June 2011


We travelled to Joe Laird’s Woodturning Studios in Dunshaughlin for our June meeting, where Joe runs a dedicated woodturning school from his state of the art equipped studios.  


Joe had a wet 70 lb blank of Sycamore mounted on a faceplate in preparation to make a small hat, and during its shaping this had to be reduced in weight to less than one pound.  The initial outside shaping was completed using a long swept back bevel chisel with the long handle pressed into the groin for maximum control.  Hand protection is recommended to protect against chips and moisture, and leather gloves are ideal for this. 


 Spraying the timber with water at regular intervals is essential in order to keep the timber damp and prevent it from splitting.  When shaping the rim Joe created a slight cove to encourage warping, while aiming for an overall thickness of 3mm for the rim and hat.  


Joe Laird shaping his hat

 Joe Laird shaping the hat on the lathe


With the outside shaped, the project was remounted in 4” jaws to commence turning the inside of the hat.  However, waste was minimized during the process by using a McNaughton bowl saver to salvage the making of a respectable bowl, while at the drive end there was a parted off base which could be converted into a platter.   


Joe stressed the importance of  a uniform thickness when shaping the rim in order to avoid splitting.  A light set up adjacent to the turning illustrated the thickness at the crucial final cuts.  After parting off the hat, a jam chuck was prepared to facilitate the removal of the original chucking spigot with pull-cuts, while the final cuts were push-cuts.  Finally, blocks are clamped at each sine of the long grain and elastic bands fitted across the rim to assist warping. 


Peter Donagh & Cecil Barron watching Joe Laird on the lathe

 Peter Donagh & Cecil Barron watching Joe Laird 


Joe gave a constructive critique on member’s turnings before making a candlestick holder using only the skew chisel.  The roughing was completed with the long point down using the bottom 1/3 of the skew, cutting slightly above centre.  



Then it was over to the rest of us to replicate the exercise.  So, armed with a skew and 2” x 2” x 7” piece of beech, before long 12 candlesticks emerged.  

 tn_Detmot Hill in action at Joe Laird's workshop. tn_Hands on- competition time at Joe Laird's Studio - all made using only the skew chisel  

Dermot Hill in action at Joe Laird's workshop.

Hands on- competition time at Joe Laird's Studio - all made using only the skew chisel



Joe did the judging and Cecil Barron scooped the honors, and was presented with a Glen Lucas DVD.  Cecil also presented an 8 circle Steiner for the critique session  - this consisted of 8 circles set in a custom made platter; each outside circle had to touch the outer edge of the platter while also touching 2 other circles. 


8 Circle Steiner - Cecil Barron

8 Circle Steiner - Cecil Barron

A very enjoyable day concluded with Joe screw chucking a 2” x 10” blank of sycamore on the lathe, which he converted into an ogee shaped footed bowl measuring 3” x 9.5”.  This piece of magic is explained by coring out sufficient from the centre to turn a foot for the bowl.  Thanks Joe for a wonderful experience, and also to Angela for providing the much appreciated lunch.