Paul Howard was our demonstrator for the June meeting (https://www.paulhowardwoodturner.co.uk/), An ex-mechanical engineer by trade, Paul is well known for the Jigs and Fixtures that he manufactures and sells at events. He can often be seen sharing a stand with Simon Hope if you were wondering where you’ve seen him before.
The first item that Paul was going to demonstrate to us was one of his Owl figures, complete with mortar board for that intelligent look (completely out of place in our club!). He likes to save wood, so when making spheres he uses cubes of good hardwood, that are hot glued onto short softwood stubs, giving the added benefit of being able to reach either side of the sphere easily. Paul pointed out that when using hot glue, you must ensure that you glue the middle of the joint, and not just the outside as we would be turning a lot of this joint away.
Paul favours a large roughing gouge when turning the cubes to round as it provides a lot of available edge to use, saving on visits to the grinder. It can also be used to perform a nice shearing cut. Paul also uses a Steb centre on both ends, as this makes turning the piece around very simple as they line up perfectly.
To make a sphere, Paul marks the centre line and then the diameter lines at either end, before trimming the ends true. Using a well-known formulae of “diameter * 0.297”, Paul marks another line that distance in from the diameter on both the face and side of the piece. By turning away the wood between these lines, you’re left with an almost sphere which can be rounded over with a bowl gouge, unless you have one of Paul’s sphere jigs, which he used to complete the sphere. As much of the material is removed between centres as possible, before trimming with a saw.
The sphere is then placed between two cup chucks (using Paul’s cup chuck bearing arbour) and the stubs trimmed off. Paul suggested setting the stubs at an angle so that you trim them on at a time. He also used an old hole saw ground as a scraper, which judging by the expressions on some of the club members, they won’t be trying anytime soon.
Once the sphere is complete, Paul marked a position for the eyes, ensuring that the circles just overlapped. The sphere was then held the sphere in a homemade sphere jig and the eye space turned out with a bowl gouge. At this point Paul bought out his indexing system to show how flutes could be carved on the eyes. Consisting of a laser cut disk, the indexing system was very quick to setup and use. Once this was in place, Paul then used his fluting jig with a palm router mounted in it and a V cutter to flute the area around the owl’s eyes.
Paul did point out that you don’t need his jigs to complete any of this work and there were many ways to achieve the same effects. Once the fluting was completed, the centre of the eye was drilled out to receive this plastic eyes that Paul purchases off of Ebay. The process was then repeated for the second eye, resulting in the finished Owl head. All that was needed then was the beak, which Paul created using a pen blank on a mitre jig and a sanding disk mounted in the lathe. This piece then had the back turned away to match the spheres diameter using pen drilling jaws in the lathe.
With the head complete, Paul proceeded to make the mortar board, turning a small disk of beech very thin using a vacuum chuck to turn out the inside. Unfortunately, he suffered from a “just one more cut moment” and the vacuum chuck weakened the cap part of the mortar board!
For the afternoon session, Paul made an offset finial box using a homemade off-centre jig. He turned a 12 inch * 3 inch sq piece of fruit wood to round and then marked it with a pencil line down it’s length on opposite sides. Once the chuck mounts were added at each end, the lines were extended across the face to meet. This allowed Paul to mark the offset at each end of the piece. The blank was then parted in two and the first piece mounted in the chuck.
Paul created a small box in the join between the two pieces before remounting the re-joined piece of with the box hidden away in the middle. The outside of the box piece was turned down across the join then the pieces separated again before being mounted in a jam chuck turned onto the end of Paul’s offset chuck.
The bottom was offset to the first position and the stem turned with a mixture of coves, fillets and beads. The piece was then returned to centre and the base turned to create a pleasing curved shape. Paul finished this piece using a baby oil and wax mixture which brought out the woods colours.
With the base complete, Paul then repeated the process with the top of the box, this time turning the piece down to a pointed finial with tip detail.
With just a few minutes left to go, Paul took us back to a story that he had been telling us about a flag maker that he knew. This flag maker had asked him to turn him some flag toggles and in the end Paul thinks he has made over a thousand! Of course, over time Paul has got quite good at this and is able to make three flag toggles in just under 3 minutes by making three at once.
With a stop watch running, he mounted up a blank that was trimmed to the correct size, rough turned to round, then marked it out using a template for the pencil lines. Several quick coves and v cuts later and he finished the toggles ready for trimming and sanding in 2:59.79. The committee are now considering this for the August speed turning competition!