Event Reports for 2016

Shropshire Association of Woodturners

March Demo by Stuart Thomas

The demonstrator for March was, for us, a new person and he put on a demonstration of off-centre turning of small figures.

Stuart had lots of examples of the items he showed us how to make and throughout the demo they were passed around for ‘hands on’ perusal. He had a style of presentation that included lots of explanations and then clear instruction of the techniques he used to obtain the off-centre shapes.

He first made a stylised bird (or duck) from oak involving just one offset – something that any of us could do with a bit of practice at say, the Big Art Show for a short demonstration. After the break he explained about and showed us a tall, slender female figure which had three offsets. Stuart gave both figures to the club for us to use as we saw fit. They will come in handy, as references, for the Saturday teach-ins if those attending would like to try their hand at making them.

At the end of the demo Stuart gave me the directions and a series of drawings for the tall female figure which I scanned and sent to our Hon Sec Carol so that if any club member fancied ‘having a go’ she’d be able to send them by email (or pigeon!).

The Challenge attracted only18 entries (even though the turners’ challenge was ‘any turned item’). Anyhow, congratulations to the ‘placed’ advanced turners and turners – there were some very good examples and different styles evident. Good luck with the next challenges in April.


Tim Aaron

May Demonstration by Paul Jones

Paul returned to the SAW having given us a good demo last year. The turnout was good with five or six visitors two of whom joined up to swell our membership.

Paul set about producing a nicely shaped vase in two pieces which when joined had three grooves to ‘hide’ the join. The flaired upper part of the vessel was completed first followed by the hollowed out base second.  He gave us lots of information about each cut he was using and the finish he achieved without sanding was extremely good.  Form and finish are my mantra and the shape of the assembled project was simply beautiful.  Paul ran out of time to finish the item and although he didn’t get the base parted from the chucking spigot we could see what a good item it was when he stood the vase up, still in the chuck, on the lathe bed.    

June 2016 Demonstration by Alan Truman

Last year Alan demonstrated the making of a lidded box with a tall finial handle. This year his demo was a two-tier cake stand. His turning was precise as usual and his commentary instructional. He started with the base, a 12” diameter platter with a concentric double grooved decoration which was highlighted by burning the groove using a sharp piece of Formica. The 8” diameter upper level was completed in similar fashion and the support and finial were turned to fit the mortices in both the base and first level. The choice of woods was very good as the sycamore ‘plates’ contrasted with the tulipwood support and finial. Like last year Alan had brought the blanks necessary with which to make our own versions of his design and sold a few to members at a very reasonable price. He also very kindly donated one of the ‘kits’ for inclusion in the raffle. Thank you Alan, for the kit and an interesting demo.

July 2016 Demonstration by Mark Hancock

This month our demonstrator was Mark Hancock and he chose to show us the basics of how to make his most recent design, a ‘Rocking Tail’. There was much puzzlement and wide-of-the-mark ideas of what we were about to witness until, in true Blue Peter style, he produced an example of a finished item.
He started by roughing down to a cylinder a nicely figured piece of nearly green cherry. Mark then told us that we weren’t going to see any of the figuring in the finished object because the whole thing would be ebonised! The design could best be described as a hollow form, the neck of which would have open, flower-like petals, the body shaped like a handgrenade which would blend into a very long fine tail.

Having turned the rim, which would later be cut into five ‘petals’, he hollowed out the body, To retain strength and avoid vibration, he kept the area where the delicate tail was going to be turned at the original diameter of the cylinder.
Here the fun started. Using an Arbortech, fitted with a mini chain saw type cutting edge, he styled the body in the afore-mentioned ‘grenade’ pattern. He also cut the rim to form the ‘petals’ with the same tool. The tailstock was then brought up to provide light support for the petal end of the piece. The tail was formed with great skill and patience, even using some of the wood that formed the spiggot! At the interface of the body and the tail Mark carved some grooves to connect the grenade pattern to the smooth tail.

More fun ensued. After covering the different types of gases and their burning temperatures he proceded to ebonise the piece using the gas which burns at the highest temperature. Using this gas allowed Mark to ebonise the surface quickly without drying it out too much. Brushing the surface took away the burnt dust and gave it a lustrous satin finish.

As Mark said, he nowadays enjoys making things that are purely decorative and don’t appear to have any practical use. In other words a work of art, I suppose. All in all a very entertaining demo. Thank you Mark.

