Handmade: Britain’s Best Woodworker 2023

Congratulations to our very own club member Wolfgang Schulze-Zachau for competing in this year’s “Handmade: Britain’s Best Woodworker 2023” TV program. Wolfgang was the woodworker of the week in many of the episodes and got through to the final episode. Unfortunately, he did not win, but Wolfgang’s kitchen island, which he designed and constructed in the final was excellent.

Well done also to the winner Nathaniel Griffiths.

Demo Report – October 2023 – Stewart Furini

For our entertainment of the evening, we have Stewart Furini, who has now retired from being an English teacher to become a full-time professional woodturner and demonstrator who likes to play about with embellishments and texture in addition to colouring wood.

Stewart started by going through some health and safety information for the normal mask that he uses when he sprays paint or lacquer. He also showed how to attach the siphon glass bottles under the airbrush; he also stated that he had a different siphon bottle for each colour that he uses; in this way, he cuts down on the cleaning requirements. He tends to use chestnut spirit dyes, but he also stated that you would require a set of gloves as it was difficult to remove the stain from your skin. With a siphon/suction feed airbrush, you can use it without cleaning if you always go from light to dark.

Stewart started by applying a stain directly to the blank using a homemade template. He just followed the edge of the template and kept moving it around the blank to develop a pattern. He demonstrated how to alter the degree of shade by moving the airbrush at different distances from the blank. The template needs to be kept dry for this and needs to be wiped every couple of uses so that the residue does not mark the blank.

Various templates can be obtained from both Amazon and eBay; these come as singles and also as bundles of different effects; they are relatively cheap.

Next, Stewart showed how to use masking tape on a blank after using a lighter colour first and going along the edge of the tape to form a shadow effect. The centre of the blank is now removed to give an overall effect. At this point, you could also frame the colouring of the effect with an outer ring effect, which will also add framing to the blank. The blanks that are used are then all sanded down to 240 grit to give the colour a base for the dye to adhere to.

A second blank was then mounted on the screw chuck of the lathe, and while all of this was going on, Stewart answered all questions that were asked The rim was also trued up, and an angle was produced in the rim. A spigot was also produced on the base of the blank for later use. The foot was established first by using a pull cut, and then an ogee shape was formed.
With the blank in reverse, a Proxon Long Neck Grinder/texturing tool was used (alternatives include the King Arthur Merlin2 Long Neck Grinder and the Abortech Mini Carver) to go across the face while the blank was turning. Without excessive pressure being applied at this point, the speed is around the 550 rpm mark. Stewart then used the airbrush and cloth with spirit stains to demonstrate colouring the texture.

Stewart then used the same textured blank to show a different technique; he used acrylic paint by Jo Sonia, but first, the blank was covered in black ebonizing colour and allowed to dry. Next, white and blue colours were applied, with the lathe turning slowly. Stewart used a wood frame cover to go around the blank, which was held in place with magnets. This was used to stop the overspray from the blank The lathe was then sped up to produce a flying-out effect with the paint.

Stewart tends to use the following types of cutters on his Proxon: Arbortech and Manpa, with the size being 51 mm x 8 mm.

The above Manpa cutter was used on the first part of the demonstration`s bowl blank while it was being turned by hand, and a series of indents were produced around the blank. This was then sanded down to remove the feather edges. Stewart then used his airbrush again to colour the texturing.

Stewart covered a lot of different techniques throughout the evening, which everyone seemed to enjoy. He stated that you can use the blanks to practice prior to turning a blank down, as the wood would get turned away anyhow, so you do not need a finished bowl to practice with the techniques.

Rob, as usual, took control and looked after the video and sound, while Steve looked after the raffle.
Thanks go to all who helped with the refreshments, setting up the room, and cleaning up at the end of the event.

Report by Barrie Fisher, edited by Steve Hackett