Philip Greenwood Demonstration Evening 13-September-2017

Philip Greenwood Demonstration Evening 13-September-2017

Philip has been a woodturner since 1986 and is based near York from where he makes his living turning and running 1:1 courses.

His demonstration for us was the turning and construction of a 3 part ear-ring stand (base, spindle and top). The design of the piece requires 12 or 24 (better) equally spaced holes to be drilled around the edge; the wood used is not important, but must be bone dry to reduce the possibility of the top splitting when holes are being drilled very close to the edge.


Since many of us don’t have lathes with a built-in indexing facility, Philip demonstrated how to make a home-made indexing system comprising three pieces (see pictures) …
• Part 1 is a circle of hardboard with the external diameter being large enough to allow a ring of holes to be drilled at the same diameter as required in the ear-ring stand. 24 holes are marked out using a protractor (15 degrees apart) and drilled, then a centre hole is drilled in the hardboard at the same diameter as the lathe spindle. This ring is mounted behind the chuck when the drilling is to be done.
• Part 2 is a block of wood that can be clamped to the lathe bed. This block has a piece of metal (eg. from a coat hanger) mounted near one end with a 90 degree bend at the top. The bent end of the metal spike is the same diameter as the 24 holes in the hardboard circle.
• Part 3 is a simple spindle sized to fit in the tool rest with a hole drilled at the top at the centre height of the chuck. This allows a drill bit to pass through and encounter the work piece accurately at the centre height.

The top piece was mounted on a screw chuck with a packing piece to ensure the screw didn’t go too deep into the wood. Philip turned the top piece round using a 50 degree bowl gouge, starting his cut on the wood (ie working from wood to edge). He starts with the handle down, touches the bevel to the wood and raises the handle gently until it starts cutting.

Once round, the face was then trued up (this will be the top face) leaving a spigot to be used for mounting for working on the underside of the top. The piece was then turned and mounted on the newly created spigot, the edge re-trued and another spigot cut to enable working on the top face. Next, the underside was shaped using the bowl gouge and a curved scraper used very slowly/gently to get a nice finish.

The chuck (with work still attached) was removed to allow the indexing ring to be fitted and then clamped in place by the chuck being replaced. Now 24 holes could be drilled using the 3 part indexing system (Philip only drilled about 3 holes rather than bore us by drilling all of them !). The holes do not have to be drilled all the way through, reducing the risk of tearing and splitting on the top surface, but must be drilled around 8mm deep so that they will be exposed when the top surface is turned down

With all the holes drilled, the underside of the top could be finished taking care not to sand the dovetail on the spigot to ensure that it remained circular – side grain sands faster than end grain which leads to a circle becoming very slightly oval. Philip used Yorkshire Grit (a mixture of wax and pumice stone) to achieve a great finish in one go.

The work piece was once again turned around (the indexing ring can now be removed) and mounted on the underside dovetailed spigot, held just tight enough to hold the piece without crushing the spigot. The flange (edge of the piece) was turned down to a thickness of about 6mm, exposing all the holes around the edge, and then the top spigot was carefully shaped rather than removed, remembering that the 8mm screw chuck hole is just underneath. The top surface was then dished to remove some wood so that the finished article isn’t too top-heavy and additionally providing a space for stud ear-rings to be kept ! The top surface was finished in the same way as the underside using a scraper followed by sanding and Yorkshire Grit or Carnauba Wax and a polishing mop.

The next piece to be turned was the base which was to be a smaller diameter but thicker. The face was trued up and a recessed chucking point was added, taking care to sand from the middle outwards to avoid wearing away the edge of the chucking recess. The base was then reversed and shaped, always turning away from the finished edge towards the middle to avoid splinter damage to the good face. Some detail was added using the point of a skew chisel and the top of the base was dished, again providing additional storage for stud ear-rings.

The final piece of the construction was the spindle, turned to a cylinder from a 1” (25mm) blank held using a small steb centre. Philip demonstrated the way to use a skew chisel for this task, setting the tool rest to just below the centre line which lifts the leading edge of the skew above the work piece allowing just the bottom 2/3 of the blade to touch the wood and working right to left (for right handers).

The spindle would need an 8mm spigot at each end to fit into the holes left from the screw chuck, but these were not turned down to 8mm right away to avoid the risk of splitting. The spindle was shaped starting at the tail stock end as there is more vibration at that end, so leaving the chuck end thicker provides more support and hence less vibration and play. The design included a bead turned at each end, achieved by starting with the gouge flute at 12 o’clock and gently raising the handle and rolling the flute to 3 o’clock or 9 o’clock as appropriate.
Finally spigots were turned carefully down to 8mm such that they made a soft fit in the top & base screw chuck holes (not too loose and not too tight) such that the glue would remain in the hole rather than being forced out. Before gluing the assembly together, ensure that the top and base grain are aligned – it looks better that way.

As a 10 minute finishing show, Philip turned a ring holder from a small scrap piece of wood by shaping a base and turning down a decorative finial, making a nice companion piece for the ear-ring holder.