Article: Nick Agar Demonstration For CMW June 15, 2013

June 21, 2013 17:34, submitted by Tina Collison (author: Bob Gunther, photos by Tina Collison)

CMW Demonstration June 15, 2013 by Nick Agar


Nick comes to our club from Devon, England where he has his studio and gallery. He has over 23 years of woodturning experience and during that time he has developed a great understanding of his medium. His large-scale, multi-textured turned wood sculptures have earned him a reputation for producing highly individual, beautifully crafted art. He chooses burls and intriguing windblown or dead timbers for the majority 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 metal work.

Nick is in constant demand for commissions from collectors as well as exhibiting widely and appearing at international conferences both as a demonstrator and a judge. His wide range of clients includes HRH Price 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 Regional Professional Turner, a member of the AWGB and the AAW. He last demonstrated for CMW on October 15, 2011.

Morning Session:

Nick's gone country!

Nick began his demo with a slide presentation showing his studio and home in England. They are near the water so nature has its influence on his work. Items from antiquity also impact his pieces. Nick uses milk paint to create metallic or antique effects. He also decorates vessels with metallic objects such as nails, wires, nuts and bolts. Airbrushing is an important part of his work as is metalizing and texturing. Fossils and stone exert their influences also.

Nick began the hands on portion of his demo using a 3x3x7 inch piece of maple. One end was held by the chuck jaws. The piece was roughed using a bowl gouge. A cylinder was formed. A smaller, 3/8 inch bowl gouge was used to shape the piece into a vessel form. The tool cuts when moving to the left at a point on the bevel just to the left of the center of the flute. To the right just the opposite. The tailstock was removed and the top of the vessel was shaped. It was sanded briefly but not so fine that the milk paint to be used would not adhere to the surface. He sands to about 400 grit. He collected some shavings, misted them and rubbed the surface of the piece to raise the grain. Relatively thick white milk paint was applied. The application was done so that it followed the direction that a potter’s wheel would turn. It was allowed to dry for an hour, sanded, and another coat applied. It was removed from the chuck and set aside to dry. Work on it would be resumed later in the demo.

The next portion of Nick’s demo was the turning of a platter. A screw chuck was inserted in the jaws and a 15 inch 8/4 platter blank of maple was placed on the screw. The tailstock was brought up. A finger nail ground bowl gouge was used to true up the piece beginning at the edge and progressing to the center. The tailstock side is the bottom of the platter. The edge of the piece was trued up to just before the top edge. That area was cut from the opposite direction to prevent tear out. Then the base was trued up using a pull cut. The tailstock was taken away.

Before turning the tenon on the bottom, Nick went to the white board and drew a diagram of the planned base of the piece. He turns a one inch wide ring around the recess for the expansion jaws. It is important to not make the ring too narrow and also to make the recess for the jaws deeper than the ring is thick. This gives strength to the holding powers of the jaws. He leaves a button in the center of the bottom which is removed when reverse chucking. The recess was then formed for the jaws. A spindle gouge was used to form the recess and a skew to cut the surface that would oppose the jaws surface. The outside of the ring was then cut and the surface of the ring cleaned up with a shear scrape. The remainder of the bottom was shaped into a shallow ogee form using the bowl gouge in a pull cut.

When the tool became a little dull Nick honed it. A shear cut was then done to finalize the surface of the base. The tool pressure on the wood with the shear cut is minimal. After shear cutting there was no tear out. The ring was then shear cut. Sanding was done beginning at 180 with a slow lathe speed. Shavings moistened with water were used between grits to improve sanding quality. The piece was then reversed and placed in the expansion jaws.

Afternoon Session:

The platter that was reversed in the jaws was further turned. (A second coat of milk paint was applied to the vessel turned in the morning session and let dry. Another coat would also be applied). The surface of the edge of the platter was turned and the thickness was reduced by ½ inch beginning at the outer edge and working toward the center. The rim area of the platter was completed first because it moves most during the turning process (even though the wood was “dry” to start). The width of the rim was determined and made a little larger than the final dimension.

