Garage/Workshop conversion
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Current Wood-Turning Project
Walnut Wood.
WT PROJECT 1
Making Belaying Pins.
WT PROJECT 2
Experimental Drying
WT PROJECT 3
Walnut Platter.


Garage/Workshop conversion
Garage/workshop conversion
FITTING OUT PROJECTS

WOOD-TURNING
PROJECTS
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Wood-turning Project Pages.

A list of wood-turning projects is given on the menu bar to the left of this page.


Wood Sources.

Why I prefer to use unseasoned, locally sourced timber.
There is a wealth of fantastic timber grown in the UK, both from native and non native trees, and this is my preferred source. I don't purchase prepared turning blanks as I find it much more satisfying to use unseasoned (wild) wood. First there is the excitement of cutting the wood to reveal the hidden beauties within. Then there is the enjoyment of the twin challenges of preparing and seasoning (taming it), without it degrading. Finally comes the creative shaping and finishing, hopefully ending up with a turned item that displays the texture and any figuring to perfection. It is immensely satisfying to complete an item and know that its creation has been all ones own work, starting with freshly felled timber, right through to the finished turning.

Most of the wood I obtain is from tree surgeons, woodland managers (estates & parks), friends and family. Much is saved from either being shredded, or being processed for firewood. The majority of the wood is freely given, with the debt being repaid by the gift of a turning or two.

Location, Location, Location (It's a Museum Thing)!
A 30 year career working for a regional museum service taught me the vital importance of provenance (information relating to the source and history of an object). For example, a museum may contain a bowler hat, not in itself something of great interest or value. However, if the associated information reveals that it was owned and worn by the iconic film star Charlie Chaplin, then it is immediately of interest and also of historical and monetary value. Any museum object which has lost its associated information is greatly de-valued, be it a work of art without an artist, an archaeological artefact with no excavation data, or a natural history specimen such as a plant or animal, fossil or mineral without location data.

So I apply the same principles of preserving provenance to my wood-turning. When obtaining wood, I try and find out when and where the tree was felled, as this adds so much more interest to the finished turning, as it retains it's association with the place from whence it came, instead of being an anonymous piece of timber which could have come from anywhere.

It can also be a good marketing strategy. I help support a community orchard in Somerset by turning items from timber which has been derived either from felling or pruning the fruit trees. On Apple Day, when the orchard is open to the villagers, the stall offering the turnings for sale can guarantee to sell out of everything made from the orchard wood.

Carhampton Apple-day Turnings, 2011 Carhampton Orchard Apple-day Turnings.

These were made from a log of Catillac Pear wood, saved from an old tree felled in Carhampton Community Orchard on the 8th February 2010. The items were turned to sell at the Orchard Apple-day held in October 2011, to raise funds for the orchard management.

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The rest of this page describes three instances of casually obtained wood, and outlines how each was used.


A Chance Find.

Somerset Yew Somerset Yew (before).

This branched piece of Yew, broken off a roadside tree in a gale, was discovered (and harvested from the road edge), whilst out walking with friends in Carhampton.

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Somerset Yew Somerset Yew (after).

The same branched piece of Yew after cutting, turning on the lathe, sanding and polishing.

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A Branch of Cherry.

In April 2010 tree surgeons arrived on our estate in Mickley Square, to fell a sizeable Cherry tree. On asking, I was given a fairly large branch from the tree, from which I was able to make seven bowls, as pictured below.

A Cherry tree branch from Mickley Square. A Cherry tree branch from Mickley Square.

The uncut branch is shown in the centre of this composite photograph. Using an electric chain saw, the branch was sliced longitudinally to remove the central pith. A bandsaw was then used to produce 5 bowl blanks which were rough turned. A Bowlsaver coring attachment was used to produce two daughter bowls from the two biggest bowl blanks to produce a grand total of seven rough turned bowls. After allowing the bowls to season (dry out) over several months (monitored by weighing), each of the seven bowls were re-mounted on the lathe for finishing, sanding and polishing.

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A Neighbour's Gift

It can be very productive to let acquaintances and neighbours know that you have an interest in wood-turning, as it can often lead to offers of wood from trees they are having felled or pruned.

Thus it was in early July 2010, a neighbour in our village of Mickley Square (Northumberland), notified me that she had arranged to have two Silver Birch trees felled, as the roots were undermining the drive to her garage. I asked the tree surgeons undertaking the work if it might be possible to take some pieces. The response and the outcome are illustrated below.

Birch Trees at Mickley Square. Felling Birch Trees at Mickley Square.

The photograph on the left shows the two trees before felling (21st April 2010).

The photograph on the right shows the site immediately after felling (13th July 2010).

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Birch Trees at Mickley Square. A Bit More Than I Bargained For!

