Frank Albers, farewell to an old friend.

It is with great sadness that I have to inform you that Frank Albers has died, I got the sad news from another club member Jim Kelman on Monday evening. I contacted Jeanie, Frank’s partner on Tuesday morning and she told me what had happened. Frank had been ill for some considerable time, he was taken into Orrin House, Muir of Ord just over a week ago and died there recently, Jeanie told me he died peacefully after a long illness. Frank’s funeral will be a very private affair with only a limited number in attendance, Frank had no belief in elaborate ceremonies and his wishes will be adhered too.

Frank was one of the founding members of the Highland Woodturners Club that was started in 2005, firstly working out of Charleston Academy in Inverness, until later in 2010 he was one of the members who secured the premises in Munlochy. Frank continued to frequent the club meetings in Munlochy until his health started to deteriorate, he was a very accomplished woodturner, a perfectionist without being too critical of others who were learning the art, always willing to pass on his knowledge.

Continue reading “Frank Albers, farewell to an old friend.”

Committee Minutes now available

The committee minutes from the latest meeting on the 21st January 2021 are now available from the members area once logged in.

Just a reminder that the password for members will be changing shortly to access this content. You will receive an email with the details and the changeover date in due course.

Happy new year for 2021.

The committee for the Highland woodturners would like to wish all their members, friends and on line observers a very Happy New Year, we hope 2021 will bring us back together for our meetings once again now that a vaccine has been found, in the meantime keep safe , follow the rules and save lives.

We will be continuing with the web site and facebook posts as we have been doing since the first lockdown, if any of you have anything to contribute to the website for the benefit of the club members, please send them to me and I will make up a post with your information.

On behalf of the committee for Highland Woodturners have a happy new year and we hope to see you all as soon as possible.

Christmas Greetings. 2020

The committee for Highland Woodturners would like to take this opportunity to wish all our members, friends and on line observers a very merry Christmas. We hope to resume our meetings as soon as is possible in 2021, in the meantime stay safe and we hope to see you all some time in the coming year.

Report on our virtual Showtime meeting 30th April 2020.

Our normal Showtime meeting had to be cancelled due to the ongoing lockdown, however we made it a virtual meeting instead and invited our members to submit some pictures of the items they would have brought to the Showtime meeting. After some initial hesitancy in getting the members to take part, it all came together at the last minutes with 13 of our members submitting some 57 pictures, most accompanied by some text from the members.

I have split this into 2 parts, the first being the text or comments from each member, the 2nd a picture gallery of all 57 pictures.

Pictures 1 to 4 from Alec Macleod.

Hope everyone is well and coping ok in these troubled times. Attached are photos for showtime. Left to right witch elm burr, 10’ x 3.5’. The other two are spalted beech both from the one piece with the help of David Hay’s bowl saver. Large is 11’ x 3.5’ and the small 9’ x 2.5’. Really hope you get enough interest to keep the showtime going as I look forward to seeing what everyone is busy producing. Sorry I didn’t enter for the natural edge as I went through the bottom and ended up with firewood! All the best. 

Alec Macleod. 

Pictures 5 to 12 from Andy Smith.

Good Morning both of you and I hope you are keeping well.

Until I was furloughed recently along with a large % of the UK work force; in between 4 hours work daily from my “virtual office”, I have spent some time clearing and setting up my workshop, and have managed to produce alongside 2 bags of shavings, 

The pieces are in the attached zip files photos. I hope they are good enough to use. ( I may need to send a couple of messages due to their size.)

I have also produced various dibbers for the other half and friends to assist them in the garden during the exceptional weather we have had whilst being locked down.

As you will see there is a theme and these pieces are my first attempts at ” turning and associated wood working ” since my schooldays 50 years ago!!

I have a lot to learn and look forward to getting back to meetings which have been good source of information and knowledge for me.

Keep safe and thanks.

Andy Smith.

Pictures 13 to 16 from David Hutcheson.

