Saturday 19th October 2019
For the 2019 all-day club event, Blackcountry Woodturners were very fortunate to have secured the professional services of the renowned National and International Woodturner Les Thorne, who travelled to us from his Hampshire home.
This was Les’s first visit to Blackcountry Wood Turners, but hopefully not his last.
Les Thorne has been on the Register for Professional Turners since 2001 after spending the majority of his working life involved with the family wood business.
From his workshop in Old Alresford in Hampshire, Les is primarily a production turner and works on a huge variety of jobs and with many different clients.
To entertain and educate us today Les was treating us to a number of projects with and without decoration, covering box making, bowl turning and a candle stick.
Doors opened at 09.00; the audience began to drift in and engage in the wood and tool sale areas, viewing and discussing displayed members’ work, hot drinks and general banter.
At 09:30 the audience took their seats, Les was formally welcomed to the club by Mell Adams, Club Secretary, and the day began to unfold.
Les began by introducing himself and described his woodturning journey to this point in time; he then began his first project and one that would then take up the morning and early afternoon sessions.
Project 1: A long curved lidded box, textured and coloured, this style is one of Les’s signature boxes, the audience were completely embroiled for the whole of the morning in listening, laughing and watching Les work his magic, each stage is well described, and demonstrated in great detail, his open manner prompted many a good question from the audience.
Les has an instinctive knack of using tools gained over thousands of hours and many years of work, he is always in complete control of what goes on at the cutting edge, and portrays this in a relaxed, confident style and light-hearted banter.
Having had lunch the audience assembled for the afternoon treats, initially Les finished off the lidded box, describing each step of the texture and colour application.
Project 2: A decorated Ash bowl “au natural”…no colour on this one, to the delight of Elwyn in the audience!
Les demonstrated each step of the way from mounting the blank, consideration of design and tool usage. Les again described and demonstrated to great effect various types of cuts including pull & push cut, shear cut and scrape used to form the bowl profile detailing the pros and cons of each method and the best time and place for their usage. Once the back of the bowl was complete in profile, Les then demonstrated how to place several bead rows onto the piece without taking the tool off the wood, a feat none of the audience had seen before, earning Les an appreciative and enthusiastic round of applause.
The bowl was turned round, and Les began work on the front outer rim decoration and hollowing techniques, again he very effectively described the tooling techniques used at each stage, going to great lengths to fully demonstrate and describe the inner lip undercut tooling sequence.
Following afternoon tea Les treated us to the making of a candlestick; he did this in what he described as “working mode” we all were amazed at the detail speed and accuracy he was able to achieve this project from complete start to finish, all the way through describing why and what he was doing.
His final half an hour is what he described as his “Play” time, demonstrating to us his bead forming skill with a skew chisel and a few other very unusual tools.
The day came to a close at around 16.30 with Les receiving a well-deserved and warm round of applause from all in attendance; we very much hope we can lure him back to the club in future.