Sunday, 2 December 2012

They're Multiplying!!!

 The Mushrooms are selling, and Rudolph was getting a lot of interest so I have made a few more to sell. Its amazing that something that started off last week to use up a bit of branch wood is starting to go well.........

Thursday, 29 November 2012


 Carrying on with my quest to use up all the branch wood I have laying around I thought, as Christmas is almost upon us, I would knock up a log reindeer to go with all those mushrooms I have for sale out the front of the house. My plans of selling it were however immediately scuppered when I showed it to my wife and kids, my three year old son Dylan spotted it, heard us discussing what price to put on it and said in a rather distressed way ................. "NO DADDY! Don't sell Rudolph."  Well what could I say?..............
Log Deer

 He (the deer not Dylan) has Yew legs and tail,a Walnut body, head and neck and his antlers are Hawthorn twigs from our Hedge.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Colour Series Pieces

Carved and Coloured Hollow Forms

  Enough Mushroom madness for a bit!!! lol.  This trio of my  'Colour Series' pieces has been a few weeks in the making. I have been working on them when I have had the chance.  This set is finished with silver highlights, I hope giving them a more 'cooler' 'wintry' look. I know these are much the same as the gold highlighted ones but I just wanted to try the variation. I think its very interesting to see what   such a subtle(ish) difference can make to the 'feel' of a piece. I still want to make a bowl set with this design as well as more variations in the carving.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

The Behemoth....

 After driving by my own house today I decided that the mushrooms I have for sale outside(see the last post) were not really noticeable enough  to people driving past. So I thought I would make one that would be seen even by those not trying to look......
Large Log On Lathe
 This is by far the heaviest thing I have turned on my lathe to date, the log was both big and heavy (it is very wet having been left outside to spalt). As it spun very much out of balance I felt very aware of how this thing could easily break my legs or worse if it came off, even at the modest speed it was spinning, something that heavy stores a lot of energy!!!                                                                  
Turning Large Mushroom
 Thankfully it stayed on and after getting the basic shape, most of the out of balance stuff was laying on the floor as shavings allowing me to breath a bit easier as I refined the final shape, undercut the cap and made the base slightly concave.
It was then just a case of reducing the size of the areas around the centres as much as I dared and a spot of sanding before removing the last bits with a good old fashioned mallet and wood chisel and a bit more sanding to tidy the chiselled bits  up.

Large Wooden Mushroom
 Just to give an idea of the size of this, I brought it in for inspection by my kids, Daisy was very impressed with Daddy's handy work!!

Large Turned Mushroom
Finally I took it back out to the shed for an oil finish to protect it from the elements and bring the colour out.
 And yes, the shavings are about a foot deep in there! 15 large and one huge garden mushrooms  make a lot of shavings!

Saturday, 24 November 2012


Wooden Mushrooms
 I have a pile of branch wood that has been collecting(it comes attached to the bigger bits of tree that I like!!!)  ranging from about 6 to 8 inches in diameter, too big to throw out but not really in a size range I use. I was looking at it and thought there must be something better to do with it(read as 'try to make a little money from it') than just giving it away for firewood.
Turned Mushrooms For Sale
 The solution was to turn them into some mushroom garden ornaments. I have made 15 so far in a few different styles and heights and put them out the front of the house for sale this morning, complete with a rushed yet colourful sign!
 Two went straight away....................... unfortunately for free(lol) to my sister who had popped round. Several people have stopped and looked at them but so far no takers!!! Maybe they don't like my prices!!!!
 I had to get them back in early though as the rain started (yet again!) and although the mushrooms are water resistant the little labels with the price and care instructions are not! I'll put them out again tomorrow if its not raining and give them another try.......

Sunday, 28 October 2012


Small Sycamore Oars

 Avast ye land lubber scallys!!! ARRRRRRR! and any other nautical sayings you can think of!!! I've made some oars!

Work, as usual isn't confined to just turned objects, Kerri from pitterpatterphotos asked me to make some oars for her to use with a small boat for her wonderful photography of new born babies. These are just two feet(60cm) in  length. They are Sycamore with leather bindings for the grips and a Danish oil finish.
 Do have a look at Kerri's site by clicking here as she does some really nice photography and you will get to see how she used the log I prepared for her in the post somewhere below called 'Log Job'.