Hi Alec, 

Totally forgot to send images for showtime as I’ve been busy with firewood etc. I’ve attached a few images for the boys to see. The Sycamore with the pyrography detail is for a child’s stool I’m working on. The detail is hand drawn and then burnt on and finished with melamine lacquer. The set of egg cups are in Sycamore with wire burnt lines and I find these are a great exercise in repeat turning as it’s harder than it looks to get 6 egg cups exactly the same or maybe that’s just me! Finally theres the wee elm hollow form which was saved from the firewood pile. It’s hollowed to about 3/4mm and has ebonised Ash for the stem and finial. The elm is finished with melamine lacquer and the ebonising was achieved by using chestnut finishes ebonising lacquer. I like the way the satin contrasts the gloss. Hope these are of interest and everyone is well and staying safe. 

Cheers Dave Hutcheson. 

Pictures 17 to 19 from Dave Line.

Hi Alec,

As this Thursday should have been showtime I thought I would show what I would have brought along under normal circumstances..

I made it for the Box competition but when finished decided it was a hollow form and not a box, It stands 150mm high and the lid is 90mm and 140mm Dia.

It is made from Ash with the feature ring beeing Sapele and sycamore..

It is finished with wood wax and friction polish.

Dave Line.

Pictures 20 to 23 from Errol Levings.

Just a quick show and tell from me.

Two knitting bowls (with lids – barrels?)  On the left, single piece of pitch pine ex Fort Augustus Abbey, and still smells strongly! On the right, much spalted alder with elm handle.  My earlier knitting bowls had narrow slots for the wool thread – after seeing a ceramic knitting bowl recently, I decided the wide slot shape would be better to allow the ball to unwind more easily.  These bowls are 130×200 mm and 145x200mm respectively.  The barrel still on the lathe as I send these is the next knitting bowl in ash which will be open top.  I have left some of the bark on the sides as it looked very attractive, but had to be turned away from the top to avoid snagging the wool thread. it is approx 175 x 230mm and was quite difficult to hollow out.  It has helped me sort of master the Big Brother hollowing tool – and another lesson on the importance of keeping the cutting edge very sharp if you want any real control over the cut.
And a bit of decorated fun(gus!) This is from a branched piece of hawthorn that has spalted – it was a bit cracked and quite soft – I can’t recommend it for turning. Maybe fresher piece would be OK for turning and the wood is reasonably close grained, but this one went back to 2007 felling I came across in trying to do a bit of tidying up of my overflowing wood store.

I hope you get some more response from the members.  I am not very fond of Facebook or any of the other social media, and I suspect many of the club members are likewise minded.  I am happy with emails, though, to alert/remind me to head to the HWC web page!


Errol Levings.

Pictures 24 to 28 from Geoff Potter.

Alec 3 photos for showtime 1. 

4 weeks ago these pieces of birch were about to break into leaf in my neighbours garden. My neighbour’s chainsaw stopped it in its tracks. He kept a large crotch and a smaller crotch for me which I quarantined for 3 days. I split the pieces with an axe and turned them still green. In fact the sap sprayed the wall behind! I used a screw chuck on the bark top side, turned a spigot or mortise on the base and completed the rough turning all at once. I have left the bases and sides about 15mm thick so I can return to finish them off when they have dried a bit. They have been in and out of a plastic bag since I turned them. They are now much drier and there is no sign yet of any cracking. Green turning is so exciting, the shavings go over your shoulder in ribbons. As usual I got carried away and the bases are a bit thinner than I intended. The bark is still on and they will end up as natural edge bowls. I stupidely turned off the spigot on the smaller ones due to over enthusiasm, so I will need to devise a jam chuck to finish those off!!

Geoff Potter

2 photos for showtime 2. Pictures 4 & 5.

This is the completed jewellery tree which I was making at the Club meeting in January, so long, long ago. The body of the tree is made by off centre turning. The eccentric centres on the revolving centre end are c. 10 to 15mm offset only. The head end is gripped in the chuck and stays there all the way through. I made a softwood practice version to test the looks of the design.

