Nikos Siragas 15 December 2011

Nikos and his wife, Frances, made a welcome return to our club to give us another See Nikos's photosfascinating insight into the techniques he uses to make his sculptural and very artistic work. He turned three projects this evening – a bowl with a lip and indents in the top, a genie goblet with a spiralling stem and a ring stand. Because of the amount of time and effort he puts into finishing his work Nikos didn’t take any of these projects to completion.

1. Bowl with a lip and indents in the top

Nikos mounted a block of sycamore measuring approx 6” square by 4” thick between centres. Using a bowl gouge he turned the outside to a gentle curve which curved in again at the top. He used a skew chisel to turn the foot then turned it round on the lathe and mounted the foot in the chuck. He then refined the shape of the outside, giving more definition to the lip at the top. (See photos NS11_01 to 04).

Next he turned his attention to the inside. After facing off the top surface he drew a line round the outside, approx 1” below the lip then he drew another line right across the top, taking it through the centre point and extending it on each side down to the line on the outside . He hollowed the inside, following the shape of the outside curve and taking out the bulk of the timber as he worked. He used a scraper to refine the shape, making it thin towards the top and thicker as he went further into the bowl. To get rid of some tear out in the wood he ran the lathe in reverse and cut in the opposite direction to normal. Once he was happy with the shape he sanded the inside. (See photos NS11_05 to 07).

To carve the pattern on the lip Nikos used a Proxxon to cut through the line he had drawn on one side then made another, shallow cut a little way along from this. He gradually cut away the timber between the two cuts, shaping the timber to a curve. The first cut was taken right down to the line he had drawn round the outside then he cut a slope from this up to the second cut. He repeated this on the other side then used a micro plane to refine the shape – he used a flat one for the larger areas and a round one to go into the curves. After rounding off the sharp edges he sanded all the carved areas with a small sanding disk mounted in the Proxxon for the large areas and a sanding disk in a Dremel to work into the curves. Nikos suggested that to decorate this further you could draw a line close to the edge on the flat part of the curved rim, taking the line all round the shape, then burn a pattern onto it with a pyrography pen or a hot nail. (See photos NS11_08 to 15).

2. Genie Goblet

Nikos mounted a piece of iroko measuring approx. 1½” square by 8” long between centres, turned it to a cylinder, cut a spigot on one end and mounted it in the chuck. First he turned the outside shape of the cup part of the goblet and turned away some of the timber below it using a round skew chisel. Then he used a spindle gouge to hollow it, first ‘drilling’ down the length then turning away the remainder and curving over the upper lip. Using a scraper he tidied up the torn grain then used a spindle gouge to finish the shape on the outside. Before moving onto the next step he sanded the cup. (See photos NS11_16 and 17).

Before starting to shape the stem Nikos used a parting tool to turn away some of the bulk of the timber just above where the foot would be. To mark the shape of the curved stem he used a pencil, working freehand, to draw two parallel lines spiralling round the stem from top to bottom. He filled the cup with paper and brought the tailstock into this to support the work on the lathe. Then, using the Proxxon, he cut away the excess timber on the top part of the stem, first cutting along the lines, then cutting grooves into it and breaking away the excess timber. Once he had got the rough shape he used a rasp to refine it by turning the lathe by hand and keeping the rasp moving until he had a smooth, flowing shape. To sand it he used Velcro backed sandpaper attached to a stick to work into the curves and long thin strips of cloth sandpaper which he wrapped around the stem. He wasn’t able to finish the stem due to time constraints but before removing it from the lathe he showed how to part off the finished goblet. (See photos NS11_18 to 21).

Nikos says this project needs to be turned from close grained woods such as sycamore, oak or laburnum; but not yew. It is best turned from branch wood that has close rings.

3. Ring Stand

For this project Nikos mounted a piece of sycamore measuring approx 1¼” square by 4” long between steb centres. He turned this to a cylinder and mounted it in the jaws. To centre it he had the lathe running at a very low speed and touched it very lightly with a pencil. He then stopped the lathe and tapped the pencil mark with a chisel until it was straight.

Using a spindle gouge he turned the end to a cone then used a round skew chisel to turn a teardrop shape on the end. Gradually he worked along the wood, turning a small ‘disk’ behind the teardrop and shaping the next area with the round skew chisel. He turned another disk behind this, this time using a small scraper, then turned a small ball behind it. For the base he turned a large ball with a bead under it, which he turned with a parting tool. (See photos NS11_22 to 28).

He sanded it, supporting it with his fingers when sanding the area near the top, then applied 2-3 coats of sanding sealer. He applied this with a brush, with the lathe turned off and rubbed it in with kitchen paper with the lathe running. When finished he parted it off under the bead, making it slightly concave. Nikos said he usually uses either carnuba wax or Briwax to finish his ring stands.

These were three very interesting projects which, with the right tools and a lot of patience, could be turned at home by many of our members. Thank you Nikos and Frances for another very enjoyable evening.

Lorrie Flannery

SWC club member