....and lastly a nautical joke....... Why are Pirates called Pirates? ............. ............... ................. ...................... .....................

............................They just ARRRRRRRRRRRRRR!

Friday, 19 October 2012

Colour Series Evolution.

Carved and Coloured
  One of the best things about making a series of pieces is that you get the opportunity to evolve and (hopefully) improve on the original idea. This is of course a really good thing to do, for both the reasons of getting better pieces from the idea and learning much yourself in developing  techniques to better achieve the things that are currently peculiar to the idea but usable in other things in the future.
Carved Tops
 I'm enjoying exploring the basic design of these, the major change here is that I had noticed that some of the wider carvings changed(at some angles) the appearance of the form itself, so these have six sections, evenly spaced so that (almost) whatever angle they are viewed from the curve of the original form can still be seen, thus retaining visual balance.
 I personally like these white versions better than the original set (not that I dislike the first three! lol).

Thursday, 11 October 2012


Carved Sycamore Hollow Form

  Well here is number three, imaginatively called 'Green.' because its!  I guess I'll be calling it the 'Colour Series' .
  These have been a lot of fun to make, I have enjoyed the carving immensely and plan on doing more of it to build upon the skill.
 There are more colours to produce but I feel at this point three pieces makes a nice group as shown in the picture below.

Carved and Coloured Sycamore Hollow Forms

Wednesday, 10 October 2012


Carved and textured Sycamore hollow form
 Here is the second piece in the series of forms I'm currently working on. As the first was called 'Blue' I can only really call this one 'Red'....LOL.
 The carving on this one is a little more ambitious being 'wrapped around' the form rather than vertical as on the previous piece (although I have plans for a slightly different version of the previous style). I like this one a lot as it has a different look depending on the angle you view it, I think (or at least hope) that this gives it an added dimension and interest.
 Once again it is Sycamore under all that colour and four inches tall (I think I will stick to this general size for however many end up in this series for a spot of continuity!)
Textured hollow form
I am enjoying doing the carving on these and it is a skill I find myself keen to develop further as it just opens up a world of possibilities for embellishing turnings (and an excuse for buying more 'needed' tools to add to my arsenal  of course!).
 The colours are again artists acrylics  and the Gold is gilt cream which does a fantastic job on these at highlighting the texture, the carving and softening the colour.
 There will be more of these to come.......

Tuesday, 9 October 2012


Turned and carved Sycamore
 Well I got some more time yesterday to do what I wanted to do!!
 This piece will be the first in a series of carved and couloured hollow forms with gold accents. I haven't really come up with a name for them so as this ones blue that will do as a title for now!
 Its Sycamore under the decoration (lol) and its four inches tall and about the same width as height. The colour is all artists acrylic paint with the accents being gold gilt cream.
 I quite enjoyed the carving and surprisingly for me didn't even get too fed up with the hand sanding to finish the carved area!
Coloured Sycamore

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Gold Rim

Mahogany Carved Rim Platter
This platter has been sitting half done on a shelf in my little workshop (shed) for many months. The trouble was (for me anyway) that Mahogany is just not the most interesting of timbers, I had hoped that carving the angled scalloped rim would make it more interesting but still found it a bit boring, so it got put on the shelf with the rim carved but not sanded......
  I was looking at it the other day and suddenly thought making the rim completely gold coloured would be just the thing it needed, so off the shelf it came and I undertook the job of sanding down all those scallops to a good finish quality before applying a few coats of gold gilt cream to the rim and finishing it off with a gloss spray lacquer which both protects the gilt cream and brings out what the Mahogany does have colour and grain wise. The platter is about 12" wide.

Finished Form.


