Wight Woodturners

A Beginners Woodturning Course


The 1st Newport Scouts

January 2018



It was five years ago that the Committee decided that the Club should move from the Riverside Centre. With our increasing membership we were beginning to outgrow the workshop space available there. After much searching we moved to the Wendes Hall, the HQ for the 1st Newport Scouts. It was certainly a beneficial move for the Club with much more space for extra activities, superb facilities and a welcoming and helpful host. Ever since those early days the Committee could see an opportunity of passing on the Club’s woodturning skills to a younger generation – the Scouts.


Four years later and after much liaison with the Scout leaders and our lesson planning we launched our first Woodturning Course for Beginners in January 2018. This planned six week course was specifically targeted for a group of six of the younger Scouts and on completion it would enable them to gain a Craftsman’s Badge. This was an entirely new venture for the Committee, for as well as teaching the turning skills we had to introduce the youngsters to the use of moving machinery and how to handle large, sharp tools. Keeping Safe, or H&S as we know it, featured strongly throughout the course and it must be said the juniors were far more receptive of this than some of our senior members! The Committee were very pleased to be able to enlist the help of David Woodward RPT who acted as advisor, demonstrator and the Course Assessor for the students.


The Planning Group decided that the first week should be an introduction to the world of woodturning; something quite outside of the experience of the youngsters, and indeed their parents as we discovered. We decided to start with a turning demonstration and David Woodward gave the group a truly inspirational show of spindle and bowl turning. One could just see the amazement of being able to produce a beautiful item from a lump of tree! I think our audience were hooked and each went home with a piece that David had made for them.


The first week – getting to know each other 

Following David’s demonstration, Peter introduced the subject of “Keeping Safe while Turning” and this was reinforced and expanded on at the beginning of each of the following weeks. Roy introduced the students to the various parts of the lathe and the special names used. June talked about some tools and Alan expanded the subject a bit by talking about the need for sharpening and the need to look after the lathe. David Burden captivated their interest by talking about the wood used for turning, the trees it comes from and how the tree grows and produces the grain we see when we turn.


It was in week two that the “hands-on” turning started – after the introductory H&S of course. The students split into two groups, three girls and three boys. Mike introduced the boys to the fundamentals of the spindle turning and Roy guided the girls into bowl or cross grain turning.




Week two was an introduction to the tools, learning how to hold them, making practice cuts and finding out how they work.

It’s all about building confidence using unfamiliar tools and strange machinery.


After the tool practice it was straight into the first of two projects. The girls were making a bowl each and the boys a  garden dibber.


A guiding hand to help with the tricky bits.

Confidence soon builds up.


The girls now try their hand at spindle turning.

And the boys move on to bowls. Shavings are flying.


Adding the finishing touches.

The girls wanted to make Harry Potter Wands. Tricky stuff!


All the students were very quick to learn.

A nicely decorated wand with burnt rings on the handle.


There was a relaxed atmosphere throughout the whole course.

Our Assessor David takes the students through the
 end-of-course written quiz – all passed!.


Not to be outdone by the youngsters, the Scout Leaders, Rod and Chris, wanted to try their hand on the lathes too.


Six proud students with their Certificates for the Wight Woodturners Beginners Course on Woodturning.


With their Certificates all the students will be able to gain their Scouts Craft Activity Badge. In addition, as they have learnt a new skill and have practised it over a number of weeks this counts for elements of the Skills Challenge Award. Also, the course counts as one element of the Adventure Challenge Award which is to try a “new adventurous activity” – woodturning!


Craft Activity

Skills Challange

Adventure Challange


As well as gaining new Scout badges, these youngsters have had the opportunity to master working with very sharp tools and potentially dangerous machinery. We hope this has been a confidence building exercise, as sadly, this sort of experience seems to be no longer available in our schools. Beside the practicalities and technicalities of the actual woodturning we also hope we have kindled an interest in the creative and artistic aspects of this craft which has endless possibilities. We were pleased to see the joy of taking home something they had made from a lump of tree and particularly so something that incorporated their own ideas and plans. Well done guys!



Peter Smart  -  28-March 2018