Article: Nick Agar Demonstration October 2011

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November 06, 2011 21:11, submitted by Nettie Turpin (author: Bob Gunther, photos by Tina Collison)

Nick Agar Demonstrates for CMW
October 15, 2011
by Bob Gunther

Nick comes to our club from Devon, England where he has his studio and gallery. He has over 20 years of woodturning experience, and during that time he developed a great understanding of his medium. His large-scale, multi-textured turned wood sculptures earned him a reputation for producing highly individual, beautifully crafted art. He chooses burls, and intriguing wind blown or dead timber for most of his work. By doing so he exposes nature’s treasures beneath the bark. Organic forms, pottery and his natural surroundings inspire him. He specializes in hollow forms, large diameter work and surface enhancement. His award-winning work often incorporates carving, weaving, and metalwork.

Aside from exhibiting widely and appearing at international conferences both as a demonstrator and a judge, Nick is in constant demand for commissions from collectors. His wide range of clients includes HRH Prince of Wales, Dukes, Duchesses, and the Royal Jeweler, Aspreys. He has been featured on BBC and ITV lifestyle television programs. He is Patron of the Max Carey Woodturning Trust. Nick is a member of the Devon Guild of Craftsmen, a Registered Professional Turner, a member of the AWGB and the AAW.

Morning Session:
Nick began his demo with a power-point presentation depicting his work over the past 10-15 years. Visiting museums provided inspiration for his work as does the work of potters. His work includes a variety of texturing, coloring and sculpting techniques. Carving plays an important role in many of his pieces. Natural entities such as animals, insects, shells, and fossils provide inspiration. Some of his newer work includes extensive texturing, coloring and metalizing. This concluded the power point presentation.

Next Nick placed a 3” thick, 10” round piece of soft maple on a screw chuck and trued up the edge with a sweptback bowl gouge. He continued shaping the piece with the base of the bowl at the tailstock side. He formed a tenon on the base so that the piece could be remounted later for hollowing. Nick used a pull cut up to now (Nick Agar 1). The surface this technique created was a mess – lots of tear out. Then he used a push cut to clean up the surface. This was a bevel-rubbing cut. Nick used a 50-degree hand-ground gouge to further clean up the surface. This was also a push cut, bevel-rubbing technique. Using a large skew in a scraping mode, Nick cleaned up the tenon. He made the tenon deep enough so that at least two teeth of the jaws contacted the wood. Then he used a sheer cut to further clean up the surface of the piece from the tenon outward. Normally, here, Nick would sand to 400 grit. He used a Sorby spiraling tool to texture the surface. The turner holds the bevel side of the texturing wheel toward himself. A distance of 2 times the wheel’s diameter should be off the tool rest. It is possible to hold the wheel at almost any angle to the wood, but the wheel itself cannot be farther than 10 minutes off the hour. Set the lathe speed at less than 1000 rpm. It is possible to clean up the spiral-textured areas with a soft brass wire brush, or a Scotch-Brite wheel designed for automotive work. One can also burnish the textured surface by using dry shavings pressed against the wood while the lathe is on. CAUTION: This generates heat, especially if one’s hand is against the turning piece.

Nick did not texture the upper, outer inch of the bowl. This area looks like a metal band surrounding the piece. Nick used a bowl gouge to intermittently mark the band turning the lathe by hand. He used a very coarse (20 or 24 grit) disc to texture or scratch the band area with the lathe running. Nick then burnished this area with the lathe going both forward and in reverse. He used an Allen wrench to mark the band area. It was hammered against the wood in a random pattern. This completed the texturing of the outer surface of the bowl.

Nick then turned to coloring. He protected the lathe with cardboard (around the headstock) and the surrounding areas with cloth – NEVER use cloth near the headstock or the revolving piece. He used a spray diffuser as an atomizer to apply the stain (dye) to the wood surface. Nick ran the lathe at a very slow speed while he sprayed the piece. It is important to not spray too much paint on a bowl that will eventually have a thin wall, or the color may penetrate the wall and appear on the inside. Trans tint or Mohawk dye (stains) are probably the most effective. The outside of the bowl was sprayed completely black. Once dry (dries quickly), the spray created a patina on the surface. One can use a clear wax to form the patina by adding metal powders or colored powders to it. These do not dissolve. They stay in the wax and are deposited on the wood surface. Nick used Goldfinger paste (comes in five colors) to form the patina. He rubbed it on with his fingers so that it covered the entire surface. He also applied it to the band area. Nick burnished the surface with the lathe running.

Then Nick took the piece off the screw chuck and reversed it on the jaws, and trued up outer edge. Nick left about 1 1/2 inches for a rim area. He textured this using the spiraling tool. Then he sprayed it black as done earlier. After the black dried, Nick used the Goldfinger paste for the patina on the rim area. Then he hollowed the inner portion of the bowl. Before doing any final cuts on the interior Nick honed his gouge. He left a raised area in the bottom of the bowl. This area would be sanded. Then he textured it with the spiraling tool and burnished it with shavings. Nick applied black spray to the raised area in the bottom with the lathe running. Then he used colors – yellow over the entire area and on the area between the center and the rim. Then he used orange and red. He used more yellow to brighten the area. He used silver wax to give patina to the central bottom area. This completed the metalized bowl and the morning session.

