Monday, July 18, 2016

For the July workshop we were back to Kieran Higgins’ workshop in Skibbereen. When one considers that it is about 125 km. from Cork City, where many of our members are based - with many coming from even farther away in East Cork – an attendance of over 20 members was quite satisfactory.
For his demonstrations Kieran likes to try something new that he mightn’t have tried before. His philosophy is that while we, the audience, are learning he might as well be learning too. That is a brave approach but with Kieran’s skill, experience and overall expertise it is an approach that he can get away with; and he did.
The partly turned urn with the lathe-steady in place.
His project was a Grecian-style urn shape that would sit on its side. He started with a large piece of elm that, as he said himself, was a “bit dozy” but which je had turned to a round before we arrived. He very quickly turned the outside shape and then he enthralled us with the gear and equipment he used to hollow and finish it. He first introduced a large lathe steady that he had made up by an engineering friend of his. He began hollowing with a forstner bit on an extended morse-taper shank that he drilled to very near the bottom of the interior. Then he introduced a Hamlet ‘Big Brother’ but after a while decided that that was too hard on his shoulder and arm. It was then he introduced an articulated arm that, again, his friend had made up. This piece of apparatus is very like the one that Simon Hope is making and selling but was much bigger and stronger. Why wouldn’t it be when one considers that most of Kieran’s work is the production of quite large pieces? This made short work of the hollowing with quite large shavings being produced. 
At this stage Kieran then introduced a laser attachment and for most of us who had heard about them but had never seen one before this was quite amazing. Not only did it show where the cutter was inside the vessel but also it was useful too in indicating the thickness of the wall.
Kieran, with all the equipment in use.
Adjusting the cutter on the Big Brother gave a finer cut and when Kieran eventually parted off the piece he had quite a good finish on the inside. Time didn’t permit him to do it but he plans to make a “trumpet” shape for the top from contrasting wood and this should finish off nicely what is already an attractive and skilfully made piece.
The almost-finished urn
Our competition had a very poor entry. Hugh Garrett made the only off-centre barrel lamp of the kind that Charley McCarthy demonstrated in June and that got first prize. Charley himself entered an off-centre item in the shape of a figurine and that was awarded second prize.
Hugh Garrett (right) with his winning lamp.  Chapter Chairman, John Ahern, on the left.
Our annual exhibition is on again this year in the James O’Neill building in Kinsale from the 8th to the 24th August. Members are urged to confirm that they will have stuff on display and to volunteer to attend and invigilate at the exhibition for a day or for part of a day. This is our one big chance to show off our pieces and by so doing to promote the Chapter and the art of woodturning.