July 2015

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Hello again. Our July meet was not held in our usual venue; instead we went to Slane, to the craft centre of Seamus Cassidy and had a very full and interesting day as his guests. We were greeted by Seamus and his wife with tea and coffee before moving into his workshop for the first of several demonstrations. After a brief chat on the importance of care and safety and the use of personal safety equipment Seamus started by showing us how he uses up all the small pieces of timber, (which we all seem to gather)into very useful and practical objects. With two pieces of oak which were about 30mm by 30mm by 300mm long he skilfully turned these into pegs (see photo)which he strung together with a length of gardening twine to help gardeners keep their vegetables planted in neat straight lines.

I should mention here that Shamus told us how he likes to work with as few tools as possible showing his preferences, a 25mm roughing gouge, two 12mm bowl gouges with different grinds, a 10mm spindle gouge and a scraper, he also used a small ring tool scraper later on.  Here we had a short break and I took the time to have a look around his showroom which adjourns the workshop and admired both the artistic and practical pieces on display, one couldn’t help been impressed and awed by the craftsmanship.

Back in the workshop he brought out, already finished, a set of three small bowls in elm; I guess they were about 200mm in diameter, quite thick walled, these he set on a piece of cut slate, a detail he said made them more marketable. He explained how he turned these on a timber face plate with hot glue rather than chucked on a recess or spigot saving time on the finishing, then taking three assorted blanks he demonstrated how it was done. First mounting the blank on a screw chuck he trued up the bottom and then worked the outside until he was satisfied with the shape. Changing to a faceplate with a timber disk the same diameter as the bottom of the bowl which helped to align it he glued this with a hot gun glue, advising us to use the proper glue stick to give maximum adhesion. Giving it a few minutes to set he hollowed  out the centre finishing with the ring tool which gave a very fine finish requiring minimum sanding with very fine grit. Shamus then polished this up with liquid paraffin which seemed to be his preferred finish telling us he usually soaked everything in a basin of this overnight. Breaking the glue joint from the faceplate he only had to peel the dried glue from the bowl bottom and the job was finished.

Time for lunch and we moved out to the dining area where we were treated to a hot lunch followed by apple pie, tea and coffee. After the meal and a stretch of the legs we returned to the workshop for the afternoon session and here Seamus showed us how he tackled an artistic piece, a platter from an elm burr with a split partly across it.

With a piece like this Seamus told us he usually kept the turning plain, to let the pattern in the grain and the colour of the wood speak for itself and this showed in the finish work. Mounting the blank on a faceplate Seamus proceeded to shape the back to a slight concave and then cut a recess to take a chuck to work on the face. Satisfied with the shape he then took the precaution of taping across the split with duct tape to hold it together while he worked on the face.

Removing the faceplate he remounted it on a chuck and dished the face, checking the thickness as he worked with his fingers, then when finished he showed us several ways of stitching across the split for visual effect, first with leather stiches drilled in or burned in with a fine pyro pen.

For the last piece of the day he choose to do a goblet with two captive rings which as it happens was our competition object so I won’t go into detail, suffice to say Seamus turned this out in what seemed like a few minutes (I won’t say how long my effort took) anyway this ended a very interesting and satisfying day, thank you Seamus for your hospitality and interesting demonstration.

As I said earlier our competition object was a goblet with captive ring but despite the number of members there on the day there were only six entries which is disappointing, leaving the usual suspects to take first second and third, namely Jack ‘O Rourke, Jim Hynes, and Tom Murphy, come on lads show your skills, give it a go, its painless.

That’s all to report for this month, hope to see you all in August until then, work safe.


Pat Gannon