CNWWA Meeting 26th November 2021

Tonight’s demonstration was by Chris Fisher, ‘The Blind Woodturner’. The night started off less than ideally since there had been an accident on the road just passed the entrance to the hall and meant that I needed to find an alternative route. Several miles later, and the rest of the evening went well.

Chris, his wife Nicola and guide dog Bamber soon got things set up for the demonstration which involved the turning and decorating of an oak bowl using the new Chroma craft Sugar Maple and Oak leaf stencils.

The bowl began by attaching a small faceplate to a round of oak that was just under 10 inches in diameter and a little under 3 inches thick. Chris used a few gadgets during the evening, the first being a talking tape measure which made measuring the blank an achievable task.

The outer edge of the blank was brought to round using a half inch bowl gouge. The face of the blank was left with a tiny pip to confirm the centre. The Axminster speed sizer was used to mark out the size of the recess required to mount the blank onto a set of C jaws. Chris invented the speed sizer and negotiated its manufacture with Axminster tools. The product provides a quick way of sizing for chuck jaws and is invaluable for blind and partially sighted turners since using the revolving point centre to hold the device against the blank and then using a bradawl to scribe the foot size for the chosen jaws is all that it takes.

The recess on the bowl begun with a parting tool and a second parting tool cut was made about 1 inch towards the edge of the bowl. After completing the shape of the underside of the bowl the recess was completed with a Crown square tipped carbide cutter. When Chris was happy with the shape of the recess a mall spiralling tool was used to decorate the recess.

The base of the bowl was then ready for sanding with a paste consisting of about 95% beeswax, a touch of mineral oil to make the mixture more paste like, and a small amount of lavender oil to add a fragrance. Lemon oil or an oil of your choice could be used to provide the desire smell. The bowl was sanded up to 400 grit before applying sanding sealer, original Yorkshire grit and Yorkshire grit microfine, being careful not to clog the spiral at the centre of the recess. Once the excess Yorkshire grit had been removed, a small amount of Friction Polish was applied to complete the finish.

During the above process, Chris emphasised that he has developed a routine for his turning withfrequent stop and feel cycles to ensure the plan is on course. He has reached an arrangement with a gallery in Ashbourne, close to where he now lives, and has had some success in selling his work for good prices. The message was don’t play your work down, accepting “the price of the wood” in payment and not considering the amount of time invested in the work.


It became time to reverse the blank and Chris’ recommendation was to leave the faceplate attached during the remounting process to provide a convenient handle whilst locating in the chuck and tightening the jaws. The face of the blank was then trued up and a groove formed near the outer edge to highlight the edge of the blank. The centre was then cut out to form a small, shallow bowl. The sanding routine including Yorkshire grit original and microfine was completed in preparation for decorating the wide rim.

Before airbrushing the wide rim, the wax was sanded off to make sure the spirit stain could penetratethe wood. After the break, Chris used some of the Chroma craft outline stencils to
a mixture of Oak and Sugar Maple outlines on the rim. Then came the next bit of tech which read the label of the Chestnut colour stains, telling Chris the colour stain he was holding. Yellow, Orange, Red and Black were chosen.


Before airbrushing could begin, the front of the bowl around the stencils was masked off to avoid overspray. Chris used a small compressor with an air tank and a gravity fed airbrush. Yellow was used for the first base coat – before applying the coat of stain, the airbrush was directed at a piece of paper towel to check the stain was coming through (by the smell on the paper). After applying the yellow, it was dried with a hairdryer before applying a coat of orange and finally red. The airbrush was charged with a few drops of stain for each application and emptied and cleaned with some solvent before using the next colour.

The next step was to use black to outline each stencil – aiming to get a lot of overspray and just colouring the very edge of each shape to sharpen the appearance of the leaves. The Chroma craft infill stencil for the maple leaves was then used to add the stem and veins to the leaves. The Oak leaf stencil doesn’t have a specific infill stencil, but the maple one works just fine.  A little black was used to highlight some breakdown of the leaves.

When the stain had been dried the masking was carefully removed and the stencils were stuck back onto the backing sheets, enabling them to be reused for future projects. Chris pointed out the use of Cellulose sanding sealer over the stain would wipe it off and recommended the use of lacquer or carefully apply some polish, avoiding the stained areas as much as possible.