This is what the tree surgeons left on my drive. I only expected one or two pieces of timber! (13th July 2010).

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Birch Bowl from Trees at Mickley Square. First Birch Bowl from Trees at Mickley Square

This shows stages in making a bowl from the Birchwood.

The top photograph (September 2010), shows a blank cut from the wood with a bandsaw, ready for turning.

The middle photograph shows the completed rough turned bowl. It took from 12th September 2010 to the 8th January 2011 for the wood to dry out (evaluated by weighing), to enable the bowl to be re-mounted on the lathe and completed.

Finished bowl shown in the bottom photograph.

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Birch Bowl from Trees at Mickley Square. Second Birch Bowl from Trees at Mickley Square

This shows stages in making the second bowl from the Birchwood.

The top photograph (September 2010), shows a blank cut from the wood with a bandsaw, ready for turning.

The middle photograph shows the completed rough turned bowl which had warped during drying. It took from 13th September 2010 to the 12th January 2011 for the wood to dry out (evaluated by weighing), to enable the bowl to be re-mounted on the lathe and completed.

Finished bowl shown in the bottom photograph.

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Birch Bowl from Trees at Mickley Square. Third Birch Bowl from Trees at Mickley Square

This shows stages in making the third natural edged bowl from the Birchwood.

The top photograph (September 2010), shows the completed rough turned bowl. It took from 12th September 2010 to the 22nd January 2011 for the wood to dry out (evaluated by weighing), to enable the bowl to be re-mounted on the lathe and completed.

Finished bowl shown in the bottom photograph.

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A Remarkable Transformation

A substantial amount of the Mickley Square Birch was rough turned in the Autumn (September) of 2010. The rest of the wood was then stored in a garage without any further preparation.

15 months later, in December 2011, it was discovered that the timber had undergone significant changes.

Spalted Birch from Mickley Square. 15 Months Later.

In this picture a selected log is about to be cut into slabs for turning stock (3rd December 2011).

Spalted Birch from Mickley Square. A Revelation!

Cutting into the log revealed that in the 15 month period, whilst the timber was in store, the wood had become spectacularly spalted (through the activity of fungal infection).

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Spalted Birch from Mickley Square.

Spalted Bowls.
This photograph shows some bowls, rough turned from the spalted wood.

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Spalted Birch from Mickley Square. Another Log for Preparation. 8th December 2011.

The log before preparation.

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Spalted Birch from Mickley Square. Hidden Beauty. 8th December 2011.

The log was cut in half using an electric chainsaw and the red arrow shows from which half the bowl (shown below) was made. More spectacular spalting was revealed.

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Spalted Birch from Mickley Square. Making a Bowl Blank. 8th December 2011.

The half log (arrowed in the photograph above), was then cut into a rough cylinder on the bandsaw.

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Spalted Birch from Mickley Square. Mounting on the Lathe. 9th December 2011.

It was then securely mounted on the lathe by using a 50mm diameter Forstner drill bit to drill a 5mm deep hole in the top of the blank, This enabled the 50mm jaws of the lathe chuck to expand into the hole, holding the blank very securely on the lathe, ready for turning.

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Spalted Birch from Mickley Square. Rough Turning 1. 9th December 2011.

The exterior of the bowl rough-turned. Note the rounded foot or spigot on the base which was used to hold the bowl on the lathe whilst the interior was hollowed out (See below).

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Spalted Birch from Mickley Square. Rough Turning 2. 9th December 2011.

The bowl was then reversed on the lathe (held by the chuck jaws gripping the spigot), ready for hollowing out.

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Spalted Birch from Mickley Square. Rough Turning 3. 9th December 2011.

After roughly hollowing out the inside of the bowl.

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Spalted Birch from Mickley Square. Remounting After Drying. 19th December 2015.

After rough turning, the bowl was left to dry out for several years. As the wood dried, it shrank and the bowl became distorted, which can be clearly seen by the twisted rim in the photograph. If the drying is too rapid, then the wood will crack and the bowl has to be discarded. During the drying period the bowl was weighed on a weekly basis until no further weight loss indicated that the drying process was complete. It was then re-mounted on the lathe for truing-up and finishing.

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Spalted Birch from Mickley Square. Finishing the Inside. 19th December 2015.

Interior of the bowl re-shaped and sanded to a smooth finish.

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Spalted Birch from Mickley Square. Reversing to Finish Base. 20th December 2015.

Bowl reversed and held on the lathe by the rim, using Cole Jaws, to allow removal of the spigot and final shaping of the base.

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Spalted Birch from Mickley Square. Completed Base. 20th December 2015.

Spigot removed and bowl base shaped and sanded to a smooth finish. The whole bowl was then ready for several applications of finishing oil and a final wax polish.

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Spalted Birch from Mickley Square. Finished.

The Completed Bowl.

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