North East Chapter – Irish Woodturners Guild

April 2017

A small group from the North East chapter travelled to Gorey where Robert O’Connor welcomed us to his Woodturning Studio, and treated us to a multitude of projects during the course of the day – 8 turnings in all, using coring procedures and the vacuum chuck.  He also brought us on a tour of his Drying House and timber storage sheds. 


He started with a demonstration of coring techniques, which proved to be a very efficient use of timber for turning bowls.  However, at least a 2 hp motor is recommended for coring.   

 tn_Robert O'Connor coring with a hand from Seamus Cassidy P1040790

Robert O'Connor coring  with a hand from Seamus Cassidy



Mounting a large spalted Horse Chestnut blank 18” x 7” on a faceplate, a 4.5” spigot was prepared.  Next the face was marked for 2 cores, allowing 0.5”waste for the core cutter.  The 3 bowls were turned, sanded and finished with a food safe Hardwax Oil before the morning tea break.    


The logical follow on was a pair of salad bowl servers made from Sycamore.  Mounted between centers, shape the spoon section into a large bead with lathe at high speed, and bring the handle to a round including basic design.  Shape spoon on the band-saw, sand and apply finish. 


tn_Robert O'Connor - Cored bowls P1040792

Robert O'Connor - Cored bowls


Next was a 5” Oak sphere:  Mount blank between centers, mark center line and mark 2.5” each side of center.  The sphere was turned by eye judgment only.  Mark horizontal center line to re-chuck for removing original chucking points and refining shape.  Finish with a shear cut, cutting with the grain direction.  Texture sphere using a brass wire brush mounted in the lathe, working across the grain.  Repeat process using a nylon brush.  


tn_Holm Oak bowl - Robert O'Connor P1040807

Holm Oak bowl - Robert O'Connor


An 18” Sycamore blank was mounted on the lathe and converted to a platter with a broad beaded rim – the beads decreasing in size as they approach the rim.  The final finishing cuts were performed using a cabinet scraper.  After power sanding it was finished with Hardwax Oil. 


tn_Spalted Sycamore platter - Robert O'Connor P1040803

Spalted Sycamore platter - Robert O'Connor


The final project of the day was a Holm Oak three footed bowl.  This 9” x 9” timber had been wrapped in clingfilm for over 3 years, and when unwrapped revealed a damp charcoal appearance.  A section of this log was mounted on a faceplate and the outside of the bowl was shaped.  The outside surface was dried with an air drier to facilitate power sanding.  Reverse chuck to turn the inside with the flute of the bowl gouge working at 2 o’clock at all times.  Dry the inside and power sand.  Reverse onto vacuum chuck to remove spigot.  Mark base to provide 3 feet.  Remove balance of timber with arbortech cutter leaving the 3 feet.   



tn_Oak Sphere - Robert O'Connor P1040799

Oak Sphere - Robert O'Connor


Thanks Robert for a prolific day’s turning that was packed with techniques and intrigue.