Bob Aitken on the Cover of Australian Woodworker Magazine!

Australian Woodworker, Issue 217, June 2021

If you are in town and running errands instead of getting out to the shed, drop into your newsagents and get the latest issue of Australian Woodworker magazine. The magazine features an article by CVWA member and Jacaranda festival stalwart Bob Aitken on his adventures in making clocks with poured resin decorations.

Congratulations to Bob!

Long Service Awards

Ron Moore (right) receives his Long Service Award from Colin Lang.

During this year’s AGM, Long Service Awards were presented to two members for distinguished long service.

Ron Moore joined the club (then the Northern Rivers Woodworkers Association) in 2005 after moving to Grafton from Bowral in the Southern Highlands. In 2012, he stood for President of the Club and was duly elected. He said at the time that he decided to stand because he had gained a lot from the Club, and it was time to pay something back. He was President for 3 years – 2012 through 2015. He was responsible for leading the Club to a sound financial footing. He instigated the CVWA involvement in the Bunnings BBQ program, which greatly increased the Club’s revenue. Further, the Bunnings BBQ served to increase the Club’s exposure to the public, to increase membership, and also to provide an extra social outing for Club members.

Ron’s woodwork covers the broad spectrum of skills, from earrings to tables, both new work and restorations. However, he is best known for his box making – both band-sawn and lidded boxes. His work is distinguished by his original and innovative designs, attention to detail and for superb finishing. Ron’s work has been exhibited and sold though galleries around Australia.

Ron has always found time to help others and to share his knowledge. He has lead many skill building workshops for Club members, and has always been generous with his time and knowledge.

Ron was also instrumental in establishing the Club’s first dedicated workshop at Hoof St, Grafton, and served as Shed Manager and coordinator.

Roy Ellery (Left) is presented with his long service award by Lyn and Tony Roberts.

Roy Ellery also joined the Club in 2005, and has achieved the milestone of 15 years service with the Club. Roy settled in Iluka after leaving Victoria. Roy is the current CVWA President, having served as President in 2015-16, and from 2017 to 2020.

Roy is renowned as a turner and carver. His work has been published in National and major US woodworking publications. He is best known for his thin walled vessels in Jacaranda, many of them finely pierced and coloured of textured. His carved ‘Log Books’ are something special and an article featuring his work was published in Fine Woodworking magazine. He has also received numerous awards for his work, within the Club and in open competitions.

Like Ron, Roy is also very generous with his time and knowledge. Roy is always more than happy to explain how a piece was made and to pass on his skills.

Roy’s output is prolific and wide ranging. He has been a major contribution to the Jacaranda Festival, as an exhibitor, a demonstrator and a volunteer.

The CVWA are extremely fortunate to have had the benefit of both Ron and Roy as members – we are all better for their contributions.

A Proper Australian Dolls House

Bob Aitken passed this on to me:-

CVWA member Dick White has been spending some time in the shed during COVID restrictions.  He recently finished a doll’s house for one of his granddaughters – see photos. Now working on a truck for his grandson.  Well done Dick – a ripper of a doll’s house by CVWA member Dick White.

This is a proper Australian Dolls House. Does it have a redback?

Making a Saddled Chair Seat – Tools that worked well…

For some time now, I have wanted to make a chair with a saddled seat. Over time, I bought a few tools that might come in handy. A week or three ago, a friend of a friend asked me to make a couple of bar stools with saddled seats. Of course I could do it – how hard could it be?

It turns out that its not that hard, or time consuming… And it gave me an excuse to put a few tools to work in earnest…

The AEG Super Clamp

I have used the Triton equivalent – borrowed during the Jacaranda show while I was demonstrating. The AEG is probably easier to use, and rock solid. The controls allow unlocking with out the risk of getting clobbered in the shins by the foot pedal.

To hold the seats while I hollowed them out, I screwed a block onto the back of each seat, and clamped the bock in the jaws. Worked well!

Arbotech Turboplane

This was the first time I used the beast. It works well, removes wood quickly, and only has a few vices. Beware ‘climb cutting’, where the cut is with the cut of the blade – in a split second, the blade can grab, dig in, create a great divot, and, if you aren’t careful, take a divot out of you. That said, cutting against the flow (think of cutting with a router – the work moves on to the teeth), the tool is quite controllable, cuts quickly and quite smoothly on wide flat curves like the chair seat.

On the down side, the thing chucks shavings and dust all over the place – best used outside. Even so, Su complained of shavings all over the vegetables!

The Scorp

This tool was something of a revelation. I bought it a few years ago – I saw it one in Carbatec, and wasn’t expensive, so I bought it to hollow out chair seats and maybe bowls. It sat unused until this week. The edge was pretty basic, especially the inside bevel. Wet and dry around a suitable scrap worked to get the edge of the inside bevel OK, then a lick on the back with the stones, and it was sharp enough.

I had kind of expected it to work like a draw knife, but it is quite different. Instead of slicing off the waste, it shaves the surface – making tightly curled shavings. It worked well, and dressed up the rough cut surface left after the Arbotech. It did a good job of shaping the seat.

The Chairmaker’s Plane

This little HNT Gordon plane has curved bottom – curved in two axis. It is a little tricky to use – the body of the blade has to be held at the correct angle to cut, but it worked really well. One of the seats had some pretty wild grain, but the little plane didn’t care – I got no tear-out to speak of.

Like all Terry Gordon planes, this was good to go straight out of the box. The blade held its edge, and was easy to sharpen as needed.

The result…

Two stools, ready for finish… These turned out well – happy with that.

