a sobering thought that one of our own creations could be around in hundreds of years time so perhaps we ought not to ignore that little pimple or dimple in the bottom, else in years to come someone will be wondering why we didn't take that extra time to get it right.

His Christmas demonstration was something a little different. He started by commenting that Tungsten light bulbs last about 2000 hours, LED lamps 20,000 hours but his light bulb tonight could last as long as a Pharaoh's artefact. 

He had chosen a piece of Hornbeam (which usually takes a good thread) mounted between o'Donnell jaws and supported by a tailstock before using a Roughing Gouge to turn a cylinder. In order to create a clean smooth surface, a Skew Chisel with the point down was pushed across the end just short of the tail stock.

 Top Tip : If making a string of bulbs, be sure to note the measurements for replicating. The bulb dimensions look realistic if their length is about 1¼ to 1½ times the width and a 10 tpi chaser or similar is used.

A Parting Tool was used to reduce the end 2cm of the cylinder for the lamp thread.
One could easily represent the thread with miniature beads but why not use chased threads to give an authentic appearance. For a working screw thread, one would normally leave a space at the left-hand end of the spiral so that the chaser could be withdrawn from the cut in a continuous movement without risking the threads tops snagging as the chaser hits the stops!  This thread is never going to be used so worn tops are of no concern.

The lathe was slowed to about 300-350 RPM and the chaser was 'landed' on the piece with the leftmost 2 or 3 cutting edges touching while Paul was smoothly moving the chaser from right to left but quickly retracting before it buffeted against the larger diameter.  He finished with abrasives gently over and in between the threads to clean away any fibres. Once completed, Paul moved the tail stock away and ensured the end centre point was distinct before upping the speed and using a small Spindle Gouge to shape the 'lead blob' at the very end of the thread while leaving the indent available so that a hole could be drilled to allow for an eyelet screw to be subsequently twisted in.

Returning to his ⅜" Spindle Gouge, he first turned a curve down to the thread and then his 'long curve' technique was to very gently swing the tool handle towards his body while keeping the cut tracking along the centre line aiming to leave enough wood to support the piece (say 5-7mm) almost at the desired length.  Paul warned that while the shape might look fine horizontally on the lathe, it's sometimes worth unscrewing the chuck off the head stock and stand the piece upright to check how it looks in the direction it's going to be hanging.
Abrasives down to 400 grit were applied because the 'glass' surface has to be as smooth as possible for colour to cover evenly right down to the line where it fits into the 'metal thread cap' (created with his Skew). If it's not flat enough, the colour will sink deeper in the grooves and won't end up an even shade.  Paul used some Lidl paint pens he had spotted last year but any Sharpie/stain/ink/glossy paint will suffice. The threads were brushed with gold gilt cream which gave a convincing brass effect. The 'lead' blob was coated with silver paint. He used a hair dryer to shorten the drying period.

Paul used a small Skew to part off by slowly increasing the V-shape while rounding off the top of the bulb.
That just left a run through the grits to smooth out the pointed round end and a retouch wi10_big.jpg">
(click above for close up view)

 The examples in the above photo show that the RH green bulb is probably too long for its width.

It doesn't have to be a plain colour. Paul had inherited some glitter paint from a past Member which he applied to a second bulb.  This was not only the first time he had demonstrated glittery decorations but also the first time he had ever used it, so we all learnt together that it needed to be thoroughly shaken before use and that it was best to brush on fairly thickly as the supporting clear varnish did a good job of smoothing the finish.  Paul did wonder if a coloured base coat might be beneficial the next time he made one.

(photos by Andy Ogilvie)
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October 2023
Toothpick Holder with Paul Reeves
Thu 19th Oct at MWCC Club Night 



The majority of turned items tend to be from a single piece.
However, a Toothpick Holder requires turning several individual components which all have to fit within each other, i.e. the knob, lid, caddy and body, which makes for an interesting and rewarding project and arguably one that becomes more relevant as we and our teeth age!  One doesn't even have to worry about food safe finishes.

The design of the holder is such that the lid rests loosely on a lip and attached via a dowel to the caddy, which must be able to slide smoothly up and down within the body.
To drill holes in wood (particularly deep holes) it is preferable to use a drill rather than a box cutter to achieve the straight parallel sides required.  Even though hole cutting should be done at a slow lathe speed, it will inevitably warm up the wood, so it is preferable to drill before turning away the outside of the component because a thicker wall will be able to dissipate heat better and less likely to split than might a thinner one.
Consequently, Paul prefers to start with the innermost cut and then turn away its outside to fit the next holed component.
With that said, there are many turners who favour working from outside to inside.  The choice is yours.

From experience of previous holders he has turned, Paul had planned a cylindrical blank for the body capable to accommodate his 32mm Forstner bit but still leave sufficient side thickness to fashion some shape to the outside.
Most 'YouTube' examples show the knob and lid created separately, whereas Paul prefers to turn these from a single blank.  This method might well create more wastage but if the body, lid and knob have a marked grain/spalting, the end result will be much improved with all 3 parts matching and aligned.
Paul's lid had to be a diameter of a few mm greater than the 32mm hole so it wouldn't fall in and able to accommodate at least 20mm depth for lid & knob combined. The caddy (ideally a piece of dry stable close-grained wood) needed to be cylindrical blank wider than the 32mm so it could be turned down to fit, and be able to accommodate his 25mm Forstner bit. The inside depth of the caddy should be about 25mm; if it was a bit more, by the time one had added a 5mm base, the caddy tended to look out of proportion.
The diameter of his dowel proved to be too big for his 4.5mm drill bit but too loose for a 5mm hole.  However, he chose to go for the smaller drill because despite tailstock and headstock supposedly being in line, inevitably the drill bit held in a Jacob's chuck and the wood held in the headstock chuck will introduce minute disparities that will result in the 4.5mm drill creating a marginally larger hole because it was ever so slightly off-centre.

 Top Tip : When using a Jacobs Chuck, the operation works well while under the positive pressure of winding the drill into the piece, but upon withdrawing, the bit can bind onto the inside of the cut hole and get pulled out of the morse taper.
Suddenly, a perfectly still drill chuck with gear teeth has started revolving at the speed of the lathe.
Anticipate this by supporting the chuck to stay in the tailstock with your free hand gripping it clear of the gear teeth.


 The Lid
Paul had chosen a piece of Laburnum (for it's stability, strength and finish) and mounted it in his chuck.  With his Jacobs Chuck in the tailstock, he drilled a hole about 5mm deep for where the dowel would eventually be glued.  This end was to be the underside of the lid. With the Jacobs being replaced with a revolving centre, the piece was well supported for turning to a cylinder and squaring off the end carefully with a skew so as to not press the skew's edge hard against the tail centre. The end 5mm or so was turned accurately with the aid of callipers and a parting tool to 36mm then slightly tapered towards the tail stock so as to help the finished lid to drop into position when it's let go.  Then allowing this worked 5mm to remain at the tail stock end, he turned away the rest to fashion a knob - he chose a dovetail shape. An advantage of using a wood like Laburnum was that it is so close grained and strong that a small parting tool can produce smooth accurate shaping. Before parting off, the piece was sanded.

 The Caddy
Paul had selected a piece of 'Pride of India' aka Golden Rain Tree (Botanical Name: Koelreuteria Paniculata) confusingly from China.  He hadn't used it before but it was purported to behave like Boxwood so should be ideal for this job.
Having been mounted in his chuck, the procedure was similar to above other than he used his 25mm Forstner first to cut about 25mm deep and then changed to his dowel sized drill to drill a further 10mm. He removed the Jacobs; accurately measured the internal depth for determining where the base would be and replaced with a revolving centre to steady the piece for turning the 'fit-critical' outside. (Should one/both ends of the caddy be a sloppy fit inside the length of the body, there is a likelihood that the caddy will tilt away from level as it moves up/down and jam its leading and diagonally opposite edges against the inside).
With the piece supported between chuck and tail centre, Paul carefully and gradually turned the outer surface down to 31mm diameter with the aid of callipers and small parting tool, which worked perfectly provided the tool is kept in motion back or forth.
(Whenever working with a wood type for your first time, it is important to check regularly that the tool you're using is working as you want, especially when using abrasives; eg sanding Yew too vigorously leads to overheating and cracks in the finished surface whereas light sanding with rests in between grits works fine).
The tail centre was removed so Paul could chamfer the inside edge of the opening.  To compensate for the missing tail support, he rested a couple of fingers of his tool rest hand on top of the turning piece.  As the piece turns down onto the cutting edge of the tool, its natural reaction is to climb upwards but the steadying weight applied by his fingers dampens the vibrations, which would otherwise cause an uneven finish.
Light abrasives were used to flatten the surface before parting off at the pre-measured depth plus say 5mm for thickness of base. This time, because of the central hole drilled for the dowel, Paul could part off exactly on the calculated line without worrying that the final cut would pull out some end grain.  The bottom was finished with sanding by hand.