The center area surface was refined and a small (2-3 inch) bowl depression turned. The surface from the hollowed out center area to the rim was shear scraped. It was then sanded to 400 grit as was done on the base during the morning session. At home, in his shop, he would apply lacquer sealer and then break that surface with 4-0 steel wool or Scotch Brite pads.

Once the surface is completed it is ready to be airbrushed with whatever motif or design you want. Water based airbrush paints are used. He showed the formation of dots, clouds, lines and tiger stripes with the use of the airbrush. Nick then demonstrated air brushing leaf patterns on sample paper. Then he turned to painting the platter surface with the leaf stencils. When airbrushing you are applying (shading) the paint slowly and not putting a large amount on at one time. This helps prevent running or spreading on the wood surface.

The stencils that were applied to the platter were self adhering. The stencils can be applied over the bend of the platter edge to extend the leaf pattern “around” the rim. Blue 2” masking tape was used to isolate individual stencils and prevent over spray.

When setting up the stencils in preparation for air brushing it is easier to remove the platter still in the jaws from the head stock and place it on a carving jig such as the one designed by Trent Bosch. You can thus work on a horizontal surface. Nick starts with the lightest colors first (golden acrylics).

He began with yellow, then blue, red and finally black. (There is an excellent article on airbrushing in the English Woodturning Magazine – June 2013). The black was used to make marks on the leaves such as insects might do. The veins of the leaves were then airbrushed in. The edges were smoked in using the black. Green was then used to shade in the leaves. When painting is completed the masking tape is removed. It is pulled off across the wood grain. Then the stencils were removed.

Next, Nick used the cut out leaf from making the stencil. He held it against the wood and lightly sprayed the outline of the leaf on the wood with gray paint. This gives the appearance of ghost leaf images. He would then spray the surface with acrylic lacquer using several coats. Then the surface would be cut with 4-0 steel wool. You need the several coats so that a protective surface is placed over the spray painted design or you would scratch the paint when cutting the surface. This completed the platter. It will be available to bidders in the CMW’s November, 2013 Auction.

The milk painted piece done earlier in the demo was placed back in the chuck and sanded down to 1200 grit to where it shined. It was then given the third coat of milk paint applied as the lathe slowly rotated. This gives the appearance of a hand thrown piece of pottery. It was removed from the chuck and set aside to dry.

Nick then placed a 3 inch thick, 8 inch diameter maple bowl blank on the screw chuck. The tailstock was not used. The edges were turned off using the pull cut. It was further shaped with the push cut. The foot was shaped for a compression tenon. A push cut was used to clean up the surface. A traditional grind is easier to use for this than a fingernail grind. He sanded with 400 grit paper.

Then individuals from the membership tried their hand at airbrushing using several colors. This created a rainbow pattern or design on the outer bowl surface. Then pin striping tape was applied over the random design in a crisscross pattern. Wider pieces of tape were cut in short sections and applied to the open areas between the narrow tapes. Then the entire outer surface of the bowl was painted black. The tapes were removed and the colors previously applied could be seen. This created a very interesting effect. Everyone helping to airbrush on the colors (8 people) then signed their names in the small rectangles where the wider tape pieces had been. It would then be lacquered over to protect the surface. The piece was then reversed and the tenon placed in the jaws. The bowls upper surface was trued up. It was then hollowed. This completed the collaborative piece. It will also be available in the November auction.

Back to the milk painted piece! The third coat was sanded to 1200 grit. Then torn brown paper bag pieces were held against the vessel surface and the irregular torn edges of the paper were black airbrushed to produce irregular lines as seen in Raku pottery. The piece could be hollowed at a later time.

This completed a most interesting and enjoyable demo. A DVD will be available in the club library in August 2013.

Submitted by Bob Gunther, CMW Vice President