How hard can it be?

Axminster Eccentric Spiralling Chuck

Recently three CVWA members (Neil Cryer, Terry Hulm and Bob Aitken) each purchased an Axminster Eccentric Spiralling Chuck. This chuck, made in Axminster UK using CNC techniques, is typically used for a variety of eccentric geometric patterns and spiralling stems. Here Bob, Neil and Terry describe the chuck, show some or their initial work and comment about their use of the chuck.

The Axminster chuck (Photo. 1) consists of a faceplate ring which can be held by a conventional four-jaw (dovetail) chuck, a central main plate which can be adjusted to create different amounts of offset, and a small faceplate that can be indexed to 12 positions. The 12 indexing positions on the small faceplate can be seen in Photo. 1. The small faceplate is attached to the workpiece by three screws. 

For offset positions there are four settings clockwise and four anticlockwise. By loosening the counter sunk machine screws on the main plate, the plate can be rotated and set to any of the threaded holes on the faceplate ring. The extent of offsets (centres) achievable are shown on a workpiece in Photo. 2. The centre is shifted by approximately 4, 7, 11 and 14mm as the main plate is moved successively from one hole to the next.  These eight offset positions combined with the 12 indexing positions on the small faceplate allow for the creation of a large number of geometric patterns.

Photo. 1. Axminster chuck components (left) and the assembled chuck.
Photo. 2. Centre with no offset (C) and with offsets for clockwise (red) and anticlockwise (yellow) rotation of the main plate.

Bob’s comments and workpieces

Prior to purchasing this chuck I had not owned an offset chuck.  So initially, I explored its offset capabilities and turned a few offset items (see photos) leaving Neil and Terry to explore the pattern and inlay possibilities of combining offset and indexing.   

Although the instructions mention gluing the indexed faceplate to the workpiece, I used screws that imbedded at least 15 to 20mm into the workpiece as I considered this safer.  Consequently, this means that 20mm is sacrificed from bottom of the workpiece.  An alternative I used for one workpiece was to attach the workpiece with wood glue to a sacrificial piece of timber screwed to the faceplate.

The Axminster eccentric spiralling chuck is probably best used for small to medium sized workpieces.  The size of the workpiece is limited by the ability of your lathe to handle imbalance. However, my first item was a large (300mm diameter) offset bowl. Because of imbalance I had to turn this bowl at a very low lathe speed. Even for relatively smaller items such as the offset bud vases shown a low lathe speed was needed.

Although I have yet to do any geometric patterns, the chuck, in my view, represents good value for money. On the downside I would have preferred the indexed faceplate to be of steel rather than aluminium as it is easily scratched and marked.  Instructions provided with the chuck were not particularly helpful.

An offset Jcaranda bowl and two offset bud vases turned by Bob Aitken using the Axminster chuck.

Neil’s comments and workpiece

This first trial using an eccentric chuck took quite a while as the variations available take time to digest. It’s a fiddle to keep taking the chuck off the lathe for adjustments and the instructions are scant. However, it was a most entertaining first attempt and there will be much more work done with this chuck!

Offset inlay in a lidded bowl using the Axminster chuck by Neil Cryer.

Terry’s comments and workpieces

To do the geometric patterns shown in the photos below, both the offset and indexing capabilities of the chuck are utilised. To change the indexing position, the Axminster chuck has to be removed from the conventional four-jaw chuck, a machine screw loosened, and the small faceplate rotated to the desired position. When remounted this can result in very slight alignment changes. Similarly, loosening the machine screws to offset the main plate results in the faceplate ring loosening in the jaws and may result in a small realignment issue. I plan to investigate the use of a spacer on the four-jaw chuck to prevent the Axminster faceplate ring moving when the machine screws are loosened.

Terry Hulm used the Axminster chuck for geometric patterns with resin inlay and geometric texture.

Jacaranda Festival Woodwork Display

Bob Aitken has contributed these photos and story regarding the CVWA Jacaranda Festival display.

A major event each year for the Clarence Valley Woodworkers Association is the Jacaranda woodwork display and competition held in conjunction with the Grafton Jacaranda Festival.

The club started Jacaranda Festival woodwork displays in the late 1980’s and, in these early years, may have had only two or three members displaying work.   The event has grown steadily since that time and in recent years around 25 to 30 members have participated in the display with over 2000 items listed for display/sale each year.  Most participating members display items and offer them for sale.  A few members choose to display only.  The display is open for nine days incorporating the first week of November. 

The competition section has also grown with eight woodwork classes ranging from furniture to toys and puzzles to a novice section thereby catering for all types of woodwork.  The competition is open to both CVWA members and the public with a small entry fee for non-members.  There are typically over 50 entries for the open competition each year.

The display and the competition sections serve to encourage members to produce high quality woodwork. 

There is a separate High School Student’s competition section that has expanded markedly in recent years.  This section now receives around 60 to 120 entries from up to 6 high schools in the area.  Entries in the open competition are assessed by experienced woodwork identities from outside the club while school student entries are judged by a panel of club members.

Demonstrations of woodwork activities such as carving, turning, scroll saw work, pyrography and texturing are given by members on most days during the display.

During the display woodwork donated by members is raffled and the proceeds donated to local community appeals (eg. Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service). 

For many years the display has been held in the upstairs auditorium of the South Grafton Ex-Services Club, Wharf Street, South Grafton.  This is a great venue overlooking the Clarence River with dining and refreshment facilities available.  Come and visit us during Jacaranda and see a great display with a large variety of woodwork items.