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David Ellsworth demonstrates for CMW, December 17, 2022

David Ellsworth Demonstrates for CMW – 12-17-22

A Master woodturner and founding member of AAW, we are lucky to have David in our midst since his move from Pennsylvania to Weaverville.  Not only is he well known for his bowls, pots and hollow forms, but David has also developed tools for woodturning. 

  • Sharp tools – essential for good bowl turning
  • Handle – David’s handles have a soft equilateral triangular shape that is comfortable to use – eliminating over grip
  • Gouge metal – is powdered metal steel which is heated casted metal
  • Sharpening
  • Side grind – approximately 7/9 – 1 inch down the side of the gouge
  • Bevel is rounded off some so that there is a radius on the top.  He does not use a sharp tip on his gouges
  • Technique 
    • 2/4/ 7 methods: the gouge is inserted 2 inches into the jig; the slide is ~7 inches from the face of the wheel to the pivot point so that the handle is approximately 4 inches above the pivot point.
    • Shaping – this is basically a shear scraping move. Holding the gouge is important to get the shape symmetrical.  The thumb is on the side of the gouge with 3 fingers below and 1 finger is at the tip of the gouge.  Movement should come from your hand near the gouge, not by turning the handle.
    • Movement – go from one side to the top and over, then move to the other side going from side to top and over
  • Wheel grit – David uses a 80 grit wheel to rough cut and a 180 grit CBN wheel to finish.  He doesn’t hone his gouges because he wants the burr to remain on the edge. 
  • Popcorn Bowl
    • David uses wet wood and a 4-pronged center spur.  A 2-pronged center spur can more easily slip off the lathe.  Remember to constantly tighten the tail.
    • Tool rest should be set close to the wood with the gouge bevel at the center of the wood. For roughing cuts, the handle should be lower.  Make sure you complete the cut by cutting into “air”.
    • Check to see that the sap wood and hard wood is even.  If not, recenter the piece and make sure the wood is even at the bottom.
    • Flatten the bottom of the piece – keep the central stem small so it won’t get in your way later.  Create “tenon” for your chuck.  It’s important to have a good notch for you chuck to grip – either dove tail or 90 degrees. 
    • Cut in a higher to make a base cut. Your bowl bottom will be within this wider area.  This will also give you some wiggle room to adjust the shape as you go along.
    • Begin to shape the bowl – remember that the bottom will come down into the wider area above the tenon
  • Put the blank into the chuck making sure that the central stem is not compressed.  Everything should be tight and clean.
    • Even the top surface and reshape the outside. Move from side to side with your 1st finger and thumb on the gouge and cutting ~1/2 inch down from the tip.  Use your gouge like a scrapper with the handle down.  Slightly concave the top half
    • Hollow your bowl with your gouge held from the outside and across center.  Shape the rim – invite someone into the bowl.
    • Final cut – the apex of the gouge should be pointing toward the center of the bowl.  Cut down to ~ 1/8 inch from the top of the jaws.  The bowl shape should go into the tenon.
    • Remove the tenon using a concave bottom.  Keep tapering the tenon down and when you get near the final cut, turn the lathe off and push across to cut off the last piece of the tenon.  Use your right hand and push with your left thumb.
    • Letting green wood dry:
      • Let it warp
      • Dry in a kiln – can be created in an old refrigerator
      • Store in a paper bag
      • Place on a piece of plastic and flip it over daily until there is no condensation on the paper

Natural Edge Bowl

The difference in turning a popcorn bowl vs a natural edge is in the cutting and the wingtips

  • Set up
    • The tail stock should be at the center of the pith.  This will that there will be even rings around the bottom.
    • Wingtips:  set up your blank so that the wingtips are at the same height and that your sap wood is even
  • Turning
    • Flatten out the bottom and create a tenon to fit your chuck.  Make sure you have either a dove tail or a 90-degree cut for your chuck to fit snugly.
    • Go higher and make a base cut deep enough so that the profile of your bowl will curve into this area to the center of the tenon.
    • Shape the outside of the bowl.  Shape first up to the sap wood from the bottom.  Don’t go up to the wingtip area to protect the bark. In cutting through the bark, make a left -handed cut so that you can see the gouge bevel at the bark edge and cut from the top down to the base cuts you have make. 
    • Reverse and place the piece in the chuck to hollow.  Mark your desired depth on the bowl.  Check to make sure your wingtips are at the same level.  Finish shaping the outside of the bowl
    • Hollow to about ¾ inch from the top of the tenon.  This will allow you to finish the bowl into the tenon area.   Use a roughing cut with the gouge flute at 45-degree angle to the bowl. Use a finishing cut where the flute is straight up (90-degree angle).  Don’t use scraping cuts.              Use calipers to check the wall thickness so that it is even throughout.
    • Use a jam chuck to finish the bottom making sure the bottom is flat and the bottom of the bowl curves in below the bottom of the hollowed portion.


