Monday, 13 June 2011

A 'Proper Job!' WIP

I was fortunate enough to be offered this old lump of Oak, filled with rot, deep cracks and some burr. Now I'm pretty sure looking at the condition of it most turners would have said "No thanks", but for me it looked perfect and was soon brought home. I have a 'thing' for really old Oak and its almost a case of the rougher looking the better! The stuff gets really hard almost rock like with time but develops so much character and a gorgeous colour that always brings me back for more! A piece was soon chopped off with the chainsaw and mounted on the lathe for roughing into a balance, very slowly at first as old cracked pieces of timber are not the most predictable and
I have been caught out before with bowl blanks coming apart at speed and do not wish to repeat the experience ,this thought being especially brought
home by the sad events in the woodturning world of late.
After getting the rather
irregular shape into some kind of balance,the speed was increased a bit and the outside of
the bowl was turned leaving a small spigot for
mounting on the chuck. Note that I have kept some of those deep grooves that lead into cracks, these are to be a feature and help bring home the feeling of great age I want for this piece.

At this point the two lines were cut and burned in with an old guitar string wire burner and the pattern pyrographed in around the band. To keep with the old rustic appearance the pyrography was made imperfect, the spacing between the 's' shaped elements is exact(I think that's important) but the forming of the 's' themselves was done by eye with no alignment lines drawn around first. A very generous amount of masking tape was then wrapped around to hold it together for hollowing the inside of the bowl out.
Even with all the tape tightly wrapped around, during hollowing there were a few cracking noises, the walls of it moved around and vibrated terribly and I began to think it wasn't going to
make it! However after some gentle and nervous hollowing I ended up at the stage pictured opposite. The vibrations and movements left me with various grooves inside the bowl that just could not be turned away(you can make them out in the picture) So the only option was to find up the sixty grit abrasive and smooth
out the inside the hard way!
Most of the tape had by now been split by the force of the moving cracks, so it was all removed
and a new 'patch' of tape put over the cracks to keep it all together while it was reversed for the mounting spigot to be turned away. It was then signed on the base and a satin finish applied over it inside and out.
All that was needed now was to 'repair' the two major cracks. This is where the title 'Proper Job'
comes in, I knew I wanted to use crude staples to bridge the cracks but needed to source some that were in keeping with the styling of the bowl. It turns out that staples are all galvanised, which was not going to give the look of great age and rusticity, it needed rusty ones!
I set off driving around the local back roads in search of old gateposts that may have some really old staples in, I found some embedded in some posts left in by an old railway line which has been turned into a public footpath, the wires they once supported long gone. I prised a few out and got some whole ones, although most were so corroded they just snapped upon me trying! I'm really pleased with the finished piece as it has turned out just how it envisioned in the minds eye.


  1. I really like that Johnny, it looks great, and I love the rusty staples. Instead of me picking up my handles why don't you come over to my farm, there is loads of old timber laying around that might interest you, plus my offcuts? Oh bring a chainsaw....

  2. looking good Johnny. It is great when this sort of wood is found.

    Take care and keep up the good work.