Cold and slow…

It’s been so cold down by the river that the firewood pile was looking quite miserable, so with gritted teeth i opened the wood store for the first time since the flood. First problem is the frame, which has been for longer than I’ve been alive, had swollen and buckled and really needs replacing. But that will have to wait for a little while.

Inside there was a pile of leaves and debris that had washed in and will have to be cleared out…when it’s not so cold. As I expected the large lumps of black walnut are beyond saving and will now be posh firewood. Some construction timber is also damaged,so that’s the new bench off the to-do list for a while.

There are other obviously damaged lumps and boards, but I hadn’t the heart to check to closely.

Some of the beyond use stuff went next door to be split for firewood despite still being a little damp it’ll dry soon enough and do to keep the workshop dry and warm.

It’s still deathly quiet. If I hear one more “it’s the same for everybody” i’ll scream. I know it is but that doesn’t help. Another professional turner called the other day…just for a chat…and told me he hasn’t had a commission since July!

I’m glad he didn’t call this week because I’d have had to own up to having three! Don’t get excited. One is for a wooden base to replace a broken glass one on a lidded glass vase, the other a weird request that isn’t even woodwork and doesn’t amount to much, and then today “can you turn me six dressing table handles?”…oh! Let me check the diary!

Anyway…it’s cold and there’s nobody about so after the school run I’m going home to do something useful and fix the shower. Damned solonoids.

I shouldn’t have been doing this…

But last night we went along to our annual visit to Sotterly Mill and I bought some lovely burr oak. Kiln dried too, so ready to work. And today, when I should have been doing other things, I couldn’t resist turning a lump. This piece is 19″ in diameter at the widest point. The burr is lovely and I can imagine the cries when they see it coloured…but that’s fine…you do what you do with yours, and I’ll do what I do with mine…






unfinished underside

another blog?

So why another blog?

I have almost decided to change the existing non-software blog at, but wanted to try it here first.

So here it is. Another woodturning blog. The same woodturning blog, but different in so many ways. Same turner, same thoughts and comments, different layout and different methodology.

So here’s the most recent entry from the above…just to see how it looks….



April 19th 2008

I had to collect some very fresh Hawthorn this morning, which was kindly donated by a villager. Pictured is only one pile of quite a few. I was only able to take a half load in the van due to the weight of the wood. Hawthorn is very dense and heavy, compared with a similar sized piece of, say, Ash. As usual when I’ve collected something interesting, I couldn’t wait to turn some. Turning wet wood is always fun, long streamers and very little resistance to a sharp tool, but Hawthorn is a particular pleasure. It’s a lovely wood to work, cutting like butter that’s been lightly frozen. From experience I know that Hawthorn is prone to sometimes quite severe warping and cracking if turned from wet too thickly. In fact, even rough turning Hawthorn can be less than successful. So I turned some natural-edged vases with 2-3mm wall thickness. Buoyed by the first three turning so well, I thought I’d push it a little and tried for a 1mm wall…BANG! Thank heavens for face masks. Looking at the resulting debris afterwards, there was a small, but in this case significant, knot about a third of the way down. Obviously this was where the weakness was. So next time I try a 1mm wall, I’ll make sure I check the surface more carefully.

Hawthorn Harvest

Fresh from the lathe


Today was a very quiet day, and aside from a visit from my F.I.L, and a client with final details of a commission, I was untroubled by anybody, so was free to turn in peace and quiet. When it’s like this, there’s time to think while you turn. These can be productive times, and provide an opportunity to consider ideas for turning, and lots besides. Today it was demonstrations. What exactly to audiences want from a demonstration? I’ve seen a lot of demonstrations over the past few years, and sat through professional and amateur demonstrations. Now, I give quite a few myself, and wonder how the audience actually feel afterwards. I can’t imagine there’s a turner doing the rounds of the demo circuit who doesn’t wonder about this at some point. You want to give an interesting and informative demonstration, and leave them feeling that it was worth it. But do they?

At a number of demonstrations I’ve attended, I have left feeling slightly cheated, feeling that what I witnessed was more a demonstration of the cleverness of the demonstrator, rather than an instructive demonstration, which is what I would personally prefer. So when I started demonstrating I thought I try to ensure it was instructive first-and-foremost. My method of achieving this has been to concentrate on the techniques and related information as I turn to illustrate them, and not to concentrate on completing a finished piece to rapturous applause. My feeling is that in order to truely finish a piece of work, a considerable amount of time is spent on activities that need not necessarily be included in a woodturning demonstration – sanding, sealing, Etc. Who wants to sit and watch you while you spend half the alloted time doing these things? So I’ll take along some examples of related finished work, and concentrate on getting the detail of the techniques across clealrly. If people want to watch me do a start-to-finsh piece, they may as well come along to the workshop, get a coffee, and take a seat.

On the whole this seems to have worked well in the main. But there have been the odd members of the audience who seem to feel that they haven’t watched a demonstration unless you complete a piece to shelf standard. So which is the right way? What is that audiences want? Do they really want to watch a demonstrator showing just how clever he is to be able to complete a project in the alloted time, with a coffee break, a Q&A, and a break for a table critique? If that’s what the majority want, demonstrating would be a doddle. But I’d suggest that that they’d learn a whole lot less. But maybe it’s my own relative inexperience that’s the problem, in that I haven’t figured out yet that what they actually want, is simply to be entertained?

Maybe you have thoughts?