Lee Valley Tools

Quite some time ago, Ed started instructing for Lee Valley tools in Coquitlam. He isn’t there all the time thankfully, he is after all retired. 🙂 He usually has a few classes every term. There is a 2 day beginner woodturner course, and a one day course on sharpening your woodturning tools. Every now and then he also instructs on turning a hollow form. He has done some other specialty courses like the three legged stool. Those aren’t run all the time, just when the need arises or and idea inspires.

The great thing about the courses there is that they are central in the Lower Mainland and a reasonable price. Of course Lee Valley loves it, because it gets you in the door and you will, no doubt, do some shopping.

Ed has also traveled to Kelowna to instruct in their store up there. Usually once or twice a year. If you live in the area, sign up, you won’t be disappointed.

If you live in the Lower Mainland and are interested in the courses for Lee Valley Tools Seminars Coquitlam, follow this link and sign up. http://www.leevalley.com/en/home/SeminarList.aspx?c=1&rs=60

If you live in the Okanagan and are interested in the Lee Valley Tools Seminars Kelowna, follow this link and sign up. http://www.leevalley.com/en/home/SeminarList.aspx?c=1&rs=90

Posted in General | Leave a comment

The Roundhouse

Well, as I promised earlier, I would be posting about what Ed’s been up to that has kept him too busy to being doing his own posts. Well they may not be in any specific order, but you’ll be up to date in no time.

At the end of last year Ed met a fellow named Jeremy Tomlinson. He is an accomplished woodworker who has his own shop in North Vancouver. It’s called The Urban Woodworker. Jeremy runs woodturning classes in North Vancouver at his shop and a the Roundhouse Community Recreation Center in Vancouver.

They hit it off right away which is a good thing. (Easy to do with two woodworkers, just get them started talking about wood.) Jeremy had a proposal for Ed. He asked him to be an instructor for him at the Roundhouse in Yaletown (an area of Vancouver). As most of you know already, this is right up Ed’s alley. He loves training. From his days in the Fire Service training, then onto motorcycle skills training and of course woodturning.

This new position would mean him traveling to Vancouver on most Friday’s. In no short order Jeremy added Saturday to Ed’s schedule. So, the retired guy is now a commuter. Who’d a thunk? Certainly not me. He actually takes transit which is almost unheard of from our area of Langley. He has to drive to the start of his route of course, but after a bus, three connections and 3 trains he’s there. Only an hour and half later. The price is right and it saves wear and tear on the vehicles and on Ed. He doesn’t have to fight the traffic to get there.

He started this new venture the end of November 2018 and just got his new schedule for the fall term. He is booked every Friday and Saturday at the Roundhouse. Not to mention he’s still teaching at home here and at Lee Valley in Coquitlam. Busy guy…

You can check out Jeremy’s site here: https://urbanwoodworker.com/

If you live in the Vancouver area and would like to take classes from Ed at the Roundhouse, you can sign up for the classes on either Friday or Saturday using this link: http://roundhouse.ca/programs/adult/ Scroll down the page until you reach the Woodworking Level 1: Wood Turning (19+) section.

If you’d rather have a more personal one on one woodturning experience with Ed give him a call or drop him an email. You can find the contact information on the Woodturning Classes tab above, or click on this link: http://www.edswoodturning.com/woodturning-classes/

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Back in the saddle

Arlene here, Ed’s wife, for those of you that don’t know me. It’s been awhile since Ed has had the time to write. Not that he has forgotten about his followers and readers, but he has been awfully busy. That’s not really an excuse I know, but the posts to come will explain what he has been up to.

In the meantime you can check out his Facebook page for his more recent posts. You can check them all out here: https://www.facebook.com/Edswoodturning/

Stay tuned…

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Making handles for your turning tools 2

Here is the second in a three part series showing how to make inexpensive, high quality turning handles. Again, there are a few random tips unrelated to turning handles because the video is part of a “tips” presentation to the Fraser Valley Wood turning Guild.

Posted in General, Lathes and Tools, Woodturning Tech Talk | 2 Comments

Making handles for your turning tools 1

It’s been a while since I have posted here but it’s so hard to turn and type at the same time. 🙂 I recently had been asked to produce a video on “tips and tricks” for one of r the guilds to which I belong. Once I ad the video in hand it occurred to me that posting it to YouTube for viewing here was the next step.

