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Jon Baily introduces pole-lathe turning to Beds & Herts Woodturners

pole-lathe turner

A common characteristic of many people in the greenwood working community is the willingness to share skills. I’m no different. I have enjoyed teaching traditional bowl turning to individuals and small groups of people using a pole-lathe.

In November, I was invited by the Beds and Herts Woodturners group to demonstrate pole-lathe turning to its members. I’m fairly used to showing my lathe to spectators at various events throughout the year with the Burwash Bodger’s group based out of Burwash Manor. I also offer courses in turning a wooden bowl. However, it’s a new experience for me to be using the pole-lathe indoors and in front of so many people, many of which are accomplished turners in their own right.

Jon Baily on one of his pole-lathes

The pole-lathe turning presentation

On the evening, I set up my pole-lathe with the help of the group’s members. The aim of the evening was to turn a bowl from a piece of birch whilst talking about the process.

I started with an overview of the history of pole-lathes. Then I moved onto the tools I use, and why I work with greenwood rather than seasoned timber. Then moving on to the practical presentation, I showed the basics of axing out a bowl blank. However, as time was limited, I had to resort to the old TV fallback of “here’s one I made earlier” and mounted a pre-prepared birch bowl blank onto the pole-lathe.

Pole-Lathe Turning (sorry it’s a little out of focus at points)

Over the course of turning the bowl, I covered how to present the tools to the work. This included the cuts required to complete the base, outside wall and the bowl’s rim. I had pretty much completed the outside when it was time to break for tea and biscuits. It was interesting to talk with the group’s members and provide more details on any questions. Then it was back to turning, and it took about half an hour to complete the inside of the bowl.

Final thoughts

As this was my first-time presenting pole-lathe turning to a group of people, many of whom are accomplished turners, I was initially nervous. However, the group was welcoming and as I was talking about something I am passionate about, so soon relaxed. I am hoping that this will be the first of many presentations.

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