Bearing in mind that most commercial toothpicks/cocktail sticks can vary from 50-85mm; that the lid is of about 5mm thickness; the caddy base is another 5mm and one will need some space to pick, lift up and clear the caddy to remove (say another 5mm); it follows that the hole depth in the body should be a minimum of 15mm plus the length of your stick. Paul had sticks of 80mm so used 95mm as his minimum figure.
Paul glued one end of the dowel into the lid and allowed it to dry before the dowel was sawn off 95mm below the underside of the lid and glued into the pre-drilled hole in the base of the caddy.

 The Body
A 40mm cylinder of spalted Silver Birch had been prepared with its end trued off for mounting into the Club's chuck and a Jacobs chuck with his 32mm Forstner drill bit in the tail stock. Paul stuck some insulation tape around the stem of the drill bit at 95mm from the bottom of the cutting edge (which is flat with a Forstner but often cone shaped with other wood drills which will thus need additional depth to compensate).
Remembering the TopTip above, Paul reduced the lathe speed and keeping his fingers gripping behind the gear teeth, drilled until the tape marked depth reached the entrance hole. While drilling this amount of depth, he found he needed to withdraw the bit to clear the shavings 3 or 4 times during the procedure.  
He then swapped the Jacobs with a large diameter tailstock revolving centre to steady the piece for shaping the outside.
Paul opted to create a gentle upward slope to where the lid would sit.  With the tail centre temporarily removed, he gradually turned a chamfered edge within a few mm of the opening that matched the chamfer of the lid. With regular checks to see how the lid rested in position, he decided upon leaving the lid slightly above the body's edge.  If the dowel had been left too long, one could still shorten it before gluing it to the bottom of the caddy.
He chose to shape the sides with 2 coves using a smaller one at the top for aesthetic proportion.
Spalted wood has areas of different colours which have different densities that will wear down at different rates resulting in an uneven surface.  Treating the surface with sander sealer will help to reduce the softer areas abrading away quicker than the denser areas.
With soft/spalted woods, 400 grit is about as far as you should dare whereas with hardwoods, one could continue down to much finer grits.
Having re-checked the actual internal depth of the body and adding at least 5mm, Paul marked the intended base of the body and proceeded to part off clear of the mark because a parting tool will inevitably tear out when cutting end-grain.
He finished with quickly turning a jamb chuck so that he could reverse the piece, finish off the base with a Skew and/or abrasives and even contemplate some decoration.

(photos by Rick Patrick & Paul Reeves)
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September 2023  -  Demo 4
Decorative Mushrooms  with Paul Reeves
Thu 21st Sep at MWCC Club Night


Turning a mushroom is a perfect use for branch wood.  Few projects can so readily integrate bark, sap, heart and pith in a single piece.  It doesn't even matter if the piece cracks, splits, withers or weathers with age, it will still look realistic.
Ideally, choose a wood with contrasting colours within its grain - although last month's Splash of Colour demonstration could be incorporated when using a bland coloured wood to produced those red-topped white-dotted examples.
A popular choice is Yew but Paul had brought a selection of more exotic branch wood including Giant Redwood (Sequoia), Judas Tree, Juniper and Japanese Maple as the example of a bland wood.

(All pictures with a blue border can be clicked for a closer view)




1.  Shapes
Mushrooms have quite a selection as illustrated to the right.
Turning is ideal with wet wood but note that most of the taller caps have deep undercutting underneath, which is helpful in avoiding cracks/splits to appear over time while drying. 





2.  Presentation
Solitary pieces are the norm but to make an impression, try turning a group displayed on a natural looking base, eg rotted or burred wood or a base covered in moss.
Mushrooms never stand precisely straight in real life so if turning a solitary example, it looks better if you saw/sand a bit off the base to produce an off-perpendicular piece.  With a group displayed on a base, the pieces were all turned with a 8mm spigot so that an 8mm drill could be drilled anywhere on your show base and at any jaunty angle of your choosing.



3.  Tools
A Spindle Gouge could do everything but it is easier for smaller sized tools like thin/curved scrapers and hollowing tools for undercutting the deeper caps.

Giant Redwood  -  Paul had mounted a piece of Redwood between centres with the chosen end to be the cap placed against the drive centre.
A Roughing Gouge was used to turn a cylinder from the tail end to about halfway.
Using a Skew Chisel, he turned a V-cut such that the left hand side remained clear of the drive centre's edges and the right hand side starting to form the shape of the chosen cap top while leaving a small stub for the drive centre to continue spinning the piece.

Then with a Spindle Gouge, he continued shaping the stem/stalk.  If the piece is to be free standing, leave the base more bulbous in order to lower the centre of gravity and improve stability.
Paul preferred to have his stem running thinner towards the cap and (depending upon the wood) arranged to leave a bunched-up curved shaving just below the underside of the cap to mimic the ring/skirt often found on a mushroom. This annular skirt is the remnants of a sack-like veil originally connected to the edge/margin of the cap prior to the mushroom starting to grow out of the ground.
He then repositioned his tool rest at right angles to the stem in order to better support his gouge as he turned away the underside of the cap to approximately parallel of the intended topside.  He took care to avoid damaging the bark remaining on the edge of the cap.
Continuing with his Spindle Gouge, he continued with the cap's top surface without cutting it completely off.
He sanded all round with 180 grit only, commenting that real mushrooms tend to have matt finishes.
Returning to his Skew Chisel, which works perfectly for cutting across the grain, he turned off as much as he dared (about 5mm spigot).
Now it was decision time for parting off the base.
 For standing alone pieces - saw off the base at an angle remembering to back off the tailstock to reduce the squeezing pressure on the piece;
 For mounting pieces on a base - while still between centres, create an 8mm spigot before parting off.
Finally, the top was sawn off and sanded smooth.


4.  Decorative Options
PYROGRAPHY -  The underside of the cap often has gills which can be replicated by scorching with a carving blade iron.  Once brought up to temperature, drag the nib outwards towards close to the edge. Slower movements produce darker & wider marks - if too dark, try brushing off with a toothbrush.
An alternative is a Dremel fitted with a disc cutter and then scorch with a blow torch.

ACRYLIC PAINTS  -  Ideal for decorating plain woods with a brush or cloth. Drying time can be shortened with a hairdryer. Acrylic paste is a good way of creating a protruding white spot/scale over a red background.

WOOD STAINS  -  Another option to suit plain woods. See Splash of Colour demonstration for technique.


Button Mushrooms  -  Although smaller overall, these mushrooms have comparatively thicker stems but will still need a smaller drive centre than used above.  Procedure much as before other than Roughing Gouge removes all the bark and the smaller size led to Paul turning 2 mushrooms from a single piece with a cap turned at either end.  Additionally, he used 240 grit all round to produce a shinier finish like the real Button Mushrooms and he used a thin Parting Tool close to the stem for his undercut.
These are prime candidates for plain coloured wood and wood stains.

Lobed Mushrooms  -  Paul had a piece of Juniper between centres, not necessarily on the pith but rather a point chosen equidistant from the various inward folds.  One might think to be wary of the piece being out of balance but with such a size as small as tonight's pieces, there won't be any danger of the lathe walking itself across the workshop. Paul recommended that we treat it as a normal piece; in fact, high speed is your friend with odd shapes because the gaps pass quicker and your gouge is into cutting again with minimal deflection.

The finished Demonstration pieces

5.  Other Ideas
  A popular request from family & friends is a Tooth Fairy's Mushroom, which has the stem fashioned as a box to hold the tooth overnight but magically changes to a coin by morning time.  It is recommended that the box is not made big enough to hold a £2 coin inside!
  Below is an example from Pinterest of a downlighter mushroom; the reflection reveals a strip of LED lights embedded into the underside of the cap that are powered by batteries secreted within the stem.

The October Competition was set to produce turned mushroom(s) incorporating a decorative feature.

