Wight Woodturners

Spring Professional Demonstration

by

Pete Moncrieff- Jury RPT

12th March 2016

Wight Woodturners were pleased to welcome Pete and Mo Moncrieff-Jury to demonstrate their crafts at the Spring Professional Demonstration for 2016.  Together Pete and Mo run small a business called  Bodrighy Wood  from their home in Wiltshire selling craft-ware which includes goblets, crafting tools and artistic items.  Pete will also work on commission and offer turning tuition.  Mo has previously traded as Wood’n’Gems but now helps Pete decorate and present their work.

 

Throughout the day Pete and Mo let us into many “secrets” of their craft and demonstrated many interesting techniques.  From our day, I guess members took away much food for thought in their approach to their future projects.  A few pictures below show some of the highlights from the day.

 

Just click on any of the small images to bring up the bigger picture

 

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Here on the left, before the show starts we see that Mo has set up an attractive display of their work all of which is very nicely presented. Pride of place are Pete’s signature goblets – but more on those later. After the intros from our Chairman, Pete tells us how he started turning in 2004 and became a full time professional in 2008

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Pete considers wood turning both a craft and an art and is influenced by Celtic, oriental and medieval art forms. He tries to bring out the natural beauty of the wood often complementing the wood with stone, leather, metal and semi-precious gems. Some colouring and pyrography are also used. He tries to find beauty in imperfection and profundity in nature.

The wood Pete uses would be normally passed over by most turners. Offcuts from furniture makers, left-overs from saw mills and naturally occurring wastage from orchards, hedgerows copses and forests all play a part. Often this wood will be spalted or in a state of partial decay but Pete attempts to bring out its latent beauty.

One of Pete and Mo’s lines are hair sticks and shawl pins. Skilful turning with the skew is required for these as they are long and very thin. Pete will show us how. For skew practice he recommends old rolling pins, often obtainable from charity shops, as these will have straight grain and probably be sycamore or beech.

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Japanese Hair Sticks (Kanzashi) can be up to about 200mm long and for one of these Pete choses an unlikely scrap of wood. One end of this is held firmly in the chuck to provide support for later on when the stick is very thin.

After roughing to round a groove is cut next to the chuck to provide a “stop” and help preventing the skew running onto the chuck.

The top end of the stick is flattened and drilled so a gemstone decoration can be added later. When you’re making a pile of these this is a quick method of drilling.

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Now with tail-stock support the careful thinning of the stick continues.

As the stick get thinner gentle support is needed to prevent it whipping and the skew catching. Here Pete uses an overhand support.

As it gets even thinner an underhand support is used. Pete reduces the tail stock pressure to a minimum to prevent the pin bowing.

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Meanwhile, Mo patiently adds decorations to the top end of the hair sticks.

With a good finish from the skew Pete only uses a minimum of sanding. Here he finishes off with Chestnut Nyweb.

The finished hair stick made on the day complete with a finishing coat of Chestnut Microcrystalline wax

 

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On the left are finished Hair Sticks nicely presented and ready for sale.

 

Another of Pete and Mo’s lines is Celtic style Hair or scarf/shawl pins with a broach to hold scarf. Again Pete shows us the steps to make one of these.

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As the broach will be decorated with a texture Pete choses a close grained hard wood that will carry the detail of the texturing. Here he picks an offcut of apple. Not much goes to waste!

First, a mounting spigot about 30mm diameter is formed and behind this the shape of the front of the ring is formed. To add interest Pete adds a ring of texture using the Henry Taylor Decorating Elf.

This texturing is bounded with two small grooves each side and here Pete is removing all the whiskers to give a perfectly smooth surface that won’t snag delicate fabrics.

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The disk is then parted off and the remainder will be used for another item.

And the result so far looks like this.

Now for the eccentric turning bit. Using a heavy blank mounted in the chuck Pete glues the spigot of the small disk slightly off-centre with hot melt glue.

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Now Pete carefully shapes the back of the broach.

And again sands this smooth to prevent snagging.

That done, the broach is parted off by cutting down on a diameter just greater than the offset spigot so it drops off.

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Using 80 grade paper stuck on a dowel mounted between centres the parted-off surface of the broach is sanded smooth. 

The pins for the broaches are shorter than the Hair Pins but Pete turns one of these in just the same way.

The slender pointed tip requires some delicate skew work.

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Here’s the finished broach and pin awaiting the addition of a decoration on the pin head.

 

A shot of Pete’s tools used on the day, well used work-day tools all employed to make a living. (Not like the sophisticated & expensive kit we saw at the demo in the previous week!)

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For the last part of the day Pete introduced us to his signature line of Medieval Goblets. These are often made as matching or complementary pairs as Wedding Goblets. The “Medievalness” is not only in the style and the decoration but in the choice of wood and the finish. The permitted natural defects in the wood and the slightly imprecise geometry both play their part in giving these goblets an antique mystique. The stems are often made in contrasting colours and they are finished with a food safe lacquer that ensures they can be used for drinking! Pete has customers world-wide.

 

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Here Pete points out some of the details of one of his Goblets. He will now show us how it is done.

For the demo Pete choses a piece of holly. For many turners this would be well past its sell-by date as it is quite soft in places.

The main shape of the cup is roughed out and in doing so Pete gets a feel for the wood – how well it will tool and how far he can push it!

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As the necessarily thin rim of the cup must be reasonably strong the top part of the log had to be dispensed with as it was exceptionally soft with deep cracks.

With the outside of the cup shaped, the tail stock is removed and the hollowing begins. First with a gouge and then with a ring tool when there is sufficient space to work with it. It’s quick!

Pete uses a long grind bowl gouge on its side to finely finish the inside profile.

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Using scrumpled-up kitchen roll with tailstock support, the outside of the cup is given a final finishing cut and then the cup is parted off.

Here’s the cup with a small spigot on the base for joining onto the stem. A quick and easy parting tool is used, see inset, that both gauges and cuts the tenon to exactly 10 mm.

With the cup made Pete now turns to the goblet stem. He often makes these in a contrasting wood or one which will take ebonizing or colour to provide a contrast to the cup and the foot. Here he uses the rolling pin offcut we saw earlier.

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Having made the stem Pete now indicates how it would be assembled onto a turned base. Gluing is not practical in a demo but that’ how it’s done! As many of these goblets are intended for use the base is made quite wide to prevent tipping over.

When it comes to final finishing Pete is an advocate of buffing. This can bring out qualities in the grain structure that might otherwise be lost. Pete recommends the Chestnut buffing wheels. But be careful with the brown buffing compound on light coloured woods!

For his last item of the day Pete talks about using natural chunks of wood in all their weirdest forms and just turning them to see what they will reveal. The way grain and textures come to light determine what the piece will become. What will this offcut from an apple orchard reveal?

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With a little bit of gentle turning the wild grain can soon be seen.

Could it become one like this?

Or even this?

 

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Wight Woodturners sincerely thank Pete and Mo for an interesting, thought provoking and entertaining day and wish them well in their business.

We would also like to very much thank “Our Ladies” for such a wonderful lunch and the delicious cakes.

 

Resources

What report would be complete without a few resources!

  • If you haven’t discovered the Bodrighy Wood website, it is here
  • Some of the Pyrography on Pete’s work is done by Simon Easton here
  • The skew can put many people off but if you want to understand what’s going on do have a look at this excellent little article – there’s something for beginners and experienced alike here
  • A link to the Henry Taylor Decorating tool is here
  • If you want to find out about Chestnut buffing see here

 

Please note that the above links to external websites are valid at the time of writing
but may well change or disappear in the course of time

 

Peter Smart

23rd  March 2016

 

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