Ryedale Woodturners

Margaret Garrard


Thursday 3 March 2016

Snainton Woodturning Supplies

Margaret offered us two pieces of spindle work tonight: a small hollow form and a sphere on a block

Hollow form

Margaret Garrard

Margaret demonstrated making a small, unassuming looking vase which was hollowed out as an exercise in technique. It could be simplified to just having a hole drilled down its centre, but then the self satisfaction of knowing the form was truly hollowed would be lost. Although a small piece, all the techniques could be applied to much larger forms.

Hollow form vases

The shape was formed from a nice spindle blank of olive ash (from Snainton), with Margaret carefully explaining all her methods as she progressed - feet apart for balance, care with the gouge not to catch the shoulder on the edge of the neck, dimensions and proportions. The blank had been pre-drilled and spigots added at each end before the demonstration.

The trick with this shape was to do the hollowing from the base. Enough wood was left on the spigot to make a small plug, then the vase was parted off and reversed. Hollowing was then done, initially with a swept back spindle gouge, then followed with a Simon Hope hollowing tool, of the small carbide disc on a square shaft design. Despite the inaccessibility of the interior to prying eyes and fingers, Margaret took great care to get all as smooth as possible.

Jubilee clip chuck

The vase was then reversed again, some problem with aligning the tailstock preventing her holding it between centres, so she used a jubilee clip jig to hold it whilst opening out the neck. Reversed again, a small plug was fitted into the hole - taking care to aligh the grain - and the join hidden with a couple of rings marked out with a V-tool.

Jubilee clip chuck Hollow form

Sphere and block holder

Three turned spheres

Working against the clock, Margaret moved on to turn a sphere (by eye, no special sphere cutting tools). The technique was essentially to turn an octagonal profile, then remove the corners, testing the shape against a plywood template for a 60mm circle. Margaret had cut the template on a lathe by screwing the plywood to a piece of scrap wood, to achieve better accuracy than by using a bandsaw.

Forming a sphere on the lathe

Having got the ball to fit the template, and turned down the spigots at each end to fairly narrow (not too much as it was spalted beech and there could be soft spots), the ball was removed from the lathe and the spigots cut off with a handsaw.

Forming a sphere on the lathe

The ball was then remounted between centres, but this time held in two cups that had been turned to the same diameter as the ball, so it could be held without marking, to remove what was left of the spigots. The tailstock end cup was screwed to a special live centre that allowed free rotation.

Turned cups for holding a sphere

Unfortunately once again there were alignment problems with the tailstock, so Margaret could not achieve a smooth rotation of the ball to allow the sphere to be finished off properly, though she did get close.

Texturing a mahogany block

The final stage was to turn a spherical dish into a square block of mahogany, which was textured with a Dremel and a cutting wheel. The underside was carefully levelled using a bowl gouge, to avoid damaging the corners.

Hints and tips
Pierced woodturning
  • A sphere can be used as an alternative to a lid on a box. It has the advantage of finding its own diameter, unlike a lid which will often move to become oval.
  • A sphere that goes wrong can be rescued bycovertng to a top shape.
  • A teaspoon handle is a useful tool for cleaning out the shavings when hollowing