Margaret Garrard 14 July

See Margaret's PhotosMargaret turned three projects for us this evening, all of which were quite different from anything we have seen her do before.

1. Christmas Decoration

Margaret turned this from three pieces of softwood, each measuring 8¼” by 3⅝” by 1⅝”, which had been glued together with animal glue on the wide faces. She found the centre at each end and mounted it between steb centres, then she marked one of the glue joints with a pencil so she would be able to see where it was as it turned on the lathe. Using a 1” roughing gouge she turned the corners off then turned it to a cylinder, gradually increasing the lathe speed as she went. When she had turned it to the glue lines she stopped. (See photos MG11_01 and 02).

Next she used a template to mark the widest branch and the wasted wood at the top and bottom. Using a parting tool she turned the top down to 55mm then used the roughing gouge to turn a Christmas tree shape from the 55mm piece at the top, to the line which marked the widest branch. Using the template again she marked the branches then used a swept back spindle gouge to turn a cove in the area between the lines marking the widest branch and the next one. She then repeated this for each of the branches, taking care not to turn into the glue joints. Gradually she refined the shape of each of the branches. (See photos MG11_03 to 07).

Margaret used a parting tool to turn the bottom of the ‘bucket’ to 55mm then used the roughing gouge to turn away the waste timber. Whilst doing this she hit a knot in the timber which caused one of the glue joints to come apart. She said it was probably also caused by her using a minimum amount of glue to make it easier for her to open the joints when she had finished. Undeterred, Margaret continued turning half a tree and shaped the bucket. When she was happy with the shape Margaret took it off the lathe, not bothering to sand it as she only had one half of the tree. To separate the glue joint she put it in a bowl of boiling water and after a short time the joint separated and she cleaned the glue off with paper. (See photos MG11_08 and 09).

To finish the decoration Margaret sands the two flat surfaces, as the water tends to warp them, then glues them together, holding them in place with elastic bands. (See photo MG11_10).

2. Coaster with ceramic insert

Margaret started by mounting a waste disk of timber on the lathe. Next she took a piece of timber measuring 4⅛” square by ½” thick which had a hole drilled in each corner. She found the centre then held it against the disk in the chuck with the tailstock and screwed it onto the waste wood, using square headed screws from Axminster Tools. First she marked a 55mm chucking point and used a parting tool to turn a shallow recess, then turned away some of the material in the middle with a spindle gouge. She turned a button in the middle and a couple of beads then marked a circle on the outer edge with a pencil and turned a small curve outwards from this, taking care to avoid catching the screws. To finish this side she tidied the beads, leaving a flat edge on the bigger one for the chuck to rest against, then sanded it lightly working from 120 grit through to 320 grit. (See photos MG11_11 to 13).

After taking it off the waste wood Margaret mounted it on the chuck, in the recess and used a spindle gouge to carefully turn away the corners until it was round. She marked a recess to hold the ceramic tile insert then turned away the excess material using a parting tool and a spindle gouge, making sure it was the right depth and the surface was flat. To check the diameter of the recess she used her ceramic tile which had a piece of tape stuck to it so she could pull it out if it was a snug fit. After getting the diameter right she found the tile was standing slightly proud and it rocked a little so she tidied up the inside then cut a tiny recess to fit onto the chuck to enable her to finish the bottom. By the time she finished the recess it was still a snug fit but she decided to sand away the excess. To finish this side Margaret turned a bead on the outer edge so it was curved on the top and bottom, then sanded it. Finally she turned it round on the lathe and turned the chucking recess to a bead. (See photos MG11_14 to 19).

After finishing her coasters Margaret fixes the ceramic tile in using either super glue or gorilla glue.

3. Candlestick

For her final project Margaret mounted a small yew log between steb centres, positioning them slightly away from the centre of the log, and used a parting tool to turn a spigot on one end. She then used this to mount it in the chuck and held it in place with the tailstock to tighten it. She drilled a hole in the end, to fit the size of the candle cup, using a forstner bit mounted in the Jacob’s chuck in the tailstock. Then, once she had finished drilling she used a revolving centre to hold the wood steady. (See photo MG11_20).

Margaret carefully squared up the end using a swept back spindle gouge then used a parting tool to mark where she intended to part it off. She started removing the bark at the tailstock end with a roughing gouge, gradually working along the log, but leaving an area of bark approx. 2”-3” long. After marking where the cup ends Margaret parted away some timber beneath it and curved the cup area down to it. When she had finished turning the cup Margaret moved the tailstock away and finished tidying the inside of it, making a slight curve both inside and out. Once this was done she brought the tailstock back to support it. (See photo MG11_21).

Next Margaret removed more timber along the length of the candle holder, tidied the shape of the outside of the cup and started to shape the stem. The shape she turned was nice but a bit chunky so she reduced the size of the whole thing, starting with the cup then working along the stem again. Once she was happy with the shape she used a skew chisel to crisp up all the edges then she sanded it, folding the paper to get it into the curves. (See photos MG11_22 to 24).

Once she had finished she parted it off, trying to get it as smooth as possible, then took it off the lathe and mounted a jam chuck in the jaws to fit into the cup and held it in place with the tailstock, with enough pressure to hold it but not split it. It was a bit loose on the jam chuck so she held it in place with tape. Finally she turned away the excess material on the bottom with a spindle gouge then tidied up and finished the bottom. (See photos MG11_25 to 28).

It is always a pleasure to see Margaret demonstrating at our club and tonight was no exception. She turned three very different and interesting projects and in doing so gave me an answer I have been seeking for some time, namely the best way to hold a coaster on the lathe. There are no excuses now, I will just have to go ahead and turn some.

Lorrie Flannery

SWC club member