This was Blackcountry Woodturners third event at the lovely Dudley Canal & Tunnel Trust building.
This time we were at the “Made in the Blackcountry” weekend craft event, along with other local people displaying and chatting about their particular type of crafts on display, and what lovely people we met too.
The weekend started with several members turning out of their beds and arriving on site at about 08:30am, for the grand set up to begin, by 10:00am we were ready to go, with lathe demo area and splendid craft display all ready for the visiting public to enjoy.
The morning foot traffic was a little slow but picked up as the day progressed, during the day it was great to see a fair number of our club members turn out in support of club and we all enjoyed a good old chinwag between ourselves.
The lathe was kept busy all day, entertaining the public, who as usual were very interested in watching what was being made, and asking loads of questions, the children especially enjoyed the demonstrations and went away with a free spinning top.
The first day concluded at 4pm and we all went home for a well-earned rest….
On Sunday we arrived at around 9am and prepared the tables for the 10am opening.
Thanks go to Steve & Rob Hackett plus Roger Cheshire , Kim Harris, Mel Adams and Roger Sherwood-Howells for making and giving away children’s spinning tops and other projects throughout the weekend, and also to all the club members that turned out to support us over the weekend….….well done all of you.
Again the public footfall was quiet to begin with but picked up throughout the day, again the lathe was in full swing keeping the adults and children entertained.
Blackcountry Woodturners welcomed back professional Woodturner Robert Till for the evening. Robert last demonstrated at the club in October 2018.
For our evening’s
entertainment Robert identified that he would be demonstrating how to
make a “spindle Turned” finely shaped candle stick by using the
“Reverse Turn” or “Inside Out” method, and during the
process he would be showing in detail how the piece would be
constructed highlighting how best to proportion / balance the project
out to the eye as it went along.
He identified that
the project was a “spindle turned piece using all the standard
basic cuts that Woodturners of all levels would be able to have a go
at, and that the project if made at home could be made as simple or
as detailed that the maker wished by adopting his demonstrated
To start off with
Robert detailed how he constructed two pieces of identical square
stock and glued them together but introducing a paper seal between
the two mating glued wooden edges, this technique later allows the
joint to be broken without damage to the timber.
The blank was mounted onto the lathe and Robert detailed how to mark up the blank for initial turning which in this instance would be the inside shape of the candlestick, as when the shape was formed the blank would be split open and turned round 180 degrees then glued back together again to form the internal shape.
For the next 40
minutes or so Robert turned the initial shape where throughout he
demonstrated the cutting stages, tool techniques, and logical step by
step process needed to achieve the first stage shaping process.
Robert then identified how to split the wood in preparation for the
re gluing process.
Robert then re mounted a pre prepared blank that had been stage 2 glued up giving the internal shaped detail, the blank now ready for the external shape to be applied.
For the main part of the remainder of the evening Robert demonstrated the step by step process in achieving the outer refined shape, going into great detail around the eye line balance and shape proportion, illustrating this clearly by “tweaking” the shape as he went along.
His detailed explanation of the process was clearly enjoyed by those present and created some very lively and probing conversation around techniques, methodology and finishing processes.
For the final part
of the demonstration Robert made the base to complement the
candlestick, we were all amazed that he managed to squeeze it all
into two and a half hours and had a cup of tea and biscuits in the
Another wonderful evening’s entertainment provided by Robert, well enjoyed by all and we look forward to his next visit with us in 2020.
has demonstrated at the club on several occasions and we look forward
to each of his visits, this occasion was no different.
objective of the evening’s demonstration was to show the audience a
number of different colouring techniques to enhance a turned project
and profile a texturing technique used by him on many occasions using
an arbour cutting wheel.
processes would be demonstrated via use of an air brush and several
ways of using / applying Jo Sonja iridescent paints to produce
various pattern structures and effects.
brought with him a good array of his own finished work highlighting
the various finishes that could be achieved by these methods.
started off by mounting a part finished Olive Ash bowl onto the
lathe, a few final cuts were made to the outside to true the piece up
and complete the dimensional shape.
then used the Arbourtech texturing wheel to score groves randomly
around the outside and round the top Rim of the bowl, highlighting
that he believed the best effects using this technique were random
patterns as opposed to formal or repetitive patterns.
outside was then sanded back to 320 grit in preparation for the first
Black colour coat, the part turned inner bowl was then waxed to stop
any pain residue on the inside; Keith stating that this was merely a
protective coat and would later be turned away.
satin paint spray was then applied all over the outside of the piece
ensuring that the paint entered all cut channels. Having demonstrated
the process, he produced a like piece that he had made earlier which
had fully dried and was ready to process further.
sanded back the black paint to the outer wood leaving the black
groves clearly visible; this effect on its own could be a striking
finish, the next objective was to apply a series of chestnut spirit
then invited the colour application to be completed by a member of
the audience, Ian volunteered then over the next ten minutes under
Keith’s guidance, Purple, Red and yellow stain was randomly sprayed
across the whole of the outer surface.
