Welcome to the website of the Black Country Wood Turners ( BCW ).

We are a friendly bunch of people , who have nothing better to do with their time than to reduce otherwise perfectly fine pieces of timber to piles of shavings and sawdust on our workshop floors. Oh, yes, and every now and then this also results in something mostly round and brown.

If this is your idea of having fun, then please joins us on one of our meetings or as a permanent member. If by now you are thinking “this is weird”, then you are missing out on the rituals of a tradition that is several thousand years old and you are definitely in the wrong place. We are having fun. Are you? Do you live in the UK near Dudley, West Bromwich, Oldbury, Halesowen, Stourbridge, Kidderminster? We meet usually every 3rd Thursday of the Month at 6pm at Dudley College, The Broadway DY1 4AS room F1, and we would be more than happy to welcome you to our next meeting.


Important Notes:

Next meeting will be a demonstration by club member Wolfgang Schulze-Zachau on Thursday 19th April, starting at 6 pm. Wolfgang is still open to any suggestions for themes for the evening.

All-Day event, 10:00 am -16:30, on Saturday 3rd November 2018 our demonstrator for the day will be Paul Hannaby.  

February meeting

Our February meeting was a demonstration by Paul Hannaby, who was recently appointed chairman of the AWGB. He has demonstrated at the club before, a goblet with a barley twist stem, if memory serves. This time around his focus was on bowl turning.

We held the demo meeting in the room adjoining our normal meeting room, for a number of reasons. For one, it offers a big overhead screen which we could connect to our camera, and thus provide a much improved view for the audience. And I am pleased to report that we had a very full turnout of members. Another reason is that the layout of our normal meeting room is much better suited for hands-on days than demonstrations, since it has a massive staircase right in the middle of the room.

For his first bowl, Paul chose a piece of mahogany of about 8″ diameter. This was mounted onto a screw chuck. This mounting method, which works fine for bowls up to about 10″ diameter, has the advantage of giving unfettered access to the bottom of the bowl, so that a nice foot can be formed with push cuts, which leave a much better surface than pull cuts. Paul talked extensively about his choice of bowl gouges, which are in essence all standard grind, i.e. very little wing. For the finishing cuts he used a particularly heavy bowl gouge, showing us that the weight reduced any bouncing dramatically and the long inside curve creates such a nice slicing action that the finish turned bowl hardly needed any sanding at all. He also demonstrated how to use a stick of hot-melt glue to check the surface for any bumps.

His second bowl was to be a natural edge piece. The approach is pretty much the same: start on the screw chuck, finish turn the outside (and sand and decorate if desired/required), then turn around and form the inside of the bowl. Obviously the challenge with a natural edge bowl is always to get the first one or two inches of the cut done without losing the bark or any other accidents. A steady hand and a good eye for the ghosted edge of the workpiece is required for this.

A very pleasant surprise of the evening was the table showing the work members had brought in. A wide variety of items and, it must be said, all of good standard. Clearly our members are feeling fired up to get into their workshops and make things. Excellent all around. Here are some images.

BCWT –Demonstrator Training Day

BCWT –Demonstrator Training Day


On Saturday 27th January 2018, Black Country Woodturners completed its first AWGB Demonstrator training event held at the home and workshop of club member Wolfgang…..,

Four club members in total on the day being Wolfgang…….Roger Cheshire, Bob Mercer & Ian Brown

The event is all part of the facilities provided by the Association of Woodturners of Great Britain (A.W.G.B) and is open to all associated clubs and members around the country

We were honoured with our hosts Peter Bradwick, AWGB Development and Training officer, and Paul Hannaby professional turner and AWGB Web Master & Data manager. Together they provided a very full, information packed, and fun day.

The morning consisted of the educational training inputs detailing the methodology, planning, thought processes and preparation surrounding the delivery of a demonstrator presentation based at club level.

One of the morning exercises was for all the students to give a five minute talk on any subject of their choosing, topics ranged from Mad cows disease, Retirement, Workshops  & Wolfgang’s adventures around the world.