  • Making a jam chuck.  Use a Packard bead tap to make threads to fit your lathe.  When making threads, saturate with thin CA glue, spray with activator, let dry and re-thread.  Use rubber along the edge of your jam chuck to protect you piece

To make calipers.  Use a zinc-plated rod from Home Depot – 36×3/16 in diameter.  Make one end straight.  Curve it around so that the ends are slightly off center.  Leave ~ 1/8inch air space between the desired wall thickness and the distance between the ends of the rod. 

Turning a hollow form

  • Put a log between centers and turn to round using a bowl gouge
  • Even end and round off the end.  Turn around and round off the other side.
  • Mark the center and decide which is the top or bottom of the vessel. For a vase you would want the grain to go parallel to the height of the vase.  If you are making a vessel, you would want the grain to go perpendicular to the opening.  Reposition you blank on the center line depending on the type of vessel you will be making.
  • Turn off any “nubs” left from positioning.  Make sure that the blank is even then flatten out the base and make a tenon.
  • Use a boring bar to push straight into the depth you want.  David does not use a drill because a drill tip will get hot, and the heat can crack the wood.
    • Once you have your depth, David uses a gouge with cutting tip of 10% high speed steel from Manhattan Supply Corp.  He positions it slightly below horizontal, then raises the tip to horizontal to hollow.
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Peggy Schmid Demonstrates for CMW – April 9, 2022

Peggy comes to us from the Atlanta area and demonstrated how to turn a lidded box for embellishment either with her dotting technique or with the use of polymer resin clay inserts.

Turning a lidded box:

The box was turned from a blank that was about 3.5” long and 3” in diameter.  She used sugar maple table leg cut offs obtained from New England Hardwoods. 

Turning the box:

Initial Shaping

  • Turn the blank round between centers
  • Create a tenon on both ends.  She suggests that the tenon be 1/8th inch wider than your closed chuck position. This reduces the chance of hitting your hand when turning the box and creates the most secure fit. 
  • Decide on the size of the top – Peggy uses about a quarter the way down the blank.
  • Decide on whether the flange will be on the top or the bottom of the box. Peggy prefers to put the flange on the top.  Make the flange about the size of the tenon.
  • Separate the top from the bottom using a thin parting tool and remove from the center pins.

Forming the box bottom

  • Mount the base section in the chuck.  Check to see that the bottom is running true. 
  • Shape the outside of the box, leaving wood at the base near the chuck.
  • Fit the flange of the top section to the base of the box.  Use calipers to mark the size of the flange on the surface of the box bottom.  Work from the center to the marked lines, going carefully until the top fits snuggly.  Use faster speed, small cuts and check frequently.
  • Once the lid fits, finish hollowing out the box using a small bowl gouge and a small scrapper.  You will want to leave a small “shelf” on the inside of the flange for the chuck to sit on when removing the tenon.
  • Measure to depth of the box, so that you leave room to remove the tenon. 
  • Sand the inside of the box and finish if not applying any dotting or resin to the inside of the box.  For this demonstration, Peggy used medical grade CA glue as her finish.  This is applied using pieces of polyester felt held in a hemostat.
  • Reverse the box bottom and fit the chuck inside the box bottom. The chuck will sit on the small “shelf” and expand to the inside edge for a snug fit – it doesn’t have to be super tight. 
  • Bring up the tail stock, shape the bottom of the box, following the curve of the inside shape. You will want to continue the shape of the outside into the wood near the tenon. 
  • Cut thin termination lines in the side of the box if using the dotting technique, or a slight recessed area if applying polymer clay to the box.
  • Finally, remove the tenon and create a concave recess so that the box will sit evenly.  The box will have a secure enough fit to remove the tail stock for the last cuts.
  • Sand the box and finish only the areas that will not have polymer clay or dotting

Forming the box top:

  • Mount the box top into the chuck using the tenon.
  • Clean the flange and check to see that it is fitting the box bottom well.  You may have to remove a small amount of the rim to make it level. 
  • Hollow out the inside of the top – using a gentle curve.  This will remove the weight of the top. Be careful not to go too deep because you will be removing the tenon.
  • Sand and finish the inside of the box.  Be careful not to sand the flange to maintain a tight fit.
  • Remove the top from the chuck.  Wrap the flange with a piece of blue tape and fit it into the chuck.  Check to see that is running true.
  • Shape the outside of the box top, making sure that the outside diameter is smooth with the box bottom. 
  • Make a groove, if “dotting” or a recess on the top for polymer clay.  Sand and finish only the portions not receiving paint or clay.

