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......