My Etsy shop

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Masur birch box

Masur birch box

I love masur birch and have wanted to make a larger masur birch box for quite a while now but I cant seem to find masur birch spindle blanks in sizes larger than 65mm square. 

So I recently bought a 60mm thick by 180mm square cross grain bowl blank from Feines Holz in Germany.
I knew that cross grain boxes can be a challenge but masur birch cuts so cleanly I hoped I could make it work.

I cut the blank into quarters, to give me four pieces 90x90x60mm

I turned some scrap wood and attached them to the blanks with epoxy glue.

I cut the blanks on the bandsaw giving the base of the box 5mm extra than the top to allow for the tenon 

At this stage I set the wood aside for a week or so in my house to settle, i knew it wouldn't take too long as the wood was already at 9% moisture content when i bought it.

once happy that the wood was dry and stable I then turned the clam shell style box.

The glue blocks worked well and allowed me to use this thinner material to its full depth.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

You never can tell...

You never can tell..

Its been an odd sort of week since my last post:

I was contacted about doing a demo again.... which I have had to turn down again!

I have been worrying about my lathe and lack of space and whether to get a second lathe... again!

and after spending a small fortune on a new camera.. I had a 30 second mobile phone video go viral!

and its that that relates to the title of this post as it has happened to me a couple of time now where what I think is a brilliant piece of work drops like a lead balloon and then a quick phone picture or video takes off like a rocket!!

why does one thing get picked up and shared and another does not? is too complicated for me to understand but it is certainly a nice feeling when it does happen as it not only boosts my confidence and picks me up but also boosts website traffic and traffic to my etsy shop.

Here is the video that went well on Instagram with 260k views
A video posted by George Watkins (@from_the_tree) on

And here is a similar video that went well on my facebook page. 

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

AAW turning of the week

American Association of woodturners 

turning of the week

I am very proud to have had my black and white ebony box chosen as turning of the week on the AAW website.

here are some more pictures of the box which is currently available to buy in my etsy shop here

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

From buying the wood to finished item

From buying the wood to finished item

I thought you might like to see part of the process that I used recently to make some buckeye burr hybrid blanks and a finished box with one of them.

First off allot of people don't realise how hard it is to buy buckeye burr in the u.k and how few American sellers are willing to sell it!

I found this piece of blonde buckeye burr on the US version of eBay and he was willing to ship outside the US

how the wood looked when it was delivered

the wood was covered in a type of wax but luckily it was slightly oversized at 70mm so I was able to cut a thin strip of each edge on the bandsaw removing the wax from the outside surfaces.

I cut it into 3 blanks and used a burr in a dremel type tool to clean out the bark inclusion cavity's

after cutting to size and cleaning

The wood was then stabilised under vacuum in cactus juice resin to harden it
being stabilised in the vacuum chamber

once cured I cleaned out any excess stabilising resin from the cavity's and could cast it with coloured resin to form solid blanks.

I chose one in green, one in blue and one in a smoky grey/black

the 3 blanks after casting

I have sold the green blank on my website and have turned the black blank into a box, I am still unsure as to what to do with the blue blank.

the finished black resin box

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Redwood burr box

Redwood burr box

Following on from my previous post where I was writing about my new vacuum chamber and stabilising some redwood burr.

Here is the finished box that I made with that stabilised wood.

Redwood burr & African blackwood box

Redwood burr & African blackwood box

Redwood burr & African blackwood box

Redwood burr & African blackwood box

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Vacuum chamber & stabilised redwood burr

Vacuum chamber & stabilised redwood burr 

I have been using a homemade steel vacuum chamber to stabilise soft and punky woods for a couple of years now

Metal vacuum chamber

Although it works OK trying to see what is happening by looking down onto the surface of the resin is difficult.

I buy and use Cactus juice stabilising resin from Turntex woodworks in Texas, USA and decided to take the plunge and buy a chamber too.

Chamber from Turntex woodworks.
I had some really highly figured redwood burr that I wanted to use to make turned boxes with but I knew from past experience that the burr is too soft to cut cleanly without stabilising.

highly figured redwood burr
The burr was covered in wax and wet when I bought it so I roughed out one piece in April 2016 and set about slowly drying it as to stabilise wood the wood must be bone dry

I had the burr ready by late July so I put it and a few other pieces into the chamber

First batch in the new chamber before adding resin

I had a new batch of cactus juice so I added 3/4 of a US gallon into the chamber. 

Initial forming of air bubbles

When you first pull vacuum you the air bubbles coming from the wood can be extreme and can rise up the chamber towards the lid and can enter the tube leading to your pump if your not careful!! so you have to control this with a bleed valve and then after a the first few minutes you can shut the valve and be at full vacuum.

the advantage of the clear chamber is being able to control & monitor the process

  You can see the air being pulled from the redwood burr blank

 After 3 hours of vacuum being pulled the air bubbles stopped, (the time under vacuum varies) 
If there is any moisture in the wood you will get small champagne type bubbles and they will take hours and hours to stop so it is really important that the wood is bone dry
I put a piece of masking tape onto the resin level before releasing vacuum.

The resin needs to be at least an inch above the surface of the wood before you release vacuum if the wood becomes uncovered in the initial release of vacuum it draws air back into it and you have to start all over again.

26mm change 
One minute after releasing vacuum the resin had dropped by 26mm

Normally you leave the wood in soak overnight then cure it the next day but i was advised that redwood benefits from a longer soak so I left everything in the chamber for 1 week

31mm change

After 3 days the resin level stopped dropping and stayed 31mm away from where it started.

here you can see some before and after pictures showing the weight increase and the figure in the redwood burr blank once it had been cleaned up.
redwood burr before stabilising

walnut before stabilising

redwood burr after stabilising

walnut after stabilising

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Eccentric woodturning chuck

Eccentric woodturning chuck

I have been interested in eccentric turning for quite some time now but have never took the plunge. That changed recently when a friend of mine Richard Findley posted a picture on his instagram of an eccentric pattern that he had made using the axminister eccentric spiralling chuck.

So here is my first few goes with the chuck and initial thoughts.

The instructions provided with the chuck are useless but thankfully there is a YouTube video showing its basic principle so that was where I started.

after watching the video I thought that it was going to be tiresome to keep removing the chuck and undoing the allen key, but it wasn't that bad with each one of the following examples taking about 10 minutes to complete. 

After screwing on a scrap piece of wood my first try was with an offcut of black and white ebony which was glued to the scrap.

1st try

1st try

my next try was a little different as I put a smaller deeper pattern in the middle then a shallower pattern around the outside

after the first stage

next I tried a piece of olivewood
I have enjoyed using the chuck and think that i will use it on the top of turned boxes.