May 2015

I always look forward to our monthly meetings, first to see what kind of pieces are entered for the competition and what I can learn from my fellow members and of course to see what our guest demonstrator has to show us.

This month we had the welcome return of the very talented Kristan Doherty who gave us a brilliant and sometimes nerve wracking demo of what he called thin turning. Kristan brought along some fine turnings, some so delicate one would be afraid to pick them up and one magnificent example of his skill in the form of what I can only describe as a tower of fine craftsmanship. This piece, about a metre high and was made up of an amalgam of the shapes that can be achieved on the lathe (if you have the skill and the nerve) a beautiful piece of sculpture.

On the day, Kristan demonstrated two pieces of thin turning, firstly a small goblet with a cup size of about 18mm in diameter and a stem size of around 180mm long and 3mm in diameter. This was from a blank of sycamore which was fairly freshly cut and pliant, he brought it wrapped in cling film to keep the moisture in. Locking it into the chuck he first hollowed out the cup and then shaped the outside, now he moved onto the stem just working about 30mm of this at a time bringing it down to the desired diameter always keeping as much timber on the chuck side for strength. As he worked past the centre he then brought in the tailstock for support, fitted with a pen mandrill and a little padding so as not to mark the wood (this fitted inside the cup). As he worked along and the stem got longer you could feel the tension in the room, everybody willing it not to break, but Kristan carried on confidently, describing what he was doing until he reached the end and formed the base, then parted it off. (to a collective sigh of relieve.)

At this stage I should mention how the sharpness of the tools is so important and the gouges Kristan used were like razors, peeling off very fine shavings and leaving a very fine finish. Then the finale touch, he steamed the stem and bent it in a press he had made to give the piece a quirky look. The second piece Kristan turned was from a piece of African blackwood, which he had prepared in the form of a 10mm dowel around 250mm long, to mount this on the chuck he had ready a 10mm collet made from ply, this I found was quite interesting as I had never seen one before. He also passed around a drawing of several different size collets and explained how they are made which was very useful. Now he set the collet in the chuck and passed the dowel through into the headstock leaving about 60mm protruding and when the chuck was tightened the dowel was firmly held. Kristan now began to work on this spindle starting with a very fine finial only about 6mm in diameter and down to a 3mm stem, as he moved along the dowel he released more of the shaft adding spheres and other shapes even including some captive rings. When he had about 150mm of the piece projecting he supported the end with an adjustable frame which he had made, I’m sure it has a name,( maybe someone can help me here)anyway he worked down along the shaft until he had about 200mm completed and there he parted off. The last part, the easy part, was to turn a base of contrasting wood, drill for the stem and glue in place. A very good demo Kristan, thank you very much, I for one will be looking forward to seeing you again.

Now to the result of the monthly competition , 1st place Tom Murphy 2nd place Jack o’ Rourke and 3rd Ciara Dowling well done all and thanks to all who entered, lets see lots of laminated bowls next month. Drop over to the galleries section to see the pieces!

That’s all I have to report for now, work safe and I hope to see you all next month.

Pat Gannon.


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