Demonstration by Robert Till
26 July 2023
Robert’s project for the evening was ash box with finial and possible colouring if time allowed. He started with a 6in by 3in bowl blank which he mounted on an 8mm screw chuck with spacers bringing the tail stock up for safety. A long handled half inch bowl gouge was then used to true up the piece starting at a speed of 1000 rev. Robert then fashioned a dove-tailed tenon changing to a smaller spindle gouge for definition. He checked the tenon fitted in his chuck before taking the piece off the screw chuck.
Once the bowl was mounted in his chuck, he marked the surface of the bowl where the final edge would be – about a third of the way from the base. He then shaped the underside of the bowl with his spindle gouge initially using pulling cuts but adding pushing cuts for the final refinement. A flat spot was left at the base. The base was then shear cut with the flat of the gouge with the lathe speed increased to 2000revs. and sanded to 240 grit using a paper towel to wipe of the dust between grits. Robert used the trick of wetting the wood to deal with end grain tear out. He emphasised the importance of dealing with tear out especially if the wood was to be coloured or ebonised.
A tenon had been created at the base and the piece reversed in the chuck to allow the top of the bowl to be cleaned up and shaped in a similar way to the base. The size of the lid was then marked out on the lid and the edge defined with a round skew to a depth of 5mm (to allow for future mistakes!).
The interior of the box was then hollowed out starting with a spindle gouge and proceeding with a Simon Hope Hollower with a straight 6mm carbon fibre tip. The tip was changed to a swan neck tip to undercut the sides. The inner surface was finished with a round ended negative rake scraper and a flexcut swan necked scraper for the undercut surfaces.
The small ash blank prepared for the lid was then mounted on the screw chuck with adequate spacers. The size of the lid was defined with the bowl gouge and its size checked with the recess in the body. This had to be done carefully as the body of the bowl would be used as a jam chuck to finish the lid; too tight and it would be difficult removing the finished lid from the body; too loose and it would not work as a jam chuck although this could be rectified, as in Robert’s case, by using a paper towel to allow gripping. An eight mm hole was then drill in the centre of the lid being careful not to hit the screw chuck and the lid parted off.
The body was then remounted in the chuck and the lid jammed in place and its surface defined. This was mainly done by shear scraping with a spindle gouge blending the lid into the surface of the bowl. Robert said that the higher (within reason) the speed of the lathe the finer the shaving/ dust produced and the better the finish. The lid and upper surface of the bowl was then sanded. The lid was then turned in the chuck and the underside finished undercutting the centre slightly to ensure a snug ft for the finial.
Robert then made a finial in the short time left. He mounted the rounded blank between centre and using a parting tool first created a spigot of 8mm to match the hole in the lid removing the piece to check frequently. He undercut the base of the finial to ensure a snug fit. A roughing gouge was used to reduce the size of the piece and a spindle gouge and round skew use to create the final shape. The final job was to reverse the lid with the finial in place and smooth off the underside of the lid.
Robert then showed his very satisfactory result to an impressed gathering, with John Pitt gave a vote of thanks for the instructive and well guided demonstration.
Report by Julian Birch