In June we had our traditional trip to Frank Fox's workshop in Ballynahinch.
Frank was in the middle of making finials for thrones commissioned by the film makers of "Game of Thrones" and very kindly demonstrated one for us.
Then we moved upstairs to his other workshop for a master class in making barley twists. Frank has designed and built his own machine to cut these accurately.
Frank has developed a synchronised horizontal movement of the cutting edge to assist the rotational cut of a normal lathe in order to produce a spiral cut. To achieve this he uses a rotating drill bit mounted on a platform, which can be positioned to give whatever depth of spiral cut is required.
This platform is then moved horizontally along its bed, which is parallel to the lathe bed by turning a handle. The speed of rotation of the lathe is chosen so that, for the given diameter of spindle, it matches the horizontal speed given by steady turning of the handle. The relationship between the speed of the lathe, the diameter of the spindle to be turned and the movement of the drill bit cutting the spiral is complex. Frank has solved this problem mathematically, and is able to cut 3, 4 or more spirals on the same spindle very precisely. One engineer from our group was left speechless by Frank's ingenuity!
To cut the barley twists the spindle is mounted on the lathe and the index set to zero. The drill bit is positioned at the base and moved in until it cuts to the correct depth. Then the system is started with lathe and drill bit turning and the handle is turned until the drill bit has cut to the other end of the spiral. Then the index is moved on to the next stop - e.g. a ¼ turn for 4 individual spirals, the drill bit is wound back to its starting position and the process repeated.
Yet again, Frank's expertise in the workshop was equalled by that of his wife, daughters and grandchildren in providing a magnificent spread for us. At the end of the meal, Alison was the lucky winner of Frank's beautifully turned lidded goblet.
Thanks again, Frank and Anna, for a terrific evening!
On 28th June we had an extra hands-on meeting to turn the rest of the spindles etc. for the chair for the seminar competition. There was a very large turn-out of over 20 members with everyone taking turns to do their part in producing at least one piece of the chair.
Archie, Eddie and Tony had sourced all the ash need to complete the chair and cut it into the required lengths. Extra ash was available for those turners who were not 100% successful first time round!
The chair should be completed in good time for the seminar!