Embellishing:  Peggy described 2 embellishing techniques. 

Hint:  after sanding, Peggy used a “magic eraser” to remove the last bits of sand dust from the box before applying finish.  This ensures a smooth surface for any paint or clay that is applied.

Dotting technique

  • Apply color to the areas of the box that you wish to “dot”.  Color can be acrylic paint, alcohol ink, or enamel.  This is in the areas you marked with grooves on the box. 

Dots are applied using a dotting tool that is easily obtained from Amazon.  They come in various size balls or with a flat surface. 

  • Once the base color is dry, dots are applied in a random pattern or using a mandala design. 
  • The dotting paint can be regular or metallic acrylic paints.  Peggy used the paints from Deco Art which can be easily obtained from Walmart, Hobby Lobby, or Michaels. 
  • Once the dotting end is placed in the paint, the first dot will be heavier and subsequent dots will have less paint – creating a nice pattern.

Polymer Resin Clay:

  • Polymer clay can be combined in many colors.  If you are getting your own, buy all the same brand.  Peggy used black and white a lot.  There are many YouTube videos that will show you how to make “canes” from the clay in various patterns. If you don’t want to make your own, canes can be purchased from Etsy.
  • You will need a pasta machine to roll the polymer clay together.  You can get a hand cranked one at a craft store, or thrift store, or get one with a motor to make it easier to roll several colors together.  The clay must be fairly soft in order to combine colors.  To make a gradation in the colors, you will need to roll colors together, fold them and reroll through the pasta machine. 
  • Once you have a resin “cane”, thin slices are cut from each cane.  An adhesive is used on the recessed portion of the box you wish to decorate with clay.  Place the thin slices in the area as you wish using various patterns and sizes to fill in the recessed area.  
  • Once you have places all the clay pieces, use a roller to blend the pieces together. The roller can be smooth or textured.
  • Trim away any clay that extends beyond the grooves in your box.  Peggy used a scalpel blade and lifted up on the clay to form a clean edge. 
  • Bake the box with the clay resin in the oven using an aluminum foil tent over the box not touching the box).  You will need to do a test run to determine the temperature and time for your box. Peggy uses a temperature of 275 degrees for 40 minutes. If it is pliable, it is not done.
  • Another option is to make a flat piece or one shaped over a glass container, and glue it into your box as an insert.  The flat pieces are easily sanded to create a good fit 
  • Once baked, let the box cool for about 2 hours under the foil tent. 
  • Sculpy Clay makes a glaze coating if you want.  Peggy usually finished with a clean Krylon spray finish.  You can also use CA glue around the edges if you want. 


  • – She has a PDF for instruction on making the box. email:
  • Munro Crafts in Berkley Michigan – has all the supplies you will need including knife blades at a good price:
  • Mark Sillay for medical grade CA and activator: – Parfix 3408 and activator
  • Box blanks – can be obtained from New England Hardware through ETSY – use 16-3×3.5 sugar maple turning blanks – in the search engine.  Keep checking if they are not immediately available

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Joe Dickey Demonstrates for CMW – September 25, 2021

“Joe Dickey has been a professional and nationally recognized woodturner since 1984, and lives on a lovely tends an American Chestnut restoration orchard on his farm in Davidsonville, MD.

He helped establish and currently until recently administered the Woodturning School and Co-op at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts in Annapolis, MD, He is a founding member of the Chesapeake Woodturners,,; and is currently Treasurer of the American Association of Woodturners.

Joe began his demonstration with a slide show of his work.  He emphasizes the golden ratio in his work some of which were stained with aniline dyes.  In another interesting piece, he sliced his bowl blank on a band saw, inserted a piece of a different wood in several directions, then turned the blank and inserts all together.  A fun piece was his collection plate for church which allowed the collection to slide through the piece and out.  