  Here is the finished lidded form from the WIP below. Its called 'Circles' for what I hope are obvious reasons!! The 'finial' is a three dimensional representation   of the two dimensional circles used in the decoration. The circles have all been burned in with the pyrography  machine using a small ball end tip one dot at a time! The colour and finish are a coat of danish oil left to dry, then a burnt orange colour dye(mixed from chestnut brand spirit stains) once again left to dry then a couple more coats of danish oil. The first coat of oil is just to stop the dye from sinking in too fast and colouring too strongly. The danish oil does give a nice matt finish over the dye. Hope you like it :)

Hollow Form WIP

pic 1
 Thought I'd show you how I go about making hollow forms (well a lidded form in this case), from the start of the process to having a finished form ready to be decorated.
pic 2
 I of course start off with a blank mounted between centres(pic1). This one is Sycamore that I have already cut on the bandsaw into a 4x4" square section, I think it started off about 8" long(but I didn't measure the length!).
 Once the blank is mounted centrally I rough turn it into a cylinder using my trustly 1/2" bowl gouge that is kept for this purpose, which I have sharpened into a long grind profile. I could use a roughing gouge here but I am just very comfortable with a bowl gouge in my hands LOL!
pic 3
 Once it is turned into a rough cylinder I square up the ends and cut in a dovetail for chucking(pic 2). To do this I simply use a diamond parting tool from the outside and dovetail the produced spigot using my super handy point tool (I only got one of these about a year ago and how I ever managed without it I just don't know...LOL).

pic 4

 As the blank was a little long for what I wanted I also parted in with a straight cut at the other end, made another dovetail on the produced piece so that it can be mounted in a chuck and the lid made from it(pic 3). The parting tool plunged in does tear the end grain a bit(at least when used as aggressively as I do..) but there was plenty of wood spare and the torn grain will be turned away in forming the shape anyway.

This cut stops leaving an inch or so of timber which is cut through using a saw.
  Pic 4 shows the blank reversed  and mounted in the chuck jaws with the removed end piece that will have the lid turned from it. I always use the tailstock for support while turning the outside of the form, it just ensures everything stays put!

pic 5

  The outside of the form is shaped using a 3/8" deep flute bowl gouge with a  long grind. Its quite important to leave enough 'meat' at what will become the base to give the required strength and stability during the hollowing process, as obviously you don't want it to break off or vibrate when you are trying to hollow. To be honest I have got a bit carried away with this one and should have really left it a bit thicker to avoid the chance of vibration.                                                                                                                          
pic 6

pic 7
  I start the hollowing process by first drilling down through the piece using a 20mm auger bit mounted in a Jacobs chuck in the tailstock. The dimple left by the point on the revolving centre gets the drill started off nice and centrally (without the dimple the long auger bit can try to drift when the screw end first hits the wood).     The lathe is run on a low speed for the auger. The depth to drill is measured and marked on the bit by a piece of tape so I know where to stop (crude but effective).

Pic 7 shows my home made captured bar style hollowing rig, its basically a few bits of old box section welded together with a cheap ebay laser pointer. It takes my Kelton hollowers and really takes the hassle out of hollowing. Although I can hollow with hand held tools I would much rather use this as I get to stand upright 'driving' it with my fingers and best of all the wall thickness is entirely visual by way of the laser, thus removing the need to constantly check and measure!!                                                     

pic 8
After opening up the augered  hole  a bit I cut a step inside(pic 8), this step is where the lid will sit. It is necessary as I like to have a flush fitting top on my lidded forms.
 At this point I remove the piece still mounted in the chuck and mount the small piece for the lid in a second chuck and turn the what will become the lid to the correct diameter. This is drilled (the hole can be seen in pic 9 and is where the finial/topper will be attached) and parted off, leaving it a couple of millimetres thicker than needed. I use a second chuck as I find it near impossible to get a piece to line back up perfectly true in a chuck after taking it out.

pic 9

 With the form and its chuck returned to the lathe the piece for the lid fitted (it must be a very snug/tight fit) I shape the lid and make any final adjustments to the top of the form. The hole in the lid can be used to wind a screw into for easy removal. With the lid removed I hollow out the rest of the vessel to the desired thickness ( with this piece its all about 5mm thick with the base about 15mm to give a bit of stability to the finished piece) Thickness isn't really an issue with wood as dry as this and as I intend to decorate it with the pyrography pen I don't want to go too thin
pic 10
as I don't want to get distortion from the heat.