Please excuse some of the totally irrelevant comments; these were meant for the intended audience, members of the Fraser Valley Woodturners Guild.

This video is the first of three parts dealing with making your own turning handles. The intent of the video was generally about helpful tips so you will see some random tips completely out of context with making handles, but they are nonetheless… helpful.

Making turning tool handles 1

Posted in Lathes and Tools, Uncategorized, Woodturning Tech Talk | Leave a comment

Hollow Turning With a Twist.

I thought I would share a project I have been working on recently that is different than many and uses a hollowing technique I haven’t used until now. The size of this project is a bit nuts but the concept may be something that might come in handy no matter what the size.

Some background

Some of you may have seen my spiral pieces cut from tall vase forms. The one below is my favourite, standing 22” tall. It now lives somewhere in the UK.

Fire in the Heart

Fire in the Heart

That form has morphed into several iterations, each one a spiral cut from a completed turning. In some cases, I have been able to use the negative space cut from the original for yet another piece, so that’s a cool bonus. Most of these pieces now go to a friend, Steve Smith, who is a native artist. Steve paints his very contemporary style on these pieces, which are themselves anything but traditional native forms. This has been a very rewarding collaboration for both of us. Quite honestly I feel that I gain the most, having learned so much from him about art, inspiration and life in general.

Photo 13

The project at hand

For several years I have had an idea of a wave-like form in my mind, but no surface treatment to take it to the next level. Recently it came out in its own time as something that would suit Steve’s style perfectly. He agreed with my ideas so I started the project immediately – by falling a large maple on Sumas Mountain.

The piece needed to be at least 36” long by at least 8” in diameter (so that Steve could paint the inside). Ideally the blank had to be centered with the pith in the middle to keep the dried piece from being oval. The stems from the tree I chose were perfect. I had the length and got 9” and 10” diameter pieces. At the moment the rest is taking up a lot of space beside my shop.


Hollowing: part one

The plan was to make a 33” long “pipe” with ½” wall thickness then cut a wave form from that (to my great satisfaction, I actually get two from each one). I started by turning a cylinder between centers. I used a faceplate since this was a very heavy piece. To begin the hollowing I set up a steady rest then removed the tailstock. After boring out the center I used a large hollowing rig to hollow the piece to the middle plus a bit.



Hollowing: part two

I removed the piece from the lathe and faceplate then affixed a blank to the faceplate and turned it as a “plug” for the hollow end. I glued the plug, complete with faceplate, into the piece using the lathe as a clamp. Once set, I proceeded to hollow the second half. Parting the completed piece from the plug was a bit of an adventure but everything went as planned with the steady rest and a giant taper center on the tailstock end controlling things.



Laying out the spiral

Mapping the spiral is the same technique used for marking out barley twists on spindles. I used the indexing head and divided the diameter into equal parts (24, I think) and marking the lines with the tool rest set exactly at center. I then divided the length into equal parts by using a set of dividers to step off. The trial and error method of making minute adjustments to the dividers to get to the exact destination didn’t really take all that long and achieved the end result I wanted. By using a flexible ruler (courtesy of Barry Wilkinson – Thanks, Barry) I was able to connect the dots (intersections) to get my cutting lines. The ends of the wave were drawn free form to give it at least a bit of an organic look. We were even able to use the waste pieces from the end of the waves for little shelf-mounted forms (See photo of pieces on counter top. Pardon the laundry.)



After waiting for a few weeks for the piece to dry, it was a matter of cutting carefully on the lines and sanding the pieces. And sanding. And sanding. And sanding some more. In the end, I did quite a bit of sanding. Times four. A couple of small turned buttons on the bottom keep the wave from crashing on the beach – or the floor.

The finished form

At this point in time the work is in Steve’s hands and I have no idea what he will come up with. My original inspiration was under-sea creatures on the inside and over-the-sea-creatures on the outside. Time will tell because he is very much an artist who works in the moment. There are four of these and it will take a couple of months at least for him to paint.


