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.

Paul Bellamy demo evening

Last Thursday we had Paul Bellamy as a demonstrator. Paul has been in woodworking and turning for a very long time, and brought his own lathe. His subject for the evening was “a bowl from a plank”. This is essentially a method where he cuts rings from a thin blank in such a manner that they can be glued together in reverse, thus forming a conical rough bowl. Once the glue has set, this can then be finish turned. A few minor variations in shape are possible, but obviously the basic shape is predetermined. He pointed out that for people who have access to cutoffs from furniture makers, and didn’t want to spend the time to dry their own wood or the money to pay for bowl blanks, this was a way to get by.

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He showed us a few of his bowls, and then proceeded to draw a diagram to explain some of the basics. Essentially in each ring the bottom surface has to match up with the top surface of the ring underneath (see picture). For different thicknesses of planks (and desired height of the bowl) this then determines the cutting angle. He pointed out that despite best efforts one needs to allow for inaccuracies during the cut and also during the gluing stages, and therefore the rings should not be made any thinner than 3/4″.

He then made an actual drawing of the dimensions of the board he was using, which happened to be one inch thick. There is no need to determine the actual angle, all that is needed is to scale up the drawing. He did this on an A5 sheet of paper, simply multiplying both dimensions by a factor of 4, and then drawing a straight line from one corner of the rectangle to the opposite corner (the rectangle being 4″ high and 3″ wide).

He then turned his blank into the round (it was mounted on a screw chuck with the hole not drilled all the way through). The first thing after that was to turn a recess into the board, to create a chucking point for the assembled bowl. This recess was turned, sanded and finished completely.

Next the piece of paper was fixed to the banjo by way of a small magnet, with its long side aligned with the lathe bed. This allowed him to orient his parting tool along the diagonal line, and therefore give the exact angle at which he needed to cut. The first few cuts with a bowl gouge simply removed the waste on the outside, and he then used a 3mm parting tool to cut the rings. He explained that the best tool here is a 3mm tool with a relatively small width, as, especially on the smaller rings) the curvature of the ring does interfere with the blade cutting in, and therefore the cut had to be widened to allow for this.

bcwt-demo-2Here you can see him cutting the first ring. This obviously requires a degree of skill, since the tool will ultimately hang over the tool rest by quite some way, and therefore speed should not be too high, to prevent heavy catches. This cut needs to go almost all the way, and one must stop as soon as one can feel the wood giving slightly under the pressure. He used his finger for this, which he claims is the best feeler of all.

He then stopped the lathe and put several pieces of gaffa tape onto the outside of the blank, covering the slot. Due to size restrictions he then took the entire chuck off the lathe so he could move the banjo onto the inside, put the chuck back on, and then very carefully cut with the parting tool the remaining distance from the other side. The tape held the ring safely in place.

He pointed out that once the ring is removed, its edges, and also the edges of the remaining blank, tend to be very sharp and needed to be handled with care, if not trimmed off slightly.

This action goes on until all rings are cut, usually 3 or 4 depending on board thickness and diameter.

Once all rings are cut, they need to be glued together, but in reverse, i.e. stacked on top of each other such that the flat surfaces match up. He uses Titebond Polyurethane glue for this, the reason being that it expands slightly and fills any voids, thereby creating a better bond. He has made himself a little jig for this, consisting of two large square pieces of kitchen counter, with 4 long threaded rods and wing nuts. Glue is applied to each surface, the rings are carefully stacked, using the fingers to ensure they are centered as well as is possible and then the stack is moved gently into the jig. It is important to apply the pressure evenly from all 4 rods, and to check regularly that the rings are not “swimming” away during this process.

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Paul then moved on to a previously glued stack. He used the screw chuck (the hole in the bottom ring is now on the inside of the bowl) to mount the bowl again, and then started to refine the outside shape of the bowl. This requires small cuts, as the screw chuck only has a little hold on the assembly. Once the outside is finish turned, with whatever variations in shape are desired and possible, it is sanded and finished. The assembly is then reversed and now mounted onto the recess, and the bowl is turned on the inside.

Paul prefers bowl gouges with only a short wing, almost a traditional grind, and explained that this is needed to get around the curve at the bottom of the bowl. With a carefully controlled cut no scraping is required.