After lunch the afternoon session was taken up with Roger, Bob, Ian & Wolfgang presenting their 20 minute woodturning demonstration, carefully watched over by Peter & Paul.

Bob made a Honey Dipper, Ian showed the process of “Woggle” making, Roger made “The Magic Gene Bottle” and Wolfgang made a “Garden Dibber” using a “Skew” chisel.  All went down well with good constructive feedback and encouraging comments from our mentors Peter & Paul.

The whole day was rounded off with a good debrief and social chat before all setting off for home,  a good day was had by all with plenty of learning, fun, and tea drinking.

Black Country Woodturners would like to express our thanks to Peter and Paul for putting on a very enjoyable and informative day, and to Wolfgang allowing us into his home and workshop for the event to take place.

St Pauls Brownie & Guide Demo Evening -Thursday 1st February 2018.

On Thursday 1st February 2018, Black Country Woodturners, in conjunction with 3rd Blackheath St Pauls Brownie & Guide leaders put on a “Woggle” making evening for the girls aged between 7 – 16yrs.

Several weeks of planning and preparation went into event working with the Brownie & Guide leaders in advance to provide a creative evening for the girls to enjoy.

The idea being for each member of the Brownie & Guide pack, including leaders to choose a woggle from a number of  pre made styles then decorate and finish the item, leaving the event with their creative work.

The evening entailed a quick introductory talk to the Brownie’s and Guide’s about woodturning, followed by a live demonstration of a woggle being turned.


All the girls chose their woggle styles then went off to colour and decorate; having finished the decoration, the woggles were then finished off with sanding sealer and wax top coat.


All the Girls had a great time throughout the evening with many unique designs being achieved by all age groups…..heres just a few of the colourful designs below…

Feedback from leaders and the parents of the girls has been very positive with everyone enjoying the evening.

January meeting

The club meeting on 18th of January was our first proper demo at the new venue at the Broadway in Dudley. It feature a short turning demonstration by Melvyn Adams, and a much more lengthy demonstration of pyrography by his wife.

In fact, several friends of hers had brought in their pyrography machines, and the whole thing developed almost into a hands-on evening. Advice was freely given and the usage of various different tips, templates, patterns and what not was shown (and tried by club members).

We even had a fan operating to extract any fumes into the outside air. Wouldn’t want to trigger the fire alarm on a club night, would we now?

As you can see from these two pictures, there was strong interest, and several club members made little keyring tabs or similar items.


On the evening we had the highest attendance figure ever for a club meeting, with 36 people being in the room, of which 31 were club members. We signed up a few new members and some others showed interest.

This is an ongoing positive trend: our membership has increased by about 50% over the last 2 years, which makes it easier for the committee (and therefore the entire club) to manage finances, provide new and improved tools and demos. This positive trend was also shown in the number of items on the display table.

Hands-on Thursday night

I would like to thank all the members at Thursday evenings hands-on, it was our first try at using the new room . I think it was great success and thanks to all who participated, the cleaning went very well and the room was left as clean as we found it. If this continues I think in my opinion we shall be well settled. Also I would like to thank all those members who brought in there own work, it was an excellent show. { and it did not need lighting up this time } Thanks to you all.

The committee advised the meeting of the fire safety arrangements at the college and we carried out a fire drill including an evacuation of the meeting room into the car park ensuring we had the meeting register of attendance with us and explained to everyone were the assembly point was in Gervase Drive.

Club Meeting 20th July 2017. Dudley College Access Problems

The 20th July was a club meeting night. However the evening started badly when we arrived at the Dudley College Mons Hill site. The access road to the college was gated and locked, and club members were refused vehicle access to the building by the contractors. This obviously made things very difficult for some of our more senior members.

