October 2005 Newsletter

The first thing that struck those who turned up to see Jimmy was that he wasn't there! The arrangement had been that Bert Lanham would meet him on the 9th at Yandles to direct him to the club etc for the next day, Jim failed to materialise as the clutch had gone on his car. Frantic phone calls from Bert ascertained that the car was being fixed and Jim would be there the next day, as those who attended know, Jim arrived just after 10 a.m. and was brilliant.

Jim briefly introduced himself, his philosophy, which was that there are numerous ways of turning, and a plethora of gouges/tools. There is no correct or best way to turn a particular piece nor a correct tool for every job. He suggests that we should experiment, as he does, and develop a method and procedure with which we are comfortable and which allows us to achieve the results we desire. Jim uses few tools and doesn't differentiate greatly between bowl and spindle gouges. His message was to use a tool that suits you and just try to understand bevels and angles and the cutting edge. He grinds his bowl gouges down to the flute (so as to present the least bevel to the wood), which allows the most access to the blank from a variety of angles. For his grinding he uses a one way grinding jig which allows him to reproduce the same profile every time. As far as he is concerned it is impossible to achieve the same effect free hand. Jim reminisced that when he first met Stuart Mortimer, Stuart said, "Your sharpening is excellent lad!" Jim being Jim said, "Thanks, yours are crap" to which Stuart replied "Stupid boy!" They became great friends and Jim said Stuart's sharpening is not great but his work is fantastic so it works for him.

The first item that Jim turned was from two rectangular pieces of sycamore 10" long by 4-1/2" wide by 3" high for the base and 5" long by 3-1/4" wide by 3" high for the top. The finished article was to be an oriental box. The base had a pre-drilled hole for a screw chuck (as the screw chuck didn't fit the club chuck Jim gripped his chuck inside the club's chuck and the screw chuck inside that). This procedure made sure that the first few rows paid particular attention.

He started the lathe at full revs which sounded like a jumbo jet revving up. Horrific! But it had the effect of closing the gaps. The demonstration for the first time had the camera displaying the turner in action, our usual camera connected to the television on the audience's left and our new miniature close-up camera (which is currently on test) connected to the television on the audiences right. It was in my opinion a great improvement.

But to the demo. Firstly Jim turned the shape of the bottom which consisted of the undercut wings of the piece together with the bowl part of the box which had a chucking spigot on the base. This spigot was made just larger than the optimum gripping for the jaw size so that when he originally mounts the piece in the chuck he crushes the spigot producing an imprint of the jaws so that he can then remount accurately as the procedure demands remounting.

The piece was reversed mounting in the chuck where the top form was turned to replicate the underside. At this point Jim explained that the wings have to be cut in steps. He proceeded finishing the wings in steps from the outer to the centre.

It is vital that it is done this way because the piece being cut needs the support of the dense fibres directly ahead of the cut being made, i.e. towards the centre. Jim was adamant about this procedure as unsupported the wings would shatter. Jim, after creating the shape he desired, proceeded to hollow out the inner bowl of the box. At this point he explained how he was able to get access into what was quite a tight recess with a gouge. He showed us a 1/4" bowl gouge with a finger nail grind, he then took it to the grinder and ground a minute additional/secondary bevel of about 2mm. This allowed great flexibility because you are rubbing on such a small bevel so access is virtually unrestricted. After achieving the overall shape of the form and bowl, Jim made a recess to provide a reverse chucking point. He removed the base and mounted the smaller piece of sycamore to create a lid on a steb centre. He first turned the upper part of the lid using what would eventually be the finial as a spigot. The piece was reversed; the underside of the lid was concaved to match the shape of the upper side and the base. Then Jim turned the lip that would fit into the base, he didn’t seem to take any measurements, just kept offering the base to lid until he got a tight fit (tight enough to act as a jam chuck). The base was then remounted onto the lathe, the lid was jammed on and then Jim unbelievably proceeded to finish the top which included turning off the spigot and forming a finial. Believe it or not the lid stayed in Situ whilst all this took place, held solely in place by the fit of the lid. Incredible!

The base was then reversed using the rim of the box as a chucking point and the spigot turned off and the base tidied up. With this the item was finished. What most turners would find impossible Jim made look simple!

Just before breaking for lunch Jim, as agreed, judged the members exhibits for the competition.

Entries were:

Paul Hunt - Wet turned plum chalice.

Mick Adams - Royal Marine’s helmet on a sapelle and silver mace.
                     Naval Hat and Capstan on ensign staff.

Des Segens - Lidded hawthorn goblet 1O-1/2” spalted beech bowl

Michael Fryer (youngest member) - spalted beech goblet

Howard Overton - Natural edge mulberry bowl
                     3 cylinder skeleton sapelle and glass surround & support

David Ward - Thin spalted sycamore serrated edge bowl

Pat Hughes - Burr elm undercut hollow form

John Holmes - Multi faced cube sweet chestnut burr on pedestal

Paul Borer - Undercut spalted beech bowl

Ian Alston - Carousel of lace bobbins (lignum vitae/boxwood/African bkickwood,
                     i.e. odds and sods from work shop).

Jim was very impressed with the standard of the entries and took a long time to come to a difficult decision. He favours innovative pieces but found it difficult to ignore the technical quality of the entries.

Howard Overton was the winner because of the innovative use of three forms and the glass spacers.

John Holmes with his cube impressed Jim as an individual piece.

Mick Adams’s miniatures impressed Jim with their technical merit.

Michael Fryer’s spalted goblet impressed as a promising young turner with high potential.

After lunch Jim decided to turn a natural edge deep bowl from burr oak. The blank was about 6” in diameter by 7” high complete with bark (at top) and not dry.

Jim used a Proxon miniature chainsaw carving tool to remove the centre of the bark so that the four-prong drive would bite. He mounted the blank between centres with the bark end towards the tailstock. He turned a desired shape having impressed on us that you go down the piece to avoid the bark flying off. He created a spigot and reversed the bowl, at this juncture he realised that the bark was not going to stay so he removed it. This revealed an attractive pattern of peaks and about an inch of dark sapwood . There were several cracks in the piece but they did not detract from the attractiveness of the item so were ignored.

Jim sanded the exterior using two methods worth mentioning. He sprayed the piece with meths and then set light to it (the meths, not the bowl!) Extreme care is required. This raises the grain which is then sanded off; you can achieve a similar effect with water but have to wait for if to dry. He then sanded it using a block of foam with Velcro glued to it to which you can attach loop cloth backed abrasive. This is kinder to the fingers when sanding natural edge bowls.

Jim started to hollow the inside with a bowl gouge then the Roly Munro hollowing tool. He said there is no best hollowing fool, they all have advantages and disadvantages but basically they all do the same job. Use the one you have which will do the job. The finished bowl was treated with Organoil.

Jim asked if the Club had a charity which it supports. On hearing about Demelza House he donated both items to be sold on the Charity’s behalf.

Dave Matson has the items which need to be hand sanded and finish applied after which they will be sold to the highest bidder.

If any member would like a signed original Jimmy Clews, make an offer.

Dave Matson