Hope For Us All DVD
An Introduction to Fine Woodturning

by Simon Hope

Published by KTMP, UK

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As reviewed in The Australian Woodworker Issue 158

Simon Hope is a young professional turner based in the Essex UK countryside. In addition to his turning work (which includes the odd set of bagpipes) he also teaches and demonstrates.

In his first woodturning DVD, Hope for Us All, Simon works through three different projects - an ogee shaped Elm burl bowl with cast and turned pewter foot, a natural edge bowl from Australian Red Malee burl and an ebonised Oak/Ash mill fitted with a Crushgrind mechanism.

He refers to the wood as burr which is the correct English term. We tend to use the American term, burl.

Simon's style is very clear and easy to understand. Everything is done in real time, but there are few breaks in the dialogue. If he's not commenting on the task at hand, he's adding some other bit of useful information.

The shaping of the ogee bowl is fairly conventional, though the reverse curvature of the ogee does present more of a challenge than the conventional concave bowl. Much of the finishing of the outside of the bowl is done with scraping in lieu of sanding, with a rotary sander used through the finer grits for the final finish.

The pewter is cast into a purpose made recess in a wood blank. Pewter has a casting temperature of around 280-300C and can be readily prepared in a kitchen pot on a gas stove. Simon uses lead-free jewellery grade pewter - if you are melting down old or a lower grade of pewter for this purpose, you must take safety precautions against lead contamination.

The timber blank is used not only as a mould but also as a mount for the pewter. To ensure that the pewter does not disengage during the turning process, the recess is dovetailed and the metal secured with superglue (after it has cooled!).

He describes turning pewter as similar to turning a hard timber but with a scraping motion rather than bevel rubbing cuts. One advantage of turning pewter is that the shavings can be collected and remelted for the next project.

Having turned the connection to the bowl, Simon parts the pewter from the mould (eventually! - even the professionals have things go wrong), remounts the pewter and turns the rest of the foot. The pewter is then textured with a Dremel with the lathe running and given a final sand and burnish.

After the pewter foot is glued to the bowl, the whole piece is finished with a wood oil.

The Red Mallee burl is given a conventional concave bowl shape, but the natural edge of the eccentric blank is left intact and the material around the thin-walled bowl is turned down to flat thin 'wings'.

The high quality video is used to best advantage with the overhead footage, showing how the 'ghost' of the protruding wood is turned down. Working with the ghost presents safety as well as turning challenges.

Simon uses scrapers as well as gouges and chisels to complete the shape.

The mill is a modern design with a spherical top. Simon forms the internal bores with a combination of Forstner bits and conventional turning tools. The ebonising solution for the Oak body is made by soaking steel wool in malt vinegar for a few days.

If you've had concerns about using the Crushgrind mechanism (including the correct use of the retaining tabs), this video covers the whole process from start to finish.

Hope for Us All will appeal to intermediate to advanced turners interested in acquiring or refining specific techniques such as turning off-centre burls, working with pewter, scraping and turning mills. Simon's techniques are quite conventional, but his series of project based DVDs (Hope for Us All 2 has been released) deal with topics that usually are not covered in general woodturning instruction videos.

Duration: 4hrs 10mins, 2 discs

DVD - English