<Competition Results>

(photos by Andy Ogilvie, Rick Patrick & Paul Reeves)
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August 2023  -  Demo 3
A Splash of Colour  with Paul Reeves
Thu 17th August at MWCC Club Night


Paul started the evening asking how many of those present had used colour in their wood turning - (about 10%).
Then he asked how many liked to see colouring in wood turned pieces - (again, about 10%)
This response validates Les Thorne's comments to the Club earlier this year that he had stopped demonstrating various colour techniques due to a general lack of interest.
Paul admitted he wasn't a fan of colouring for the sake of it but did believe there were 3 occasions when colouring could enhance the finished piece :-
 1.    Spot Colouring
 2.    Liming Wax/Gilt Creams
 3.    Spirit Staining

  Spot Colouring
Small subtle areas of eye-catching colour(s) can emphasize an edge or boundaries of a decoration on an otherwise bland blank.
As an example, Paul had prepared a pale Sycamore bowl which he proposed to lift its plainness by adding some colour to the outer edge of the bowl's rim. To create a surface to show off the paint, he had used the indexing facility on his lathe to mark out 12 symmetrical points around the edge.  Using a drum sander with 120 grit mounted into his chuck, he just pressed the bowl edge into the spinning sander to make a lozenge shaped indent. (Similar effects could be achieved with the bowl mounted in the chuck and using a Dremel with a drum sander or other attachments).
Although the centre marks had been precisely drawn, Paul believes to use even pressure and movement by hand & eye to generate the indents so that the slight variations in size and depth underscores one's hand-made craftsmanship.

As Sycamore is very pale, Paul had chosen bright contrasting colours of green and orange.
There is no necessity to spend a lot of money on paints as there are many discount shops (Lidl, InXcess, Milford Supplies) that sell an array of acrylic paint pots.
TOP TIP : To keep painted edges sharp and to help remove any paint overspills, apply a sealer first as this will close up the timber pores and provide a solid foundation for the paint. Any overspills can be wiped away while wet or sanded away with 400 grit once dry.
He brushed on his paint keeping the paint thickness even and of alternating colours. He carefully wiped away any paint that had settled in the wrong place with a cloth before allowing it to dry completely - quickened with a combination of lathe turning and a hairdryer.
He used fine abrasive along the grain to leave crisp edges of colour and finally 600 grit before tack ragging and a spray Cellulose sander sealer to seal in the colour.

Paul had also experimented with staggered bevelling on both inside and outside edges of a bowl with an intention to paint the resulting upwardly facing wiggly line.

(click either above for close up view)

  Liming Wax/Gilt Creams
These are designed to work their way into the grain of the wood to make them stand out in a striking manner.  They are particularly effective on deeply grained ring-porous timber (eg Oak, Ash) where the pigmented wax can settle into the grooves, accentuating the grain and adding a sense of depth and texture often resulting in an enhanced rustic, antique feel.

Paul had prepared a plain Ash bowl having a flattened rim with prominent grain.  After sanding and sealing, he applied a coloured acrylic paint as above.  Once dry, he used 400 grit to open up the wood pores again and used a soft brush and tack rags to remove the dust.
White liming wax was applied into the grain covering the painted rim using a gloved hand and then he wiped most of it off with a cloth before it was left aside to dry thoroughly.  The instructions on the wax jar talks about using "finishing oil" but any mineral spirits (eg white spirits) should cure the wax.

Gilt Creams are predominantly available in gold, silver and copper, although many manufacturers offer numerous shades of each metallic colour as well as verdigris (green).
These bright/shiny flashes of colour are particularly effective in showing up grain when the predominant background colour of the piece is very dark or black from scorching/ebonising sprays.
Application is as with the liming waxes with the exceptions of being sparing with the gilt (it's more expensive after all) and wiping off the cream with only fresh unused sections of your rag/paper across the line of the pores to avoid dragging all the gilt out.

If required, both wax & cream finishes can have added protection with clear gloss/satin lacquer spray.

(click either above for close up view)


  Spirit Staining
Spirit stains are remarkably good at bringing out the best in figured wood, but beware, they are also good at highlighting any tool marks you have left on the surface. When using abrasives, sand along the grain (which will be across the ripple).

The staining works best when a combination of colours are selected to complement each other; typically a couple of dark colours applied first followed by a light colour to produce highlights.
In the wine mat example to the right
(click photo to enlarge), purple, green & finally yellow stains were applied with individual pieces of cloth/paper and sanded back once each colour had washed dry revealing lighter areas. Paul then went back to add or sand off colours until the balance looked good. When happy with the combination and spread of colour, a light mist of alcohol (eg Meths) was sprayed on to help blend them together and remove any definite edges/streaks. The mat was allowed to dry thoroughly. Several coats of gloss acrylic lacquer were sprayed on and once the surface had cured, were polished to a very high shine. This enabled the light penetration to accentuate the figure and give a beautiful holographic effect.

A combination of staining and gilt creams is also very effective.
In the bowl below, Paul had applied several coats of a permanent marker pen within the decorative band and then sanded it back to reveal where the colour had soaked into the pores. As the stain doesn't fill up the pores, his application of Liberon Chantilly Gold gilt cream added a dazzling sparkle.


The September Competition was set to produce wood turned item(s) with a splash of colour.

<Competition Results>

(photos by Rick Patrick & Paul Reeves)
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June 2023  -  Demo 2
Kitchen Items  with Paul Reeves
Thu 15th June at MWCC Club Night







There are many dozens of examples of utensils, apparatus, gadgets & aids found in a kitchen.
Paul had brought 20 he had found at home along with examples of blanks he had taken straight from his bandsaw.  He also talked of teapot stands, trivets, egg stands, mug rack stands, storage jars, cutting boards, biscuit cutters as other examples.

(click either for close up view)

Wooden spoons are an obvious choice but rather off-putting when you spend hours to produce something that costs less than £1 on the High Street.  However, most kitchenware from a shop is made from Beech so selecting a more exotic or stunning grained wood can suddenly transform the mundane into something extraordinary.
Just follow the spirit of the Bauhaus Movement's belief that functional items don't have to look hideous.

Apart from the kitchen roll holder above, all the other implements come into contact with foodstuffs.
Most bare woods have some degree of toxicity listed in wood databases. Beech & Maple are rare exceptions so are most commonly used commercially, but many close grained woods (e.g. fruit woods, box) would be acceptably safe.  A useful habit to acquire for food preparers is dipping the wooden utensil in water before using. It helps resist staining and pore absorption of raw food, which could otherwise end up rotting beneath the surface.

Paul outlined the various ways of producing scoops, rolling pins, roll holders & spoons.  He warned of ever decreasing cardboard tube diameters when designing kitchen roll holders and the dangers of turning spoons out of a single blank.  Still perfectly feasible, but needs awareness when turning the bowl end, because the handle section becomes an invisible propeller blade ready to thrash the unwary such that even a sadistic headmaster would wince! 
TOP TIP : On some lathes (particularly if you have rotated the headstock in order to increase turning clearance) the On/Off switch cannot be reached as normal so plan how you're going to switch Off BEFORE you switch On.
  Alternatively, the danger can be completely avoided by turning a handle (with a spigot) & a spoon bowl from separate pieces and glue/thread them together afterwards.

  Piping Nozzle
Basically, a thin walled cone with it's top removed.
The first consideration was to decide whether the cone should be mounted point towards the tail or the head stock.  As the critical surface was going to be the inside, it seemed beneficial to work with the piece pointing towards the headstock for easier access.
Paul had prepared a cylinder from a 30mm cube of rippled Maple with a spigot to fit the Club's lathe chuck.
With it remounted, he quickly trued it up with a Roughing Gouge and a Parting Tool to square the end and leave a centre point for drilling. A small Skew was used to create a clean cut for the outer section of the end.
The tail stock was fitted with a Jacob's chuck complete with drill (sized to the diameter of the required nozzle opening) that was used to drill out the centre of the cylinder to more than the length of the planned nozzle. (
Diagram A)

(click for close up view)

The Roughing Gouge was used to start creating a conical shape but leaving a 2 or 3mm square spigot at the outboard end. This spigot will eventually become a tiny bead that prevents the contents of the piping bag getting past the join between the nozzle and the bag when under pressure. At this stage, Paul just used his Parting Tool at 45º to cut off the two exposed square corners. The job would be finished to a circular bead with the finer abrasives at the end.  (Diagram B)

The plan now is to hollow out the centre so that there is a straight inside edge from a thin wall at the widest point to meet the central drilled hole at the desired length of the nozzle.  (Diagram C)
Paul used a Box Cutter to nibble away the inside of the drilled out opening to a small depth and to a few mm from the outside edge of the cylinder. When using this tool, it must be absolutely level. Working with a Scraper, the handle is invariably higher than the tool rest but if that happened with a Box Cutter, the hollowing would get wider than intended as the cutting corner of the tool moved further away from the tool rest.
He checked the thickness and found the outside diameter (ignoring the bead) was 31mm while the inside was 26mm, making the wall thickness 2½mm. With this Maple, Paul was happy to take it a bit more off. However, as the wall becomes thinner, the tendency is for the piece to start vibrating and screech. This was countered by a lighter bevel touch and supporting the piece with a couple of fingers on top of the revolving piece.
Keeping in mind the intended length of the nozzle, Paul continued passes with the Box Cutter to achieve the required straight inside edge.  He then worked on the outside edge by increasing lathe speed and using his Roughing Gouge to remove waste quickly. He finished with a recently sharpened Parting Tool slightly tilted on the tool rest so that just the corner was being used. This works like a Skew but is more controllable. Paul regularly stopped and used Outside Spring Callipers to ensure the wall thickness was constant over the nozzle's length.


