April Meeting 2018

Club member Wolfgang Schulze-Zachau was our demonstrator for the April meeting. His demonstration was based around deep hollow forms. Wolfgang started the evening talking about the pros and cons of working with dry or green wood. He had brought a number of blanks with him and asked his audience which blank he should use for his demonstration.

He gave incisive and thoughtful advise on how to deal with green wood turning, which he said was his preferred type of wood to work with. He answered several questions from club members relating to green wood turning. Wolfgang passed around a number of his very large deep hollowing tools and answered questions on how and when to use the different tools. He said that during his demonstration the method he would be showing us was the way he did things, and not specifically the way someone else might approach the same task.

Wolfgang chucked up the blank and set about shaping the outside of the form. He kept up a continuous commentary of everything he was doing, from the height of the tool rest to the different types of cuts he was using and which part of the tool he was using as well as the best angle of approach. This was ideal for some of the novice members in the audience but it was also helpful and thought provoking for the more experienced turners as well.                                      Wolfgang then discussed the merits of different drill bits to make a start with hollowing. As it turned out he decided to start with a spindle gouge. He had a couple of issues with the club lathe and chuck both of which needed additional tightening up. But then he very quickly got on with the main event of hollowing out the form. This was when the necessity for the extra long handle became apparent. With the handle tucked under his arm Wolfgang showed club members the safe way to approach the opening and how to hollow out the bowl, slow and steady. He said you needed to develop a feel for the tool as it cut inside the form and the only way to do that was lots and lots of practice. He said that having a good light source was also essential to enable you to see inside the hole you were hollowing and recommended using a headset incorporating magnification and a light source.

Wolfgang gave a running commentary throughout the whole demonstration and answered a number of questions on the use of specific hollowing tools as well as the negative-rake scraper he used to clean up the inside of the bowl. He gave tips and advise on the thickness of the base of the bowl, thick enough to support the piece when it was re-mounted  on the lathe but not so thick as to impede the drying process and risk cracks forming.                                           All in all a thoroughly entertaining and informative evening was had by all.                                                                              Thank you Wolfgang.

 

Club members brought in some fine pieces for the display table. (sorry about poor quality photos)

 

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.

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.

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.

January demo: Robert Till

In January, we had Robert as our demonstrator. He greets from Stafford and has been turning wood for a long time. His demo focused primarily on birds houses and bird feeders, both items that generally sell well at craft fairs, are fun to make for both the experienced and the less experienced, and do not require expensive materials or special tools.

Here’s the man himself:

The typical bird house can be made from many different types of wood, for this evening he had brought along some pieces of part seasoned sycamore, some with a little bit of spalting starting to develop, and in various stages of progress. The main body is about 4-5″ diameter and about 9″ tall (obviously this can be adjusted to available timber within reason), and a second piece is required for the lid, approx 1″ wider in diameter and 3.5″ tall. Depending on the method chosen for mounting the pieces, extra timber needs to be added to the length to account for tenons.

Robert started out with a piece that had been turned into a round cylinder, but nothing else. He put it between centres, skimmed it to ensure roundness and turned a tenon on one end, so he could it in the chuck. Once mounted in the chuck, a hole was drilled down the centre to approx. the depth required, and he started hollowing the cylinder, always taking time to explain the various cuts and tools used.

Since hollowing is not the most attractive work to demonstrate, this item was then swapped out for one that had been hollowed already. Robert made it very clear that the only chance of success with partly seasoned wood is by keeping the wall thickness even from the top right down to the bottom, otherwise one should expect cracks to develop during the final drying. He then turned a shoulder into the top of the bird house body, where the wall thickness is reduced from 6mm to 3mm, and finally proceeded to turn the foot of the body, where it gradually tapers into a point. A very important bit is the drain hole at the bottom, about 5mm in diameter, which ensures that any moisture can escape safely.

Robert did not do any sanding during the demo, but mentioned that the finish on these bird houses is very much left to the individual maker, but one should seek advice about suitable finishes from relevant organisations (clearly some lacquers or oils would be at the least an irritant to the future occupiers and at the worst a health hazard). The entry hols for the birds should be positioned at least 120mm above the foot (apparently that’s a safe distance where cats cannot reach inside), and its diameter has an influence on which birds can enter.

