I had a very enjoyable demonstration the other evening. I’d been requested to do a “colouring” demonstration, and did a slightly re-worked version of one I’m actually bored with doing now, having done it over and over this last twelve months or so.

There are problems with demonstrating to Woodturners, which may not be apparent to other Woodturners. In a nutshell – you can’t please all the people. This much a demonstrator has to accept, if it’s a major problem then don’t demonstrate, if it’s a big problem but you wish to demonstrate…get over it and do the best you can for the largest number of the audience, and hope that’s enough.

But putting yourself up is always a dangerous proposition. There will be detractors, those who feel your pitch was: too high/too low/too boring/too complicated/too advanced/too basic, and in the case of colouring wood…too sacrilegious!

I think quite a few of the audience were genuinely interested in ringing a few changes, and were vocally enthusiastic, others perhaps only mildly, but at least one remained staunchly anti to proposition.

I often think that the audiences assume it’s a Catholic or Protestant kind of scenario…be one or the other! But of course it isn’t. Colouring can simply be another tool in the bag of tricks; an accent to be used when the wood isn’t singing on its own merits. And very often it can simply provide a framed area to accentuate the natural beauty of a particular area of wood. A photo frame.

The other major difficulty in demonstrating is where you pitch the rhetoric; the advanced turners in the group? The novices? Sadly there is no happy median line. So inevitably the pitch is a jumble on various levels,, switching between interest and understanding levels of a diverse group, and the knack, I suppose, if there is one, is to make the whole seamless and fluid, and by this make the demonstration interesting for everyone at some point or other.

It’s a long and tortuous learning curve, and unlike most curves, I’m not convinced that there’s an end to it.

And another!…

tyzackdrawknifeMy F.I.L. called this morning, having found another drawknife at a carboot sale. Do I want it? Of course I do!

So here it is…and what a beauty. By J Tyzack & Sons, and marked with the ministry arrow and dated 1943, and appears not to have been used at all!





tyzackbladeIt’s a nice tool; clean, unused, and smaller than my other drawknives so more portable and lighter to work with.








The Tyzacks have a very long history in the UK…and longer still in France. Arriving in the 16th century escaping persecution, they were glass makers. Later, after having their market cruely stolen from them, they began making tools, and Tyzack companies began to appear around the UK, with Sheffield being the base.

Tyzack companies were amalgamated with many others over time, two notables being Brades and Spear & Jackson, later to be bought out by Neils in 1985. A long history of tools certainly shows in the quality of this drawknife. A good find at £6.

I spent some time cutting and preparing a load of Yew today. Lovely wood. All the waste is destined for the log burner, which stills feels wrong despite it having no use other than matchstick production. It’s such a pretty wood it feels wrong to burn it.

One small branchwood log had an in-grown bark inclusion which I wanted to cut out. My judgement was a touch off and a little remained in the resulting piece. But what an effect! I could simply oil this and stand it as a decorative object in its own right…but I’d probably be alone in thinking it worthy.

10112008330Just imagine it sanded, oiled and standing on end. Nature is far better at beauty than we ever can be.

Oh the times they are a changin’…?

In recent months I’ve had half a dozen students of the “never touched a lathe” variety; four have then gone out and bought a lathe, tools, grinder, Etc. and set off on the learning curve. Also during this period I have had several visits from what can only rightly be called elderly turners brandishing pieces that are so far away from their comfort zones of Elm platters and pomanders as to be almost something else entirely. In the tiny insignificant bubble that is My World, these facts can only auger well. The look of sheer delight on the face of one elderly turner – twenty-odd years of virtually identical turned items under his belt – as he revealed the coloured object he had “had a little go” at, was quite exciting to witness.

What was more interesting to me, rather than the laudable attempt at colouring, was the fact that the “bowl” did not resemble any of his previous output, pretty standard bowl forms, well-turned but ordinary, and had obviously been the subject of some raging desire to alter the pattern of his historical output. He couldn’t say if the colour or the change in shape came first, and I’m not sure he was even aware of the change if I’m honest; you got the feeling that the shape was altered sub-consciously.

So we have here a small collection of new turners, each capable, each able to purchase the basics to set them off, and a smaller collection of established, experienced, turners who for some reason seem eager to spread their wings and try something different (for them, at least). And I find this exciting.

We, the Brits, are often cited as being “behind” the rest of the world in turning style and progression. And this may well be true in the broader sense, but maybe our natural conservatism just means that we’ll take our time to get there? And maybe along the way we’ll find our own path and strike out alone?

I don’t know. But at least in one small part of a small country, and I suspect the same occurs elsewhere, there is evidence of growth and a desire to experiment. East Anglia is, for reasons I’ve never understood, quite well served with turners, and of the whole, there are a few notables striving to make objects that are specifically of themselves. Maybe if we applauded their efforts, whether we like the output or not, and chivvied them on, then we might just get to look at some gloriously different turnery? Now wouldn’t that be nice?

Winter brings its own rewards…

Of course it’s not winter yet…not that you’d know that here on the east coast. Chilly. I’ve had a minor health problem this last few days, and after an exhausting run of students which I’m sure didn’t help, so took yesterday off to sort a few things out at home.

First off was to order a national-debt-sized amount of heating oil which should have been easy (except for paying for it!…but then 900 Ltrs of anything is going to hurt, I guess) but the feeder pipes had blocked and I had to strip it all back to the boiler and clean out. But the good news, at least for SWMBO, is that the heating is officially on now.

After that job the next was related…re-lagging the flue for the log burner…nasty job. But done now, and the winter reward of a roaring log fire (no useable logs were hurt in this process!) was most welcome.

And then off to the tip with the useless stuff I had to move to get to the oil burner fuel system…oh, and the dead dryer I had to replace yesterday. And then it was MOT prep for SWMBO’s car next month. And that was an unpleasant bill too! Who decided that rather than replace stearing bushes you would have to replce the whole wishbone? The bloke who makes them, no doubt. Modern cars may be fuel efficient, comfortable, and quiet, but I think they lose out on replacement part costs and difficulty of repair. Damn nuisance.

Today it’s back to the lathe and the simplicity of shavings…where I’ll have to stay for about four months just to pay for yesterday!

Hey Ho.