Andrew Hall 9 July 2009


Andrew’s project for this visit was quite different from the hat he turned last year; See Andrew's Photosit was a whisky flask turned from oak. He had agreed not to make a hat on this occasion but you will see later in this write-up that he still managed to include a small hat!

He explained that he usually turns his flasks out of oak as this is the wood whisky is matured in at the distillery and said timber with a moisture content of 12% or less is ideal for this project. (See photos AH 1/2 and 03 for an example of one he had turned the day before the demonstration). Andrew had brought along two television screens, a laptop and camera which were used alongside the club’s own audio visual presentation. His small screen and camera were used to show another view of him working whilst he used the big screen and laptop to run a presentation to illustrate the key stages of the project. It is also interesting to look at photo AH 9 as it shows Andrew’s presentation along with the club’s audio visual presentation.

The Main Body

Andrew started with a block of oak approximately 2” thick which had been laminated with a piece of pine tongued and grooved floorboard on each side. He found the centre at each end then drew lines all round, drawing them along the length. (See photos AH 4 and 5) and mounted this on the lathe using a steb centre at each end. He used a 1½” spindle roughing gouge to remove the sharp edges from the sides until he had a nice curve, then using a template to mark where the centre of the front would be, he drew a line through this, all round the middle, then marked the datum points for the top, bottom, length, width etc. and used a square to draw these points all the way round. He removed some more of the bulk with the big spindle roughing gouge then, using a fishtail parting tool, he turned a tenon on the headstock end to mount it in the chuck and used a bowl gouge to turn away some of the timber at the tailstock end. With the aid of a pair of callipers he got it to the correct diameter for the top then started turning the neck and some of the curve at the bottom (See photos AH 6 and 7).

Next Andrew took the work off the lathe and mounted it in the chuck. He used a bowl gouge to start turning the basic shape and remove the waste timber, making sure he had a nice fluid curve on the sides without any points or flat spots. Once he was happy with the curve he used a ⅜” bowl gouge to turn the neck and a spindle gouge to get a sharp edge where the neck meets the body. Still using the ⅜” bowl gouge he started to turn the inside of the neck and used a parting tool to mark the centre, he also used the parting tool to mark where he would eventually turn off the base. (See photos AH 8/9/10/11 and 12).

With the lathe running slowly and using a bullet drill bit (See photo AH 13) in a Jacobs chuck which was mounted in a homemade handle, Andrew drilled into the neck and down into the body to make the hole where the whisky would eventually be poured from. He suggested that if you don’t feel confident hand holding the drill you could mount it in a Jacobs chuck in the tailstock. He shaped the inside of the neck with a spindle gouge, then sanded it using the sandpaper on a sponge to make it easier to go round the curves and parted it off, using a parting tool to take it down to about ¼” then finished cutting it off with a Japanese saw to avoid tear out. He sanded the base using a homemade sanding disk mounted on the lathe, taking care to ensure it was flat.

Andrew now mounted the flask between centres; using the steb centres to grip the flat sides (See photo AH 14). He used a ⅜” parting skew to turn a spigot on the sacrificial timber on one of the sides, taking great care not to catch his fingers on the neck and not to catch the neck on the tool rest, then he mounted it into the chuck. With the lathe running at about 1200 rpm he turned away the sacrificial timber on the other side, again taking care to ensure he didn’t catch the neck. He sanded it with the lathe running then again with the lathe turned off, sanding with the grain to remove any rings. He marked a circle on the side which he was going to use to turn the inside of the flask and then fill with a turned bung. He started turning the internal edges of the hole with a parting tool which had a piece of tape on it to measure the depth, ensuring it would leave 3mm of timber on the other side, then he turned the bulk of the timber away with a bowl gouge then the parting tool again to turn a lip inside the hole and to make sure the sides and base of the hole were nice and flat (See photo AH 15).

Once this was completed he turned it round on the lathe, using the hole he had just made to mount it on the chuck, and turned away the chucking point and the sacrificial timber, then sanded it and used and Eli Avisera gouge to turn a pattern of three rings on the side, to match with the hole on the other side. The main part of the flask was now complete. (See photo AH 16).

The Stopper

Andrew mounted a piece of timber measuring approximately 2” square by 3” long between steb centres, turned it round and made a chucking point. He mounted this in the chuck and turned a tapered piece approximately 1” long to fit into the hole he had drilled in the neck, using a pair of callipers set from the drill to ensure it was the correct size and checking it on the flask to ensure it was a nice twist fit. He turned the shape for the top leaving it wide enough to form a collar over the neck and coloured the top of this collar with a red colouring pen then parted it off. He used the timber left in the chuck as a jam chuck, turning a hole in it with the drill, to hold the tapered piece. He finished the stopper by turning it to a ‘top hat’ shape! (See photo AH 17).

The Bung

Finally Andrew turned a bung to fit the hole in the side. This needed to be made from a piece of side grain so the whisky cannot seep out of it. He used a 2” cube of timber, marked the centre on each side and mounted it between steb centres – with the steb centres gripping the sides, not the ends. He turned it round with a bowl gouge, explaining that you must not turn this with a roughing out gouge as you are turning end grain, a bit like a mini bowl.

He used a parting tool to turn a shallow spigot the size of the hole in the side of the flask and mounted it in the chuck. He then turned another spigot on the other side which he carefully fitted into the flask, making sure it was a good tight fit. He explained that he had cut the first spigot to fit the flask so that he would have a second chance if he spoilt the first bung. He parted it off and mounted it in the chuck and used a spindle gouge to turn it to a nice curved shape, sanded it and turned three rings in it to match the other side of the flask.

Using a good quality superglue round the rebate he glued the bung into the side, ensuring the grain ran in the same direction on both pieces. To finish this project Andrew said he would use a food safe oil. (See photos AH 18 and 19).

The first prize in this evening’s raffle was a kit to make the flask, together with a set of the presentation slides to work from. This was won by Ralph Beal and at the end of the evening Andrew presented Ralph with a miniature bottle of whisky as he said you cannot have a whisky flask without whisky. What a nice gesture.

I thoroughly enjoyed this project, in fact I would probably say that in my opinion it was one of the best demonstrations I have seen at our club. So thank you Andrew for yet another captivating evening.Top of Page

Lorrie Flannery

SWC club member