At Berkshire Woodturners we invite professional woodturners to our club nights to show us the techniques, tools and processes they use to turn their work in the hope that some of their expertise will appeal to our members.
As well as the monthly demonstrations providing inspiration to our members, we encourage all our members of whatever turning standard to develop their turning skills through a regular monthly competition and bi-monthly turning workshops.
Berkshire Woodturners are very active in the local community delivering demonstrations at Craft Fairs and similar local events, We also hold free Taster Sessions so local non-turners can give woodturning a try without having to go to the expense of buying all of the necessary equipment.
Traditionally the BWA March Club Night is the club's Open Night at which we invited clubs members to demonstrate the techniques they use to produce their masterpieces.
The final programme has not yet been fixied but we hope to have another demonstration using the Sphere Jig but this time we hope to complete a full project, we will look at different ways of making home-made handles and look at the key aspects of sharpening turning tools.
The competition theme is "A Pomander". Initially worn to ward off pestilence at the time of the plague, they were adopted by the rich to ward off the bad smells caused by the great 'unwashed'.
The picture to the right shows a few different styles of pomander to give some inspiration.
The first Drop-In sessions didn't quite work as we had intended; the demo of the sphere jig took far longer than expected and we didn't manage the formal 'Hints and Tips' session, though several people had a go due to the excellent help provided by the 'mentors'. However, everybody seemed to enjoy the sessions so we will try again in March.
The plan for the second Drop-In of these is to have only two separate activities going on.
1. On the main lathe we plan to demonstrate the use the various hollowing tools held by the club. Wew should also have some other hollowing tools brought alomng by BWA members to show the variety of hollowing tools available. We will use the tools to turn open bowls so everybody can clearly see the cutting element of the the tools. The tools held by the club are mainly from Bill Riley's workshop and are home made (probably with some help from John Chance). The various commercially available hollowing tools tend to be extremely expensive so if you are planning to spend your money it is a good idea to give the the tools a 'try before you buy'.
2. We will also run a 'Hints and Tips' session on some of the club mini lathes. While these are essentially for beginners and less experienced turners everyone is welcome to come and join us. We will focus on spindle turning at the March Drop-In.
We will also have lathes available for those who have a problem piece or are having a struggle using a particular tool. We will have a couple of experienced turners on hand to provide some guidance.
And of course you can simply 'drop-in' for a cup of coffee and a chat.
The third Drop-In session will be on Wednesday 4th April.
These Drop-In Sessions will be on trial for 3 months. If successful they will probably become a permanent part of the programme
Yandles itself is well worth a visit - probably the biggest stock of different types of wood, including woodturning blanks, you will find in the South of England. But at the time of the two Woodworking Shows (the second is in October) it should definitely be on any woodturners itinerary.
The show covers all aspects of woodworking but woodturning and wood carving in particular are well represented. Most of the major tool manufcaturers will be represented and will show off their equipment and tools. In particular, Yandles are a major Record Power stockist and Record offer significant savings during the show.
Many of the local woodturning and wood carving clubs will be demonstrating and several professional woodturners will also be demonstrating. As well as wood working element there is also a fairly comprehensive craft fair.
Given that Yandles is quite a distance away, lift sharing would be a sensible option. We will have a list on the entrance desk for the March Club Night. If you are willing to offer a lift or take advantage of one put your name on the list. If there is sufficient interest we might consider hiring a minibus (cost to be fully covered by those taking advantage).
Our demonstrator for the April Club Night Will be Les Thorne. Another BWA favourite, Les is a production woodturner who also offers woodturning tuition at his 'No Turning Back' workshop at Old Arlesford in Hampshire.
Les has been on the Register of Professional Turners for a number of years and is noted for turning some very large architectural pieces.
The competition theme is "A Table Lamp".
Gary Rance, one of our regular visitors, entertained us by turning a frame to hold a wall clock mechanism. As always Gary seems to make turning a simple exercise and seems to be able to get an excellent finish straight off the tools which requires very little sanding. Gary clearly has an eye for design; the frame was simple in form but extremely elegant through the use of coves, beads and flats in all the relevant places.
Gary also gave various tips while going about the turning, in particular about how to maintain a steady pressure by using a wide stance and shifting his weight from one foot to another while turning with the tool tip moving parallel to the lathe bed or by leaning his weight back when turning across the face of a bowl blank. Gary also emphasised the need to keep the bevel of the tool in contact with the wood at all times.
And not satisfied with creating the clock he then set about turning a small coffee grinder again using a bought in grinding mechnism. Gary explained that these were great for selling at Craft Fairs and Christmas Markets and suggested that this type of thing turned using 'spalted' wood or 'interesting' woods like Laburnum or Walnut were generally good sellers.
He explained that it is best to turn a number of these at the same time using a template or copying fingers to ensure a consistent shape.
Though most who came along seemed to enjoy the evening it didn't go quite as planned.
For various reasons we were not quite as well prepared with the Sphere Jig demo as we perhaps should have been, which meant the demo took a lot longer than expected.
This meant we didn't get around to doing the formal beginners 'Hints and Tips Session', though some of our more experienced turners managed to rescue the situation by acting as mentors to the beginners and helping them with some spindle turning. Many thanks to those who helped out.
It is clear that doing any more than one exercise will be a challenge in the hall since doing two demos in such close proximity will probably be a significant distraction. We will try again in March. This time we will concentrate on the 'Hints and Tips' session and try to do the work with the hollowing tolls as an ancillary exercise.
We are working on the BWA guide on using the Sphere Jig. One of the issues is coming up with a consistent vocabulary. We will also discuss how we will make the jig available for loan at the forthcoming BWA Committee Meeting (12 March) and hope to have an answer by the time of the March Club Night.