Les Thorne was our demonstrator for our May meeting. As well as production turning Les teaches and it comes out in his demonstration work.
His first item of the day was a crush grind pepper/salt mill.
He makes and sells a lot of these and he likes to colour them and the most effective wood he finds is rippled sycamore.
The sample he showed first ie. “one I made earlier” was red with ebonised detail.
For his demonstration he had pre drilled the holes but said that he starts with the smallest diameter hole and then the larger recesses.
This was explained when he showed us the special tool he had made that has two cutters mounted that cuts the two recesses in the base in one operation.
If you are making a lot it is a big time saver and time is money.
The body was the first part to be turned and he started by forming the bead at the base which he sanded and then sprayed with ebonising lacquer.
Next he shaped the body being careful to turn up to the bead but not spoiling the black finish on it. He brings it to a fairly slim diameter at the top end and how he can get away with this will be seen when he turns the top.
This came next and Les explained the thin neck at this point. He used to turn the spigot that fits in to the top, without opening out the bore, and then fit the plastic head of the mechanism and invariably the wood split. By fitting it first and then turning the top this didn’t happen so he could keep the slim look to the mill.
The top was turned, forming a bead first as on the base and ebonising it, he also ebonised the end of the top. Once it was shaped he put the two pieces together between centres and sanded the whole thing to a fine finish. Next he would stain it but stain will not take to a surface if it is too smooth so he first wiped it over with methylated spirits. This raises the grain just enough for the stain to soak in. For this mill he chose blue and used Chestnut Spirit Stain which he applied with a brush. When it was dry he lightly cut it back and finished it by spraying it with a gloss acrylic lacquer.
The finishing touch was to fit a brass stud in the end.
Les’s second project was a double ended box shaped a bit like a rugby ball.it consisted of two cones that fitted on to a central ring. The cones he made from American ash and the centre piece was oak.
First the cones. He turned a square blank to round, turned a chucking spigot at each end and then parted it in to two pieces. One piece was mounted in the lathe and was hollowed out using a spindle gouge with a swept back grind.
This is where the teacher bit came in to the demonstration. He has a pencil with a magnet glued to it which he puts on to the turning tool in line with the flute. Then when he is turning the class can see the angle at which he holds the tool at the various operations. Whose a clever boy then.
It proved a useful aid to a couple of us who are new to turning. Normally he would have the ends screw on to the centre but today he made them a tight-ish fit with a spigot in to recess. Or was it the other way round? Either way he reversed it on to the chuck and shaped the outside and decorated one with a fine cutting disc in a dremel tool giving a fine line texture and the other with a small arbotec cutter giving a more open texture. Both ends were then sprayed with ebonising lacquer and then Les worked in some gilt cream using his finger and not a cloth. Then he applied wax polish all over, removing excess cream and then buffed with a soft cloth. Sorry, I seem to have omitted to get a photo picci of this piece. Time to sack the sec me thinks!!
There is a picture of it complete in the gallery. (Fred)
Les’s final item for the day was a tall candle stick, or if you bored a hole through it you could turn it in to a table lamp, if yer like.
He chose one of the pine varieties for this, the spindle and base from two separate pieces. He turned the spindle first and used this to demonstrate the use of the roughing gouge, spindle gouge and the skew chisel, explaining as he went why he was using them to achieve the different shapes he was creating. Beads and coves etc. The base was turned using his bowl turning tools and explained the different ways he used them, either pull or push cut and why. He also discussed the selection of the wood for projects like this so that the components balanced for grain and design. Les didn’t do any sanding or finishing on this and donated it to the club as a piece for one of our charity events.
Guess what. Our kind chairman gave it to me saying that I could finish it in time for our show at Elm Court. Such a nice man***
It did give me a chance to measure the pieces and the base is 160mm diameter by 50mm high and the spindle is 320mm high. I finished it with sanding sealer and wax polish and fixed a brass candle dish to the top.
That was it for the day.
Les is very good at keeping his demonstration interesting all the time and very helpful to those of us who are just getting in to turning. It wasn’t his first visit to us and I am sure it won’t be his last.
Les referred to “my bible of shapes”. It is a book called Classic Forms by Stuart E Dyas. ISBN 978—0—85442—190—9 and I have found it on Amazon for £20.16. Yep, I’ve ordered one.
Our next meeting is on Saturday 13th June and Tony Walton will be our demonstrator for the day. Looking at his website it seems that Tony’s work is mostly decorated bowls and vases. Now I have said that he will prove me totally wrong on the day.
Come along and find out but be gentle with me!!!
See you all on the 13th.
Dates for your diary.
The BBQ will be on Sunday 19th July at The Fruiterers Arms starting at around 3.30pm. We have chosen the same menu as last year and the cost will be £10 per head.
The fish and chip lunch will be on Saturday 24th October. Price yet to be confirmed.
We are back at Elm Court Garden Centre again this year on Sat 27th and Sunday 28th June
and we will be supporting Marie Curie cancer research, the charity supported by Elm Court.
We would like any volunteers to man our tables for either or both days and more importantly we really need donations of all and any items from your box of “what can I do with these?” things. We had such a successful time last year that even the £1 box was practically emptied!! Please bring it all along to the next meeting and hand it to Dawn or Fred or anyone really who will relieve you of it.
Many thanks in advance.