For the Piping to work efficiently. it's important for the inside of the nozzle to be very smooth. When using abrasives on thin pieces of wood, there is a tendency for the paper getting clogged and heat friction quickly building up with a likelihood of the wood splitting.
Paul reminded us when using abrasives in our fingers, how quickly it gets too hot to handle and then we reach for a sanding block!  The heating effect can be reduced by a combination of slower lathe speed and regularly clearing the dust from both the abrasive and the wood so the abrasive is able to cut as intended.
He also recommended new & unused abrasives because they would abrade evenly.
Paul made regular use of his small piece of carpet to unclog the abrasive very effectively.  He also changed the lathe direction between grits to cut off wood fibres that had only been flattened by the previous grade of abrasive.
As the piece was quite deep, he used abrasive wrapped around a pencil to sand the narrow part of the nozzle, which needed him to support the outside with his fingers again as well as regularly clearing the dust.  He avoided touching the outside bead until he reached 240 grit.
For a really smooth finish, Paul recommended to dampen inside & outside surfaces with water and let it dry before using the last abrasive grit. This will raise any loose fibres and allow them to be cut away with the final sanding.

A Skew Chisel was used to part the nozzle off and revealed that despite taking considerable care to check the wall thickness, it still needed 1 or 2mm to be removed from the outside.
This was achieved by trimming a Jam Chuck with the corner of his Parting Tool so that the nozzle had a tight fit at both ends.
With the nozzle jammed secure, the Parting Tool could then be used to trim the outside surface as required.  Serrations could be marked up for sawing should a star-shaped piping be required.
All marking up was done with a soft graphite pencil to avoid leaving dented marks and still be easily rubbed away.


The July Competition was set to produce wood turned item(s) you would find in a Kitchen.

<Competition Results>

(photos by Rick Patrick & Paul Reeves)
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Bowl from a Plank with Paul Reeves.
Thu 18th May 2023 at MWCC Club Night

There wouldn't be a problem to overcome if the plank was 6" thick!
Obviously we are considering how to achieve a usable bowl with plank thickness less than the height of the bowl.

Paul had identified 4 possible solutions using thin planks laminated one above another.
♦ 1 : same sized solid circles in a tower - creates the most  wastage;
♦ 2 : increasingly stepped sized solid circles - still a lot of wastage;
♦ 3 : stepped sized rings - using solid rings more efficiently by dividing each into 2 or more rings;
♦ 4 : single solid circle with angled cuts - to create rings so that the base of the next higher ring sits precisely above the top surface of the ring below.

Option 4 is clearly the most efficient with the least amount of wastage but the difficulty is to calculate the correct cutting angle to achieve it.
Consideration must be taken for the width of the tool creating the cuts.
Experience has shown that it is advisable to draw a scaled diagram to determine the angle.

  Choice of Cutting Tool
The finished cut DOESN'T have to be pretty; we are only cutting to a size that will be turned away to the desired shape.
Parting Tools are more commonly used in spindle work and not so well designed to cut both across and along grain.  As the cutting edge works deeper into the piece, the wide straight blade of a basic Parting Tool starts to snag the outer edge of the circular cut.  This becomes even more difficult with smaller/tighter inner cuts.
This problem is alleviated by one or a combination of :
 ● having tip wider than shaft body - perfect for deep cuts but they tend to be very wide;
 ● taking a second pass - reduces chance of tool getting 'grabbed';
 ● creating a home-made narrow parting tool - reduces problem with tight circular cuts.

The Fishtail Parting Tool is similar in shape to the Basic but has a slight thinning shaft behind the tip.
Paul's home-made tool was fashioned like a Bedan Parting Tool (i.e. end cross-section as shown on the right) together with a more pronounced Fishtail shaped cutting edge.


  Planning Diagram
As the glued piece will have to be held in a chuck, the first job is to decide which jaws. Paul had in mind a bowl size that could be held in C-jaws so worked out where the spigot edge had to be.  From that circle, he needed to cut away a circular groove such that the C-jaws could clear the spigot and go down to the bottom of the groove to ensure a good grip.


Paul's next decision was to consider a pleasing overall width of the bowl and its ideal final thickness. 
The smaller the angle of the cutting tool, the wider would be the bowl lip; a large angle would tend to produce a tall narrow bowl more like a vase.
If one wanted a bowl wall thickness of 12-15 mm, it would give the turner more flexibility for shaping if the cut thickness was about 10mm wider.



Figure 2 illustrates that the desired bowl wall thickness is produced by a larger dimension along the surface of the plank. 
Additionally, the smaller the angle, the dimension along the plank's surface needs to be even more.


Paul had drawn an accurately scaled plan of the plank in order to find the correct cutting angle - (xº in figure 3.)63

+   Having found out that his Home-Made Parting Tool would create a 10mm cut, he planned the 10mm cut to run between A and B.
He wanted to go 3 layers high and start with a wall thickness of over 20mm which would allow him to finish up (after shaping) with a wall thickness of about 10mm.
With these figures in mind, he decided to draw point D exactly 30mm from B.  The whole principle for the second layer to sit precisely on the bottom layer's outer edge is for point D to end up at point C vertically above it.  By joining A to C, Paul could now measure angle x and found it to be 39º
The same principle occurs with D to E =10mm; E to G = 30mm; Point F can be found and the angle of the cut is the same 39º


Paul used a MDF disk connected to his chuck via a face plate ring.  The MDF provides a sacrificial depth that will help prevent the tool touching the chuck and causing damage to both.

(click any above for close up view)

The piece of plank was secured to the MDF with double sided tape or hot glue. If you use hot glue, run it out in a 'X' shape across the MDF to ensure all the rings stay attached when being cut out.
Paul made use of the tail stock to aid getting the plank centred.
The spigot diameter was drawn on the plank and a Parting Tool was used to cut a groove at right angles into the wood and enlarged to about 10mm wide plus a small cut-in at the base so the C-jaw would be able to get in to grip the spigot.
The next 3 cuts were the angled ones all the way through the plank with Paul's Home-Made Tool. Paul commented that he would start from the outermost cut first in order to help the inner piece of plank remain firmly stuck in position.
To help keep the tool cutting at the right angle, one could use a slab type tool rest with the required angle marked on its top face.  However, Paul used a magnetic digital angle tool (from Lidl) which he fixed on the banjo and provided a straight edge guide he could parallel.

(click any above for close up view)

With the plank cut into 2 rings and a circular base, the pieces were removed from the MDF faceplate.
Paul had drawn a pencil line prior to turning which would be helpful to get grain to line up once the 3 layers were turned over and laid on top of one another before they were glued, making use of the faceplate supporting the top layer and the tail stock keeping the bottom layer pressed hard against the others while the glue dried.

(click any for close up view)

(photos by Andy Ogilvie, Rick Patrick & Vic Russell)
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Streptohedrons with Andy Ogilvie
Thu 16th Feb 2023 at MWCC Club Night

Andy explained that following a visit to a workshop of fellow Member, David Game, he was fascinated by some twisted polygon shapes known as Streptohedrons (aka Wobble Balls in USA). David had discovered examples on a website by Englishman, David Springett (alas no longer alive).

'Strepto' is Ancient Greek for "twisted" while 'Hedron' describes a "geometrical solid". Streptohedrons are created by splitting a piece of wood and re-gluing them together, turning a shape before splitting and then re-gluing again BUT only after twisting one of the splits.
After band sawing the wood, Andy had planed both sides to make sure they made a flat joint. The join is done with glue (typically PVA) on each joint face sandwiching a piece of newspaper/paper, which will be strong enough to hold the halves together on the lathe but still be able to split again despite absorbing glue. Glossy paper should be avoided as it tends to restrict the absorption of the glue.
Cup centres were used on the lathe in order to reduce the chance of drive and tail centres prising the piece apart with only their central pins pressing against the join.

To make a successful Streptohedron, you must plan to have a shape with rotational symmetry (i.e. when a surface can be rotated and it exactly matches its starting surface) so that when the halves are twisted to the desired symmetrical position, the joint faces will still fit following shaping with your turning tools although some sanding will probably be required.

Andy had selected a 3" cube of Yellow Ash, which he had prepared at home by band sawing it in half, gluing as above, mounting between centres (with the joint running from head to tail stock) to turn a spigot for his chuck (which helped to secure the glued halves together) and finally turned to a cylinder so that the length exceeded the diameter sufficiently to allow space for working tools at the drive centre end of the piece.