Posted in Hollow Forms, Woodturning Tech Talk | Leave a comment

AAW Symposium 2014

Thought I would take a minute to show everyone the pieces I will be taking down to the AAW Symposium in Phoenix this year. This is my first time in the Instant Gallery at a symposium. These won’t be for sale because I have an opportunity to be represented at the Vandusen Gardens this summer and these pieces will be highlighted. All three pieces employ multi-axis turning.

Ragtime 1

“Ragtime!” is an older piece but one of our favourites. Maple about 22″ tall.

Lau Chuang is in honour of my friend John Stubbs, a western Oriental calligraphy Master

“Lau Chuang” (Old John) after my friend John Stubbs, is an older piece but representative of my familiar colouring technique. John Stubbs – a westrerner – is a highly regarded Oriental calligraphy Master. Black walnut, maple and soapstone, about 8″ x 14″.

Exile 1 Exile 7 Exile 4

“Exile” is a new piece using a rock illusion technique I learned from Art Liestman. The title and concept for “Exile” came to me on  bike trip a couple of years ago when I was riding and enjoying the fact that I was back in the saddle after so many years. There was a time that I longed to ride but thought I never would again in my life. I had been in exile, but no more! The picture is of a road in southern Nevada, a classic view of which I will never tire. This piece took a couple of months on and off to complete. Maple, standing about 20″ tall.

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Collaboration with Steve Smith, Native Artist

An earlier piece turned for Steve. Approximately 22" tall.

An earlier piece turned for Steve. Approximately 22″ tall.

Over the last couple of years I have had the good fortune to be collaborating with Steve Smith, Native Artist. Steve paints traditional images however he imparts his own distinctive style in his work. I am beyond fortunate – more appropriately I am honoured to work with Steve. His outlook on life and art have had a significant impact on my own work. I originally turned “blank canvases” for Steve that were pretty standard fare for woodturning but the last while I have provided him with forms that were inspired by his work; pieces that I felt would work with his style.

Beginning March 22 the Steinbreuck Gallery in Seattle will be presenting an exclusive show of Steve’s work. I turned all the sculptural pieces in the show while the remainder – except a pair of running shoes 🙂 – are all flat panels. Several of the turned pieces have not been delivered yet so are not on the site at the present time. My personal favourite is “Here and Now” with “Love” being a close second.

This link is to their site advertising the show.


The first of my pieces painted by Steve in a frog theme. Approximately 16" tall.

The first of my pieces painted by Steve in a frog theme. Approximately 16″ tall.

IMG_6841 IMG_6842

Steve’s own website is http://www.stevesmithnativeart.com/. This is a link to a very interesting video of Steve http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5DFkQrz6xQ. Well worth the few minutes to watch.

Posted in General | Leave a comment

The New Carbide Scrapers: an opinion

Carbide Tools“New” carbide scrapers is a bit of a stretch since they’ve been on the market for a couple of years at least. It’s just that they’re newer than traditional cutting tools.

I thought I would enter this post because I’ve already offered my opinion in writing to a tool retailer on these turning tools this morning. He thanked me for the most comprehensive explanation he had ever heard or read. Oddly enough, I was at another tool retailer this afternoon and the sales person asked me to help explain carbide tools to one of their customers. I warned him that the tool might not be what the customer needed and as it turned out, it wasn’t. He was happy that I had steered the customer toward joining  our guild and learning how to turn properly rather than buy a tool that wouldn’t solve his problem. The coincidence moved me to write the first post I’ve entered in a long time.

Tools such as Easy Wood and others offering a system of replaceable carbide cutters  have entered the market and in my view are simply appealing to a niche market made up of folks who scrape rather than cut in their normal turning process (as in, they haven’t yet learned how to turn with a controlled cut). While there is a place for carbide cutters like Mike Hunter’s Hunter Tools, designed for end grain cutting, the rest are no more sophisticated (other than specifically designed carbide material) than a normal scarper without the advantage of being able to grind the specific shape that you may require.

If you are considering purchasing these tools ask yourself why you need them. If you are having trouble with your turning, look first to your technique rather than the tool. If you see a specific job that they alone can accomplish, then go for it. So far, gross wood removal in bowl turning is the only thing that I have seen them excel at. Personally, I can remove wood equally as fast using a traditional bowl gouge. Do not expect any increase in control from these tools.

