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The blank above is now part of a set of four fluted columns intended for a customers floor to ceiling mantelpiece. Cypress 110sq x 1200 mm.

Symtec 1500 for sale details from Bruce Hensell

I had a very pleasant job recently for the Head of the Gordon Institute Cabinet Making School. He had to make a cricket table for a wedding present and needed three legs turned in oak, which he supplied along with the design. If I can digress for a moment, I have always been led to believe that modern automated copying lathes were not capable of cutting a square shoulder into the top section of a table leg, hence the modern fashion for rounded shoulders.

But if Symtecians need square shouldered legs all you have to do is tack some wings [out of scrap] at right angles onto the template, then cut in slowly and carefully as the stylus follows the inside edge of the wing. This provides absolute uniformity with a square cut and very little tear out, even in hard timber like oak.

This idea of guiding the cutter into the work along a wing also works well for cutting round shoulders just mount them at whatever angle is required.

My local Woody Club was given some very rare Ginkgo, which fell off a tree in the Geelong Botanic Gardens during a storm about 18 month ago. It was still a bit wet when I decided to see how it turned, but a few minutes at half strength in the microwave fixed that. My first attempt produced a bowl of 200mm diam. As the timber itself is fairly bland, I routed some grooves in the outer bottom half to create a bit more visual interest. Im not sure if the timber was easy to turn because it was still a bit damp, but the finished article feels quite hard and dry.

Before and After

The other piece of Ginkgo I had was only suitable for turning much smaller bowls. Again, because of the lack of dramatic figure in the timber, I decorated the first small bowl with holes, using my router. As the timber in the finished bowl was only about 2.5 mm thick it wasnt strong enough to withstand being dropped on the concrete floor at my local Woody Club work night. In endeavouring to salvage part of the bowl, I mounted it face down in the Cole jaws and cut through the bowl wall just below the row of holes. [I stopped the new bowl from flying off into space by holding it in place with a rubber ball squashed in place by the tailstock. [The ball was courtesy of the kids next door.]



Its a shame really, because I much preferred the shape of the first bowl! By the way, I discovered that it is best to put the holes in before hollowing out the inside and a round nosed router cutter does a neater job than a square one.

One of my local Woody Club members recently gave me a cedar chest to restore one of those once in a lifetime things. It needs a lot of paint stripping, but as I used to have a paint stripping business, that part is relatively easy. It also needs some minor repairs to the drawers and runners. The only difficulty will be finding some 90mm square cedar [or similar] to turn four Edwardian feet. So if anyone has any spare cedar, which would suit, even if it has to be laminated, Im happy to buy it.


I was trying to imagine an easy way to mark where the numerals or hour markers should go on a clock face, when I came up with this simple idea. Once you have turned the face of the clock, while the lathe is still spinning, use a hand held pencil to mark lightly, the line around which the numerals or hour markers will be mounted. The pencil line can be sanded out later.

If you use the angled point of the cutter in the tooljig to mark the spot where the number will go you will create a wedge shaped indentation. This is likely to deflect your drill and result in a squiffy hole. You can solve this problem by removing the cutter and replacing it with a hole punch. LEFT All you need to do now is lock the indexing pin in place, align the point of the punch at right angles to the pencil line and lightly tap the back of the punch with a hammer. Repeat 11 more times.

LEFT: Insert the punch in the tooljig. Align its tip with tip of the stylus. Tighten the grub screws. RIGHT: The punch is now ready to use. Now you have your starter holes punched you can use your pedestal drill to make accurately whatever kind of holes are needed. This is a rally good method if you are planning to use a Forstner bit



It is said often that the greatest benefit of belonging to a Woody Club is the opportunity to tap into the knowledge of other members. In my experience, Woodies are usually happy to share their knowledge on a practical one to one basis, but when it comes to putting that same info down on paper for the benefit of a wider audience, they are often shy. As a former Editor of a Woody Club Newsletter, I was frustrated constantly by the dearth of articles supplied by members. I still take the view that any Woody Club Newsletter should use 95% of its space, for information about woodworking in general and the Clubs own activities in particular.

So to encourage more Woodies to contribute to this and other Newsletters, here are some tips to get you started and show you that writing for your Newsletter can be quite easy, as well as fulfilling when you see your work in print. Just jot your ideas down in point form; the editor will do the rest. 1] Write 50 words about the subject you know better than anyone else in the world yourself and how you came to be a woodworker in the first place. Whats your favourite timber? Are you a production woodworker, a one-off man, a restorer or something else? 2] Tell us about your woodwork tools your favourite that you cant live without, or the one that seemed like a good idea when you bought it, but havent actually used yet. Is there one you are saving up to buy and why? 3] Have you invented a clever short cut, a special jig, or discovered a new finish? Tell us about it! 4] Are you a collector? How did you start? Tell us about your collection and the thrill of the chase. Nowadays most of us have a digital camera. This means that many of the pictures you take will be good enough to publish in a Woody Club Newsletter. Apart from my camera and tripod, the rest of my equipment cost me less than $10.00 and gives good results.


Items already on hand around the house.
Card table; framing timber; old white sheet; hinges; drawing pins; a couple of floor lamps sometimes used to illuminate turning. LEFT: Folding card table. Adjustable lamp also used to illuminate turning. BELOW: Retractable screen, permanently screwed to my steel storage rack. The screen can be draped over the card table to form an infinite horizon. [no visible angles]

LEFT: Light tent. Make 3 frames, hinged to fold away. Pin some old white sheeting over the frame By placing this tent between the light source and the object to be photographed, shadows can be reduced to almost nil.