This was mounted on the Club's lathe. The cylinder was trued up; the end was squared off and the final diameter measured.  His plan now was to turn the whole piece so that the join surface changed from its rectangular shape into a 'regular' hexagon, which required either a bit of technical drawing or some mathematics to work out the correct dimensions.

From the diagram above, he needed to work out the lengths of AB and Cm.
Since Andy had just measured the diameter, he could calculate the radius (AC) and drew a circle with compasses (either at true measurement or scaled) on a piece of paper. Choosing a convenient point on the circle, he marked 6 arcs along the circumference using the same compass with the circle's radius to map out the 6 corners of the required purple hexagon above and measured the two required lengths.
Alternatively using formula & trigonometry, the internal angle in degrees of a regular polygon with 'n' sides is 180(n-2)/n. A Hexagon's angle is therefore 120°, which means angle 'a' = 60° and the triangle CAB must be equilateral, so AB is the same as the radius AC. From trigonometry Cm = AC x sin60°(
which is 0.866)
Andy's demonstration piece had a diameter of 60mm, which meant AB was 30mm and Cm was 26

The cylinder was marked up with a centreline 26mm from the newly squared off end and another mark 26mm closer to the head stock, which would define the other end. Finally, a 30mm circle was marked on the cylinder's end.

Starting out with a Spindle Gouge and finishing with a Skew, Andy turned away the Ash piece to leave a smooth cone shape between the centreline and end surface circle marks.  Using his parting tool, he started to part the piece at the head stock end to the same depth as the end face. For our demonstration piece, that depth was to leave a 30mm circumference which he had set on his callipers.  Andy then gouged out between this last cut and towards the head stock to give himself room to turn away a matching smooth cone shape towards the head stock.
When parting off, leave a nib attached to the piece. This will allow a chisel to get into the glued joint when separating the two halves without leaving a damaging crease mark on the finished face of the piece.
Andy finally parted off, purposely leaving that nib and split the halves apart. Having sanded off the paper, glue and partial nib, he rotated the two halves to check which rotational symmetry matched best with the least amount of sanding when the halves were re-glued.
For the sake of demonstration time, Andy elected to use superglue and accelerator to glue the halves together.

(some photos in this demo can be clicked for close up views)

Andy had a selection box of different shaped sanding blocks so he could sand all flat surfaces carefully without damaging any sharp edges/corners.  He then sealed all surfaces with Sander Sealer before applying some Yorkshire/Hampshire Grit to smooth and polish using his applicator of choice - his old socks!


As with the previous demonstration, a blank block (this time of Mulberry) had been prepared by being band sawed in half, re-glued, spigot turned with the split running from head to tail stocks.
The prepared blank was now mounted on the Club's lathe & chuck where the
cylinder was trued up, the end squared off and the final diameter measured.  Instead of a hexagon, the Rotational Symmetry face this time would be a distorted plus sign.

From the diagram above, you can see that the blank was turned to a cylinder that ended up as 46mm in diameter.
The plan was to turn away identical quadrants to leave 10
mm edges at each cardinal point. This meant that each quadrant would have an 18mm radius.  The cylinder was marked at 18mm, 28mm and 46mm from the tailstock end plus a 10mm circle drawn on the end face.
Andy admitted that he had deliberately arranged for the cylinder to be reduced to 46
mm because he already had a 36mm button in stock, which would act as a perfect template in keeping the curves identical on each end of the piece.
Working on the tailstock end first with a Spindle Gouge to get a curve close to the first mark and the 10
mm circle, he finessed the work using a Round Nose Scraper with regular checks against his template button.
Before starting the headstock end, Andy parted down towards a 10mm stub at the 46
mm mark and turned away waste to make space when using his gouge/scraper. This needed gentle passes of the cutting tools because of the weakened support from the reducing stub size as he progressively parted away. (There are some Conical Tip accessories for live revolving centres which would improve support.)
He subsequently needed to create more space in front of the stub to accommodate checking with his rigid template.
Once the inner quadrant shape was finished, he parted off purposely leaving a small nib and proceeded as in the previous demonstration with effect from the
TOP TIP : above and ended with the rather tactile shape shown below.

 David Springett  :  'Woodturning Wizardry' & 'Adventures in Woodturning'
 The Bridges Archive - < link >

(photos by Andy Ogilvie, Rick Patrick & Vic Russell)
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January 2023  -  Demo 5
Buttons  with Paul Reeves
Thu 19th Jan at MWCC Club Night




Why would anyone want to turn buttons?
They are readily available very cheaply from shops/internet although they generally tend to be of poor quality.  If you have turned them yourself, one commonly thinks of them as something special.
For example, the Wife of one of our Members makes bespoke handbags/clutch bags, which are elegantly finished with a stained or natural wooden button to complement the design and avoids that 'mass-produced' look.

  Coat Toggle 
One of the simpler fasteners is a 'toggle' commonly used on Duffle coats.  Paul had a piece of composite ply made from compressed colourful Maple prepared between centres, which he turned to a cylinder.  He then marked out the two ends and the centre appropriate for the intended button hole/loop. Over the years, Paul had fabricated his own scraper-type tools from old chisels and even from a 1" wide commercial hacksaw blade, although that had to be heated several times to reduce its brittleness.  Having selected one of his homemade scrapers, Paul skewed from centre towards each end to shape before finishing out a cove around the centre to accommodate the fixing twine using a gouge.

  Drill Jig
It is difficult to drill sewing hole(s) accurately and get each button looking identical. Any misplacement will appear obviously out of square.  Even with a single toggle hole, the starting hole is easy but difficult to get it to emerge within the cove on the opposite side. It is well worth preparing a Drill Jig to fit in your tool rest banjo and thick enough to provide a pilot hole which will hold a drill bit to turn steadily without any wobble.

Paul took advantage of the lathe's ability to lock the chuck into a fixed position and used a 5mm drill for this size of toggle.
With the shape & hole completed, abrasives were used through the grits, (finishing off by being applied along the grain).  Some wax / friction polish / lacquer could be applied before parting off.  In order to get a clean cut to the toggle ends, Paul used a Skew Chisel with its point downwards.

(click this photo for close up view)

  Small Buttons
To make a production line of identical small buttons, it is best to turn a cylinder of wood to the diameter required for the button hole and mount in o'Donnell jaws. Paul had chosen to start the demonstration with end grained wood which needed to be a hard wood like Box (as lesser close grain woods will probably be too brittle).  As small thin buttons have little wood to waste, the turner needs to reduce the number of abrasive passes, so keeping tools sharp and regularly diamond-filed will help.



Having squared off the exposed face, Paul turned a shallow dent in the centre of it to allow room for stitching to be wound through the sewing holes without adding thickness to the button. He then rounded all corners to help the button pass through its button hole.
The sewing holes for this size button needed a 2mm hole in the Drill Jig. The pilot hole was adjusted so that the drill was lined up parallel to the lathe rails and at a height that would start just inside the shallow dent. As there were 4 holes to drill, Paul hand turned the chuck until the gap between adjacent jaws was vertical before locking the chuck position. When ready to drill the next hole, turning the chuck to get the next gap upright meant it had turned 90º and so on.  Paul advised not to be tempted to drill deeper than needed for a single button because the further the drill bit is away from the pilot hole, the more likely it will wander from the required position for the following buttons.
Paul parted off with a narrow parting tool but said he was ready to support the button face with a finger in order to avoid 'chatter' marks.  He also warned to go steady when parting through the sewing holes to avoid 'pull out'.  It would also help preserve the stitching by chamfering the edges of the holes with a slightly larger drill bit.

  Larger Buttons
Any button over about 2cm diameter lends itself to added interest, whether that be from using interesting pattern/coloured cross grain wood; or using decorative tools (eg Chatter Tool, Decorative Elf etc) to create patterns; or using colours/waxes (eg ebonizing, Liming) to fill in or frame the buttons.

(click any above for close up view)

With slightly larger blanks, sometimes you are able to mount them in the gaps between the o'Donell jaws while still square.
As with the Small Button procedure above :- turn a cylinder; trim end up square; dent with slope down towards button edge; pencil mark circle for where holes will be drilled.  Any texturing should first have its preliminary surface taken to its final finished standard.
Next, apply your decoration, colour or wax before drilling holes and parting off.
 Top Tip : In order to avoid damaging the detail created, take care when using abrasives / cutting paste/ buffing.
In the case of waxes, apply Acrylic Sealer before any other finishes.

  Shank Buttons
These buttons have a fixing hole within a post on the back of the button rather than on their faces.
The technique when using a Chatter Tool is to have a slower speed & move the tool rest further away than for a gouge.
The shank was formed with a Parting Tool once the face was finished. Paul created a 5mm shank to accommodate a 2mm fixing hole.
He used a Skew (with point down) to part off.

