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Paul Hannaby: Turning Two Goblets 
25 October 2023

Paul Hannaby: turning two goblets – one with a natural edge and one with a with a spiral stem


Paul was turning a branch of laburnum about 3in in diameter and 8in long. He examined the blank explaining how to avoid having the pith of the branch absolutely central – for strength – and how side branches might affect the turning.

Paul then mounted it on the lathe between centres and turned it to a cylinder with a roughing gouge at about 1700 rpm. He emphasised the importance of starting the lathe slowly and staying out of reach should it come adrift before turning up the lathe speed. He then fashioned a spigot at one end using a set of callipers set to the optimal diameter for his chuck, explaining about the importance of the depth of the spigot that should not reach the bottom of the chuck jaws. The piece was then mounted in the chuck carefully pushed in by the central point for an even mount.

The free end was squared off using a spindle gouge and the gouge then used as a drill to create a central hole to start the turning of the inside of the goblet cup. The height of the tailstock needed careful adjustment to allow the gouge to enter centrally and the hole drilled to the required depth. The gouge was then used to widen the cavity.

Paul then changed to a ring gouge. He explained how to sharpen and use the ring gouge with the tool rest lowered to allow a cut at 7 o’clock direction. The angle edge was used to cut the sides of the cup and the gouge reversed to smooth the bottom of the cup.

Once Paul was happy with the inside of the cup, he sanded it (reducing the speed by a third) before sealing and waxing it.

The outside of the cup was then shaped after the depth had been measured with a depth gauge and marked on the outside. He started with the rim and worked his way down the outside using his fingers to determine the thickness.

Once the bottom of the cup had been shaped allowing for a greater thickness for strength, Paul sanded, sealed and waxed the outside of the bowl of the goblet.

The bulk of the stem was then removed with a roughing gouge before changing to a spindle gouge to turn it down to about a 1/4in. A polystyrene ball on a revolving cup centre was used to add stability to the piece while turning the thin stem. The stem was turned from the top about an inch at a time to maintain its strength as long as possible. The stem was carefully examined to check where exactly the pith was, as this would weaken the stem. A small bead was created to delineate the bottom of the cup from the top of the stem.

The foot was then fashioned, its size and shape reflecting the bottom of the goblet cup. A half cove was created where the stem and foot met to match the bead at the top of the stem. The stem and foot were then sanded, sealed and waxed before the piece was parted off. This had to be done very carefully as the stem had become very fragile near where the pith reached the edge of the stem. The finished article was inspected by the audience.

In the last half hour of his demonstration, Paul quickly turned a second goblet from a black poplar blank leaving a more substantial stem to demonstrate how to create spirals. He passed round a collection of engineer files similar to the ones he was to use. Using a coarse round file which he angled at 45 degrees to the axis of the stem and filed a groove while hand turning the lathe. He extended this along the length of the stem, correcting the alignment regularly. A second groove was then scraped in a similar way between the first groove. A larger file was then used in the same way to deepen and enlarge each groove and correct any irregularities. Other angled files were then used to round off the angle on the edge of each groove. The stem was now sanded by hand with the lathe both still and rotating slowly. This process can be continued until a satisfactory finish is achieved when it can be finished in the normal way. Paul encouraged us all to ‘have a go’ at this technique.

John Pitt thanked Paul for his demonstration especially for the clear and detailed commentary which, when delivered to an audience of turners of widely varying expertise, is not easy. The audience all agreed!

Report by Julian Birch

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