Archive for the ‘Turning Treen’ Category


…And not just any snow but the wrong type of snow. Freezing rain overnight covered with slushy snow this morning made the roads and paths treacherous  This time last year the temperature was a mere 20 degrees C higher! You can see why the term ‘global warming’ has been dropped for ‘climate change’.

With the temperature plummeting in a biting easterly wind it meant some sub-zero polelathe turning for as long as I can manage before retreating to thaw out in front of the woodburner.


Sadly the shed is an old open fronted cart shed – so no possibility of warming it up and extreme polelathe turning it is. As long as I can manage turns out to be about 30 minutes with the thermometer at -1 degrees C  in the early afternoon – maybe a tad longer if I do some drawknife work to warm up. Still, I can comfort myself that we don’t really know what cold is in Southern England – imagine what it must be like in Canada. Then I heard recently from my old friend Maarten (Max) Meerman in Vancouver that it’s been 12C over there, positively balmy,  it turns out that sometimes life just isn’t fair!


Sadly a large Rowan (Sorbus Acuparia) fell over on the commons recently. You can see the disease that brought the tree down – the brown rot in the centre of the wood. But luckily for me, as Rowan is a super wood for turning, one of, if not my favourite turning wood and with some usuable lengths I should be able to get some nice items from it.


With short stints on the lathe and very cold fingers I am limited to fairly simple shapes and items, but that’s no bad thing as it helps me to get some stock prepared before the season starts. You can just about make out the ‘two-tone’ of the light and brown colours of the spurtle on the right of the row. I’ve managed to split a billet from the right section of the cleft where the dark staining stops  – the grain is a little wonky but nice and fresh and the colours make it worth persevering.


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It seems ages since I’ve been able to do some turning on the polelathe and similarly since I’ve posted on the blog. Normal service is resumed at last!  But of course, having finally found the lathe again the temperature has plummeted! Below zero all day in the shed.

It might look like a candlestick but it’s not, quite. With luck it will be the base for an altar cross. Why? Well it’s a bit of a long story and hopefully all will become clear before long.  As it’s going onto an altar I’m putting a polished finish on it, which is unusual for me and it gives me a chance to try out my home made polish in ernest – half beeswax from a friends local hives (thanks Dave) and half local linseed Oil.

The base is almost 5 inches across and initially I thought I’d try to be clever and do it in two pieces. But unfortunately that was harder than I imagined. Ooops! Just in case you thought everything always went right on polelathe blogs – here’s a classic disaster. Back to plan A then.

Too cold for any more photos in the shed so it’s back in front of the stove to finish off the base and the polish seems to have worked well giving a very satiny sheen to the wood.

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I wanted to turn a pair of egg cups and it was a good opportunity to test my newly re-tempered favourite hook tool. Despite the chaos of my shed I managed to make it to the pole lathe and get turning. 
With small items like egg cups and goblets they can be turned as spindles with the cord wrapped around the wood as it’s turned. This allows me to use my normal gouge and skew chisel to shape the outside of the wood and the hook tool is used only to hollow out the inside of the vessel. 
In this case I went a little mad and decided to turn a pair of cups from the same piece of wood – one on each end.

For the eagle-eyed amongst you, yes the work piece has got shorter in the final photo. Thats because the wood developed cracks. It’s some of the Wild Cherry that I have been using for a while and I had to start again having cut off the ends. But all’s well that ends well – and I do like the grain of this wood which makes it worth the difficulties of working.

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Most of us will have a favourite wooden spoon that we like to use in the kitchen. Many of us will have a wooden lemon squeezer or a favourite wooden rolling pin. There is something about a wooden utensil that improves the cooking, and for me it tastes better as well.Treen is the collective word for all household items. It’s not so very long since many kitchen utensils were made from wood rather than the metal and plastic creations of Today that we regularly throw away. I like turning treen and I always try to have the widest possible range of items for sale, like the honey drizzlers shown here. They all sell, although being hand crafted they are more expensive than cheap mass productions. It seems that my customers agree with me that the choice of wood and individuality of each item adds something. I am encouraged that we may turn back to using wooden treen again. You know it makes sense.The honey drizzlers shown here are made from local wild cherry (or Gean) wood. It has a lovely two tone pink and cream colour which is always popular. The wood I am currently using came from Hole Hill Woods on the North Downs as a part of the coppice restoration.They are not particularly difficult to make although I use a narrow parting tool to make the deep gouges and you need to be careful not to break off the wood that is left. You can see more honey drizzlers here on the bodgers ask’n’answer forum.

I am away for a week and look forward to posting more when I return

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