January 2018

Having worked with wood in one form or another all my working life I now jump at the chance to try some different materials and skills. I got such a chance at our chapters first meeting of the year when one of our members, Tom Murphy, gave us a brilliant display of his skill and knowledge working with acrylics. This, a very versatile material which Tom showed us, can be used in so many ways. making jewellery, pens, decorating boxes and as much as our imagination will allow.  The acrylic comes in a two-part kit in liquid form, (Tom very helpfully gave us all a fact sheet, with the use and mixing of the materials, names and contact details of suppliers) which when mixed in the prescribed proportions hardens to a very tough solid clear form. To this mix is added colour in the form of dyes, using two colours or more together and moving them around in the mix gives a marbled effect, then when hardened, which takes thirty hours, can now be worked in different ways, for us of course this means on the lathe. Tom had prepared some pen blanks which he had cast in moulds and made up of a mixture of acrylic and wood, small pieces of waste which he had cut up and mixed in with the acrylic to great effect. I’m sure we have all made pens so I am not going into details about the turning other than to say Tom used a carbide tipped tool as the acrylic tends to blunt HSS chisels. Here I must also mention, the importance of safety equipment, namely a face mask and eye protection as acrylic, if not fully cured can be toxic, Tom himself used a full face shield and here’s a good tip, Tom had fixed a bicycle lamp to the shield which focused on the workpiece, very useful.  Back to the pens, when finished, the mixture of wood and acrylic combined well in texture and colour.

The next item Tom tackled was a piece jewellery, a bangle, and starting with a metal base which he had bought in, (refer to fact sheet) the outer face was infilled, again with a mixture of wood and acrylic. This was done by first casting in a mould, which Tom had made, the outer ring of acrylic and wood, this has to be to a very precise measurement as the inner metal lining which comes in two pieces has to fit inside it. The metal can be of copper, stainless steel or I think Tom mentioned titanium, the two then glued together with epoxy resin, which has a longer working time then super glue. This is then mounted on the lathe on a jam chuck and the outer face shaped and finished as if it were wood, coated with super glue or any suitable finish and polished to a high gloss.

The last item for the afternoon was a demonstration of airbrushing and the use of the equipment, stencils, inks, paints and so forth.  I found it a very interesting demonstration, well prepared and all our questions very well answered, thank you Tom.

The competition results are up on the website and the final word will be to urge all members to engage and get those entries in.

Hope to see you all next month, until then work safe

Pat Gannon.