July 2021 Show and Tell

July’s Theme – Simplicity 
National Simplicity day (yes, it’s a thing!) is happening in July, which has lead to this month theme of simplicity. We are looking for good from, simple design and excellent execution. No colour, resin, pyrography or such. We’re going back to the key fundamentals of a piece of wood becoming something simple yet effective. Will it be a bowl, vase, candle stick, spurtle? The choice is yours. 

Deadline for entries is the 31st July.

Prize – £75 total voucher for Brandon Bespoke Oils & Waxes. Brandon Bespoke Oils & Waxes will kindly add £25 to the £50 AWGB voucher.

John McNay

I was given this piece of Burr Elm some 10 -12 years ago in a wet & dirty state after the tree had been felled & cut up but left lying on the ground. I put it in my wood store & checked it every now & then for moisture content, cracks etc. It didn’t look particularly interesting & had a number of fairly deep voids so it took me a while to grasp the nettle & tackle it.

I decided that the most sensible project for it was a bowl, because of the shape of the burr, so set about cutting off the excess parts to try & balance it. Doing this exposed some beautiful graining in the wood so that clinched it – a simple bowl was the answer.

I mounted it using a face plate on an area I flattened to get a good grip. It was still badly out of balance so speed was kept very low until I had it roughed down. The tool I mainly used was a ½” bowl gouge in a long handle to give some control.

I had to decide whether to expose the voids & have holes in the bowl or leave it a little thicker & get the best effect from the grain. I opted for the latter.

The bowl measures 11” in Diameter & is 3” high.  It was finished with 2 coats of hard wax oil & then a coat of Microcrystalline wax.

The main lesson learned with this is when nature provides something with such wonderful grain & colour, keep it simple.

My advice to anyone trying a burr turning is don’t be put off by what may look an uninteresting piece of wood. Mount it  safely using tailstock support for as long as possible & of course, use all appropriate PPE.

Remember, sometimes less is more!

During the 2012 Olympics I volunteered as a coastal ranger along part of the Dorset coast and part of the role was to clear litter and other ‘rubbish’. An old oak fence post and parts of an oak gate fell into the latter category so these were cleared to my woodshed.

As we all know oak is exceptionally durable and although the outside of the post might show lots of signs of weathering (especially where the posts have been subject to winter storms and salt water), the inside can be as good as new. These posts were no exception and the title of Simplicity for this Show and Tell led me to make a series of bud vases.

I managed to get five blanks from the two- and half-inch square post each being five and a half inches long – enough length to hold the 5inch test tubes. The base of this blank was prepared with a short 20mm hole drilled off centre in the base as method of holding the wood in the chuck. A 16mm drill was used to drill through the length of the blank to hold the 5inch long test tube. Because this blank was being shaped off centre the tailstock was brought into play with live revolving centre. 

A 3/8 spindle gouge was used to cut the shape of the neck and then various grades of abrasive before applying a finish of sanding sealer and wax. No finish has been applied to the original parts of the post.
I love the way the oak on the inside of this bit of old post is as good as the day it was cut from the tree and its always good to be able to recycle some ‘rubbish’!
Steven Fearnley
This trio of tea light holders I feel fit the description of simplicity in turning. The whole emphasis of the pieces is in their shape and form, and their relationship to each other. No beads, no colouring, no texturing. Just form.

The holders are all made from a single branch of yew, just over 12 inches long, with a very even diameter. Some serendipity in the balance of creamy sapwood and darker heartwood has allowed a very pleasing natural patterning, just slightly suggestive of wax dripping down a candle. I have tried to reproduce the effect with other yew branches, but bark inclusions and non-circular cross-sections have resulted in a different effect, less satisfactory in my view.

Sizes are 5”, 4” and 3” tall, and 2 ½ “ diameter at the base. They were turned on a spigot, with a recess to hold a tea light at the top. This then served to hold the candles when reversed (with very light pressure so as not to crack the thin wall), together with support from the tailstock until only a small nib remained, while the spigot was removed.

The holders were given a coat of cellulose sanding sealer, then finished with three coats of wax – Tripoli, white diamond, and finally carnauba. All applied using the Beall three-mop buffing system. This leaves a high sheen finish.
I only use colouring and texture rarely and sparingly, and over the years have reduced the ornamentation on pieces I make, though I do like small coves, beads and fillets to set pieces off when appropriate. I remember Mark Baker often talking about form, small variations in curvature and proportion being so important to the “right look” of a piece. 

Simplicity is well worth pursuing.

Ken Webb

Most of my spindle turning starts with a square section of timber that is turned to a cylinder using a roughing gouge. The shavings from the square corners very quickly make a pile on the floor, or as my grandchildren say “Granddad is making hamster beds again”. I have often wondered what could be obtained if some of the square corners were not removed and left to form part of the finished piece. So the idea of a goblet with a square ring section was born, this is now my entry to ‘Show and Tell’ and how it was achieved.

I used a block of sycamore 4.25 inches square x 6 inches long mounted on my Apollo Woodpecker lathe using a steb centre drive at the headstock and a steb centre in a revolving centre at the tailstock after carefully identifying the centres using the diagonal cross points. The block was then turned to a cylinder while leaving a 0.75 inch square section 2.5 to 3.25 inches from the headstock end. Next a 0.5 inch spigot 2 inches in diameter was turned at

each end to enable remounting in my Nova scroll chuck. Choosing which end was going to be the top of the goblet the work piece was mounted in the chuck, again using the tailstock steb centre mark to ensure true centring.

The base of the goblet with the square part slightly curved upwards was turned ensuring crisp detail to all sections. The base was then partially

parted 2 inches from the square detail. The work piece was reversed in the chuck, again using the steb centre mark to ensure true centring. The outside of the goblet was turned ensuring it matched the part below the square section and the square part turned to follow the curve turned previously. The goblet’s bowl hollowed, insuring the goblet wall width and the square

section was the same. Sanding, sealing and waxing were now completed with frequent counts of my fingers as the flying corners are quite capable of removing one or two. The goblet was again reverse chucked using a jam chuck this time and the steb mark for true running. (I really must get a proper set of bowl reversing jaws).

The final parting of the base and the detail added to the base finalised and finishing completed. The finished goblet is 4 inches high and 4.25 inches along the square edge. The crisp detail was obtained by using a solid 6mm HSS bar with a long fingernail grind.

An interesting project that I hope will be tried by many people.