Ryedale Woodturners

Mark Baker


Thursday 2 October 2014

Snainton Woodturning Supplies

Margaret offered us two pieces of spindle work tonight: a grass pot (or weed pot, or vase), and a small salt spoon.

Grass pot

Margaret Garrard

The grass pot was turned from a square section piece of ash. The whole design was based on thirds - so the widest part was at one third of the length up, the narrowest one third of the length down, the neck at its narrowest was one third the width at its widest point. Margaret feels these proportions give a good balance to shapes.

Margaret Garrard grass pots

Much of the demonstration was about the shape - getting the porportion and weight just right - mainly by eye within the third measurement reference points. The smallest of shavings can, and did, make a difference to a bump or a flat being annoying or pleasing.

A 13mm hole was drilled using a Jacob's chuck, then widened into the neck of the vase. Unfortunately at this point when the vase was held in the chuck with the tail centre providing support in the hole, there was significant vibration, making it difficult for Margaret to finish the neck without getting spiral grooves appearing. This was a fault with the alignment of the lathe, and Margaret tried different size spindle gouges, shear scraping, a scraper, and eventually 120 grit paper until she got an acceptable finish - normally she would achieve a good flow with her roughing gouge.

Tea break prevented Margaret finishing the foot as she would normally - but she did show us a jam chuck made to fit in the neck hole, so that she could reverse the piece, centre it with the tailstock, and finish the base with a gouge rather than just parting off - the parting tool can tear the grain, making for a less pleasing finish.

Salt spoon

Salt spoon and jig

After the break Margaret worked on a salt spoon, but significantly showing us how to turn the jig to hold the spoon when hollowing it out, as well as making the spoon itself. A similar but larger jig for finishing bud vases was passed around as another example.

Bud vase and jig

The spoon was turned as a ball on the end of a handle. The ball was shaped by eye, but then Margaret had a hole cutter, from which she had ground away the teeth, which was the same diameter as the ball. She pushed this on to the ball simply to improve the spherical form a little.

The jig was made from a small square section block, which had a hole drilled in the centre of each side. A chucking point was cut, then one end turned round and hollowed out to the diameter of the ball. Four slots were then cut down to the holes with some rather nifty looking handsaws, and a jubilee clip was used to tighten up these new jaws. A small hole to accommodate the handle was made, then Margaret hollowed out the ball to create the scoop.

Pierced woodturning

A very enjoyable demonstration of spindle work, concentrating on the importance of balanced shapes, and techniques for holding objects to finish off (as well as techniques to overcome lathe alignment problems!), and using a relatively small number of basic tools. Simple shapes can often generate great interest - subtlety is everything.

Hints and tips
Involuted teardrop
  • A little wax on your drillbit when using a Jacob's chuck can remove the earsplittting high pitched whine that often occurs as you bore deeper into the wood.
  • Jubilee clips are ideal for providing tension in a home-made jig.
  • A hole cutter with the teeth ground off can make a good shaping tool for a sphere.