The Black Country Woodturners club is very grateful to the landlord of The Caves public house for allowing club members to use the pub car park. Unfortunately, parking at the pub left us with a long walk up through the woods on dirt paths to the college building. As the club meeting was a hands-on evening many members had brought heavy equipment and tools. Sadly for us a large proportion of the equipment was impossible to carry all the way to the college building which meant a somewhat curtailed evening of woodturning, but as usual with our club being a pragmatic bunch of people we made the most of the evening. Thank you to Wolfgang and Ian in particular for just getting stuck in.

The Black Country Woodturners club is very appreciative of the facilities afforded to the club by Dudley College but the club feels let down by not being informed in advance of the access problems. Hopefully the issue will be resolved by our next meeting in September.


Ashwood Nursery Open Day

As usual for the club, we had a stall at the open day of the Ashwood Nursery just down the road from Wall Heath. This event usually attracts a good crowd, and this year was no exception. There were a few differences to previous years, though: After some initial heavy rain we had a dry day (hooray) and there were no midgets (hooray) and the club had a much bigger stall, consisting of two conjoined tents.

About half a dozen club members enjoyed a day out, with demonstrations to the public, who in turn showed good interest. The club managed to take about £140, and as usual half of that goes back to the charity chosen by Ashwood, and the other half gets donated to the charity chosen by the club. Here are a few pictures from the day:

Club members Paul and Ron watching the public taking keen interest.

Sometimes there was almost a queue to get to the front!

One of our club members with his display.

And this is the display of another club member.







Two club members manning the charity table.

And here the chairman himself demonstrates woodturning.

Wolfgang Schulze-Zachau demonstration June 2017

Wolfgang Schulze-Zachau demonstration June 2017


 Blackcountry woodturner member, Wolfgang Schulze-Zachau, gave the June meeting demonstration. During the evening, he covered a wide range of topics including; wood carving effects, tool choices, sanding options, colour effects and other wood finishes.

Wolfgang kicked off the evening with a demonstration of wood carving and the preparation required to start the process off. He talked about the tools he used, including both manual tools and power based tools. He then demonstrated the tools to show the different type of effects that can be achieved with each. He personally preferred the manual tools and the fact that when correctly done there is no need for any sanding to be undertaken, he believed was a great benefit.

Throughout the demonstration Wolfgang answered questions from club members and gave practical advice about tool sharpening. He then talked about sanding and his personal preference for using professional products such as Abrenet.

He showed the meeting the tools and accessories he found most useful, including his palm sander and soft sanding pads he used for curved surfaces. He advised the meeting to buy the best tools they could afford, as he had discovered that it only “hurts” once and you end up with something that may last you a lifetime.

Wolfgang started the second part of the evening with an unfinished piece from a previous demonstration. He mounted the piece in a chuck and trued it up. Whilst doing this he spoke about the types of cuts he was using and the less experienced club members found this level of detail to be very useful. The wood used was ash, so it was plain and very light coloured which made it perfect to demonstrate colouring. Firstly, due to time constraints, he sprayed the wood black. This took only minutes to dry. Wolfgang then added some colour (green) and polished off the excess. This had the effect of highlighting the growth rings in the wood with a faint green hue. The overall impact of black with green highlights was very effective. Wolfgang talked about the specific products he used and where to buy them from. Throughout the evening Wolfgang was generous with his help and advice and everyone was grateful for the self-deprecating way he told us about some of errors and mistakes he had made along the woodturning road, to help the rest of us to avoid them if at all possible. Hot sanding of wood is a no-no!

He finished the evening with two further short demonstrations.

He showed us the technique for adding metallic colour to a platter and talked about the importance to only use the best quality brushes to apply the finish. The place to get the right quality was any artist material stockist.


Finally, he talked about the fact that even the smallest piece of very expensive hardwoods can be utilized.  He turned a door cupboard knob from a small offcut of ebony. Showing the meeting a glue chucking technique for small pieces of wood and demonstrating a number of woodturning cuts. He completed the demonstration with a simple wax finish on the knob, perfect!


A thoroughly entertaining and informative evening was had by all. Thank you, Wolfgang.