then went on to take a few cuts from the inside of the bowl to
highlight the colour contrast against the grain in full, this really
made the outer pattern stand out and cleaned up a small amount of
audience discussion it was agreed that this project had achieved its
objective and no need to apply a finish to the piece, this created
time to demonstrate his other finishing methods.
moved onto the Jo Sonja Paint products which created a good audience
participation discussion with a good flow of questions, answers and
amusing stories floating across the room.
the first application demonstration a part finished tea light,
mounted on the lathe, was again pre sprayed in satin black paint,
providing the ideal sub base for application of the Jo Sonja colours.
donned his trusty rubber glove Keith, by using his fingers rubbed a
thin covering of the Gold iridescent paint over the whole outer
surface, he then chose blue and green and in the same manner put on
top of the gold layer randomly placed colour patches onto the
his own innovative way, he assured that the next bit of the
demonstration he had practiced to a fine art and had taken many years
to perfect, he was laughing whilst he said it. He then ripped off
sheet of cling film and slapped it across the surface applied
pressure onto the film and twisted his hand back and forth on
completion removing the Clingfilm to reveal an amazingly good blended
pattern, he went on to state that when fully dried he would apply of
gloss lacquer which would make the colours pop even more.
provided a great stopping point for tea and the opportunity for
members to have a look at the first two items.
the second part of his demo Keith continued with the Jo Sonja paint
began by mounting a pre formed 12” platter, centre hollowed with a
3-4” border all round and the piece sprayed black stating that for
this piece again dabs of iridescent paint would be placed on the
surface but the paint would be spread by blowing compressed air from
the air gun, merging the colours together forming a “cloud like”
pattern. Again he invited members of the audience to come and have
ago at making the final product, when all the paint had been applied
a layer of Clingfilm was dabbed over the surface giving the final
cloud style impression.
then moved on to demonstrate the application of paint by spinning
colours onto the surface of two projects. Both methods would be
applied to part finished black sprayed tea lights mounted onto the
the first style he applied a rim of gold paint around the inner cut
out part where the candle would sit, to stop paint flying over the
audience and walls a plastic cake lid was placed over the tea light
and chuck area then started the lathe up at quite a fast speed. He
let this run for a few seconds then revealed the radiating striped
pattern around the outer edge of piece, this gave a striking thin
lined pattern that could be repeated in as many colours that you
wished but Keith advised that two or three were usually sufficient.
repeated the process on anther tea light but on this occasion, having
applied a slightly thicker coat of paint, spun the lathe at a much
slower rate, again after a few seconds stopped the lathe to reveal
pattern with much more build up around the inner edge and thicker
lines shooting off around the surface.
had a packed evening of information and fun we just ran out of time,
the evenings events coming to a close with a warm thank to Keith for
giving us a wonderful last few hours.
On Thursday last week we had Robert Till as our demonstrator. He has done a demo before, at our old venue, where he showed us how to make a turned bird’s house. This time he demonstrated his rocking bowls. They are mostly made from ash or oak, as the open grain in these timbers allows for the kind of surface decoration he is aiming for.
It all starts out with a blank about 8″ in diameter and 3″ thick. A drill provides a hole for the screw chuck and, once mounted, the out side is squared off, both on the flat underside and the rim. A centre mark is made on the rim to ensure the final bowl has equal curves on top and bottom (although I suspect this could easily be altered for variations of the form), and then the underside is turned into a gentle curve towards that mark. This curve must always allow for a small, but precise tenon.
Robert demonstrated using pull cuts for the shaping, and then putting the handle right down and closing the flute on his bowl gouge to perform a very gentle shear scrape. In this manner he gets a surface that needs very little sanding.
The bowl is then reversed into the chuck, and a similar curve is applied to the top. For the sanding he uses Rhinogrip, and he always makes sure to only ever use any particular spot on the sanding paper once, folding away used pieces as he goes along. His surfaces are sanded to 600 or 1000 grit. He then showed two different methods of finishing the top.
For the first method, he applied a thin film of Chestnut ebonizing lacquer to provide a simple black surface. On top of this is then applied some gilt cream, also from Chestnut, which is rubbed well into the surface and in particular into the grooves left by the annual growth rings. Once the entire surface has been covered, a paper cloth and some finishing oil are used to remove any excess, leaving behind only the cream in the recesses, and thereby dramatically enhancing the figure of the wood. This is left to dry, and the final finish are up to a dozen layers of finishing oil, applied one coat per day (or slower). Once the wood has been saturated with oil, it starts to build up a nice coat on top, which does not need buffing.
The second method of decoration was done with the coloured spirit stains from Chestnut. He first rubbed the entire surface with a purple colour, and then carefully sanded that back until most of the high points were left in natural again, and only the grain recesses showed colour. He then used paper cloth to apply dabs of colour in a pattern to enhance any natural features of the wood, and finally blended them all together with finishing oil.
A very instructive demo aimed at mid-level turners, and well delivered. Our display table was well stocked, and we had 26 members and one visitor in attendance.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.