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?

Local Galleries Reopening…

Coldstream Gallery in Ulmarra have announced that they have reopened to visitors – although with reduced hours. Meanwhile, check the video that Coldstream Gallery posted earlier this month…

While we are here, check out Coldstream Gallery’s new website, with some of our members work in their on-line store – click here.

Meanwhile, Ferry Park Gallery at Maclean has also reopened for business. Ferry Park is open from 9:00am to 3:00pm daily. Although business is quiet, partly due to the Covid, but also the dislocation of the new highway, but numbers are reasonable and should pick up once travel to Queensland resumes.

Bellingen Woodcraft Gallery is also set to reopen soon. The new owner, Ian Horncastle is set to reopen on July 1 – more on the Woodcraft Gallery later….

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.

Collecting Timber

Did we want some Jacaranda?

Our hard working Secretary, Lyn Roberts, got a phone call – did the CVWA want some timber?

Turns out that Valley Tree Services had been engaged to remove a large Jacaranda from the Grafton High School. Adam, from Valley Tree Services, called Lyn and asked if we would like some timber…

That is a substantial Jacaranda!

So Saturday morning, a team of members turned up with trailers in tow.

Adam helped load the trailers, and the timber was taken to the Ulmarra Shed, where there was a definite struggle to unload the trailers. Then back to Grafton for another load. In all, two trips were made – and Adam was kind enough to drop off a truck load of more billets of Jacaranda on his way home to Coffs Harbour.

The tired but satisfied club members rewarded themselves with a good cup of tea and biscuits before they headed home.

Many thanks to Adam from Valley Tree Services of Coffs Harbour.

And how did he find us? He found our website!

Thanks to Adam from Valley Tree Services of Coffs Harbour

Thanks to Lyn Roberts for the story, and Rob Chesworth for the photos! And thanks to the club members who helped out.

Cyclone Dust Collection for your Vacuum

A couple of years ago, I wanted to upgrade my dust collection system. The Triton dust bucket worked OK, but the filter blocked a fair bit, and a fair bit of dust got through to the vacuum bag. And cleaning the filter was messy.

Carbatec sell the American Oneida system – a cyclone and dust bucket. I’ve no doubt that its a good product, and probably worth the money, but it was more than I was prepared to spend at the time.

So I went on to eBay, or evilBay, as my son calls it – found a bunch of cheaper and similar cyclones – bought one for not much money. (For what its worth, they are are even cheaper now!) When the unit arrived, I started to look for fittings to connect my hoses to the cyclone inlet and outlet.

Finally, after a lot of procrastinating, I turned a couple of fittings out of pine. I re-purposed the old Triton bucket, sealed the cracks in the bottom and hooked up the system to the Trade Tools Industrial vacuum cleaner. It worked.

There was a drawback – the system was cumbersome to move around, and I would regularly tip it over, which didn’t do much for its dust collection. Two years later, I made a dinky cart for the vacuum cleaner and cyclone.

How well does it work? I used the system for all sorts – sanding dust, floor dust, router table, power saw dust, chisel chips, what ever. I swept up the most of the big plane shavings because the neighbour has chooks, and we swap eggs for sawdust. But everything else went into the cyclone. When the Triton bucket was about 2/3 full, I emptied it and weighed the sweepings – around 2kg. I took the vacuum bag out (new bag), weighed it, emptied the dust out and shook it about, weighed it again – 5 gram of dust made it into the vacuum cleaner. That means approximately 99.7% of the dust stayed in the cyclone.

It took a few years, and if I’d bought the Oneida system, I might have been using it form the get go. But all said and done – Happy with that!

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.

 

100th Anniversary for Iconic Australian Alvey Fishing Reel Manufacturer

Alvey (late 1920s – early 1930s) with a spring loaded (Gem) centre pivot and Silky Oak reel. Restored by Bob Aitken.

Bob Aitken has provided this story on anniversary of the remarkable Alvey fishing reels.

This year (2020) is the 100th anniversary for iconic Australian fishing reel manufacturer Charles Alvey & Sons. Over the 100 years, Alvey have used a range of materials for their reels (eg. Bakelite spools were introduced in 1936; graphite backing plates in the 1990’s) but here I will mainly describe their wooden reels.

