Turning Times No. 53

Chairman’s Comments

What an appalling weather pattern we have experienced this summer, to date. Clearly this has affected many organisations that have had to cancel or postpone many outdoor events.
Several of us had planned to demonstrate at the Belper Steam and Vintage Event in early June, as part of our ongoing fund raising for our nominated charity. Thankfully the event has been rearranged for Sat. and Sun. 15th/16th September.
This period will be quite busy for us as we have also committed to attend the West Hallam Ploughing Match again this year on Wed. 19th September.

In my view the ‘Hands On’ sessions held each fourth Wednesday of the month have become very popular, which is attributed to the efforts of each host and to those of you who attend these evenings. Judging from your comments they are
informative, helpful and enjoyable.
Since our purchase of the additional (3rd) lathe, last April, we can offer up to 4 lathes in use for the ‘Hands On’ evenings. So if you have not been to one of these evenings, give it some serious consideration. We have 3 such evenings left this year, July, September and October. The added benefit is that they give the opportunity to make items for our
charity/ fund raising events, as well as honing our skills on the variety of items made.
A safe and healthy turning to you all.

Forthcoming Events

Wednesday 25th July

Hands On evening – hosted by Brian Thornton. Brian’s theme will be fruit, with an emphasis on making apples, pears and
plums. Would you please bring along suitable pieces of timber for this evening? For the apples – 75mm dia. by 65/75mm long. Pears – 65mm dia. by at least 90mm long, and for the plums – approx. 40mm dia. by about 100mm. (purple heart looks good for plums).

As for all ‘Hands On’ evenings please bring along your own tools and gouges. If you desire some practice on sharpening, there should be at least one of us to assist. The club’s grinder will be available during the evening.

Wednesday 8th August

Peter Tree – is renowned Chair maker from Lincolnshire, who as you expect, is also a skilled spindle turner. The evening gives us the opportunity to savour different skills and crafts, and promises to be interesting and varied.

Wednesday 12th September

Guy Ravine – a well known woodturner with more than 30 year’s experience, and with a format of many designs in spindle and ‘faceplate’ turning.

Wednesday 26th September

Hands On evening – host Malcolm Parkin

Saturday 29th September

Dennis Keeling – is well known globally for his segmented woodturning, and for his many articles published. This full day demonstration is one not to be missed.

Wednesday 10th October

Demonstrator to be arranged (Was Mick Hanbury, but he filled in for Sue Harker on 11th July).

Wednesday 24th October

‘Hands On’ evening – host Mike Puls

Wednesday 14th November

Keith Rowley and Chamber’s Cup Competitions and a Bring and Buy.
The Keith Rowley Competition is an open competition for all members, except the previous year’s trophy winner.
The Chamber’s Cup Competition is also an open competition, for all members except all past prize winners of this competition, (i.e. 1st, 2nd and 3rd winners).

Wednesday 12th December

Christmas Social evening – an evening of entertainment, competitions, food, quizzes, and more. Tickets will be on sale from September.

Trip to Westonbirt

This trip, planned for the August Bank Holiday, Saturday has been cancelled, due to insufficient interest.


David Francis Competition – Wed. 9th May

Some 20 items were entered from 14 members. Once again the standard was exceptional. From your voting papers of the evening, there emerged a clear winner – Gerry Marlow with his remarkable wooden pendulum wall clock.

Gerry Marlow - winner
Gerry Marlow - winner

The second prize winner was Brian Thornton for his Birch Plywood Bowl.

Brian Thornton - second place
Brian Thornton - second place

The third prize winner was ‘yours truly’, with a trio of bowls in zebrano.

Robin Barlow - third place
Robin Barlow - third place

This year, for the first time, the committee decided to reward all those members who enter a competition, (except prize winners), with a voucher that may be exchanged with either Gerry or Steve toward any item purchased from them.The committee intend to take this idea forward to other competitions.

