Martin Pidgen 10 January 2013

Martin chose to complete several smaller projects during his demonstration.

1 - Golf Ball See Martin's photosBottle stopper

Used a predrilled (10mm) piece African Blackwood with dowel glued 1 end plus a predrilled golf ball mounted with pre-glued dowel.

African Blackwood held in Jacobs chuck by the dowel. Tools used were a short round grind gouge, parting tool and a beading tool. Before bringing up the tailstock to support between centres Martin produced a concave finish to the African Blackwood for the golf ball to sit in. Having removed some stock to get the preferred diameter Martin produced beads at the top and bottom of the piece with a coved body. A slight flat was left at each end between the cove and bead for definition.

A trade acrylic lacquer was used to finish the piece.

The golf ball was then glued to the body of the piece and finally a cork sleeve fitted over the dowel at the other end.


  1. Martin prefers to work with the lathe high enough to ensure he doesn’t have to bend when turning.
  2. Keeps the tool rest as low as possible to ensure the wood is coming down onto the cutting edge of the tool.
  3. Uses bronze wool instead of steel wool when finishing pieces as he feels it cuts better and doesn’t leave black marks on lighter coloured woods like sycamore.

2 - Drinks Coaster

Started off with a 6” Ash blank predrilled with a 4” hole for a wine bottle to sit in.

The blank was held internally on a chuck to allow Martin to true up the outside and produce initial shaping to the sides.

Transferring to the base Martin cleaned up the bottom and produced a dovetail chucking point to hold the piece when he was ready to turn it around. Some beading decoration was produced within the chucking area.

Before turning the piece Martin applied cellulose lacquer to finish the base.

Returning to the sides the finished shape was produced consisting of a central cove with beads above and below, using a parting tool to separate each by a “flat”.

The piece was then reversed to be able to finish the top and inside. The top was finished as a wide rounded bead using a wide (1/2”) convex ground parting tool and edged by a demarcating cut. A skew was run down the insides to clean them up and the inner base sanded. The piece was finished with lacquer, a cork inset mat and 3 cork feet applied to the base.


  1. When applying lacquer to the base Martin suggested “pushing the brush” to prevent lacquer going over the edge of the piece.
  2. He prefers to use neat cellulose lacquer and plenty of it to ensure it doesn’t go off before being able to wipe off excess.

3 - Acorn Light Pull

Using brown oak and boxwood. Pre work Martin had produced a 1” diameter piece of boxwood complete with spigot at one end to glue into a receiving piece of brown oak. A 9/64 hole had been drilled through both pieces and the box had been further drilled to take a 10mm dowel. Having been glued together Martin held the piece between centres using a Jacobs chuck and dowel. The acorn shape was turned leaving an elongated neck. The piece was finished using neat cellulose and then polished further with carnauba.

A non standard knurling tool was then used to apply pattern to the acorn cup.

4 - Standard Light Pull

A predrilled piece of unknown wood held between centres and using the dowel and Jacobs chuck method again. This time Martin created a long neck into a ball shaped base. To achieve the ball shape Martin again advocated use of a convex bevel tool for easier shaping and control.

5 - Diamond shaped bowl

Martin had pre-cut a blank about 50 mm deep into a diamond shape and drilled it to mount on a screw chuck.


  1. To achieve good shaping it is imperative the initial diamond shape is symmetrical and the screw chuck hole absolutely central.

Safety is very important with a bowl of this shape. Therefore it is:-

  1. Important to bring up tail stock to support the work.
  2. Ensure lathe at safe working speed before starting up.
  3. Keep the toolrest close to the wood, always switching off the lathe before moving the rest.
  4. Martin uses a heavy glove on the left hand as a warning he is getting too close to the spinning work. (The club doesn’t advocate this as it introduces the possibility of being caught up in the work. Better to ensure the toolrest is between hand and work at all times).

Working from the middle to the outside Martin produced the base shape, ensuring the bottom of the curve was continuous i.e. passing through the spigot base and not below it to create best form.

A “heavy” scraper was used to refine the shape followed by hand sanding to get to a finishing stage.

The piece was then reversed and the spigot base held on a chuck to shape the top.

The first stage was to start cutting outside to inside to create some shape on the two long corners. (It is useful to lay a piece of card on the lathe bed and under the work piece to see where the long corners start). Once the long corners are approaching the desired thickness it is necessary to work out where to cut next to achieve an even wall thickness along each side of the bowl. This is done by marking out different sections of the walls with a felt tip pen on the toolrest as reference points. (NB Once marked up it is imperative the toolrest is not moved until the shaping is complete otherwise the reference points will be lost).

The three marks required are the 1) the long points of the bowl 2) the short points of the bowl and 3) the “wall” from short points to centre.

Start by cutting out thickness from the “wall” section to the “short points” and as thickness reduces at the short points carry on towards the long points to create an even wall thickness along the length between. Eventually an even thickness will be created fully along the length between “short” and “long points”. At this point the centre of the bowl can be completed to suit required shape and the inner surfaces sanded. Best done by hand.


  1. If opposite walls are not of the same thickness they can be evened up by sanding along the edge of the thinner wall. (This happens if the blank was not mounted exactly central at the start of the exercise)

Steve Lilley

SWC Club Member