The January Competition was set to produce at least 2 examples of buttons/fasteners turned out of any appropriate material.

<Competition Results>

(photos by Andy Ogilvie, Rick Patrick & Paul Reeves)
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Wood Thread Cutting with a Screw Box and Tap with Paul Reeves.
Thu 15th Dec 2022 at MWCC Club Night

(click any photos in this demo for close up views)

You will need a matching set of Screw Box and Tap.
A size suitable for cracking nuts would be about ¾" diameter.
A close grain wood would seem a better choice but Paul has had mixed results when tapping into hard wood end-grains as the resulting threads would often crumble away.
He found that threads were more sturdy when cutting across grain for hard woods.
If using soft wood, tap into the end grain after allowing some thin supaglue to soak into it. This will stabilize the resulting action of the cutter as it produces a thread.

Making a Nutcracker

  The Body
For the demonstration Paul had prepared a 3" square by some 6 to 7" length of Hornbeam to mount into a chuck.
The width of the holding bowl will depend upon which nuts you are intending to use : small nuts like almonds/hazel nuts would need about 1" diameter whereas larger nuts like walnuts would need more room. (Probably best not build one for a Coconut!)
In order to accommodate walnuts, Paul fixed an 1¼" diameter Forstner bit into a Jacobs Chuck held in the tailstock marked for a depth of about 2" - this would allow the walnut to be inside enough to be held steady rather than catapulting out the opening when applying pressure with the screw crusher.
With the bowl hollowed, the Forstner was removed.
A hole in the side was drilled with a size slightly less than the Tap's diameter.  (If you study the photo above for the ¾" Screw Box, you will notice Paul's Father had placed a
" flat hole cutting tool as a starting point but Paul chooses to use a slightly larger Forstner)
The Tap is going to form the female thread. Once the Tap has started a thread, it will need to be reversed a quarter of a turn after about every half turn in order to clear the cutting debris.
With the thread completed, the outside was turned and shaped into a barrel with the thread hole at the fattest dimension.

TOP TIP : When your gouge passes over the thread hole, you will need to avoid any excess weight into the wood or else you will end up with a dent/cove in line with the hole.
Keep a check where the bottom of the hollowed bowl is relative to the outside in order to avoid shaping the handle too close and weakening the piece.
Abrasives were used through the grits but again, being careful of around the thread hole or else it would end up elongated. The first grit has to rid the scratches left by the gouge, while the finer grits get rid of the previous abrasive marks.

The piece was turned around and a Jam Chuck was used to drive via the Forstner hole.
The original spigot was turned away to a thin support, but strong enough to maintain the piece against the Jam Chuck. The thin support was sawn off and abrasives applied to finish.

  The Crusher
A square blank of Hornbeam about 8" long was mounted between centres and turned to a cylinder at the required diameter for the chosen Screw Box size. 
The length of thread required on the dowel was measured from the outer edge of the bowl though the thread hole to the opposite inside edge. A further 1" was added to compensate for the distance the dowel has to go into the Screw Box to reach the thread cutter, which creates the male thread, and for the space of a chamfer to be turned at the end point of the thread (to help avoid damaging the thread as it contacts the nut or else the curved inner surface of the bowl).  This is best achieved accurately by use of a Skew Chisel held with the long point down.

Unlike the Tap procedure, the Screw Box technique requires turning the dowel in the same direction (without any quarter turns in reverse) so that the off cut exits the box without breaking off and jamming inside.
A handle was then turned and sanded before being sawn off at the chamfered bottom of the thread and at the top of the handle.
TOP TIP : If using softer woods, a hard tip could be added to the bottom of the thread with a hob nail or gluing a button of hard wood, eg Box, Rosewood etc.

(photos by Rick Patrick & Paul Reeves)
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October 2022  -  Demo 4
Animals  with Paul Reeves
Thu 20th Oct at MWCC Club Night



The Internet can show a confusing scrapbook of examples but googling, for example, "animals for wood turners" should be able to give you more focused ideas.
The challenge to produce something unique is to see a picture of a finished item and then use your experience and wits to work out how to achieve it rather than just following instructions from start to finish.

Paul had seen a picture of a hedgehog and thought he could improve it with an up-turned snout using 'Off Centred Turning' principles and some 'Texturing' to suggest a prickly coat.
(You can find both of these techniques described in our previous demonstrations

When approaching a project where you have to work out the way of doing things, it is likely that you will need to experiment on your first attempt. Paul confided that the finished article he had shown at the start was his second attempt and that he had adapted it from his initial plan.

He didn't need a big piece of wood - he had selected a 100mm length of 40mm square and marked diagonals on both ends. To achieve the eccentrical turning to come, he marked the centre and a small offset up one diagonal with a larger offset on the other side of the centre mark. He repeated this at the other end taking care to mark the same offsets adjacent to the same side edge.
The large offset would be used for the animal's underneath and one of the small offsets would be used to form the face.


The Body
With the blank mounted between centres, Paul turned it to a cylinder and then marked out the desired length of the hedgehog while ensuring that each end had sufficient remaining wood to be strong enough to support the head and tail drives for subsequent texturing and offset turning. He rounded off the back end of the animal (without parting off) and tapered the face end.
It was important to sand before texturing because it would be impossible to sand anything afterwards without spoiling the texture effect.

Paul's texturing tool was a metal-worker's Knurling Tool (although similar could be achieved with others available eg Henry Taylor Decorating Elf). To obtain the best result, Paul maintained a positive inward force to keep an even pressure on the cutting wheel(s) while the tool was moved along the tool rest making contact parallel to the surface of the piece.
Paul finished the body with some appropriately coloured stain applied with a cloth.

  The Underneath
With the blank now centred on both large offsets AND checking by hand-turning before starting that the piece cleared the tool rest, Paul started turning away the hedgehog's underneath. This called for smooth movements because of the the intermittent contact of the cutting edge of the gouge. The back and front ends were rounded away but importantly, NOT turned away more than the central axis of the starting cylinder (which of course is not the same as the central axis of this current configuration). Paul's intention was to get the end of the finished nose at the original central axis.
The underneath was then sanded with abrasives on a hard flat block held rigidly perpendicular to the turning surface such that it only sanded the newly turned surface without affecting the edge of the textured surface.

  The Face
The piece was configured with the headstock driving the central spot and the tailstock holding the small offset at the hedgehog's face end. Paul turned away the cylindrical wooden block end carefully so as to preserve the original cylinder's central spot, which allowed better access to turn away a curved face.
This was sanded with a flat block as above before reconfiguring both stocks to the original centres.
The tail and snout ends were turned away to almost parted. A Skew was the preferred gouge to finish off the cross-grain ends to thin stubs, which were then sawn clear.
The new cuts were tidied up with abrasives and fresh coloured stain applied to the tail end.
Paul set the headstock with a block holding an abrasive disc with Velcro in order to put a flat on the underside to aid stability.


Another turned animal that caught Paul's attention was an Elephant, but very much in a Scandinavian style rather than life-like. The design was clearly in 4 separate pieces connected together; possibly by dowels or perhaps by gluing flattened bearing surfaces.
Inspired by the thought of a pink Elephant, Paul chose his recently planked Redwood. This is a soft and slightly brittle wood so a ring centred tailstock would be best.

  The Head & Trunk
He had prepared the body prior to demonstration as it was a simple shape. Paul felt the stylized head and trunk shouldn't touch the ground nor be much higher than the body. He shaped and sanded before removing from the centres with a Skew Chisel across the end-grain.

  The Ears
With an appropriately sized square blank, Paul had band sawed it in half and had taped the halves together again with double-sided sticky tape applied to the ends. (This can be done after turning but it helps to keep the ends square). Both drive and tail stocks needed to be ring centred types to avoid the piece from splitting apart while turned to a centre. Having ridden elephants himself while holidaying in Asia, Paul could vouchsafe that their ears were quite triangular so he turned the cylinder into an oval shape before sanding and then removing from the blank using a Skew. This resulted, after separating, into a rounded triangular shape.

For assembly, he carefully checked where the various components would need to be joined so he could then sand flat the corresponding surfaces using the circular Velcro-holding disc above ready to be hot glued together.

The November Competition was set for a turned example of an animal as a stand alone piece or else on / in something relevant.

<Competition Results>

(photos by Andy Ogilvie, Rick Patrick & Paul Reeves)
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Taking on the Kilner Challenge with  Andy Ogilvie
Thu 15th Sept 2022 at MWCC Club Night


As an enthusiast of being given a challenge rather than following someone else's 'recipe' of turning procedures, Andy accepted the 'Kilner Challenge' :-
    To create an air-tight container like the renown Kilner Jar.

