Next Meeting April 19th 2010

The next meeting of the Nova Woodturners' Guild will be April 19th starting at 6:30 pm and will be held at Home Depot, Lacewood Drive.

Don Allen will be giving a talk on repairing and accentuating the positive in turned pieces.

Don will look at some of the ways to repair turnings, such as using contrasting fillers and inserts to "rescue" a turning which has faults.

Fun Turn

Yes this is the meeting where you need to bring along your Fun Turn piece - remember that nice piece of mahogany that you got at Halifax Specialty Hardwoods last September?

If your block is still a block you only have a week to get your creative juices flowing ...

You can find some photos of last year's Fun Turn Show and Tell on Ted Monk's blog.

Mahogany Block

Does your block still look like this?

Gallery Page

Glenn McCarron has been busy again this month creating galleries for the competition winners and entries, as well as for the show and tell sections of our meetings.

It would be nice to see more individual member's galleries created. If you are unsure about how to do this or want any assistance contact Glenn at

The gallery page is open for non-members to view (unless members set permissions otherwise) , but not to post.

A reminder that in order that it can be verified that a poster is actually a member of the guild, could members please use an identifiable name when applying to join - not a series of random letters, their dog's name or their favourite comic book character! :-)

March Meeting

Zalman Speaking

On March 29th, Zalman Amit, a member of the the Nova Scotia Designer Crafts Council and one of the judges of our recent competition was kind enough to demonstrate some of the techniques he uses on his turnings.

Zalman talked about, demonstrated and showed examples of a range of techniques, in particular piercing, texturing and inlay were all demonstrated. A great deal of information was presented in two hours and you had to be there to get the full sense of the work involved so what follows is merely a brief synopsis.


A thin wall vessel is required but thin is relative. Over 12 Inches a maximum of 1/8 inch thick but under 12 inches no more than 3/32 inch. Too thin and the work crumbles. It’s dependent on the species too. Very hard wood is brittle while too soft a wood provides poor control. Ash, maple and walnut are good choices while holly is the limit for softness. Zalman uses mainly dry wood only for his pieces to keep wood movement to a minimum.

Zalmans’ method of producing a thin wall consists of turning the outside to the desired shape including finish sanding. The piece is the reversed and the inside is turned from rim to centre, keeping as much wood (mass) for as long as possible. This provides the stability required. In order to do this a 1” deep, 1” wide, ‘U’ shaped channel is cut at the rim and completely finished (turning only). The wood remaining in the core from the 1” cut is then cleaned out. This is repeat, cutting in 1" layers until the desired depth is achieved. Don’t go back to touch up something! On more complicated shapes, less than 1” in depth cuts are required.

All machine sanding is done before piercing. Only hand sanding afterward.

Example of Piercing

As for the actual piercing/carving Zalman finds the Dremel Tool to be a good workhorse (his term) at 30-40,000 RPM. Affordable at about $200 with extension shaft but not great control. The Foredom is nicer and costs more but you don’t gain that much in terms of speed.

The air turbine is a more expensive system ($1000) requiring an air compressor and regulator but is the best way to go. At 400,000 RPM both control and finish are superior and burning is reduced. Burrs are not too expensive and cheaper still if you can get your dentists used ones!

Diamond coated, spear point burrs are not as aggressive as carbide but provide more control. They can be cleaned of wood resin by heating with a small torch. This should work for carbide burrs as well.

Finish up with miniature diamond files and gentle hand sanding. If you run out of patience removing scorch marks, paint it black!

Woodurning (Pyrography):

Commercial pyrography sets are available in many versions. Zalman used the Razertip tool for this demonstration.

Don’t sand after woodburning as you will destroy the detail.

The handpiece will get warm after a while and becomes quite uncomfortable. Most burning shapes come as a full handpiece that connects to the controller and run about $26-$36. The Razertip system also has an option for using actual interchangeable tips with an appropriate handpiece.


Turquoise beads (available at any bead shop) can be crushed to a powder using a 4” cast iron end cap and a 1” pipe, with 2 end caps, filled with lead shot. On the other hand, Craft Supplies amd othe suppliers sell various types of crushed stone in various grits.

The inlay cavity need only be 1/8” deep. Wet the bottom with medium cyanoacrylate (CA) glue, fill and pack with crushed stone. Wet down with thin CA glue. Sand smooth with 3” sander stating at 80 grit and proceed through to 400 grit. Remember that this is stone dust and all precautions should be taken. Powdered stone, shell, coral or metal could also be used alone or in combination.

If you are filling a deeper, natural cavity, fill to the required depth with shavings and CA, it’s cheaper!

Below are some examples of Zalman's work which he brought along to illustrate the techniques he uses.

Show and Tell At The March Meeting

Following Zalman's talk a number of members displayed the pieces for the Show and Tell section of the meeting. Below are turnings from Richard Ford, Alan Hunt, pens from Andrew, our youngest guild member and a homemade steady rest from Ted Monk

Courses Available

NSCCD's current schedule is now online with a number of woodturning courses taught by David Wilkins, including use of the skew, hollow turning and others.

Lee Valley's Spring Seminar Schedule is now also online. Courses of interst to woodturners include Drilling on the Lathe, Turning a Captive Ring Rattle and Care and use of Chainsaws.

Check out the Education tab above.