Chestnut Products – Wed. 13th June – Terry Smart

Deciding on a finish for our turnings can be extremely confusing. I’ve gone through a number of “finishing phases” in my career, my first tutor having recommended a 4 part process: Danish oil + melamine + soft wax + carnauba wax! So I was looking forward to gaining authoritative guidance from Terry Smart, and wasn’t disappointed.
Here is a selection from his many points of advice and guidance (go tothe Chestnut website if you want more detail):

  • Sanding sealer: always shake can before use – apply when work is static – de-nib between coats (burnishing cream is very effective) – thinning isn’t necessary (soaks in too much) except on large areas
  • Friction polish is best used on small turnings
  • Wax: Woodwax 22 is a mixture of bees wax and carnauba; for a harder wearing finish use microcrystalline wax (more expensive though)
  • Lacquers: harder wearing, hundreds of variations; melamine works well with burnishing cream; better not to shake can (air bubbles)
  • the only complete protection against liquid damage is provided by Plastic Coating (not a Chestnut product)
  • Oils: lemon oil is clear and gives a matt finish; tung oil takes longer to dry; finishing oil (much the same as Danish oil) is quicker but discolours light timbers; hardwax oil is superior, gives a higher build and is clear
  • The only food-safe finish is…..Food Safe Finish; others may be safe but can’t be recommended as they haven’t been tested
  • Use a buffing system for best results
Terry Smart
Terry Smart
Black and Gold
Black and Gold

Mick Hanbury – Wed. 11th July

Mick very kindly stepped in at very short notice because Sue Harker was indisposed. I met him before it all started as I had to sprint down the car park to stop one of his blanks escaping towards the road!  Mick said at the start of his demonstration that he spoiled pieces of wood, so perhaps the blank had prior warning. He further endeared himself to me by scrounging a very nice piece of elm from Steve. He is my sort of turner.

Mick started with the aforementioned warning about spoiling wood including using an Arbotech, and then said that he was going to colour it and that it would look horrible part way through. This was all very worrying.

His blank (not Steve’s) was trued on the circumference, the front and for a short way on the back, so that he would know how far to go when shaping. The spigot and basic shaping were done with a large bowl gouge, shear cutting. The point was made that the dovetail spigot should not be too long, to ensure the jaws had a firm seating on the face of the work and that it thus would run true. It should also be the diameter of the chuck when it was closed enough to give a circular grip, thereby ensuring that all the jaw made contact with the work and not just the points. He mentioned that “travel lines” were caused by moving the tool too fast.

He finished the back of the bowl with a small gouge, commenting that such a tool required a faster speed. Defining the cut as a “finishing” cut was also frowned upon as it automatically tensed all your muscles. It was emphasised that bevel contact was essential, not only for a clean cut but also because the bevel polished the surface as well. This was evident when only 400 grit abrasive was used, rather than, as he put it, starting with the car park tarmac and working through all the grits! In order to reduce dust and to give a superb satin finish he has developed a beeswax/liquid paraffin mixture (of which he just happened to have several jars available for sale) that he 6 coats the surface with before sanding. This mixture, combined with the dust removed, also fills the grain. He uses squares of paper rather than the more conventional discs, claiming that the corners helped smooth transitions.

Before the sanding Mick used a rotating texturing tool on a part of the base. He warned about keeping fingers well clear of the rotating disc or the wood changes colour! This was typical of the ongoing humour shown throughout his excellent demonstration.

The bowl was then reversed and the basic shape cut, using step cuts. The outer section was finished and polished and the work stopped for the Arbotech to come into play. The tool rest was lightly pressed against the edge of the work to hold it steady and the Arbotech was used to cut random grooves between one o’clock and four o’clock, maximising safety by keeping the machine well away from the user. The bowl was rotated to bring the next section into the safe segment; this being repeated until it was completed giving tiger like stripes. Mick mentioned some horrific scenarios where people had badly hurt themselves with the Arbotech, to emphasise the need for great care.