  After hollowing I replace the lid and finish sand the top and sides of the form, I tend to go through the grits with 320 being the finishing grade.
 At this point I also cut in any markings to be made on the form before removing it from the chuck. You can see in pic 10 I have made a band on the lid for texturing. This is cut in again with the ever useful point tool.                        
pic 11

After removing the form from the chuck a cone shaped piece of timber is placed in the chuck and with a small piece of anti-slip matting to give it grip. The open end of the form is then placed over this cone and the tailstock is brought up with the revolving centre locating in the original dimple from the first between centres mounting that lines it all up perfectly. I then turn the the foot and remainder of the sides. I  leave a fairly wide piece attached to the bottom at this point while I sand the sides to a finish. The reason for this is if you haven't sanded the sides to the final grade and the form starts to break free, you have a real problem(well more work/hassle) to get the piece finished.
 After the sides are done I thin the piece in the tailstock right down as far as I dare  making sure to leave the base slightly concave (ensures it doesn't wobble). Its then a case of cutting off the last bit with a sharp wood chisel and finish sanding the tiny bit of base by hand.

 And that's pretty much it! A hollow/lidded form ready for decorating. Others probably do some parts different from me and this just represents how I do things......

Monday, 1 October 2012

Little Job.

 I quite enjoy little jobs like this coming in,a bit of bread and butter work :)
Fifteen drawer handles in brown Oak to replace china ones in two different sizes. I also have, amongst other things, to make in the very near future some finials for summer houses and a pair of small oars!!!!!
 Watch this space......

Friday, 31 August 2012

Garden Log Furniture.

Garden Log Furniture
Not much turning in this one I'm afraid! LOL, although I did turn the tenons on the table legs(or should that be table logs...ahem..).
Our old 'picnic' style bench has seen better days and after I used it to put a large log on for slabbing(it had to be lifted with a farm loader), it wasn't quite the sturdy seat it had previously been......
Anyway, I have a chainsaw and logs, so I thought why not have a crack at making my own garden furniture(as you do..)
Making the chairs from single logs is quite timber intensive but I have the cut out portions to use for turning and I really like the single log approach, it kind
Sycamore Log Table
of makes them a bit 'ancient throne' like(in my mind anyway,LOL).
For the table I used a more 'usual' log furniture style with legs made from branch wood.
I have burned a double off-centre circle/ring design on the chair backs and on the table top, which I hope gives them that little bit of extra visual appeal and ties the three pieces together in a set.
It's all made from semi seasoned Sycamore logs and I will oil it at some point but for now I want to let it weather and crack a bit, just to give it a bit of 'age'.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Silver Patina Bowl

We have a two day craft fair coming up on the 8-9th of September and I have been making some plain bowls to sell there. I decided to make a few 'showier' bowls to go on our table as well, these obviously carry a higher price than most 'craft fair visitors' wish to pay but I find them a good thing to get people looking and asking questions(and then hopefully buying something from the table).
Anyway this is the first new highly textured and decorated bowl made especially for this purpose. I used a piece of four inch deep Beech that was a bit wormy, I don't mind the worm trails in things I'm going to give an aged look/patina to, I think they add to the overall aged look. The inside and the silver band are covered in a metal leaf which after the glue has dried is 'aged' with with a vigorous buffing with a cloth, making sure to rub through on the corners as this is of course where an object would wear over time with a great amount of handling. The outer is randomly textured with a burr in a Dremel tool and the crackled area is carved in with the same tool. The 'cracks' are coloured black and a base coat of a slightly purplish blue applied before the silver.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Log Job!!

