Review: Rob Till Demo – Sunday 16th July, 2023

We enjoyed a full day’s demonstration with Rob Till who presented three pieces: a discus bowl, an involuted candlestick, and a coloured box with a finial.

Discus Bowl

For the discus bowl Rob used a 65*180mm ash bowl blank. The blank was mounted on a screw chuck and supported by the tailstock. The cone centre leaves a centre mark which is kept for later reverse mounting. A ½” bowl gouge with a long grind is used to round the blank and true the face. Mark with a pencil the tenon on the tail side, waste on the head side, and halfway in between. Make a tenon with a dovetail and ensure that there is a flat area around the tenon.

Next, shape using pull cuts with the tip of a bowl gouge. Start the shaping at the edge of the blank and gradually work back towards the tenon. Leaving the centre pencil line. Refine using a shearing cuts with the tool handle down.

The first side is now sanded. The blank is reversed and held by the tenon in a chuck. Flatten the face using a bowl gouge and shape, in a similar manner to the first side, to obtain a discus shape. Sand to 400 grit.

The bowl is ebonised using Chestnut ebonising lacquer. Rob dried the lacquer with a hot air gun at a low heat to quicken the process. The piece must be dry before proceeding. Rub gilt cream into the grain (no need to do the middle as it will be cut out). Remove the excess cream with paper towel and finishing oil. One last wipe with clean towel and oil.

Now remove the centre using a bowl gouge with standard grind at 50 Deg. Start in the middle and work outwards with the bevel rubbing. For final cuts Rob used a ¼” bowl gouge Use a scraper if necessary. Sand avoiding the edge. Remove dust between grits.

Check the back side to see if there is any residue of gilt cream or lacquer. If so, remove it by sanding. Now to remove the tenon. Rob used a felt pad held in a chuck and supported with the tailstock using the centre point made earlier. Check the piece is running true. Reduce the tenon with a spindle gouge. Use a push cut for the final cuts. Sand by hand to remove the nub mark.

Chestnut finishing oil is used to finish.

Involuted Candlestick (Inside-out Turning)

Handout: Involuted Candlestick.

The blank for the involuted candlestick consisted of two square profile pine spindle blanks joined by a paper PVA glue joint, taped to hold together and left to dry.

Mark the centres on each end. Hold between steb centres as it doesn’t force timber apart. Check the piece doesn’t hit the tool rest. Mark with pencil as indicated in the handout. Use a marker pen to shade the area to be removed. Use a spindle gouge with swept back grind to cut, shape the bead with bevel rubbing cuts. Try to achieve good cuts as sanding is hard. Use skew to detail either side of the bead. Sand.

Split using a chisel. Final hand sand if necessary as there is no later chance. Turn 180deg and glue. Hand drill hole in top for candle insert.

Hold between a dead steb centre and live cone centres. Turn the middle as a large bead. Try to be symmetrical. Round on either side. Use a 3/8” spindle gouge to create a cove in the centre, careful! Create a tenon to fit the base at the headstock end, measured to fit drill bit. Score some glue lines with a skew.

Next turn the base. Hold the blank (40*150mm) with a skew chuck. Round and clean the face and slightly under cut. Create a recess to fit jaws using a parting tool, dovetail with a skew. Remove the inner core of the recess or make decorative. Check that chuck and jaws fit. Sand the bottom of base.

Reverse the base and hold by the recess in jaws. True up the face. Drill a hole for tenon. Check the fit of the tenon and adjust if necessary. Rough out the base shape. The top face needs to be flat or undercut. Rob put a bead and fillet feature on the rim.

Attach the stem to the base and support with the tailstock. Round over either side of the centre feature. Create a cup at the tail end (remember that there is a hole). Form a bead next to the cup and then a cove. Leave some material for later refinement. Then shape the base end. Balance each side using callipers to check the bead diameters etc. Create a fillet either side of the involute feature which will determine the low points. Refine the onion shapes to the desired diameter and blend in.

Refine the base to make less bulky.

Rob used ½” BG with rounded wings for the ogee. Sand. Highlight features with skew.

Finial Box

Handout: Colouring and Ebonising.

Rob used the Simon Hope 6mm straight and gooseneck hollowing tools. Make a recess for the lid. Hollow out.

Next turn the lid. Create a tenon to fit the box opening, leave a tight fit. Undercut the inside. Sand. Part off enough material to shape lid.

Remount box. Insert the lid and shape the inside of the lid. Remove the lid and reverse it. Use tailstock support. Blend into the box shape. Drill a hole for the finial. Sand.

Rob coloured the box using Chestnut spirit stains. First sanding sealer was applied to the outside to stop colours bleeding. Base coat purple. Leave to dry. Cut back with 320grit to leave colour in the grain. Now more colours: red, yellow, blue, green (can be heavy), purple again.

Spray with meths, rub with towel to blend. Spray acrylic sanding sealer over the colours. Cellulose sealer will make the colours run. Then few coats of oil.

Here’s one I made earlier with the finial which Rob didn’t have time to demo.

Review: Rob Till Demo – Sunday 16th July, 2023
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