Ryedale Woodturners

Emma Cook

Emma Cook

The "Tiny Turner"

Thursday 2 November 2017

Snainton Village Hall

Emma brought a breath of youth and enthusiasm to the club this month - at just 32 she must rank amongst our youngest ever demonstrators. A carver and woodturner, she learnt her skills with Tony Wilson and Mike Painter. Full of information and detail about what she was doing, and why, she provided an excellent evening's entertainment and instruction.

Turned and carved pumpkin

turned wooden pumpkinJust two days after Halloween, Emma chose to demonstrate how she makes her pumpkin lanterns, which allowed her to demonstrate the techniques involved in making a lidded box, and then carving techniques for the decoration.
Turning lime wood

She started with quite a large block of lime - necessary to include the stalk on top of the lid. She can often pick up lime which is considered poor quality by carvers, but for woodturning is fine because the knots and uneven grain add interest..

Lime wood turning

The block was turned to round between steb centres (using a pointed centre with soft lime makes too large an indent) with a roughing gouge, and chucking points were put on both ends. It was then mounted on the chuck and parted off at roughly 1/3 of the length.

Jam chuck

A spigot to be used as a jam chuck for the lid was turned, and the lid was jammed on tight. A little wetting of the spigot helped tighten it up - lime expands rapidly being so porous. The expansion can prove a little too tight at times.

turning a pumpkinThe pumpkin was turned to shape, base and lid together, with a long enough nib at the end to make a stalk. The tail stock was brought up for extra support, though the jam chuck would probably have held the lid . The Tiny Turner

If a lid proves to be too well jammed on a useful trick is to use a sheath knife or similar - one with a marked wedge in the cross section of the blade. Tap the blade gently on the join, no levering, and eventually the two pieces will separate.

hollowing with a spindle gouge


Emma started hollowing out the base with a spindle gouge, using a pull cut to the sides. This works well to a certain depth, but then the tell-tale screech of vibration lets you know it has goine far enough.

Simon Hope hollowing toolAt this point Emma switched to one of Simon Hope's carbide tipped hollowing tools to get further into the depth of the base. She was aiming for roughly 3 to 4 mm thickness in the walls.

A little up against our 2 hour time slot, Emma quickly moved on to talk a little about carving. For anyone interested in doing some, she recommended not buying a chisel set, but rather buy the ones you need, when you need them. Three basics - a flat gouge (No.5 is good), a fluter (No.11), used with a twisting action, and a fishtail.

Sharpening carving chisels

Carving chisels all have a 21 to 22 degree bevel. Emma maintains this with a grinder with one rubber wheel impregnated with diamond, and the other wheel a cloth strop for polishing. She uses this standing behind, to avoid being splattered with stropping compound. A stone and a leather could be used.

Carving a wooden pumpkin

The grooves were made with a fluter, then widened with the flat gouge. The eyes are actually drilled, then made to look triangular by opening out 3 corners with a fishtail. Carving teeth was not recommended for a beginner - a toothless grin is fine.

Hints and tips

Turned wooden pumpkin

Lime works better slightly wet - it is very dusty if dry.

A good depth spigot (7mm) is needed for lime - too soft to hold on a thin spigot.

Give handles an undercurve - to allow lids to be pulled off.

Pictures of The Tiny Turner's exhibits and Tony's small toolrests, made by him for the club

Wooden bowl

John Oldham wand parts

Broken heart

Emma Cook - broken heart

Wooden cupcakes

Emma Cook - cupcakes

Small tool rests

Tony Langthorne - toolrests

Errol the swamp dragon

Errol the swamp dragon

Small tool rest

Tony Langthorne - toolrest

Turned petals

Floral design