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The Black Dog Workshop

Tue, 02/21/2017 - 12:13pm


Like most amateurs in any craft, I rely heavily on my maestros and gurus, and for me, help comes in the form of YouTube videos more than anything else. When it comes to hand tool woodworking, I invariably turn to the likes of Paul Sellers and Tom Fidgen. When I need advice about woodturning, my ‘go to’ guys are Mike Waldt and Martin Saban-Smith.

The latter of thesimg_1591-e1481281226404e chaps is the developer of Hampshire Sheen, a woodturning finishing wax which I highly recommend, and he has recently opened a woodturning workshop at his family’s garden centre called The Black Dog Workshop. The workshop provides tuition for beginners, as well as a place to turn for those who may not have their own facilities. It is also designed to cater for people who suffer with depression and other mental health problems, focussing on the therapeutic benefits that any creative pastime can provide.

I have followed the progress of the workshop on its dedicated YouTube channel since it began, and I think it is a fantastic idea. I wanted to show my support for the project, as well as my gratitude to Mr Saban-Smith for the help his videos have given me, so I decided to make him a gift.

20151001_142921As he is an accomplished woodturner, there seemed little point in turning him something, so I decided to go down the hand tool route. In the past, I have made a fair few mallets, and I suppose they are the closest thing to a speciality that I’ve got.  And, every workshop should have a mallet. The Black Dog Workshop mallet is made from walnut and beech, and I dabbled in some pyrography and added the workshop logo.

Here are a few photos of the build (click to embiggen):

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I finished the mallet with three coats of my home-made varnish/linseed/turps blend, and packaged it off this afternoon.


I hope it goes down well.


Filed under: Uncategorized

First project of the year.

Thu, 01/12/2017 - 10:44am


Nearly a year ago, not long after I had my lathe set up, I was looking around for a turning project, and I stumbled across some plans for a candlestick telephone. At the time, the project was far beyond my capabilities, so I only got as far as picking out the timber before shelving the idea until I had more practice under my belt.

Well, as 2017 arrived, I decided that I was proficient enough to give it a bash, so I dug out the timber, walnut I think, and set to work.

My design sticks fairly close to the original, but my shapes and dimensions are slightly different. This is due in part to some intentional design decisions on my part, as well as a few cock-ups unforseen design opportunities. All of the turned components are finished with Yorkshire Grit and Hampshire Sheen. The other wooden components just have the Hampshire sheen.

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I began with the base and the stem. The base looked a tad bulky, so I ended up making more of a sweeping round over after this picture was taken.

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The mouthpiece is made from two parts: the bowl and the cone. The bowl was turned first, with a recess that will accept a tenon on the cone. The recess also meant that I could flip it round and finish the bottom. I also bored a small hole in the bottom to accept a connector piece that will join it to the stem

I then turned the cone piece, forming the tenon first and checking for a tight fit with the bowl. I made another recess that would accept a brass disc later on. Then I could flip it round to hollow out the cone itself.

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Next came the receiver, which was again made in two parts: a ring cap and a cone. The ring cap was turned first, with two recesses – one to accept the cone, and another to accept another brass disc. Then I turned the cone, first creating a tenon for the ring cap, and then hollowing out and shaping before flipping it round, boring a hole for the cable and finishing the end.

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On the side of the stem I drilled a hole to accept the cradle. I then turned a matching tenon on a block of walnut before removing it from the lathe in order to shape it. I bored out the bulk of the waste and then broke out the saws, chisels, rasps, files and sandpaper. This part of the project was a real ball-ache.

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The wood working for this project was almost over. The only part left to make was the small connector piece that would join the mouthpiece to the stem. I turned a ball and small tenon on the lathe, then removed it and removed the sides of the ball to create a disc. I cut out a corresponding slice in the top of the stem and bored a small hole in both components to accept a small brass pin, so that the mouthpiece could pivot.

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Moving onto the brass components, I cut out some discs for the mouthpiece and receiver, and drilled some holes in them. I cut a small pin for the connector piece and then readied the brass plugs that would provide an interface between phone and cord. The plugs are small brass inserts for compression joints on small bore gas pipes. I hammered some walnut dowel into them and drilled a small hole to take the cord.


With all the pieces complete, it was time for assembly. I decided to line the base with a piece of leather, which was spray mounted into position and attached with brass pins. I used a guide to help me position the pins evenly.

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And here we have it: The Candlestick Telephone. First project of 2017.

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Filed under: Projects, Woodturning Tagged: brass, leather, walnut