He also explained his various little tricks, such as always keeping his sandpaper in the right order of grit, thus only allowing the roughest grit to acquire a dusting. He uses lots of little magnets everywhere to make sure his little helpers (such as rulers etc.) are to hand when needed, and not covered with shavings. He never uses large pieces of sandpaper, and recommends moving in a continuous action from one end of the bowl to the other, so as to avoid any burning or heavy sanding marks, pointing out that sand paper should not be used to define the shape of a piece, it should only ever be used to remove tool marks.

He recognises that many finishes are possible for these bowls, but for demonstrations always uses melamine lacquer, simply because it dries very rapidly and provides a very smooth finish with medium shine. This can then be improved on with a stick of carnauba wax, which is simply run across the surface several times, and burnished with a piece of paper.

All in all, a very enjoyable demo, with Paul paying good attention to the needs of safety and always making sure he brought his whole audience along, including any newcomers.

 

 

Dawn Hopley demo evening

On 18/02/2016, Dawn Hopley came to the club to do a demo for us.

Dawn has a background in industrial design, and has designed many items that most of us will have seen in many places, such as streetlights and car parts. After many trials and tribulations, including a stint as a teacher, she ended up in woodworking and woodturning. In order to use our camera and lighting rig, we had to move her lathe onto the rig, which made work a little awkward for her, as the rig was made for average size people, and Dawn is a little shorter than most of us. She put on a brave face and managed to make it work for her.

 

This was also the first time we used our TV display, and although this worked well, we probably need to learn a little more about the cameras. The picture was good, and all present could clearly see her tool technique, but the work piece was generally overexposed and just showed as a white blur. Clearly there’s room for improvement.

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Her demo on this evening covered primarily the making of wooden containers for small perfume bottles, which she sources from a company called Ampulla. Apparently, when bought in bulk, these can be as little as 20p per bottle with screw lid.

Most of her work is done in small diameters, usually branches of trees, of which she had a variety with her. She demonstrated the ease of using a steb drive centre mounted in a normal chuck and emphasis was given to using sharp tools.

Dawn started out with a piece of yew, about 2″ diameter and 8″ long. It was mounted between centres and rounded with a roughing gouge. Then she turned two tenons on the ends and parted it off about 1/3 from one end. The longer piece was then mounted in the jaws, and the face cleaned up with a spindle gouge. Next she used a 19mm drill to create the opening that will hold the perfume bottle. As these bottles vary slightly in diameter, this hole then has to be carefully widened a little to just accept the bottle, and it has to be deep enough so that only the shoulder of the bottle just protrudes (although it can also be hidden entirely in the container). For this, Dawn demonstrated the use of a box scraper and some simple wooden sticks with sand paper wrapped around them. Once the inside is finished, the outside is shaped with the spindle gouge to whatever shape is desired. Some accents were made by cutting small grooves with the pointy end of a skew chisel and then burning black lines with a cheese cutter (essentially a steel wire with two wooden handles on both ends).

The top is made in exactly the same way, with the main focus on remembering that there is a hole inside large enough to hold the screw lid for the bottle. When that hole is drilled and cleaned up, it is essential to ensure that the wooden parts will meet before the lid sets on the bottle, as otherwise an ungainly gap appears between bottom and top. In addition, Dawn usually adds some detail to the bottom of the lid, in order to hide the meeting place between the parts.

IMAG0055In order to finish the very top of the lid and the foot of the bottom, Dawn demonstrated the use of jam chucks. These are essentially pieces of scrap wood with a tenon on one side, so that they can be held in the jaws. The other side is turned so that it will provide a tight fit to the holes prepared in the bottle parts. When the fit is not quite tight enough to allow cutting, it can be improved with one or two layers of masking tape or tissue paper. In this way work pieces can be held without creating any jaw marks, and just sufficiently tight to allow small cuts, sanding and polishing.

Overall, a very enjoyable demo, especially for the visitors and less experienced members, who could see that even with very few tools and a small lathe very nice results can be achieved. Turn out on the evening was great, and it seems that our increased demo fees have not deterred anybody. If anything, we had more people show up than I ever remember before, including some visitors and new members.

There were not many pieces on display this evening, but a very nice apple clock and some sewing kits drew some attention.

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