Tim Aaron

September Demonstration by Gerry Marlow

The club welcomed back Gerry and his wife for our 28th September demo evening.  There was a good turnout of members and they weren’t disappointed with the skill and speed on show.  He started the first section with a hollow form in two parts, which was entertaining and inspiring.  The process started from the usual square cross-section blank which was about 350mm long, being roughed down to a cylinder.  Chucking spiggots were cut at each end and the blank parted through at the one third/two thirds point.  The lower part of the hollow form was shaped and finished on the outside then hollowed out.  Both inside and outside were sanded to a finish and parted off.  The first bit of fun was the burning with a blow torch the different coloured paints which had been sprayed onto the outside.  Gerry allowed the paint to burn for only a short time before extinguishing it.  The effect was very novel as blisters had formed and there was scorching in places.  He allowed the whole thing to dry and cool down as the blisters were delicate until hardened.  This finished the first hour in an exciting way and we broke for coffee, tea and cake. 

The challenge was judged and the raffle drawn before we reassembled for ‘part two’.  Next, the upper part of the form was turned to its final shape including the narrow hole through which dried flowers, etc. could be inserted.  This wasn’t the final decoration for the top. Using a router the upper part had radial grooves cut which ran from the collar around the neck at the top out to the flared rim.  Still in ‘pyro’ mode he scorched the high points (more blow torching!).  Then, as it was relatively delicate, a similar one from a previous demo was passed around gaining general approval.

Next Gerry made an off-centre goblet, the base and bowl of which looked absolutely normal.  Of course it wasn’t going to be normal at all…  The stem was turned with off-centre beads at each end and a fine spiggot to locate in the cup and base.  The quirkiness of the piece when assembled was achieved by Gerry drilling the holes in the base and cup at an angle so that the goblet leant to one side looking quite precarious.  He then quickly turned a lid and another decorative finial which was inserted into a hole drilled at yet another crazy angle.  Brilliant!  With ten minutes left of our allotted time he took a blank of lacewood and with amazing speed and skill produced one of his trademark off-centre candlesticks!  There was no stopping the man!

All-in-all Gerry gave us a very entertaining and inspirational evening.  As a parting gesture he kindly donated the goblet and candlestick to the club.  Thank you, Gerry, for the demo and the turned items – we really enjoyed it all.  Graham Patience for first slip!

Tim Aaron


October 2016 Seminar Report

Due to popular demand Tracy Owen again delighted us with an all-day seminar. The event used the same format as last year’s successful day and was run, with a guiding hand, by Carol who provided a beautiful chicken, ham and leek pie with buttered new potatoes ( I had ‘seconds’ again this year!). The sit down meal allowed us to chat and get to know each other better and to welcome our 7 visitors who swelled the number of attendees to 38. Our promotions obviously did the trick!

Tracy arrived in good time and together with his friend Peter got set up for the 10 o’clock start. The first piece was a shallow square-edged bowl/platter from a block of yew which had waney edges on two opposite sides. As is usual for yew, the unassuming block revealed the most beautiful colours and grain patterns when he got going. Tracy is really good value when demonstrating as he’s aware of what we can see on the screens and makes sure we understand what he’s doing. He also keeps a running commentary going and even finds time for a bit of banter with the audience.


Off-centre turning was demonstrated in the form of a ‘Saturn bowl’. The piece was essentially a bowl ‘erupting’ through an off-centre (saturn) ring and an intentional ‘pimple’ shaped at the bottom of the bowl on which it rested at an angle. Watching the blank making its eccentric gyrations whilst the ring was turned was fun and very entertaining. Re-chucked, the bowl was turned and hollowed out then again reversed to finish off the base of the bowl and to form the ‘pimple’. Having made a jam chuck to take the bowl and pimple Tracy re-turned the rim of the bowl at a different angle to increase the ‘how did he do that’ factor when one looked at the finished item.




The last item he turned was a beautifully shaped small bowl which he presented to Carol – who wholly deserved recognition for the hard work she’d put in before and on the day. Thanks must also go to Jo who helped Carol serving us our drinks and lunch. Torstein brought a rather splendidly decorated cake which added to the cake and slices that my wife Lynne had made. Thanks also go you two.

In summary, we had a really entertaining day with good food and friendly company and because of the numbers attending we covered our costs. I’m already looking forward to next year’s seminar with Mark Baker and hope that it’s as good as the last two with Tracy have been.

Tim Aaron