Following the standard plan of "Research -Theory - Practice - Refine," it looked like he might fall at the first fence!
No amount of Google searching revealed anybody, anywhere able to supply the wire hinges used by Kilner.
Neither could he devise a curved, hinged alternative made of wood; so his only alternative was to cannibalize the wire hinge contraptions from an old Kilner jar.
The closest he could find was that Asda had medium jars and clip top spice jars on offer for £1.20 (as of Sept 2022).

It turned out that this was helpful as it became clear that whatever size of hinge he used, it could not be adapted nor adjusted. Consequently, precise dimensions at the bottom of the lid and at the top of the jar were required for them to come together parallel and have any chance of the finished item being air-tight.

Before Andy started off turning wood, he prepared drawings showing all the crucial distances & circumferences between the wires when closed, from accurate measurements of his wire hinges 'stolen' from a 4" diameter jar.
These drawings were set and orientated correctly in his line of view from in front of the lathe.

Andy had turned a lid and a base at home and found ways to refine the design which he would highlight at the end of the demonstration.

  Turning a Lid
Andy had prepared a 4" square blank of Ash mounted in jaws and turned it down to a 95mm cylinder.
Working from his drawing and using an Outside Spring Caliper, Andy carefully reduced the end 9mm to an 80mm diameter cylinder. (This could be achieved with Parting Tool / Spindle Gouge / Skew - whichever preferred)
Using a thin Parting Tool and the Caliper, he turned a notch to a 76mm diameter, which matched the internal diameter of the rubber seal (also cannibalized from the Kilner Jar). This was subsequently turned back to the 95mm diameter as per his drawing.

Similarly, a 3mm notch with a wider Parting Tool was turned to an 86mm diameter at 11mm above the previous notch to accommodate the wire frame for the lid.
Next, the bottom of the lid was hollowed out while keeping in mind to keep the resulting wall thickness strong enough to withstand any forces from the wire and seal.
An appropriate groove was cut inside this hollowing to suit his chuck jaws in expansion, which would be needed to reverse chuck the lid.
Finally, the top of the lid was rough shaped WITHOUT parting off.
The sides, notches & hollow were carefully sanded to crisp edges before reverse chucking and finishing the lid top with gouge and abrasives.
The wire for the lid can be separated at the hinge and its loop be expanded over the side of the lid before engaging the appropriate slot and re-engaged with the hinge.  Similarly, the rubber seal was fitted into its notch.

  Turning a Base
This time, Andy used the seal and wire hinge from a 2½" jar for his demonstration.

had prepared another drawing and a blank of Ash turned to a cylinder of 65mm and with enough length to exceed 60cm depth of vessel.

The base was turned with the diameters, grooves, shaping and hollowing with regular check-fitting of the base with its matching lid (turned prior to this evening to save time) using the same method as described above for 'Turning a Lid'.
The thickness of the walls at the base opening is most critical for strength at its narrowest point (ie where the wire hinge sits.

Reverse chucking, shaping, detailing
and sanding carefully were completed as above.


Some thought should be given to which type of finishing to use.
As the most common contents of these jars will be foodstuffs, a 'food safe' oil or wax should be considered for at least the inside surfaces.

Andy explained that his first wooden lid & base attempt for a single jar was a design he subsequently rejected because it prevented the user to visually identify the contents, whereas a glass jar is obviously not as limited.
However, adding wooden lids to glass bases or wooden bases to glass lids overcomes this limitation and certainly enhances their style.

Another possible enhancement was by adding a flower decoration, which Andy demonstrated after the tea break using Box with a Purpleheart insert (shown above).
Finally, Andy produced a wooden top version for a Kilner bottle that he had made at home to complete the Kilner range as well as his Challenge for the night.

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August 2022 - Demo 3
Puzzles & Tricks
with Paul Reeves
Thu 18th Aug 2022 at MWCC Club Night


For clarity, games like Solitaire (although they involve many turned parts) are not considered a puzzle in the sense we mean tonight.
We are looking for a teaser that cannot be easily or readily solved.
For example, Paul's Ball & Beehive puzzle with its apparently disappearing ball, is a precisely turned piece with a very thin walled half ball within a segment of a model skep (ancient straw beehive).

  Lipstick Puzzle
The Puzzle Maker demonstrates to his punter that the inner lipstick is able to slip out of its tube by turning it upside down.
The task is to remove the inner lipstick without tipping it over. The stick is annoyingly smooth, pointed and barely above the rim of the outer box.

The skills required of the woodturner are to fashion the lipstick to a close fit of a perfectly parallel inside wall of a box and at just the right height to be unable to grip with fingertips. Also, as a contrast of colours appears more striking, choose woods that have stood long enough to have stabilized their moisture content and are of varieties unlikely to shrink/swell differently to each other on dry/wet days.
The best way to achieve the parallel wall is by using a drill held within a Jacobs Chuck in your tailstock, (although if you don't have these tools available, next best is a Box Cutter).
As accuracy of this cut is paramount and there can be a tendency for a drill to 'walk' on its first touch, you might consider using a Centre Drill Bit (aka Slocombe Bit) which are designed to provide a starting hole for a larger-sized drill bit.

 ¤  The Box Section
Paul mounted a rectangular block clenched between the side edges of his o'Donnell jaws and turned the exposed end to a cylinder of sufficient length for the outer box.

A Jacobs Chuck was fitted to the tailstock and Paul selected an appropriately sized Forstner bit with a toothed rim. Originally, a Saw-tooth Bit was used for drilling down end grain and a Forstner Bit for cross grain.
The lathe was set to a slow speed and a hole was drilled to about 30mm depth.

 Top Tip : When using a Jacobs Chuck, the operation works well while under the positive pressure of winding the drill into the piece but upon withdrawing, the bit can bind onto the inside of the cut hole and get pulled out of the morse taper. Suddenly, a perfectly still drill chuck with gear teeth has started revolving at the speed of the lathe. Anticipate this by supporting the chuck to stay in the tailstock with your free hand gripping it clear of the gear teeth.

Having checked the depth of the hole, Paul marked where he planned the base of the box to be with a narrow Parting Tool and shaped the outside to a thinner body. He sanded through the grits on the outside and also, more importantly, the inside using abrasives wrapped around a pencil.
To add interest, Paul used his Decorating Elf, brushing off resulting fluff with a stiff bristle brush, used a Point Tool to define outlines and then a Taut Wire to burn mark them taking care to keep the burn colour similar.

He parted off (still using double width cuts to avoid jaming up his Parting Tool) and then converted what was left in the jaws into a Jam Chuck to fit in the drilled hole for reverse turning in order to finish the base.
He removed any centre pimple with a sharp Spindle Gouge or a shallow pointed Skew, which cuts end grain very cleanly.
Paul applied decoration to match the sides although the circular burn marks had to be done with a formica edge.
Finally, a touch up all round with abrasives, gently done to avoid any shrinkage through sanding heat.

 ¤  The Lipstick
For a contrasting colour and lighter weight, Paul mounted a Sycamore blank as previous.
Paul quickly turned it to a cylinder larger than the drilled hole of the box so he could then carefully turn away the end with a Parting Tool, little by little, regularly checking against the hole until the end could slide in & out without any slackness.
He extended that diameter down the piece until further than the depth of the box.
He used a Skew to turn the end to a point and at a slope that would leave the cone shaped top reach full width below the lip of the box.
Paul sanded and decorated to match before parting off at a length that would leave the point just proud of the box, Paul used the o'Donnell jaws to reverse mount the Lipstick and finish the bottom.
The entire Lipstick was finally highly polished and placed in its box.

And the solution to the puzzle - blow it!
Providing there is a step down inside the lip of the box, a sharp puff will be funnelled down the side of the lipstick and pneumatically raise it up and out.

(click for close up view)

  The Sticky Ramrod

The punter is told of the importance of packing wadding tightly in a cannon and that in Nelson's time, there was a device fitted to ensure the cannon would fire its shot properly every time without misfiring. It used a rubber rope fitted inside the barrel which the ramrod could hook up to and tamp the charge more efficiently.  Here is a scale model and this is how it works. The problem was that only a skilled seamen could twist the ramrod the right way to make it work. Let's see if you have what it takes to be a Master Gunner.

 ¤  The Cannon
Paul mounted a 5" x 1" block of Beech as above but supported with the tail stock while turned to a cylinder.
With the tail stock withdrawn, the end was squared off with a shallow pointed Skew.
The Jacobs Chuck was re-fitted and as the end cross-section was quite small, Paul elected to start with a Centre Drill Bit before using an 8mm twist drill to bore a hole almost to the end.
Paul turned the outside to the shape of a ship's cannon.
A tiny hole was drilled on each side opposite each other just short of where the internal bore ended so that a string of rubber could be threaded through and glued at the holes.
The cannon was sanded, decorated and the back end (the Cascable) was turned before it was parted off.

