North East Chapter – Irish Woodturners
Secretary Imelda Connolly, welcomed John Sheehan, East Central Chapter, as demonstrator for May, and also welcomed
guests from both Down and Dublin Chapters.
John treated us
to a masterclass in walking stick making. Starting with a 42” long hedge cut Hazel
stick which had been seasoned for at least one year, he first checked the dryness of the timber by bouncing the
bottom of the stick on a solid floor – a sharp bounce and clear noise indicates dry timber: a poor bounce and
dull noise denotes moisture content. He explained the various methods of
straightening which he uses. On this occasion he used a hot air gun on
the part of the stick that required bending.
Using a bending
block measuring 3”x 3”x 9” containing a 1.25” drill hole, the stick was inserted into the block and side
pressure applied to straighten the stick while the fibres of the timber were hot and
John shaping walking stick handle
A variation of
this heating method is to place a tray covered with tinfoil under the heating area to reflect heat back into the
bulk bending he uses a 6” heavy grade pipe which is blocked at one end, and steam is applied from a wall-paper
stripper into this container for an hour. Safety precautions while using
this method is essential in order to avoid any build up of steam pressure in the
container. A variety of custom made bending /
forming jigs for bending animal horn were also demonstrated.
John with his home made
A heavy vice was
secured in the lathe bed to hold the walking stick while carving and filing a 50mm long tenon x 14mm to secure
into the handle. It is essential to protect the bark at all times with a wrap of heavy rubber while in the
It is also important that the timber being used was not harvested between November
and February, as timber cut during this period is prone to the bark separating from the timber.
bending buffalo horn with perswader lever
The Elm handle
was shaped on the bandsaw and drilled to accept the tenon. The assembled walking stick was
remounted in the vice, and using a Shinto (Japanese rasp) and a variety of other rasps and files the handle was
crafted to its planned shape with the aid of a template. After sanding the handle, the complete walking stick was finished with three coats of high
Thanks John for
a fascinating demonstration and an intriguing display of jigs of the trade, and also for including the buffalo
horn bending exercise.
Thanks to Seamus
Cassidy for his critique on the following exhibits:-
16” Spalted Beech bowl – Cecil Barron.
Green Heart honey pot – Kevin Milton.
9” Elm bowl – Gene McConnell.
2 Mahogany bud vases – Bob Dier.
Ash popery pot – Tony