Example of using the Golden ratio for shaping a bowl

Examples of Joe’s work

For the demonstration, he showed how to turn a very thin-walled vessel with the aid of a light.   This technique is a good one for developing good tool control and is used for other projects such as cowboy hats, lampshades, goblets and other thin-walled turnings. This technique required the use of green fresh wood since dried wood isn’t translucent. 

The vessel was turned from a piece of green maple approximately 6 inches in diameter.  The blank was turned round using a slow speed, a tenon cut and the top flattened. 

The general outside shape was established leaving plenty of wood at the base for stabilization during the hollowing process. 

Establish the outside shape

The piece was put in the chuck and hollowed to ~ 1/2-5/8 inches thick with a gentle smooth curve.  Because the wood is green, you will need to periodically check to see that the chuck stays tight. 

Hollow using a gentle curve

The vessel was then thinned from the outside surface. Begin thinning starting at the rim and leaving a full 1/2 inch thickness at the bottom to support the bowl.  Leave the rim a little thicker.

Insert a light into the bowl and continue thinning the outside to ~1/8th -1/16th inch or thinner.  The light will help you maintain an even thickness.  Use slow even cuts and keep the rim a little thicker for stability.  If you use a tungsten light this can dry the wood so you will need to spritz the wood with water to keep it cool.  Using an LED light is better but not necessary.

Using a light source to check for wall thickness and check for uneven areas

Work down then bowl to the bottom in small increments watching the light to take care of uneven spots. The brightness of the light indicates the thickness – on the right you can see that the rim and area near the bases are a little thicker.   Keep some thickness in the base so you don’t go through the bottom of the vessel when it is parted offl 

Let the vessel dry before sanding and finishing. 

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Tod Raines demonstrates for CMW, October 17, 2020

by Jo Miller

October CMW Virtual Demonstration – Tod Raines 

N Dallas, Fort Worth area, Texas –

Our October virtual demo featured Tod Raines who demonstrated turning a Piston Box..  In a Piston Box, the top is shaped as a hollow cylinder that fits into the base of the bowl/box.  An opening is put in the top to hold small objects such as pills, sewing needles, toothpicks etc, and is small enough to fit into a pocket or purse.  The shape is good for embellishment/texturizing/pyrography/painting and uses drill bits rather than hollowing tools that he feels makes it an easy project for any level turner

Tod begins with a blank of 1 ¾ x 1 ¾ x 8 inches.  He prefers to use pine because he likes the smell and it is a good wood for pyrography.  The blank is rounded off between centers.  A chuck could be used at one end if the blank will fit into your chuck – otherwise you will have to make a tenon.  The tail stock end should be cleaned up prior to drilling

You will be using 2 Forstner bits with a 1/8” difference between the two bits.  This will produce a wall thickness of 1/16th inch.  (Its possible to use 2 bits with a 1/4” difference between the 2 bits depending on the project and size of the blank. This will produce a wall thickness of 1/8”).  For this demonstration, Tod used a 1 1/8” and a 1 ¼” forstner bit).  

Using the smaller forstner bit (1 1/8”), drill into the blank to desired depth –in this case 2 ¼”.  Sand the inside lightly using sandpaper wrapped around a dowel (80 and 150 grit so that it is smooth to the touch).  Using a cone center in the tail stock and gentle pressure, cut down the blank to the diameter of the larger forstner bit, and the length of the “piston” – ~ 2 ¼” or the length of the drilled portion. To help with this step, Tod creates a “jig” as a check on the thickness.  He uses a thin piece of wood with a hole the size of the forstner bit you are using (in this case the larger size – 1 ¼”).  The inside of the hole is sanded slightly to make sure you will have a snug fit .  The outside diameter of the blank is peeled down to the desired size (1 ¼”) just at the end – and using the jig to check the size.  Then gradually peel the diameter away and inch or so at a time and use the jig to slide it along as you go.  Sand lightly.  Mark the thickness of your lid.  Undercut the lid and part off of the blank

Next you will make the bottom of box. 

Clean off the end and mark the center with a dimple

Use a jocobs chuck to hold the larger size forsner bit – in this case 1 ¼”.  Drill to the depth slightly longer than the top.  Use a finger on the drill bit to decrease vibrations and wandering.  Go slowly.  You want a tight fit between the top and bottom…  Use a sanding stick to make sure the top will fit.  

Use a parting tool to mark the end of the box (don’t part off yet).  Smooth up the end and shape the bottom.  

Shape the bottom: for a barrel shape, you want the middle to be the thickest part , so shape towards the ends.  Make other shapes as you wish.  Don’t part off yet

Sand to 180 grit – for pyrography – or as you wish.  