Its funny how jobs can just randomly show up on your doorstep isn't it? In this instance it was quite literally the case!
The doorbell rang the other evening, my wife answered it and came through and said "theres somebody who wants to know if they can buy a log" (I have a good collection sitting on my drive at present..). I went to the door to speak to the lady, who explained that she was a photographer looking for a nice log to make into a 'platform' for laying new born babies on for photographing.
We selected a log roughly 11" wide agreed a price and I cut the required length from it. I loaded it into her car and she went off to the cash machine to get me the reddies(I know I'm very trusting,LOL).
On her return she asked if I would cut out the 'dip' for the babies to lay in for her as she didn't really have a way(or prehaps a clue!) of how to do it. I lifted the log out of the boot again and this morning made the cut out by first chainsawing and then using a sanding wheel in the grinder to smooth it out. I also took the liberty of smoothing the ends out and rounding off all the edges to make it a bit more 'infant friendly'
I think its a pretty nice idea, a natural looking setting such as the log will look good and will certainly make a more interesting baby picture than the usual 'white cloth background. I couldn't resist popping 'Bedtime Bear' on to try it out! LOL

Friday, 3 August 2012


Well its been a while hasn't it........... I've had a lot going on in the last couple of months that has kept me away from the lathe and as a result from sharing my work with you. Well hopefully I am going to be able to produce a lot more work again now and keep this blog updated on the regular basis I have always mean't to do. Anyway enough babble, LOL, back to some proper work!

Pearl is a sculpture that is based around a 12" diameter broken Sycamore circle. The idea behind the piece is simply a 'Pearl of wisdom, bursting the bubble of illusion', in other words that little bit of truth breaking a long held incorrect belief.
The 'pearl' is a beech sphere that is breaking the circle which I have carved and coloured to look as though(I hope) it is deflating after it has been breeched. The base is a square of Mahogany coloured white to match the 'pearl' the ring is black, highlighted with gold gilt cream.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Far Out!

I've been messing around with circles as a decoration and the way they wrap around curved edges giving a cool pattern. This piece was an experiment with the circles and I just fancied making something with bright 'whacky' colours for a change......
Its made from a piece of Beech kindly given to me by Mark Rhodes some months ago. The base ends in a soft point so that the form sits tilted forward. The name came about because my wife said it looked a bit 'retro' and 'far out' LOL! It is six inches wide and three inches tall.

Friday, 4 May 2012

The Blood Urn

Well I couldn't just make things for the stall without doing something from my head filled with ideas!
'The Blood Urn' is more of a 'squarer' shaped vessel than what I usually produce and is coupled with the matching sphere to hopefully give a Human(ish) form.
I have tried to create the look of something very old and important and had the idea in mind of a burial urn containing the ashes of some great tribal leader or warlord, something to be revered by the leader's people for eternity. The striking blood colour, brushed with gold showing both the strength and wealth of the 'occupant'. I know that's a bit waffley but having an idea or theme really helps me get into what I want to produce, hopefully giving it a bit of feeling....LOL!
The piece stands around 9" tall and is mounted on a quarter of a circle base with a small rectangular panel of matching embellishment to help tie the whole piece together through all three elements. The colours are all acrylics and the texture has been created with these by the method of application.

Been a while....

Firstly I would like to apologise to the regular readers of this blog as I have not made a post for over two months. It is and always has been my intention to make a blog entry at
least once a week to keep things fresh and share with you all what I have been up to. I literally haven't turned a thing since the end of February until yesterday. I never really meant to take such a long break but have been busy working(the day job) and putting my spare time into my 'Reef Aquarium' which had been
getting neglected and badly needed a revamp.
The break from turning has however allowed me to look afresh at what I'm doing and hopefully allowed me to move away from some of the subconscious influences of others work. Anyway it felt damn good to be back on the lathe and making those shaving fly!!!
Tomorrow we will be having a stall at my sons preschool 'Spring Fling' event, so I have made several pens and 'Spinney Mushrooms' which always sell well at any event where children are present! I will of course have much more of my usual fare for sale too as well as donating something for the raffle. It was good to get my eye back in making these simple items. Now I just have to keep my fingers crossed for good weather and a wood appreciating, money spending public!

Friday, 24 February 2012

Ever have one of those days........