Following is my detailed response to Mike from Lee Valley Tools:

Hi Mike,

I am a member of WoW (World of Woodturners) which is a worldwide on-line site. Folks post pics of their work and there’s a Q&A and comment section as per usual on such sites. The question has been asked a couple of times for comments and opinions on the carbide tools from anyone who had tried them. The universal response is pretty much “Bought one, tried it and it’s sat on the rack unused since”. The way I see it, the clear advantage of carbides is very little to no sharpening required and all agree. The downside is that they still do nothing but scrape, and at best, a shear scrape. The one exception is the Hunter tools that have a carbide cup (or similar), therefore has an extremely positive rake. This makes them excellent for end grain work, so box turners often use them when turning end grain boxes.

In general, as I say, they are used in a scraping mode, so therefore are not of any use when trying to teach cutting over scraping. Typically, anyone whose opinion was that they stayed on the shelf were all turners who used proper cutting technique, so had no need for the carbides. Remember that in scarping, it’s impossible to use the bevel of the tool as a guide, so you just can’t teach anyone how to make a controlled cut. In general, they are a tool (there are others like this) that treat a symptom rather than the problem. In this case, they appeal to turners who scrape rather than cut so offer a better mousetrap for scraping where the true solution to the problem is to learn how to turn properly in the first place. As scrapers, for an experienced turner, they fall short because you can’t burnish a hook on the tool so can’t be used as effectively in shear scraping (even a simple ground scarper cuts with the burr left from grinding). Typically we all have a variety of scrapers that we have ground to our own weird likings for various jobs. Tool racks often have a variety of odd and strange shaped scrapers. Carbides don’t lend themselves well at all to reshaping unless you have a diamond wheel and even then, in a production environment they are usually sharpened with jigs (I was an apprentice machinist for a while and spent my allotted time in the tool room). Reshaping carbides kind of defeats their original intention.

Other than that, I think they’re the cat’s ass. 



Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Why I Haven’t Been Posting

November Gallery Circle Craft 010

The title of this piece was “Back to School”. It, along with other wall mounted pieces, flew out of the gallery. I think I’m on to something.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been posting steadily.  Lots of stuff has been going on and I have been turning my brains out but nothing has appeared here.

Last November I mounted my first solo gallery show. It took me over a year to produce a body of work that would make a decent showing. The show was titled “Thinking Outside the Circle” and the theme was exactly that. Much of it wasn’t round and a lot of it was “off the wall” by being mounted on the wall rather than on a shelf or table. Consequently this took up a lot of time to not only turn and finish the pieces but also develop the concepts that I employed. There was a lot of shaving on the floor and a lot of one-off prototypes that never made it to the show. The end result is that the show took my work in a whole new direction. Something that I never expected but also something that I had been seeking for some time.

November Gallery Circle Craft 025

The title of this piece was “Last Days of Summer”. I had a few other “leaf” pieces as well.

November Gallery Circle Craft 006

An array of more “standard” pieces designed to be shown on horizontal surfaces.

November Gallery Into the Wind

“Into the Wind”. My new favourite form. They appear to lean in either direction depending on your angle of view.

We felt the show was a tremendous success, not because we sold well, but because the pieces that were “outside the circle” sold  very quickly so were obviously well accepted.

Oriental Brush holder 005

“Lau Chuang”. Oriental calligraphy brush rest, in honour of my friend, John Stubbs (Lau Chuang), an oriental calligraphy master.

Anyway, I’m back. Sort of. It seems I’m entering another crazy-busy phase. I have been invited by Pat Barker to show in her new gallery, The Pencil Studio, in Fort Langley. She does beautiful paint art herself and is passionate about my work. I’m hoping she is successful because she has put a lot of hard work into her new venture. I also have to prepare for three more shows in summer as well as probably a collaborative show next year with Steve Smith. That isn’t in the bag because we haven’t been accepted yet but we are optimistic. Steve is a native artist who I have been providing with “blank canvases” for his art. He has another turner who provides smaller turnings but I am working on large turnings (up to to 24″ tall) and forms that are more on the unique side. Like my three sided vessels that I hope to post about soon.

Bottom line is that I am still crazy busy but will try to post more often, especially regarding the newer stuff in my portfolio. Wow. Who would ever have thought that I had a “portfolio”.


Posted in General | Leave a comment