Ryedale Woodturners

Andrew Hall

Andrew Hall

Thursday 6 April 2017

Snainton Village Hall

The hat man visited us from Newcastle once again. He brought along some hats, and some bowlkuleles, but for the main part of his demonstration he concentrated on making bowties and owls.

Bow tie

Dave Lowe

Andrew explained that he likes to start with a warm up. He chose a bow tie. Starting with a square paper-glued blank, he turned this between two steb centres to shape, using a card template he had made for the key thicknesses. These were checked off with calipers - noses rounded to allow a smooth test. Roughing gouge and 3/8 swept back spindle gouge were the tools used.

Turning a bow tie

The bow-tie was sanded, and reference points for the ends were added with a parting tool, and it was then removed from the centres, the ends cut off with a Japanese saw, and the piece split in two along the paper-joint. Two bow-ties for the work of one!

Barrel sander

Andrew wanted to finish the ends and back with a sanding drum, but the one he had brought didn't quite fit the chuck, so he made one that did from a blank (part of a snooker table leg). A chucking point with a barrel rough turned, then adhesive sanding paper wrapped around. The back of the bow tie was sanded smooth (and the paper sanded off), slightly concave to fit the neck.

Small owl

Small turned owl

Andrew told us of a turning visit to Germany (wearing a wooden hat through the airport and customs) where he came across Gunther and a small wooden owl. The design was based on a sphere resting pn a body, so Andrew started with the sphere - but because it would take longer than time allowed in the evening's demonstration, he showed a video running at double speed, using a Paul Howard sphere turning jig.

Wooden owl

The video was black and white - Andrew's attempt to make the video "silent" resulted in it becoming a silent movie! Andrew had a sphere he had made earlier, and also the cup chucks used to hold it in place while the spigots were turned off. I noticed inside the cups were two rubber O-rings glued in place, to reduce the chances of marking the sphere.

With the sphere made, it was put in a purpose made cup chuck - a bowl for the sphere, then a ring screwed on top to hold it in place.

Sphere holding chuck

This allowed for adjusting to turn the two eyes of the owl. Again there was cushioning insde - hook and loop material this time.

Turning a bead

The ring around the owl's eye was turned using an Ashley Iles 4mm beading tool.
A 1 mm hole was drilled in the centre of the eye, to take a teddy bear eye (from Dainty Toys). The sphere was adjusted in the chuck and the process repeated for the second eye.


No, not a blood transfusion! The beak was cut with an Axminster cutter (Dremel type), assisted ably by Keith. It was fitted with a cutter that Mick Hanbury used to sell, which are now sold by John Woods.

Turned owl

With the head made, it was time to create a body for it to rest on. 9the head is not glued on, it just rests in a cup). A relatively straightforward tapered shape, but with two indents sanded out - on the sander made earlier - to give the impression of feet. Andrew liked the deliberate out-of-scale size.



Andrew finished by talking through the history and the process behind his bowlkuleles. Inspired by seeing Seasick Steve on TV playing a 3 string cigar box guitar, the first was simply a bowl and a spindle, with the splindle planed down to provide the fretboard. 2 inch nails were cut for the frets, and a bolt was cut to be used as the nut and the bridge for the strings.


A pickup was added, and various bottlenecks were tried to play slide guitar, including a socket from a socket spanner set.

Andrew plugged in to his second hand amp and gave us a few blues riffs to demonstrate the sound.


Andrew had brought along a couple of other versions - a four string ukelele which plays an octave higher than the original, and a 3.4 size version with some chrome embellishments. He also offered us some heavy metal fuzz to finish.

Bowlkulele instructions

Andrew is running two-day courses on making these instruments, two people at a time for £295 each, all materials included. Only one place left this year.

He also has a book and DVD for £10 which goes through the process step by step.

Turned wooden hat

A very enjoyable, informative and professional demonstration, offering lots of ideas and lots of tips on techniques. Hats off to Andrew Hall.

A few pictures of members' turning and Andrew Hall exhibits

Wooden bowl

A highly figured bowl

Yew bowl

Natural edge yew bowl

Burr hollow form

Burr with lid? Or hollow form?

Glasses holder

Gilbert - glasses holder

Hollow form

Hollow form


Two pieces by John Whiteley

Turned wooden hats

Two of Andrew's hats