Well I've produced a lot of shavings today and have nothing to show for it........  My day started out good, with  no 'must do today' work on and this combined with an incredibly warm sunny day for February. I decided to take myself  off for a nice walk along the beach to soak up some of that lovely sunshine, I strolled along with the mp3 player entertaining me and lots of thoughts and ideas flowing through my brain. It was so pleasant that I sat down on the sea wall and just watched the waves gently roll in and the seagulls cruising around the blue was very nice!
 After walking home I had some time with my children, a spot of lunch and as my wife had guests with kids coming for a 'play date', I retired to the shed for a spot of turning. This is where it all changed!
  I firstly set out to make a hollow form for a little idea I have, I turned the outside, sanded it, hollowed it out and somewhere along the way managed to chip the edge of the opening!! Removing the chip somehow created another larger one and that was that, piece destroyed.....!!
  Slightly fed up with myself I decided not to make another form right then and figured I would make a thin bowl for a pierced piece I want to do as this would be simple and quick. The outside was turned and sanded and I hollowed the bowl out and finished the inside. I then proceeded to remove the mounting spigot with very gentle cuts( something I have done so many times previously) when 'BANG' and my bowl was sprayed around the shed! I thought 'OK, fair enough' this is bound to happen sooner or later when removing the chuck mounting from such thin turned pieces and I took another blank from the shelf.
 This time I didn't even get to finish hollowing it out, I managed to turn a 1/2" wide section half way down the side paper thin and rendering this 3rd item useless and what was worse this time it was definate 'driver' error!!
 Somebody once told me things always go wrong in threes!! Needless to say the shed is now locked and thoroughly defeated I have retired back to the house!

Sunday, 19 February 2012

All At Sea.

I have had an idea to make a few loosely based nautical pieces for a while. This piece actually represents the second work in this series. I thought one of the 'pointy ended' seed like forms I occasionally make would suit the appearance of a streamlined sea going vessel and I had the perfect piece of  bone dry English Elm hiding under the bench for the job!
 I had two sketches for the sail part, one being a large piece that would reach from the 'mast' to the very end of the hollow vessel and be pierced and the other a more 'yachty' design. I went for the second option as it gave greater scope for capturing a feeling of motion, with the sails filled by the wind and the whole thing displayed at an angle, hopefully conveying the feeling of a fast yacht being propelled through the sea.

 The 'sails' are made from very thin turned Sycamore that has a hint of spalting to it and the 'mast' is Beech. The base is made from a square of Mahogany which has been carved and coloured with acrylics. The form is mounted to the base by way of a thin brass rod which cannot be seen .

Friday, 17 February 2012

Something a little bit different....Pipes!

Tim enjoying his new pipe!
My good friend Tim James who both made and maintains my website, , asked if I could make him a new pipe as he had dropped and broken his favourite one. I naturally said, with slight trepedation, 'Errrr well, probably? OK then" , but after watching a few youtube videos on the subject and a little reading to learn the internal layout of bowl and draw hole, I felt more confident.
 Now although the preferred material for pipe bowls are Briars, these are not readily available locally, several other timbers however are suitable for making these, one of which is Olive wood. Unfortunately I didn't have any of that either, but very kindly Nick and Jane Arnull sorted me out with a few pieces to get me going (thanks chaps!).
Contemplating the Universe.....
 The hardest and most important part of the whole process is getting the holes right as the draw hole needs to enter the bowl at the very bottom to ensure the pipe is a 'good smoker' but with being careful and lots of measuring it came out just about right. The top of the bowl was then turned in the chuck and the first part of the stem between centres, this leaves the two ends sticking out from a block and the rest of the shaping is done by carving and sanding. The mouthpiece is simply turned from Indian Rosewood with the oval shape to go in the mouth shaped on the sander. The bowl was finally rusticated with some texturing, finished and buffed and she was ready to go!!
 Tim was most impressed with his new pipe and I spent a few minutes trying it out myself, a bit naughty as I gave up smoking a year ago...............

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Got Wood!

I've acquired a few bits of wood after the latest windy days. There are a few large spalted Sycamore logs at the back and the rest is Walnut!! A whole tree of the stuff!! The Sycamore is the rest from the milling post and is all around 18" wide. The Walnut trunk at its thickest is about 20" down to 12" and there is several bits of 6" or so branch wood(some bigger) Spot the cup of coffee for a size comparison! All I need to do now is mill it........