An Audience with Stuart King 19 April 2008 

This special, full day event was held on Saturday 19th April in memory ofSee Stuart's Photos Les Trotter, a much loved member of our club who served as club president until he sadly passed away in 2007, with all proceeds from the day being donated to ‘Diabetes UK’.

Many of our members turned out for this special day, together with visitors from Birstall and Teesside Woodturning Clubs and, for the afternoon session, Les’s much loved daughter and grandchildren and all will agree that it was an excellent event. We were treated to a lively and interesting day of turning interspersed with videos of other woodturners and even a peek into the history of wood and metal turning, which kept the audience’s attention for the entire day.

Stuart was born in Buckinghamshire in 1942, and played as a child in the local Beech woods. He has spent a lifetime researching, recording and collecting anything about the rural past and today is a well-known artist, craftsman, demonstrator, international lecturer and photo-jjournalist who writes regular articles for Woodturning magazine.

The countryside, and the trades and traditions that shaped the county over centuries, always fascinated him and have influenced his work. So it was no surprise when he started the day by turning a 17th century style goblet from a sycamore log that had recently been cut from his garden.

This was followed by a video of a woodturner in Marrakech who turns chess pieces, each of which incorporates a captive ring, on a bow lathe sitting on the doorstep of his shop. He uses his right hand to operate the bow, his left hand to operate a skew chisel (the only chisel he uses) and he uses his left foot to steady the tool! When it had finished Stuart passed round the chess piece we had seen turned on the video and then went on to turn a similar one himself which also incorporated a captive ring. He then ended the morning session by turning a miniature goblet in sycamore.

We had an hour’s break for lunch and were treated to a wonderful spread of sandwiches and cakes by the wives of some of our members who also supplied drinks and cakes in the intervals.

Thank you ladies, it was delicious.

When we had eaten our lunch we took advantage of the remaining free time to browse the tools and finishing products being sold by Gerry Marlow along with the wood that Steven Wright of Elston Sawmill had brought along.

The afternoon session consisted of a number of videos of ancient turning techniques and traditions interspersed with turning demonstrations by Stuart. The items he turned this afternoon were a small box with an off-centre finial on the lid, however Stuart didn’t use a special chuck for this as many turners would, he adjusted the angle of the wood in the jaws, moving it first one way, then the other, to make it turn eccentrically.

For his final demonstration of the day Stuart turned and coloured a bud vase from a sycamore log then turned a number of flowers from small pieces of hazel. The flowers were then attached to a small branch he had cut from a tree at lunch time and displayed in the bud vase.

At the beginning of the day Stuart made a point of the fact that he wouldn’t sand any of the pieces he turned today because he didn’t want to fill the room with dust however the standard of his turning is so good that very little sanding would have been required anyway.

The afternoon’s videos commenced with a series of films of turners in Germany. The first showed Johannes Volmer demonstrating an oval turning chuck and finished with him turning an oval photo frame which Stuart then passed round the room. We then went on to see a video of Christmas decorations being made in the form of miniature Christmas trees and finally we saw the unique craft of hoop turning. In this video the turners turn rings, each of which has a continuous profile of an animal in it, however the shape of the animal is not revealed until the ring is split with a sharp knife. Each ring is then cut into a number of pieces which are carved and painted. After the videos Stuart handed round a selection of the Christmas novelties and three of the hoops which had been split to reveal a horse, a rabbit and an elephant.

We then travelled, by video, to Ballarat in Australia where we saw a short film of a craftsman turning a flat metal disc into a pan on a 19th century lathe. From here we went to a small Kentish village where we saw rake handles being turned on Victorian lathes powered by the diesel engine from a lorry that was scrapped decades ago.

The final video of the day was a unique piece of footage Stuart has managed to obtain, shot in 1935 in woods in the High Wycombe area, of Bodgers at work. Bodging is the ancient craft of turning freshly cut beech into legs, spindles and stretchers for Windsor chairs.

With the exception of the film of the bodgers, all the videos shown were filmed and edited by Stuart and further information on many of the subjects they cover, as well as the video of the Australian metal turner, can be found on Stuart’s web site –

Stuart developed an excellent rapport with the audience and held everyone’s attention throughout the day; a rare talent. I feel sure that everyone who was at the meeting will join me in saying ‘Thank you Stuart, it was a wonderful and memorable day’. To make the day complete, Walt announced that we had raised £350 for ‘Diabetes UK’, a fitting end to a truly lovely day.

Lorrie FlanneryTop of Page

Club member