Turning with Jigs

A Demonstration by Chris Grace

26th October 2013

For our Autumn All Day Demonstration, Wight Woodturners were very pleased to welcome Chris Grace from South Downs Woodturners. Chris presented a demonstration on how simple home-made jigs can be successfully used to enhance turning projects.

Chris has been turning for about 4 years and approaches the craft very much from a mechanical engineering aspect to produce seemingly simple but very attractive work. Some of Chris’s projects can be seen below.

chris grace work 

Chris, along with three others, was instrumental in launching the successful South Downs Woodturners club earlier this year. About 40 turners attended their inaugural meeting and the club has been going from strength to strength since then. An article in this year’s June edition of Woodturning Magazine explained how the gang-of-four set up the successful club which meets in Portslade Town Hall. Chris is now a hard working Secretary of the Club. Web links to the Woodturning article, the Southdown Woodturners website and Chris Grace’s own website can all be found in the Resources section below.

The theme running through the Demonstration Day was Turning with Jigs. Chris showed us how jigs could be used to either extend the scope of our turning or to make some of the tasks easier, more repeatable or safer. He illustrated this by demonstrating two different turning projects that made extensive use of various jigs. The projects were a flat topped winged bowl with a lid and finial and a spinning top and launcher. Also, throughout the day, Chris showed us a number of tools he especially made or adapted to help complete these projects. Towards the end of the afternoon Chris described to us several fascinating new projects he was working on and the jigs he was developing to enable them to be realized.

This part of the report on the day concentrates on the theme of the jigs and tools used throughout the demonstrations. Each of the two projects that Chris demonstrated is presented on our website in separate slide-shows on a step by step basis with simple captions. Links to these slide shows are in the Resources section below.

The following pictures illustrate the events of the day and just some of the jigs and tools used during Chris’s turning demonstrations.


To see a larger image just click on any of the small pictures.

Chris starts the demonstration by outlining the structure of the day and explaining his first project – a flat topped winged bowl
The first jig to make is a double ended chucking spigot. He tells us the advantages of such simple jigs. They can be glued, screwed or pressed to the work piece and then turned away as necessary.
Metal versions give more stability when gripped in the dovetail chuck jaws. Add a large wood screw to a chucking spigot and you have a screw chuck.
 All wet grinders have a similar support arm which with a simple home-made mounting jig can be fixed on your high speed grinder table. This way you can use some of the sharpening jigs on both grinders. The winged bowl project uses a large (250mm dia.) cork faced disk mounted on a chucking spigot. Chris showed how easy this was to make. Here a willing volunteer applies double-sided tape to the MDF disk

A 6mm soft cork tile is stuck to the disk and trimmed to size.

Some cork tiles come with adhesive backing


The smooth topped half log is pressed onto the cork with tail stock pressure to hold it securely. This way the disk gives support to the rotating wings and protection to the turner.  

Here Chris explains the benefits of using a curved edge skew for planning cuts on spindles. The point of cut should be 2/3 of the width from the long point. Here is a jig to help put a curve on the skew edge. The projecting small single screw provides a fulcrum point for the rocking action during sharpening.
 This tool handle uses a 22mm compression fitting mounted into a metal tube covered with a heat shrink sleeve. The bit is gripped in an ER25 engineering collet by tightening the fitting nut.
The finial for the bowl was griped in a split wooden chuck. This is simply a disk with a dovetail spigot on the back slit in two.

Mounted in the chuck and squeezed on the finial parallel spigot the finial is securely held.



Here is a small selection of Chris’s work brought along to the demonstration and set up in a rather untidy corner of the woodwork room we have to use.

“Home-made” triumphs again!

A sanding table mounted in the toolpost banjo and a metal backed sanding disk with an Abranet 150mm disc retained on Velcro type hooks. 

Never forget this jig. The trusty engineer’s V block for drilling shafts and spindles. Just make sure it is well anchored down.



Finally, Chris told us about a recent project he is developing. The basic form of the piece is a conical offset spiral which has been carefully detailed on the PC and the various elements calculated.

The form is produced using an adjustable cross head on to which are mounted indexing rings. Slowly increasing the offset while indexing round at a constant rate will produce a conical spiral.

Starting at the top of the form and working down with successive beads you can just see the form beginning to take shape. 

To see how these various jigs were used in the two projects that Chris demonstrated go to the Project Slide-Shows in the Resources section below.

All the Club Members expressed their sincere thanks to Chis for a most interesting and instructional day.


Additional Resources

Here are a few resources connected with the day

  • The Winged Bowl Project Slide-show is HERE  
  • The Spinning Top and Launcher Project Slide-show is HERE  
  • Chris Grace’s own web site( www.NotJustRound.com ) is here  
  • The South Downs Woodturners website here  
  • The Woodturning Magazine article on the South Downs Woodturners club is here  or in magazine No. 254 page 70  
  • Cork tiles may be found here or here or lots of other places  
  • Collets for the home made tool handle (size ER25) may be found here or here  
  • Abranet 150mm discs are widely available, for example, here and here or here Buy a big pack , they’re much cheaper!  
  • The collet chuck used to hold the spindle of the top can be found here

Note: These links are valid at the time of writing but may disappear in time as web pages change

And, don’t forget to look out for Chris’s article in next month’s Woodturning magazine.

Something from the evening to ponder on

Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you wanted!


Next Club Meeting 
Tuesday 12th November 2013

Competition – Toy with moving parts.

Show &Tell lathes out.