To finish the top of the box

Insert the top of the lid in the box and shape the top of the box – ex dome shape for the barrel shaped box.  He creates a slight indented rim with a dome shape in the middle – slightly lower than the edge.

Marking indexing lines or grooves for burning depending on your design

Part off the bottom of the box – leave the excess in the chuck to use as a jam chuck to fit the bottom of the box opening – tape it securely and part down the remainder to the size you want the bottom.  He uses a slight indented insert with a slight dome at the bottom and top.

Create an insert to seal the top by putting the top opening onto the jam chuck.  You will have to adjust the fit to create a 1/8”-3/8” tenon that will fit into the top as a plug.  You might want the plug to have an angle in it if you are making a box for ex matches so that they will lean in the opening and be more accessible for removing  Make sure this end has a clean cut. Glue the tenon into the top using a medium/thick CA glue (or yellow glud) making a “plug” and secure the top into the jam chuck using a “rubber chucky” in the tail stock. Part off the plug and sand the bottom and in top to create the kind of fit you want.  

Create the opening in the box top:

Use a dowel with sand paper wrapped around it (150 grit)

Put the dowel between centers.

Choose where you want the opening – consider the grain or any markings on the wood

Sand completely through the 1/16th thickness of the top of the box and the length you need for the kind of object you want to hold in the box – i.e  a smaller hole for pills, a longer hole (~2”) for needles, toothpicks opening upper half,  etc.  


Create indexing marks and grooves for burning before parting off the bottom.  He usually makes 12 indexing lines and burns with a wire just above and below the top, and at the bottom.  

Mark where your “hole” is inside the box so it can be opened without dumping the contents

Finishing: Tod does not finish the inside of the box (he likes the smell of pIne) – and to allow for easy opening and closing – just sand to smooth finish. Once pyrography etc is completed, he uses Minwas, or polyacrylic spray ( either satin or semigloss).  For his Castle box, he uses a a sanded paint finish

Other considerations: If you want to make a longer cylinder – you may have to do it in two parts and glue the parts together due to limitations in the length of the forstner bits.  You can use extensions but its important to prevent any wobbling or drift of the bit since the wall thickness is only 1/8th inch.  

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Graeme Priddle and Melissa Engler Demonstrate for CMW, February 15, 2020

The Carolina Mountain Woodturners was fortunately to have Graeme Priddle and Melissa Engler demonstrate at our last in-person meeting on February 15, 2020. 

The demonstration began with Graeme turning what would later become an ammonite bowl. 

He began by talking about safety first. He mounted the wood directly on the chuck and then used the tailstock without the live center as a jam, demonstrating that the sharp point can split the wood. Plus it is easier to center the wood without the point. He firmly locked down the tailstock to provide the tension needed to hold the wood in place.

He leaves the tenon sometimes to double as the foot of the bowl and added that the foot should be not more than a third of the diameter of the piece. He then turned from bottom to top (base to the rim) watching the profile to shape the bowl.

He used a sheer cut to remove lumps and bumps, smoothed out the curve.

He made a series of cuts, moving up the bowl – he might use pencil to mark the lines. Once finished, he removed the bowl and turned the demonstration over to Melissa for embellishing.

Carving and burning

First she carved the curve and then carved out the shapes in the interior of the bowl. Using the woodburning tool, she created the texture. The depths of burns were just deep enough but not too deep, letting the form grow organically. She did the rim last – working up to the rim. As she worked up to rim, she pointed out that the the whole tip is hot – be careful not to touch the tip of the crisp edge. She used a brush to remove the burn – and sanding disc. She then turned the powercarver down to half speed and clean up the carving.


Melissa used golden acrylics, which uses less water and doesn’t seep into the grain, the color doesn’t go where she doesn’t want it. She used a toothbrush, medium or medium hard, and a small amount of paint. Should look matte – and then let sit overnight. The acrylic layer is the darker layer – dark blue used, then layer of milk paint and wipe back the high spots. She let the milk paint catalyze, stirring it well.

The milk paint remains in the low spots and the darker color will come through on high spots. She then used a tiny brush to clean up the areas

The bowl was then returned to the lathe, to run the oil to the edge. Finally, a vacuum chuck was used to finish the foot, tapering it down, and putting a decorative element on the bottom of the piece.

This was the last face to face demonstration the club had before we moved to providing remote demonstrations. 

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October 2019

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