Wight Woodturners Club Meeting – 8th January 2013

“Spindle Turning” Demonstration

Our members turned out in force for the first Wight Woodturners meeting of 2013 and our Chairman, Mike, was also able to welcome several potential new members and guests. Our meeting room does get a bit crowded at times and is beginning to reach “capacity” but rest assured your valiant Committee has this in hand as the Club continues to grow!

The Theme for the evening was traditional “Spindle Turning” in some of its many forms. This was a primer for our February Competition to turn a pair of Matched Spindles, that is to say, perfectly identical turnings!

The evening got off to a start with our ever increasing popular “Show & Tell”.  It’s good to see so many members chipping in with some of their latest work, their latest gismos or just items of general interest.  Whatever we do it is often of interest to others so do share your triumphs and disasters!  First up was Peter with his lathe mounted disk sander with jigs specially developed for accurately sanding the wedges of segmented work.  Next, Len told us about his micro-waving exploits in drying wet oak burrs. This was followed by Rodger showing us some Japanese boxes with secrete compartments and decorated with an exquisitely detailed marquetry and veneer top.  Andy shared one of his latest book acquisitions with us, “the Wooden Bowl”.  A number of members found this to be a fascinating book (details below).

The Spindle Turning Demo was presented by Mike who started by extolling the virtues of this style of turning and all the different forms it may take. These range from a simple single turning like a rolling pin or garden dibber then to decorated matching candle sticks and on to multiple identical turnings like chair spindles and balusters for stairs or galleries. Then, you can have highly decorated polychromatic work with fluting, reeding, spirals or barley twists. These can be quite large as with classic standard lamps. Then you can go the other end of the scale with intricate lace bobbins or dolls house furniture and even taking in wooden puzzles and captive rings along the way. And, when you have done all this there’s no time left for turning things like bowls! Mike’s demo gave us an interesting taster of some of these techniques.  His flipchart information may be found in the Resources section below.


A few pictures below give a flavour of the evening.  To see a larger image just double click on any of the pictures.

This is Peter’s lathe mounted disc sander with segment sanding jigs. All made from wood off-cuts.
One of Len’s very attractive oak burr bowls which were carefully dried in a microwave oven to reduce the moisture content.
One of Roger’s exquisitely decorated Japanese boxes.
The box is approx 100 x 70 so the so the marquetry detail is very very fine.
Andy’s new book on the history of the Wooden Bowl going back 4000 years. Covers the development of lathes & turning tools and the timbers used.
New member Tony’s work being admired and encouraged by Arthur.
Mike starts his demo by explaining the scope of spindle turning and the relatively simple set of tools needed.
The main elements or shapes of spindle decoration were explained (see charts) and good and bad design features outlined.
Fluting or reeding of long spindles can be done with a router and lathe mounted jig preferably with the lathe stationary!
Lamp stands need a hole down the middle for the wire. Here Mike showed us how to bore a long hole down the centre of the spindle drilling via the tailstock.
Long thin spindles may vibrate or whip when being turned so a “steady” is used to support the work. This one is a Robert Sorby fully adjustable centre steady.
What, no tea for the workers!
A split turning can be made by gluing 2 (or more) strips together with a paper joint which, after turning, may be separated to produce identical halves.
Here Malcolm adds some detail to the split turning.
Now it’s time for the splitting apart of the paper joint -
carefully does it!
An example of two identical halves. These can be used for decorative mirror frames or fancy edging
Meanwhile Arthur gets down to some serious stuff of trying to tame a wildly grained bit hardwood into a piece of art.
Going Micro now. Mike concludes his interesting demo by turning a lace bobbin.
Two very smart Lace Bobbins in exotic hardwoods. These are small, about 85mm long and just 4mm diameter.


Many thanks to Mike for sharing his skills and experience with us and showing us just a few aspects of the world of spindle turning.

Mikes Fluted Work Tip
When using the hand router jig on the lathe to flute tapered spindles just lift up the box at one end to match the taper. Do make sure the router centre is bang on the lathe centreline and don’t forget to secure the jig and lock the lathe indexing!

So now, don’t forget the February Competition.
Just turn two (or more!) identical spindles and bring them along next month.

Additional Resources
  • Details of the book “The Wooden Bowl” by Robin Wood may be found here or here
  • Some information on drying wood in the microwave here
  • Link to Mike’s Spindle turning Flip chart here
  • For those who would like a primer on spindle turning Chapter 6 of Keith Rowley’s book “Woodturning – A Foundation Course”
    is an excellent start, unfortunately not in our Club Library but details are here.
  • A few interesting spindle videos here (just stick with the initial add, the video follows) – note video on fluting in LH menu
    • or some Windsor chair legs here  or a table leg  here
    • or even a pair like this for the February competition! here
  • Info on tailstock centres for long hole boring here
  • Info on spindle steadies here and here
  • Some “How to” data on Lace Bobbins  here  and and if you want some ideas try this here

Next Club Meeting  12th February

Peter Smart - 11th January 2013