The base has a top recess for earrings. The little arms are for rings and bracelets. The neck can be used for necklaces.

The finished article is completed with sanding sealer followed by melamine.

Geoff Potter

Pictures 29 to 33 from Hamish Stuart.

Hello Alex ,not sure if these are any good for the web but saw your plea for items .All these were made from spare bits of wood that I have been practicing on for a wee while. Have no idea what kind of wood but I’m quite happy with the results. Feel free to put any of these on the site along with any comments .


Hamish Stuart.

Pictures 34 to 38 from Jeff Buttress.

Attached are my woodturning efforts this week.

The live edge ‘bowl’ is 165mm long x 65mm high from a full laburnum branch at 100 diameter. Due to the small size of the timber I started with I ended up with a spigot rather than a recessed foot. I should have started with a larger diameter log but my lathe doesn’t have the weight to safely hold an unbalanced piece of timber. I will have to leave this type of turning until I have a heavier more robust lathe. I had a bit of a problem sanding the inside wings and finally did these with a bowl sander attachment on an electric drill with the lathe switched off. The two mushrooms were from a yew log I won in the club raffle 70mm diameter x 270mm long and cut in half. I used a hot glue chuck with tailstock support and I’m quite please how these turned out. I did have a bit of a problem with the undercut between the stem and cap, I had a few dig ins!  Finally used 6mm parting tool then very light cuts with spindle gouge but I was very apprehensive during this stage, the second mushroom was a bit better in this area. Once parted off I had a bit of a job getting rid of the centre nib, I left it a bit on the large size for cutting off by hand. I’m going to do a bit more work on the bases of the mushrooms to get a better finish. All 3 pieces finished with sanding sealer then melamine lacquer.

Jeff Buttress

Pictures 39 to 45 from John Ruickbie.

For showtime I decided  to make a segmented bowl using the Indian blanket pattern as described  in the book by Malcolm Tibbets. I have made this design  before but thought it would be something different and had some bits of beech and elm which could be used in strips as they weren’t very much use for any other use. This pattern makes quite a large segment so a large bowl is the result. For the feature ring I used wenge and sycamore  I took a chance with this combination as the wenge bleeds into the sycamore. I was able to finish the outside with a good cut off the tool leaving minimal sanding but some bleeding occurred on the inside. Another error occurred with the block sizing leaving to little room at each end but I carried on regardless. I have included some pictures during the construction showing the multi lamination method of building the block. The final block consists of two half blocks glued together hopefully the pictures will show this.


John Ruickbie.

Picture 46 from Martyn Torode.

Had a go at some toadstools today, got some pieces of what I think is cherry from the stick shed so not well seasoned. The biggest one is 7 inches tall and all finished with wax polish.

Hope you’re well.

Martyn Torode.

Picture 47 from Nick Simpson.

This composite was going to be my entry to Showtime.

It is an armistice tribute made entirely from turned wood in the style of WW1 trench art. It is currently on loan to Poppy Scotland and can (in normal times) be seen at their Inverness office.

It is 1: 1.5 scale as judged by the 9pdr shell casing. The platter is about 7” diameter.

The platter and 9 pdr case are sycamore; the rifle shell cases are holly, the fags are pine and the poppies with the ‘Poppy Scotland’ 4 petals are stained Ash.

Finish was by sanding, ebonizing spray then Rustoleum Gun Metal spray cut back with XXXX wire wool.

The candle was lit only for demonstration as it is not in a metal holder.

Thanks for letting me show this piece.


Nick Simpson.

Picture 48 from Tony Wilson.

 I sent this to Alec earlier today.I didn’t appreciate you wanted a comment.

Mine would be that these French rolling pins are good for ‘limited’ turners and well received in these times of home baking.The wood was spalted Maple and the finish was ‘Woodsafe’ oil in several layers.

All the best, 

Tony Wilson.

Pictures 49 to 57 from Alec Mutch.

