May 2018


Tom McCosh, was our demonstrator for the May chapter meeting but Toms demonstration was different from our usual, more of a conversational lecture, given by Tom in a relaxed informal way. Tom explained his approach to turning as leaning more to the artistic side rather than the functional and his signature pieces were vases, a couple he had brought along to show us were quite striking. Tom talked about the technique of working into end grain, as in the vases he makes, the best tools to use and this is where Tom comes into his own, he designs and, in some cases, makes his own cutters. He then went on to talk about the problems that are encountered working on long pieces that are held in a chuck, the vibration as you work towards the unsupported end and reaching in to hollow out narrow vases or such like. Here he advised on using the largest jaws on the chuck to hold the piece firmly and gave a practical demonstration with a cylinder of sycamore (220mm x 120mm approx.) mounted on the lathe with a 40mm hole drilled down the centre. He showed the difficult of reaching down inside with conventional chisels so here he used a hooked tool which he had made himself and cut a very fine shaving when drawing upwards with the grain, also giving the work a smooth finish needing little or no sanding. I could get carried away and write a volume on what Tom had to say about the structure of timber, his preference for native species, how it responds to cutting or scraping, moisture content and so on but I will just say, go to see one of his demonstrations if you get the chance. About this time, we took a break and, on the return, Tom gave us the choice of watching him turn one of his vases or making a hooked cutting tool, the majority opted for the cutter so Tom produced a 6mm rod of high carbon steel which he had ground one end flat and gave us a short lesson in metallurgy. Well, he did confess his knowledge on the subject was limited but he went on to heat the flat with a blow torch until it was glowing cherry red then with a fine nosed pliers bent the hot metal to the hook shape he required. When cooled Tom ground a bevel inside the hook and honed it to a fine cutting edge, it was now ready to be fitted to the holder and put to work. Thank you, Tom, for a fine lecture/ demonstration which I enjoyed very much and judging by the applause at the finish I know everybody preasant did too, I look forward to seeing you and your work again.

Pat Gannon

The result of the monthly competition as follows. Advanced section, 1st Pat Gannon 2nd Chris Hayes and 3rd Tom Gibson, Shay Clarke took 1st in the novice section.