Ryedale Woodturners

Randal Marr

Randal Marr

Thursday 3 May 2018

Snainton Village Hall

Randal joined us two months later than originally planned, his event in March having being cancelled due to the heavy snow. He suggested there may be a curse on his visits to Snainton - last time he came he locked his keys in his car, and didn't leave until 1.30am, having waited for the AA to break in to the car and retrieve them.

Triangular cup

Triangular woodturning

Randal started with a triangular off-centre cup. Three points were marked on each end with a template, numbered 1, 2, 3, then matched in sequence, say 1 to 3, 2 to 1, 3 to 1. It is important to get the sequence correct.

Triangular turning Off centre cup

You can check what will be removed by holding a pencil to the block to see what gets marked. The finished result is a cup with a twist - the top dish was turned on true centre.

Plywood turning

Turning ply

Randal's second item was a bud vase made from ply, topped with yew and glued onto a pre-shaped base with chucking point. The ply was superglued together, with the lathe being used as a press to fix the pieces.

Plywood turning

Turning plywood creates no shavings, just dust. Voids may occur either in turning or in the ply sheets. These can be filled with dust and superglue to good effect. Variations on the idea are shown in the exhibits below.

Branch ball

Branch ball

Before the break, Randal described how he makes items out of bundles of branches, usually of yew.

Not a fan of resin, he has tried various ways to fill the voids. Milliput (epoxy putty) works well, but can be an expensive solution.

Branch ball

An alternative is to use a cheap car body repair kit for most of the inside of the voids, then Milliput for the exposed parts.

Success in glueing the branches is greatly improved by taking off the bark first.

Branch ball turning

Randal keeps experimenting with the branch bundles to come up with the best effects, the easiest and most successful ways of fixing them, and the best fillers for the gaps between the branches.

Tipple top

Tipple top

Randal showed us how to make a small spinning top, with the added property that when it stops spinning, it tumbles over but catches on the rim of its base and stays there. He doesn't quite know the formula, but makes a number of tops and a number of bases, then tries them out to find pairs that work.

tumble top

Randal excelled on the night and produced a top and stand that worked first time - gaining a round of applause.

Note that the top can be tested by taking off the chuck, in case a little fine tuning is needed.

Bird body


Next up was a couple of bird forms. A body is turned from any suitable wood. A small dish is turned in the top of the body, which accepts a free standing head - a sphere with a beak. Making a batch of bodies and a batch of heads is standard practice.

Turned wooden birds

A double bird is a variation on this. These have a dish turned at both end, so the body can be reversed for a different effect. This necessitates holding the body once one end is turned, using a home made wooden chuck.

Quick and quirky turning

Quick and quirky

Randal finished with a "quick and quirky" piece - a novelty turned with various off centre orientations.

Quick and quirky turning

The off-centre positions were achieved by first turning a bead on one end of the blank. This was then used as a spigot, but its being rounded allowed for the piece to be gripped at different angles.

Hints and tips

Muckle-mix finish
  • Randal uses "Muckle mix" - a finishing mixture made up by David Muckle, to his own secret recipe
  • Mushroom tape is a type of Velcro, but with one side adhesive and the other hook and loop. It can be wrapped around a dowel for attaching Rhyno abrasive
  • Randal has two wads of abrasive clipped together - 120 180 240 in one wad, and 320, 400, 600 in the other. Easy to use, one after the other, still clipped together.

A few pictures of Randal Marr's exhibits and a couple of members' turnings

Randal Marr exhibits

Randal Marr exhibits

Perspex and plywood

Perspex sandwiched in ply and turned

Turned plywood vase

Bud vase turned on the night from stacked plywood


Randal Marr exhibits

Turned plywood budvases

Turned plywood pieces

Turned lampstand

Lamp stand turned from ply

Randal Marr exhibits

Plywood lampstand

Turned plywood

Turned plywood pieces

Tumbling top

A tipple top

Ryedale Woodturners

Ryedale Woodturners platter turned and pyrographed by Steve Fearnley

Big bowl

John Whiteley's very large burr bowl