My own entries for the showtime are as follows,

1, A candelabra I made for a church, made from Elm.

2, My flock of birds, made from Poplar for the bodies with heads of various darker woods,      all the bases were burr Elm.

3, A splated Birch bowl with an element of natural edge left in, size, 205 mm in diameter by 150 mm deep.

4, A very large Burr elm bowl I made for a local couple, the wood came from them, it measured 525 mm in diameter by 240 mm deep.

5, A pair of bowling balls turned into a table lamp and a small bowl, the wood is Lignum Vite.

6, A Beech double compartment bowl, getting the 2 hollows identical is quite tricky.

7, An Elm plate with a Pebeo paint rim decoration, the plate was 300 mm in diameter by 50 mm deep.

8, Candle stick made from Beech, turned then cut and re-assembled, design by Stephen Hogbin from Canada.

9, Triple compartment bowl, made from Sycamore in the shape of a clover leaf, size about 250 mm by 250 mm.

All my work is finished using the same procedure, one coat of sanding sealer rubbed back with steel wool, followed by one coat of Melamine buffed to a soft sheen with a paper towel.

Regards to all,

Alec Mutch.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who took the time to make your work pieces and for sending your pictures to me, I hope this will give you all encouragement to take part in future virtual meetings, after all it’s the only way we can keep in touch at this present time.

Our next virtual meeting will be on the 14th May 2020, that meeting was programmed to be all about making wooden platters, it was being organised by Peter Lawrence. It’s time to start to think about that virtual meeting now, so get your thinking caps on and make something really special for the platters virtual meeting, once made, send your pictures to me and I will upload them to our web site . In the meantime you can send me any pictures of anything else you have made or experienced and we will also accept any pictures from non members who follow us on facebook or indeed this site.

Do remember the clubhouse remains closed.

Chuck maintenance while closed 25-04-2020

Although we have been closed for over a month now, we have still managed to get some useful work done with some of the equipment. Shortly after the lock down was announced Nick Simpson who is tasked with the maintenance brief offered to pick up all the lathe chucks and take them to his premises and do a full service on all of them. In addition to this John Ruickbie has been checking the premises regularily for security reasons.

Here is Nick Simpson’s report on the first of the chucks.

Nick’s News  – Week 2

Servicing HWC Chucks – #1. Nova G2

The Nova G2 chuck has an open back and is therefore certain to accumulate dust in all moving areas. This will lead to stiffness and potential jamming. It is important to clean the chuck regularly and re-lubricate. This is a simple process, which is illustrated in the accompanying photographs (G2. A-F).

Picture G2. A. shows the rear view of the chuck when removed from the lathe. There is a large amount of accumulated dust which partially obscures the teeth at the rear of the scroll plate which engage with the chuck key. The scroll is held in place by a circlip which must be exposed by removing the accumulated dust and debris. A simple way to do this is by compressed air jet as shown in G2. B.  PPE is essential with eye protection and a dust mask. The next step is to remove the circlip (G2.C). It is advisable to wear eye protection as the circlip is made of sprung steel and can ping off the pliers unpredictably. Having removed the scroll, the jaw the jaw carriers may be slid out of their corresponding slots in the chuck housing. Each carrier is stamped with a numbers 1-4 (see picture G2.E). For the Nova G2  chuck there is no need to record which slot the individual carrier came from. Now, in a well-ventilated area with nitrile gloves and eye protection, brush off all surfaces with a brass wire brush and then steep the parts in a de-greasing solvent (G2. D). I used paraffin but any solvent will do. Dry the parts on paper towel and leave to fully dry or to speed the process blow with compressed air using the above PPE.

Reassembly is the reverse process with certain caveats. Spray each part with lubricant prior to assembly. My preferred lubricant is PTFE spray, because it is a ‘dry’ lubricant, but any fine oil will do. Do NOT use grease of any grade. With the chuck on its back insert jaw carrier labelled 1 into any slot. (G2.E.). Now insert all the other carriers in order 2-4 into slots in a clockwise sequence. Bring the carriers together so that their inner edges form a square and turn the whole over (G2. F). You can now drop the lubricated scroll onto the jaws and with a little ‘jiggling’ it will engage with the carriers. Now replace the circlip and the job is complete.  JOB DONE.

