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19th August 2015 - Richard Findley

Richard showed us how he turns a table lamp, partly chosen because it lets him demonstrate both face plate & spindle turning. Richard talked constantly and it was all really informative. I can't begin to write all that he said - it would be a book!

Deciding where to begin Richard suggested we could start with either the base or the stem but as he prefers to make the mortice first it makes sense to start with the base.

The example Richard bought along was made out of oak, but tonight he was using pine which causes a few issues of its own. Does pine need specially sharp tools? Richard was clear that it doesn't - all turning needs sharp tools!
The base blank was attached with an Axminster screw chuck with a bit of mdf over to give a wider base.
First Richard trued up the blank and made sure he'd taken off all of the saw marks.

Richard surprised me by starting turning using a spindle gouge on faceplate work. He said a bowl gouge is important if you're well over the tool rest and need the strength but for faceplate work which is shaped a spindle gouge (not a spindle roughing gouge) works well.

Richard reminded is to chose the direction of cut thinking of where you care about it spelching out so you can avoid rough edges.

When facing up Richard suggested it's easier to control a draw cut from centre out. Start near tip of tool and move around to a more aggressive cut gradually. To get a good finish remember you can use a skew as a very fine scraper producing nice wispy shavings!
Generally Richard feels a spigot leaves more options than a recess. With a recess you can't have a narrow base or foot. The spigot gives you more scope but with a lamp it's a perfect time to use a recess. Both recess or spigot will hold - but from a design point of view a spigot can be better.

When drilling the cable hole into the side of the base remember that it will be the back so check where the best looking grain is. Drill into either end grain or side grain - not half way between the two.

For this sort of work he suggested the book "Classic Forms" by Stuart E Dyas which has line drawings of lots of well balanced classic shapes.

To deal with ropey grain and spray a bit of sanding sealer onto the tricky areas. It will help to stick the grain together and stabilise the wood whilst you make your finishing cuts. Using abrasive, whatever grade you start on, do all the work with that grit then just go up through the grits quickly.

Richard demonstrated using his body movement to get better control. Using just hands and wrist will leave the surface lumpy and bumpy. Put the tool into your side and use your body to turn and create a smoother shape. Start with heavy cuts and move towards lighter cuts to get a better finish. To improve the finish use a shear cut. If there is vibration try a thicker tool to reduce chatter.
A higher speed can improve the finish but it can increase vibration too.

Once the shape is formed Richard cuts the mortice, boring into the centre, opening out the cut and then cleaning up the edges with a skew

Moving onto the stem without a hollow headstock Richard used a long drill bit in a handle to cut the hole, using a gouge to cut a dimple, turning the lathe speed down and then just pushing in firmly and cleaning out the drill regularly. Once it's in half way he turned the blank and worked from the other end to meet very cleanly in the middle.

Once the hole is bored through he drives the piece on the hole using a cone on a morse taper or a jamb chuck or wooden cone.

When cutting spindles beads, coves and straight lines is all there is - just work out what you want and join them up! Rolling a bead with a skew is hard - you can use the long point, mark the centre to balance the shape - use the very tip of the tool. If you cut back from the tip you are likely to get a catch - just cut on the tip!
Movement of gouge is similar - just less dramatic when it catches! All the action is near the tip of the gouge, the wings are ground back to get them out of the way - cut from JUST to one side of the tip. Remember a parting tool will act like a skew in tight spaces!

Also remember there's a hole bored down the middle when cutting the bottoms of coves here.

Cracking demo Richard - there was more information than I can cover in one report!