The use of spirit dyes was discussed. Mick pointed out that the use of too much, by brush for example, could well have the colour seeping through the bare Arboteched sections to show on the reverse. To avoid this he used a blow tube and three colours, but took the precaution of wearing gloves for the process. At the end of each colour he shook the surplus dye onto the centre of the work before using the next one. He referred to the final cleaning using methylated spirit, emphasising the care needed to blow and not suck (unless……..!). More texture was then added to the centre of the bowl, but as he said at the beginning it looked terrible. The next stage was to apply black acrylic paint with a sponge brush, heavily in the centre (yet to be cut back) and spread sparingly outwards, quite unevenly. This had the effect of highlighting the texturing and toning down the bright colours. The whole enterprise was then given two coats of lacquer (allowed to dry over the tea break) before turning out the centre. During this he left a ridge in the bowl which was then textured. However he decided it was not right and removed it, using it as an example of trying things and thinking laterally – if you do not like it, remove it. Mick also commented that one mistake was bad, but three were “arty”.

The depth of the bowl was measured using a simple dowel with a friction fit in a simple piece of wood. The chisel was sharpened and a second bevel added due to the tightness of the radius. He commented that the CBN grinding wheel, although expensive, was very good. A shoe brush cleaned out all the dust before the piece was reversed onto a homemade foam faced disc with the tailstock brought up. Unfortunately when the spigot size was reduced the wood split and caused a mark on the base. Mick said that the alternatives were to make two more marks and call it arty, or fit three small feet. He did not have time for either, but used the accident to reinforce the idea of thinking laterally.

Air brushing  Mick Hanbury air brushing
Textured and coloured
Textured and coloured

Mick’s second project used the piece of elm that he had sweet talked out of Steve. This was from the next cut after a burr, and as such the grain was very varied. He decided to make a square bowl and stressed the need for care with the corners. Such work needs high speeds and with the variable grain direction cuts could be made in any direction, thus keeping the “hit and miss” corners crisp. He warned not to move the tool rest with the work moving as you cannot see the corners. The corners were sanded with the work stationary and then the centre sanded normally on rotating work. The piece was reversed and the four edges were castellated with the Arbotech. The corners were again sanded with the bowl stationary and the centre was further hollowed. This revealed a small fault (could it be a design feature?) which Mick covered by texturing.

Textured edge
Textured edge

He finished by emphasising the use of imagination – try it and cut it off if you do not like it.

He was thanked by the Chairman and justly received extended applause. It had been a good evening.
Chris Meaden

Health & Safety in the Workshop – Part 1

By far the most hazardous aspect in the workshop is dust. We all sand our work to get a decent finish and this creates dust. Wood chips are not so bad, but can be a killer: some woods are carcinogenic. Woods such as…..it’s very difficult to name any particular wood because so many are dangerous to a greater or lesser degree. Most dangerous are the particles too small to see in the air, but notice the covering of dust on all flat surfaces next day when you go into the workshop. Minor problems with wood dust can be skin irritation (itching) and a running nose, and the symptoms get worse. Spalted timber has live spores which can live quite happily in the moist environment of our lungs. When you purchase your first lathe you can’t start turning until you buy turning tools. Buying a good extraction system is just as important as buying a grindstone to sharpen the chisels. Buy the best you can afford. Always wear a mask: a powered helmet is best if you can stand the noise and vibration on your head, but a simple mask is better than nothing at all. Best of all, get a good vacuum system and remove the dust as it comes off the wood. Remember, if you can smell the wood you are turning/sanding, you are breathing the dust.
Malcolm Parkin

‘Hands On’ evenings

As mentioned in the Chairman’s Comments, these evenings are proving to be popular for their active involvement by members and for their production of articles for Charity. Since the last publication we have had evenings hosted by:

  • Robin – with members making several scoops during the evening.
  • Pat Murphy – with members making various designs of dibbers and diblets.

Those of you who have not been to one of these sessions, please consider coming along to our next ‘Hands On’ later this month, 25th July, as detailed above.

Steve Wright - Elston Saw Mill
Steve Wright - Elston Saw Mill