Afternoon Session:
Nick attached a piece of MDF (11” x 11” square, 3/4” thick) to an 8/4 maple square, 12” x 12,” using screws and hot glue around the edges. He centered a faceplate on the MDF and the piece placed on the spindle. Nick set the tool rest at center piece height. He set the lathe speed low for safety reasons. One MUST NOT use an overhand grip of the tool with the left hand because there is a high risk of being hit with the corner of the revolving piece. It is necessary for the tool rest to remain on center; one can ensure this by using a collar cut to the proper length for the tool rest post. Nick used a super-flute gouge with a sweptback grind at 45 degrees. He cut a V-groove circle about 8 inches in diameter using the bowl gouge. He cut the groove from the outer area in and from the inner area out. Nick finished the bottom of the notch with a spindle gouge. Then he used a flat skew to accentuate the bottom of the V-groove. Nick used the long point of the tool. Nick honed a 1/4 inch bowl gouge and formed a dome shape in the center of the V-notch groove circle. The dome was about 3” in diameter. Then Nick removed the area between the V-notch and the dome down to near the bottom of the V-notch. This area would be sanded. When sanding, the other hand should support the hand with the paper. At this point Nick mentioned his new book that will be available. In April 2012 Woodturning Evolution – A Dynamic Project Book ISBN #978-1-86108-8277. It can be pre-ordered from Amazon for a reduced price of $16.95 (Reg-$24.95) with free shipping in April 2012. (As stated, Nick just mentioned it. I, the author of this writeup, found out the other information.) Back to the demo! This support keeps the paper firmly and uniformly against the wood. Nick then textured the flat area with the Sorby tool as he did the center dome. Next he wire brushed the textured areas. It is also possible to used the Scotch-Brite mop. Then he burnished the piece with shavings.

Then Nick did coloring using the spray diffuser - first red and then yellow. He repeated red, then black. After the color dried, Nick applied liming wax with his fingers. He covered the entire flat area using straight strokes - not circular ones. Nick wiped off the liming wax with a brown paper towel followed by a cloth to wipe off more wax with the lathe running. BE CAREFUL! It is important to not wrap the cloth around one’s hand or fingers!

Nick removed the faceplate and shifted over about 1/2 inch to a new center and reattached the faceplate. He placed the piece on the spindle. Nick brought the tool rest up to center height. He placed a small piece of tape on the tool rest to mark the outer edge of the previously turned V-notch groove. He did this so that the new V-notch would not cut into the previous one. He turned this new notch with the gouge pointing toward the turner. About 3/4 of the circumference of the first V-notch was painted red and the remaining 1/4 black.

Then Nick removed the piece from the spindle and he removed the faceplate. Next Nick used a larger faceplate in a new center and secured it in place. He placed the piece back on the spindle; it was quite off-center in this new location. Then Nick picked and turned a third V-notch location. As before, he cleaned up the notch with the spindle gouge. He applied color over the new notch. Again, Nick moved the faceplate to a new center. This one was at one corner of the MDF and markedly off-center. Turning directly on the corner over the faceplate is relatively safe but DO NOT turn (cut) on the extremes of the off-center piece. The MDF may very well tear away from the faceplate screws. Nick cut a small diameter V-notch and removed a small bowl shape from the area inside the V-notch circle. He sprayed yellow and then orange into the small bowl area.

Nick then used an angle grinder with a 24 grit sanding disc to develop a grooved pattern on a portion of the disc. Then he created a second area where he removed the surface area. Nick did this to show the possibilities that exist.

Nick then turned to power carving using a reciprocating hand held carver. He used a Flex-cut blade. He detailed different areas of the piece using various length cuts and depth of cuts. Nick sprayed paint along one edge of the piece to give a shadow effect. Using a countersink bit Nick then detailed another area, drilling different diameter tapered holes.
Then he removed the MDF backing. Nick will finish the piece later for our auction on November 19, 2011.
Nick then turned briefly to spindle turning. He placed a piece of 2x2x6” maple in the #2 jaws and rounded it into a cylinder. He turned the distal portion into a spin-top and textured it using the Sorby tool. Nick painted, lime waxed, and parted it off. Then he made another top, again using the smaller Sorby tool. He made a third top using the Henry Taylor Decorating Elf tool to texture it. This produced a finer, flowered pattern. Nick also also painted, limed and burnished it.

This completed a very interesting and fast moving demo.

A note from Nick:
This was a great “fun” day for everyone with Jim Nunziato throwing all kinds of music and sound effects at me. I had a ball! This was woodturning “show time”. I take safety very seriously, but it was so relaxing and refreshing to have the amazing video and sound production that only Carolina Mountain Woodturners has to make this demo such a success.

Thanks so much for having me here.
Kind regards
Nick Agar