Colin Fishwick 11 January 2010

This evening we were given a demonstration of ‘multi axis’ turning by Colin FishwickSee Colin's Photos

He turned a flask from a rectangular piece of beech which had a piece of sacrificial timber glued to each face, a hole drilled in one end and the centre marked on one of the faces by two crossing lines. The hole was drilled 4mm off centre and the centring marks were on the side which was furthest from the hole; Colin assured us that the reason for this would be explained later in the demonstration. He mounted the timber between centres with a steb centre in the headstock and a revolving centre in the hole he had drilled. (See photo CF01).

Colin used a bowl gouge for most of the demonstration, explaining that he uses it in much the same way as one would use a spindle gouge, but prefers it because it is heavier than a spindle gouge and he feels that heavier tools work much better and don’t wobble as much.

First he turned away some of the timber at the tailstock end to make the neck at the top of the flask (see photo CF02), then turned the other end to a similar diameter to make a foot to stand it on (see photo CF03). Next he turned his attention to the sides, turning the timber away until he had a curve on the beech area then turning a little more away at each end, to blend the curves to the neck and the foot (see photos CF04 & 05). To finish the turning on this axis Colin changed to a skew chisel and used the point to slightly hollow the top, where the liquids are poured in, and slightly hollowed the foot so it will stand properly, taking care not to catch the chisel on the steb centre. He sanded it, starting with 100 grit and working through the grits to 600 grit (he explained that he normally works through to 1200 grit). Once he was happy with the sanding he applied cellulose sanding sealer using paper, with the lathe turned off. Normally he would apply several coats of an oil such as Tung or Finishing Oil, applied over several days.

After removing the piece from the lathe Colin screwed a faceplate to the side where he had marked the centre, lining up the centre hole of the faceplate with the centring lines and using short screws, taking care to ensure they didn’t go through the sacrificial timber into the beech. He mounted this in the chuck and used a bowl gouge to turn away the sacrificial timber, checking frequently as he got close to the beech and carefully taking straight cuts to ensure he got a nice flat surface. When he was happy with the surface he sanded it, first with the lathe turned off and sanding with the grain, then with the lathe running. (See photos CF06 & 07).

The next stage was to hollow the inside. Colin used a pair of callipers to mark a circle on the surface he had just finished and turned this into a hole through which he did the hollowing (see photo CF08). Using a specially sharpened spindle gouge he found the centre and drilled a hole then started to hollow it, demonstrating various hollowing techniques using a spindle gouge, bowl gouge, ring tool, Rowley Munro hollowing tool and a Robert Sorby hollowing tool. Finally he used a shear scraper with a Robert Sorby bullet tip which he used with the tip pointing down and working on the centre line. He knew the hole was the correct diameter when the hole he had drilled for the neck was revealed – he had worked out mathematically the length the drilled hole needed to be to get the correct diameter/wall thickness. Next he concentrated on getting the hole to the correct depth, using a depth gauge and working to ensure the two sides were the same thickness. He then went on to explain that when he has finished the inside he seals it with Rustin’s Plastic Coating, a two part sealer which is food safe and water and alcohol resistant. He applies this to all the inside surfaces with an artists brush, but as it takes a couple of days to dry, he moved to another flask he had prepared earlier. (See photos CF09,10 & 11)

Once he had finished the inside he needed to seal the hole in the side with a plate. He had one he had prepared earlier, with the inside surface already sealed but not finished on the outside. He fitted the plate into the hole with a couple of pieces of tape attached on the inside and protruding from it, which he would use later to pull it back out. He turned it to shape using a bowl gouge, working from the centre to the outside, making a slightly domed shape. Once he had turned it to the correct thickness he sanded it then used a skew chisel to turn some rings on it (he prefers to use a parting tool for this bit but didn’t have one with him). Colin explained that he makes the plate by gluing a square piece of timber approximately ½” thick onto a bigger square of plywood, which he holds on the lathe with his vacuum chuck and then turns the inside of the plate.

Colin’s tip of the month – before using hot melt glue, warm the two pieces of wood in the microwave for 20 seconds then, when you have finished, put it back into the microwave for another 20 seconds to take it apart again.

Having pulled the plate out of the hole he took the flask off the lathe, turned it round and mounted the hole onto the jaws of the chuck, ensuring he didn’t over tighten them and damage his work. Using the same techniques as earlier he turned away the sacrificial timber (see photo CF12). When he was happy it was flat he used his callipers to mark a circle on it the same size as the outside of the plate he had turned on the other side (see photo CF13). He then turned away the timber outside the circle, using his skew chisel as a scraper. He turned away enough wood to make the two sides the same depth, which meant the hole he had drilled 4mm off centre was now centred. Unfortunately, in doing this he nicked a piece out of the top lip but, he explained, to get round this he would put the piece back on the lathe between centres and re-turn the damaged edge.

Once he was happy with the shape of the flask he turned the circle to match the plate he had made on the other side (see photo CF14), carefully measuring to make sure the rings were in the same position. He finished it off with sanding sealer then took the flask off the lathe and fitted the plate on the first side using Tite Bond glue and taking a lot of care to ensure the grains matched (see photo CF15). Normally he would treat the inside of the flask and the plate with another coat of the Rustin’s Plastic Coating to ensure a good seal is formed across the joint.

Finally he buffed one side of the flask to demonstrate the difference buffing can make to the appearance of your work.

During the question and answer session at the end of the evening Colin was asked which timbers are suitable for making a flask. He said beech is one of the safest woods in the kitchen because it is biologically safe; any close grained wood is OK but you should avoid timbers that can cause irritations, such as yew, purple heart, spalted beech etc.

Lorrie FlanneryTop of Page

SWC club member