 ¤  The Ramrod
A dense piece of Yew was mounted between his o'Donell Chuck and the tail centre to make a stick in the shape of a ramrod.
Using a Roughing Gouge to start and a Parting Tool with an Outside Spring Caliper for turning the diameter away with precision, Paul turned the blank to a cylinder with 3 sections (evenly spaced out) having been carefully turned down to just under 8mm but keeping a cylinder of wood at each end.

The Roughing Gouge was then used to turn away the wood between the 3 sections.
As the piece was getting quite thin, Paul rested one hand on top of the piece immediately above where the gouge was cutting.  This allowed him to lightly press against the upward force of the gouge tip cutting the wood.
Each ramrod end was shaped as shown in the photo below before being well sanded and parted off.
The distance between the cannon lip and the rubber was measured and a notch was made on the ramrod at a position where it would engage with the rubber string before the rod was fully in the barrel. Finally it was touched up all round as necessary and highly polished.

(click for close up view)

And the solution to the puzzle - it's like squeezing a slippery lemon pip.
The rubber string is a red herring - after the glue had hardened, a drill bit was shoved up the bore and broke it so there is nothing for the notch to catch. When the Puzzle Maker demonstrates his 'skill', he pulls the ramrod out as if it had resistance and by subtly squeezing forefinger against thumb, the ramrod will fly out of his fingers and smack back into the bore; all due to the end shape of the ramrod.

The September Competition was set for a Puzzle or Trick incorporating elements of turned piece(s)

<Competition Results>

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June 2022 - Demo 2
Bird Box with Paul Reeves
Thursday, 16th June 2022 at MWCC Club Night



You might have previously turned a Christmas Tree ornament in the shape of a bird box, but to turn one of full size would waste a lot of wood, unless you started with a log.

(click for close up view)

But before that, it is worth researching expert advice on sizes, designs and finishes.

A good place to start is from the RSPB  <here>

Leaving aside where and how to attach your bird box, some thought has to be determined about external & internal sizes before mounting your chosen log.
Apparently, the rougher the finish, the better for the occupants.
Inside walls must be rough enough for chicks to grip when they try to go for their first flight.
In times gone past, a perch was invariably incorporated but isn't any longer as they tended to be perfect for predators to lay siege on the nesting tenants.

Paul had considered making a box out of staves and bound like a barrel but decided upon a relatively straight log just over 6" in diameter.  He had started at home on a Graduate lathe because it was large enough to prepare the body and roof with the log as a single piece.

If you have a smaller lathe similar to the size of the Club's, then you will need to saw the log into the two component parts and prepare them separately. Whichever method you use,
Mount the piece(s) between centres;
Leave one half of the roof section untouched to ensure that the bottom of the roof will be bigger than the diameter of the body - this will allow the roof to sit below the top of the body and avoid rain getting inside;
Create a spigot on the bottom of the body section and another spigot on the top of the roof section to fit any reasonably large and deep jaws that you have for your chuck.

Paul's Leylandii log had been a victim of February's Dudley & Eunice storms. It was tight for the RSPB suggested dimensions but their sizes were suited for a rectangular box whereas Paul's was for a circular box, which after all is a more natural shape for a nest.

Shaping the Body
The body section was then mounted using the freshly turned spigot in the selected sturdy jaws and the outside was trimmed up with a Roughing Gouge.

(click above for close up view)               

Next, the centre was bored out with a Woodcut Pro Master Deep Hollowing Tool which could secure Twist Drills Bits and Sawtooth Bits with grub screws.  Paul did try using a Sawtooth Bit initially with a toolrest helping to start the central bore-hole accurately, but he found that it soon got clogged with soft wet fibres so changed to a twist drill bit.  Once the central hole had been started, the toolrest was moved out of the way because the rotating mounted piece kept the tool handle steady while the twist drill progressed precisely down the spin axis centre.  The hole would eventually go through the entire body and out the bottom to act as a drain but because of the limited length of the drill, this had to happen in stages as the inside was hollowed.
The body was now ready to hollow out to the determined diameter & depth.

From the photo above :-
the top 2 are 'pick' tools which are easier to control but work rather slowly because they produce small shavings;
the middle is a 'tip' tool which handles similarly as the pick tools but slightly quicker;
the 4th is a Woodcut Pro Forme with the brass cap acting as a bevel;
and the bottom is a Rolly Munro articulated hollower. The bottom 2 do a much quicker job but need practice to work efficiently.
There is one other option not shown above but had to be employed before these specialised tools came along - a hefty Spindle Gouge used very gingerly and taking a long time to complete the job.

Paul selected the Rolly Munro and started hollowing from the centre outwards. 

Ordinarily, one would aim to avoid producing vibrations and keep the cutter running evenly to maintain a smooth finished surface, but the inside surface needed to be a little rough, so hollowing out was progressed at pace.

Paul's technique was to have the tool handle pinned between his body and under his arm while using his body weight rather than arm muscles to keep the tool level with a consistent cut.
As the depth progressed, the ideal ratio of 5:1 either side of the toolrest wasn't possible so his left hand needed a strong grip to hold the tool down onto the rest.

Also, it was important not to lose the central hole.  Because Paul hadn't managed to breach the bottom of the piece earlier, he returned to his Twist Drill Bit once he had hollowed out enough to allow the Woodcut Tool Handle to go inside the body without touching the sides. Eventually, he managed to extend the central bore right through the spigot to form the drain hole.

Knots can block the tool head with poorly cut shavings and need to be cleared immediately as they prevent the cutting edge from working.  He continued to his planned depth and rounded off the inside floor like a natural nest. Having checked for even thickness of the walls, he used a Spindle Gouge on the outside and turn a curved bottom to match the inside shaping. 
Having determined the size and position of the hole as guided by the RSPB advice sheet, now would be a good time to drill the entrance, although Paul had done this before the demonstration.

(click above for close up view)


Shaping the Roof
This project is a great exercise for just getting on with the shape as there is no worry about the resulting smoothness or finish.
The roof section was mounted using the prepared spigot and Paul levelled off the base.
He had decided to create a dome in the centre and incorporate a recess to fit the current chuck in expansion.
Having marked the required chuck diameter with callipers, he used a Spindle Gouge starting from inside and carefully cut out to the mark. He finished off with an angled scraper to match the dovetail of the jaws.
Then he used the callipers again but this time set to the external diameter of the completed body and marked another circle in the roof's base and cut as above so that the Bird Box body could be inset into the roof.
He used a Parting Tool to enlarge and square off the inset rebate to a close fit.
These shavings were dusty as he was now scraping end grain.

This now allowed an opportunity to reverse turn the Bird Box body and finish shaping it's rounded bottom.
With the roof still mounted and the body pressed into it's rebate by the tailstock pressing against the newly drilled drain hole, you could turn away most of the the spigot and shape the bottom of the body, before removing from the chuck and chiselling off the remnant hollowed stub.

The roof was turned around and mounted into the newly cut expansion recess.
    Top Tip  :  After cutting a recess for an expansion dovetail, nearly tighten the jaws and hand turn the piece - this will help clear out the bottom of the groove and allow the piece to be held perfectly square.
The roof not only keeps the nest area dry; it can also be designed to deter predators e.g. a spiked minaret!

Finishing the Outside
As recommended by the RSPB, apply any finish to the outside only.
Paul wanted to leave the roof as turned but disguise the body by 'scorching' then using a Proxxon Long Neck Angle Grinder with a Carving Disc.

He used a blow torch to lightly blacken the body (executed outside the Fire Exit in order to avoid setting off the Hall's alarm!).
As the piece had to be removed from the lathe, a sensible precaution was to wear an appropriate glove on his hand in front of the flame.
The Proxxon carving tool looks intimidating but isn't when handled with respect and a bit of practice.
With the piece secured in the chuck, one hand held the body of the grinder while the other hand remained on Paul's side of the cutters, either switching the motor on/off or supporting the other hand or rotating the chuck.
When switched on, the rotation of the cutters will be trying to move the grinder away from your body.
Paul's technique was to just gently stroke the wood while pulling the grinder towards himself using just the corners of the teeth to cut.

If this is your first attempt with a carving cutter, it is probably best to practice on scrap wood before attempting on your hard worked piece. You might find it helpful to control the motion of one hand by supporting it with your other - rather than have both hands gripping the tool.

The first cuts Paul made were horizontal just below the entrance hole to give something for birds to grip upon landing. He specifically made the horizontal cuts angled downwards so any water would drop away rather than collect in the groove.
The rest of the cuts were vertical.

(click for close up view)

The July Competition was set for a Bird Box turned piece(s).

<Competition Results>

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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 1½" 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 Jam 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 Jam 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 Jam 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 Jam 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 ¾ 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 ¾" 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 Jam 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>

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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 12½° 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>

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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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