Items purchased, or acquired free:

Old slide projector screen black on one side, white on the other. [$6.00 at a garage sale]. Photo editing program called Picassa, downloaded free from Google. Probably the best program of its kind for amateur photographers. Actually, even the pros at my local camera shop, use Picassa. While this is not an attractive looking studio, it is serviceable and cheap, and as you saw with the Ginkgo bowl above, the use of this set-up removes all extraneous background allowing the viewer to concentrate on the photographed item without the usual peripheral distractions. Be prepared to experiment by moving the lights to various positions and even switching some off in order to reduce shadow and reflection to the minimum

PICASSA. Download free from Google

This program allows you to: Crop Straighten Lighten Darken Sharpen Highlight Shodow Publish in original pixil size for hardcopy printing Reduce to 800 pixils for internet publishing And many more amazing things

So dont be daunted - a computer is just another tool and Woodies are all good with tools, arent they? So if you have a digital camera, you can get the most out it with Picassa. Its easy to make fairly ordinary pix look a lot better. _____________________________________________________________________


If, like me, you are fussy about the flavour of the coffee you make in your home cappuccino machine, please read on. I found that by tamping the coffee firmly into the basket, it takes longer for the hot water to pass through and so extracts more flavour. When I went to buy a tamper I was dismayed to find that the only kind available was cold, hard metal and quite expensive. So I designed and turned a wooden one, which Ive been using for about four years. Lighter coloured timbers gradually darken due to absorption of the oils in the coffee, so you might want to use a darker timber, like Jarrah. This tamper was made from apple wood because thats what was on hand at the time. It fits into a 52 mm diameter basket. It has been burnished to a completely natural finish - nothing to taint the flavour of your coffee. 1. Turn a cylinder with one end capable of being gripped in a scroll chuck. 2. Mount the cylinder in the scroll chuck and steady with the tail stock 3. Turn the tamper 4. Check for fit into coffee basket 5. Part off the nub at the tail stock end and check for a nice flat base 6. Now start sanding as much of the tamper as you can, working through the grits up to 2000 and finally burnish with a folded sheet of kitchen paper 7. Replace the scroll chuck with your Cole jaws and mount the tamper with its base against the jaws 8. Switch on the cappuccino machine 9. Finish turning the top of the tamper and complete the sanding process 10. Fill the basket of your cappuccino machine with coffee and tamp it down firmly 11. Enjoy the best flavoured cup of coffee.

ABOVE Using the rubber ball as a buffer the tail stock can now push the tamper hard up against the Cole jaws

Symtec in South Australia By Lloyd Russell

With the closure of the Symtec Co in South Australia, one might be forgiven for thinking that Symtec was dead! Not soIn fact a Symtec woodturners group is very much alive within the State, and has been operating for many years. We meet on the 1st Saturday of each month and rotate between the members homes for our get-togethers. There are about about 16 plus couples, and as well as having a show & tell period, we often adjourn to the workshop for a hands on session where a member might share a recent project challenge, or simply show how he handles a problem. There is no substitute for sharing ideas, and this forum provides a perfect opportunity. Of course, cups of tea & coffee are always mandatory, as also the very welcome cakes & goodies our lovely ladies provide! We have neither membership fees, nor office bearers to create a hierarchy, so the group has remained friendly & enjoyable. In the past a few lathe attachments, which were unavailable due to the closure of the Symtec Co , have been fabricated to enable users of the lathe to make full use of their machines. Currently Lloyd Russell has a good quantity of cutters available. These have been manufactured from a top quality high speed steel, & heat treated to help maintain a good sharp cut. They can be purchased from Lloyd by phone at Adelaide [08] 8323 7585. Should anyone reading this be in Adelaide in the 1st week of a month, they would be most welcome to attend our meeting. Just phone Lloyd to get the address. -------------------Editors comment: Ive been using Lloyds cutters for the past 2 years and speaking as a Symtecian with over 20 years experience I have to tell you that they are better than the originals. _________________________________________________________________

Adelaide Symtec Woodturners Group By Lloyd Russell

Saturday 1-3-08 saw our members get together at the home of Bill Turner. Approximately 12 people were present in spite of the extreme heat Adelaide is currently experiencing & had an enjoyable few hours checking out each others projects. Bill is a member who never ceases to amaze us with his innovation, from trinket boxes made with match sticks & paddle pop sticks (individually coloured of course), to the turning of bowls & even large urns from one piece of flat timber.

Whilst he owns a chuck for his lathe, he rarely uses it, preferring to use a face plate with the project glued to it instead. At a later stage a DVD will be available which will show off some of his skills (with his permission of course). Below are a few pictures taken of members projects we hope they are of interest to you!



We know of other Symtecians scattered around Victoria, but most of the group in the pic below have been getting together every 3 months for the past 10 years or more. Like the Adelaide group, we have no formal structure or fees; we simply enjoy getting together quarterly to hear and see what our colleagues have been doing. We swap ideas, offer advice if it is sought, watch demos, have a cuppa and share a joke. LEFT TO RIGHT: John Hunter [Sunbury], Peter Fanning [Altona], Ray Nolan, Colin Atkins [both Werribee], Alan King [Geelong], George Bryant [Portland], and Rob Wood [Geelong] Note the blue Symtec Network hat on the Newsletter editor.

Colin Atkins enjoys doing segmented work [ABOVE]: in fact, one of his open segmented bowls was awarded 3rd place in last years Australian Woodturning Competition. ABOVE LEFT: Burl bowl unknown timber LEFT: Book end book worm. Each segment was separately turned. Finally BELOW: note similarities in Colins book worm, particularly the top hat, and this one from my collection by an unknown turner. I picked it up at a country auction years ago

Newsletter contributions Ph: 03 5248 8842 Skype: robwood5