The company began production in 1920 when Charles Alvey used a treadle lathe (no electricity at the factory) to turn spools and backing plates from Silky oak. By the mid 1920’s powered lathes enabled the backing plates to be machined from gunmetal and the spindles made from brass. Rosewood and Red Bean (Miva Mahogany) timbers were used to turn spools.

For a brief period after World War II, post war material shortages lead to the use of Camphor Laurel for spools. For the larger diameter spools it was necessary to replace Camphor Laurel (which had inconsistent grain) with finer grained cedar.  By the 1950’s Australian Red Cedar was used almost exclusively for the spools.

Alvey reels are known for their quality and longevity so pre-production treatment of the timber was important. Selected cedar was slabbed and seasoned for two years. Spools were rough turned and then set aside for a further two months before final turning. I have restored a number of wooden Alvey reels from the 1950’s and have been impressed by the general soundness of the old spools and fittings.

In 1974 Alvey stopped using cedar and the spools were made from a polyester and fibreglass mix.  However, the company has marked anniversary milestones by producing limited editions of reels with Cedar spools.

Restored 1960s era Alvey reel with a Red Cedar spool.
Old Alvey spools used to make Reel Clocks

Launching Day

Rob Chesworth and his strip plank kayak

Each time I edited a page as I put this website together, the WordPress editor would ask me if I wanted to ‘launch’ the website. This begs the question – just how do you ‘launch’ a website -brand new, freshly constructed, and still a bit rough around the edges. I mean, pressing a button on the screen lacks a little something.

Should we have have some sort of ceremony, like launching a ship? Perhaps a bottle of inexpensive champagne, and one of the ladies swinging a mallet to smash the bottle over the computer? Or perhaps like launching a rocket, with a countdown followed by lots of smoke and noise, or perhaps just a big bang?

Anyhow – it has been a long while coming, and for better or worse, it is here. Enjoy, and check in regularly. When the corona virus fades, we will begin to resume normal club activities. The shed will open, sawdust will be made, and wonderful new works come out into the sun. We will have meetings, slabbing days and morning coffee gatherings. There will be plans to make, projects to kick off, stories to tell, and perhaps a small fib or two.

At this stage, the Jacaranda show is still scheduled. After all of the uninterrupted workshop time, we look forward to a bumper crop of new pieces for display or sale.

Until we get back to normal, we will still communicate on the interweb – either this website or our Facebook page (Clarence Valley Woodies). Check it out, and show us your latest work. We would love to put your photos on this website.

Stay calm, stay safe and make sawdust!

PS – Bob Chesworth’s strip plank kayak pictured above has already been launched, possibly with champagne!

Up and Running!

Pat Johnson’s Turned Bowl

Welcome to the website of the Clarence Valley Woodworkers Association Inc.

This web site has been put together using WordPress and the WordPress Website builder. WordPress offers a free plan, so we can see if it works at no cost to the club. However, the free plan has a hidden cost – you may see some advertisements!

If all goes well, the club may upgrade to a Plan which has some small cost to the club. WordPress offers a number of plans – some suited to small business. These plans offer more features and flexibility, including e-commerce. However, that is some distance down the track!

Finally, the disclaimer… I have no professional expertise in creating websites. I have no formal training, and I’ve only made a couple of websites for private use. While I welcome any constructive advice or criticism, please be gentle with me and forgive my inadequacies.

What to expect for the future?

The one factor that makes some websites and social media sites more successful others is regular and fresh new content. That means regular updates, blog pages, and new content. For that, we will depend on you, the club members… So please send photos, stories, items for sale, news and views. I will try to provide regular updates that incorporate your contributions.

The site will hold copies of Chip Chat and the Bulletin. It will have a calendar of sorts (if I can figure out how it’s done), or at least a list of coming events. There will be a list of workshops available. There will be a list of timber for sale. There will be a place where new members can contact us about joining. These may take a little time, but they can be added once the site goes live to air!

Welcome!