Ian Clarkson 10 June 2010

Ian is a tree surgeon by trade so this evening’s demonstration started See Ian's Photos See Ian's Videoin the garden, with him giving a demonstration of how to cut logs with a chain saw and he kindly cut up logs brought along by some of our members. He started with a lump of ash and explained that you shouldn’t cut down into the log as this is what is known as rip sawing and will produce a lot of dust and won’t give an effective cut. Instead he laid the log on its side, cut three quarters of the way through it then turned the log over and pulled the saw up through it for the remainder of the cut. This meant the saw didn’t touch the ground at all during the cut. Rick Dobney had brought a large log of eucalyptus along which he had marked to show where he wanted it cut. Following these lines Ian cut a piece off the side for a bowl then cut the rest into two pieces which Rick was going to use to turn another bowl and a cylinder or vase. A video of the log cutting can be seen on Ian's video page.

To end this part of the demonstration Ian talked about the health and safety aspects of using a chain saw and explained how to sharpen the blades. He then went on to turn four projects.

1. Ash Bowl

Ian mounted a rough sawn ash bowl blank measuring approx. 10” by 3” onto the lathe using a faceplate and used a ⅜” bowl gouge to turn the outside of the bowl and clean the top face. He then checked the top of it to make sure that the centre wood from the log wasn’t included as that would cause it to split. Once he was happy with this he a cut round the outside of the bowl, working against the grain to get the final shape then turned a dovetail on the spigot using a ¼” spindle gouge. He used the spindle gouge to take a final cut but when he had finished he decided he wasn’t happy with the curve so he reshaped it, reduced the size of the foot and redid the final shear cut. (See photos IC_01 to 06).

After turning it round on the lathe Ian used a ⅜” bowl gouge to turn the inside. As he planned to make it thin he turned the edge an inch at a time, keeping a bulk of timber in the middle to give it stability. After turning each section he used callipers to check it for thickness then used a spindle gouge to make a final cut. He recommends that if you are turning a bigger bowl to be thin you should sand each section as you finish it. (See photos IC_07 to 10).

2. Oak Bowl From End Grain Timber

Ian mounted an oak bowl blank measuring approx. 9” x 2” onto the lathe using a faceplate and turned the outside with a ⅜” bowl gouge, working downhill from the headstock. The reason for this was that the blank was a piece of end grain timber so he was turning with the grain. Ian explained that when turning an end grain bowl you need to use longer screws in the faceplate as there is a tendency for them to rip out of end grain and you should never use a screw chuck.

To finish the outside he ebonised it using vinegar and steel wool. He had a bottle of white vinegar with a lump of steel wool in it, that had been in the vinegar for quite some time and he applied this with a piece of paper. He explained that this technique works best on oak. (See photos IC_11 to 13).

To turn the inside he turned it round on the lathe and put the end of the tool rest close to the edge of the top of the work, then slowly turned it by hand to make sure the gap between the tool rest and the work was even all the way round. After tidying up the face Ian demonstrated how you can add texture to a bowl using an Arbortech, holding the tool at an angle to the work and with the lathe running slowly. To hollow out the bowl Ian demonstrated that with end grain you can work from the centre outwards; he then continued in the usual way. Finally he tidied top edge, putting a nice curve on it with a spindle gouge, working from the outside towards the middle. (See photos IC_14 to 17).

3. Baby’s Rattle

Ian turned a baby’s rattle from a piece of beech measuring approx. 1½” by 5”-6”, mounted in the jaws, between centres. He turned this to a cylinder approx. ¾” diameter and tidied the tailstock end with a parting tool. He turned a small bead at the end and a couple along its length, using a ¼” spindle gouge. Next he used a parting tool to cut some rings between the first two beads, rounding the edges over slightly. He sanded them briefly then used a hooked dentist’s tool to cut under the rings and removed more timber from the spindle under the rings with the parting tool, taking care not to catch them and rip them off. He sanded the spindle and the inside edges of the beads then turned another spindle between the second and third beads to match the first one but without the rings. Finally he removed the tailstock, tidied the end and parted it off. (See photos IC_18 to 25).

4. Hollow Form

For his final project of the evening Ian took a log of leylandii with a spigot cut at one end and mounted this between centres, with the spigot held in the chuck. He turned an urn shape at the tailstock end along about half its length, leaving some thickness in the middle of the log for stability. (See photos IC_26 & 27).

He removed the tailstock then, using a spindle gouge he ‘drilled’ a hole down the middle and started hollowing it. He demonstrated a number of hollowing techniques at this point. First he used the spindle gouge turned on its side, cutting the timber with the corner then gradually rotating it and going into normal cutting mode as he drew it up the side. Next he used a Kelton hollowing tool mounted in a Robert Sorby handle. (See photo IC_28). He also used a Hamlet Big Brother hollowing tool which produced shavings rather than the dust the Kelton produced. (See photo IC_29). He worked through a narrow neck and hollowed right round under the top, taking particular care as he went in and out to ensure he didn’t catch the top. As the wood was wet he stopped at this stage to leave it to dry. He said that when he comes back to it he will continue the curve on the outside and turn it to a narrow base. (See photo IC_30).

In summary

This was a very full and educational evening with Ian demonstrating some very interesting projects and techniques. It’s the first time I’ve seen him demonstrate and I would certainly be keen to see him again.

Lorrie FlanneryTop of Page

SWC club member