Mark Taylor Demo

Following on from the previous demo, where there was a mixup in dates between us and the demonstrator, this time around it was like fate itself had intervened: our demonstrator was struck down by illness.

Fortunately for us, this time we had a little advance warning, and our chairman and the event organizer managed to find a replacement, Mark Taylor. A few years ago, Mark hung up his salesman suit, and started working full time on his piece of woodland, and on that evening he came to use with his pole lathe and shave horse, to demonstrate how these are used.

Mark clearly is a very happy man, despite his clear knowledge and acceptance that on his own he would struggle to make a living. As far as he is concerned, though, spending all day every day in the woods more than makes up for all the financial deprivations.

His woodland consists mainly of ashes and rowans, with some other typical local species thrown in as well. He had brought some typical items to the demo, hand carved spoons and bowls, but mostly spindle work. His demonstration was a glimpse into what a typical bodger would have done: set up a camp in the woods, assemble a shave horse and a pole lathe (often only bringing along the metal parts and making the rest up from wood cut on site), and then producing hundreds and hundreds of “bodged” spindles, mostly for chairs and tables and the likes.

He started out with an ash log, about 2 feet long and 5″ diameter, and used a special wedge to split it twice down the middle to get 4 quandrants of roughly equal size. One of these was then held on the shave horse and Mark used a drawknife to quickly rough it into shape.

This piece was then mounted between centres on the pole lathe and then turned into a chair spindle with the same tools one would use on a powered lathe: a spindle roughing gouge, spindle gouge and skew chisel.

The main differences are that firstly the bodger has to power his own lathe by constantly pumping a large pedal on the floor, which is connected at the back to a rope. This rope is wound once or twice around the work piece and its other end is attached to a rubber cord mounted between two flexible poles. Between the poles and the rubber, this provides the energy store that pulls the floor pedal back up, thus allowing the turner to initiate the next pump action.

Secondly, actual turning can only happen during the down stroke. In consequence, very good tool control is required to get a decent surface.

Thirdly, the actual turning speed is low compared to motorized lathes, maybe a 200rpm or slightly more. Again, this requires good tool control, and some patience.

Mark clearly knows what he’s doing, as the finish on his items was nearly flawless. He also demonstrated some bowl turning on the lathe, which is generally done with hook tools and on end grain. This generally involves a cone in the centre to remain in the bowl, so that it can be held on the lathe (there is no such thing as a scroll chuck on a pole lathe), which is then whittled down to a small diameter once the rest of the bowl is finished, and finally removed with a sharp tool when the bowl is taken off the lathe.

All in all, a very entertaining and instructive, some might even say inspirational, demonstration.

March meeting

The March 2017 club meeting got off to a bad start when the demonstrator we were expecting did not turn up. A few phone calls later it emerged that there was a mix up with dates and confirmation e-mails going missing. In short, our demonstrator was not going to arrive. After some urgent conversations the committee asked for a volunteer to do an off the cuff turning demonstration. Firstly of course we needed another volunteer to go home and pick up some tools.

The whole evening was saved by Mick Smith agreeing to return home and fetch some turning tools and by Wolfgang Schultze-Zachau stepping into the breach and agreeing to do a demonstration.

Thanks to Melvyn Adams for supplying a piece of “wet” beech.

Wolfgang demonstrated a number of techniques as he produced a natural edged goblet. All through his demonstration he answered questions from the floor. He also gave tips and advice suitable for both beginners and the more experienced members of the club. Everyone present was very impressed by the way Wolfgang overcame every obstacle, some of which were; the very short notice to do the demo; using someone else’s tools; the chuck being tool small for the wood and then at the most critical moment he discovered the wood was rotten in the middle. However, nothing phased Wolfgang and he cheerfully carried on with the demo, thinking on his feet, and working out solutions to all the problems as he went along.

 A genuine master class in wood turning under pressure.

The committee and the club would like to thank Mick and particularly Wolfgang for saving the whole evening for everyone present.

 Club members brought in some terrific items this month.