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2nd September 2015
Colin Fishwick

Colin demonstrated a simple natural edged vase using ash branch wood. The wood being used had been cut for eight months so was neither fully wet nor fully dry. He started by looking for the aproximate centre but avoided centring the job on the pith to make sure it didn't end up weakening the stem. Using branch wood tends to mean the pith isn't central anyway. There was some discussion about what determines whether the bark is likely to stay on or fall off. Colin suggested that with ash and beech you're fairly safe whilst with apple, yew and cherry it's more likely to come off. Some people felt the time of year the wood was felled made a significant difference.

Leaving a decent width of bark on the top end he used the inevitable spindle roughing gouge to get most of the piece into round then squared off the base and made a good big spigot for his chuck.
Using a chunky bowl gouge he started shaping the outside of the piece.

The next step caused some confusion as Colin starts his hollowing using a succession of forstner bits. It worked perfectly well but to some of us it looked a rather laborious and slow way to start hollowing! Once the hole was formed Colin used a spindle gouge to form the top part of the inside surface and demonstrated the difference between cutting with the flute closed (gentle) or open (agressive).

The spindle gouge will only go so far before you are fighting with it so Colin moved over to his hollowing tools including a Rowley Munroe small cutter. The finishing cuts were made with a bowl scraper which he described as hard to control and giving a poor finish!

Once the inside was formed he cut the outside down to match the inside. For this piece Colin suggested not worrying about getting an even wall thickness all the way down. To make the piece practical there's something to be said for leaving a decent amount of weight in the base so the wall thickness increased from top to bottom.

Having formed the inside and outside Colin shaped the foot. Judging both the width and thickness of the foot is critical if the piece is going to look "right".

Once the piece was sanded Colin planed to put on two coats of sanding sealer before applying two or three coats of spray gloss acrylic laquer. Alternatively he could have used sanding sealer followed by carnuba wax or just finished the piece with oil.

Colin reckons these are good sellers at craft fairs so I'm sure some of us will be looking out for some smallish branch wood to try knocking up a few in time for Christmas!