Having now seen the pictures showing all the dust that has accumulated in the workings of the chuck, I think this servicing was long overdue, and I have to thank Nick on behalf of the whole club members for volunteering to do this work at this time. We will be looking at all the club equipment as soon as we get back to anything like normal to make sure the maintenance on all our equipment is carried out.

I will be doing a post shortly on the Showtime meeting that was due to take place on the 30th April, (that meeting will not happen, but hopefully we can have a virtual meeting). Watch this space.

Do remember the club remains closed.

Alternative to woodturning 22-04-2020

I’m sure most of us are enjoying the nice weather we are having at the moment even in spite of the lockdown, that is those of us lucky enough to have a garden. I know I have been taking advantage of this fine spell to get my vegetable patch and tunnel greenhouse planted with this years seeds for the coming season. Now it’s on with cutting the grass, and I have a lot of it but the tractor mower makes light work of it. I have received some pictures and text from Nick Simpson that may just assist with your planting, it does also have an element of woodturning involved, so this post is not so much off the usual approach as may at first glance be thought, here is what nick had put through to me,

Nick’s News – Week 1

Seed Pot maker

This is a simple 2-part combination project which is useful and cost-saving for every gardener.

The principle is to produce seed pots from newspaper. These can then be planted directly into the ground and avoid the inevitable ‘check’ in growth that occurs with transfer from plastic pot to ground.

Picture 1 shows the two turned items and one newspaper seed pot. Pictures 2 and 3 show the dimensions of the 2 elements. I prefer to use Ash but any wood including pine will do. The potmaker tool is turned between centres and the base-forming tool is cross-grain. There is a 10mm deep recess with 5mm thick walls at the base of the potmaker tool. This recess and the dome on the base-forming tool form the firm base of the pot. It is important that the potmaker tool has a slight taper so that the pots can be slid off easily.

My version of the potmaker tool is marked with scorch lines at 1½ “, 2”,3”, 4” and 5” being the depth of the intended seed pot. The tool is placed on the newspaper as in picture 4. Decide the depth of pot you want and add 1½” inches to turn over to make the bottom of the pot. Draw a line and cut a full width of tabloid newspaper as a strip. Now, roll the strip around the tool as in picture 5 making sure you have the 1 ½” over at the base; a drop of paper glue will hold the flap in place but is not necessary. Fold over the newspaper at the base (picture 6). Now form the base by firmly rotating back and forth in the base-former (picture 7). Picture 8 shows the finished pot ready to be taken off the pot-making tool. The finished item is show in picture 1.

Now fill the pot with seed compost, sow your seed(s) and then water. Store in the normal way and plant out directly into the ground when growth and conditions are right. I like to cut off the base at planting out time but this is not strictly necessary.

I hope you enjoy this and find the tool useful. They make good birthday presents too.

I must add that this is not an original idea. I first saw this in a video by Steve Jones who is a production turner in the Midlands of England and whose wizardry with a skew chisel is a wonder to behold.

Regards to you all, and keep safe,

Nick Simpson.

Here are the pictures that accompany the text,

Read the text and follow the numbers.
Your seed pot should now be ready to be planted.

I thought I would show you what I have been doing over the past 10 days, my veg patch is almost complete, my small veg seed trays are in the greenhouse to germinate, I will harden them off prior to planting out.

Picture taken this morning, the sun is out, the temperature is good but you can still see the snow that remains on Sgurr Mor. My tunnel is 48 feet long by 18 feet wide, the veg plot being slightly bigger can be seen to the left of the tunnel.

If any of you want to use this space to get anything you are finding difficult to get during this shut down just email me with your request or question and I will post it on.

Regards to you all, and keep safe,

Alec Mutch.