The lid was turned in similar fashion, with a lip protruding into the shoulder in the bottom part. This is where the two are eventually joined together with a few screws. Again, wall thickness has to be even to prevent cracking, and decoration is left to the individual.

Towards the end of the evening, a little bit of time was left, which was used to make a bird feeder to go along with the bird house. Made from a similar size piece of timber, the bird feeder has a domed roof, rounded bottom and a recess for the feed. Turning the recess is initially done with a standard spindle gouge, but in order to achieve substantial depth the use of a hollowing tools is required.

And finally a few pictures showing some more of Robert’s work:

October meeting: demo by Bob Mercer

Bob gave a really interesting and entertaining  series of short demonstrations.

The first demo was of a pewter turned pen, sorry no photo, which Bob turned using his own hand made pewter blanks mounted on a pen mandrel. Bob made the blanks by drilling a 12mm hole in a piece of dry wood 50mm deep and filling with molten pewter. He then drilled the blank and inserted a brass sleeve. Bob took time to explain the whole process to club members and answered numerous questions from those present. He also explained the need for a thorough sanding regime from 240 to 12000 grit and even using a metal polish to give the mirror finish he achieved. A really excellent demo.

Bob also demonstrated a slightly different way to finish off a 5” oak hand mirror.

During the evening he showed club members what can be done with what would be sometimes be classed as pieces of scrap wood. Bob made a standard bottle stopper then he turned a novelty off centre “ducks bottom” bottle stopper.

In a previous demo Bob was unable to finish a pendant due to a missing jig so he decided to finally complete that project in purple heart wood, and there was even time for an oak light pull.

Throughout the evening Bob gave members tips and advice on the use of tools and materials and the best sources for pen blanks etc.

Bob keep us all entertained with his story of building a coracle a few years back and the oak seat he had used for it, had been recycled, and part of that seat was now the 5” hand mirror he had turned earlier.

Bob delivered a packed programme and I can’t remember a demo with so many finished projects and so much sound advice.

And, of course, we also had a members work display table. Here are a few pictures from that:

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September meeting

The September meeting was a demo by Steve Heeley from Cannock.

bcw-sept-2016-022He turned a small box with a winged lid and a finial. He showed us how to create a “lattice/lace” effect on the wings of the lid
using a Dremel type drill, and answered club member questions and gave tips and ideas on several
subjects including types of finish.

He had a recent health scare and strongly advised all present to have a really good dust extraction system and to always wear a mask. An entertaining and very informative evening was had by all.

It was a real shame we only had 15 members turn up for the demonstration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Member's work on display.

Member’s work on display.

Sally Burnett

Sally came to see us on the 16th of June, for an evening demo. She hails from Stoke-on-Trent, and her website is well worth a visit.

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Sally’s demo focused heavily on design and decoration.  During the first half, she turned a shallow bowl or wide-rimmed dish from a maple blank, and in the process stopped many times to show the various samples she had brought along, with the aim of pointing out how small differences in shape can dramatically alter the overall balance and appearance of a dish.

She then proceeded in the second half to move on to decorations. This was a session where many of the club members did get involved in trying out the various techniques shown by her. It started out with stippling, where a thin stick (could be anything from a knitting needle to a tooth pick or skewer) is used to produce small dots of acrylic paint on a surface. Once dry, these provide colour, but more importantly they also provide texture. The opposite texture can be achieved with a small Dremel or Proxxon tool and a rotating bit, making small dimples. Both the dimples and the stipples can be varied in size between 1mm and 10mm, depending on tool used and how they are applied.

IMAG0092Obviously the same tools and techniques can also produce other shapes.

As Sally has a strong background in design, it is not surprising that she normally will use some piece of waste material to try out various ideas, usually in the form of small squares sat next to each other.

Sally then went on to pyrography. She explained the use of various different tips for shading and lines. All in all the variety was high, too much to describe in all detail here. All the more reason to attend the demos in person. Overall, the motto was “anything goes”. Nothing is sacred, any colour, any tool can be useful, and people should just experiment to find out what they liked best.