Book Review: All Screwed Up by John Berkeley

I have a love-hate relationship with All Screwed Up by John Berkeley.  However it is definitely more love than hate!

Berkeley’s passion for thread chasing is eminent and features in almost all that he portrays in this book, but this isn’t a book directly about thread-chasing, it’s about making timeless puzzles and boxes that feature a thread chased element. However, since the majority of thread chasing is done to enhance turned boxes, there is a good deal of relevance.

>> Buy this book on Amazon <<

If this was the only book available about thread chasing (and it almost is, this is a very limited field) then you could certainly learn many of the required skills from here.  There is a practical section on wood selection (there are very few woods that will take a hand chased thread – 20 listed here), tool choice and the process (with hints and tips) for starting to chase threads.  The rest comes down to practice.  I’m sure that in creating all the puzzles taught in the book your thread chasing will improve immensely.  The puzzles themselves are often intricate turnings which demand good attention to detail.

All Screwed Up contains 117 pages and is split into 6 main chapters:

  1. Introduction
  2. Notes on:
    1. Measurements
    2. The Puzzles
    3. Photography
  3. Tools and safety
  4. Choice of woods
  5. Thread chasing
  6. The projects:
    1. Box Basics
    2. In The Soup
    3. Tire ’em Out
    4. Barrel and Ball
    5. The Zulu Box
    6. The Ball and Chain Puzzle
    7. The Invisible Gift
    8. The Wedding Ring Box
    9. The Castle Money Box
    10. The New Castle Money Box
    11. The New New Castle Money Box
    12. The Egyptian Box
    13. The New Brass Money Box
    14. The Ball and Three Strings
    15. The Sceptre Puzzle
    16. The Lighthouse Puzzle
    17. The New Persian Puzzle
    18. The Arabi Gun Puzzle
    19. The New Jubilee Puzzle
    20. The Trunk


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All Screwed Up! by John Berkeley

All Screwed Up! by John Berkeley

Review: Turning Green Wood – Michael O’Donnell

Turning Green Wood by Michael O’Donnell

When I first saw Turning Green Wood advertised on Amazon and at retailers, I have to admit that I dismissed it as the cover seemed uninspiring. However, I eventually bought it when on an offer and it has become one of my favourite go-to books.

In ‘Part 1′ of Turning Green Wood, Michael O’Donnell discuss’ everything from the basic anatomy of trees to how features like burrs and burls grow.  Using fantastic graphics and images he explains how wood dries, shrinks and warps depending on where it is cut from particular trees.  Before buying the book I was aware that timber shrunk as it dries, but was less aware of how well it can be predicted and therefore used to our advantage.  O’Donnell explains how to work out the best way to cut raw timber in order to get the maximum return, but also to get the best results from shape, grain and features.  Particularly useful are sections on how to recognise hidden features within a tree, how to encourage spalting and drying methods including using the microwave.

>> Buy This Book on Amazon <<

In ‘Part 2’ O’Donnell guides you, with clear methods,  through the creation of your first green wood projects with a number of ‘Natural-Edge’ and ‘Translucent’ bowl and goblet projects.  The projects cover everything you need from timber selection, chucking, tool choice, recommended cuts and cut direction, support of longer pieces and finishing.  There is a great section covering part turning of bowls, re-chucking and reverse chucking to finish the bottom of projects.

Turning Green Wood has 135 fully illustrated pages, split into 2 parts and 11 chapters:

Part 1: Planning and Preparation

  1. The tree
  2. Bowls in the tree
  3. Timber, tools and techniques
  4. Planning the work

Part 2: Turning Bowls and Goblets

  1. Making shavings
  2. Translucent cross-grained bowl
  3. Natural-edge cross-grained bowl
  4. Translucent end-grain bowl
  5. Natural-edge end-grain bowl
  6. Natural-edge end-grain goblet
  7. Part-turned functional bowl


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Turning Green Wood by Michael O'Donnell

Turning Green Wood by Michael O’Donnell


Book Review: Turning Boxes with Threaded Lids – Bill Bowers

I hate to admit it, but this is one of two books in my collection that fail to impress me.  Both of these books are on the subject of thread chasing, something that fascinates me and keeps me endlessly entertained.  It is one of the most rewarding turning skills I have ever attempted to master and it may be because of this fascination that I blindly bought this book.  Don’t get me wrong, the book contains some great information and instruction on thread chasing and turning some fairly unique boxes, but the format is dire.  It reminds me of high school French lesson material.  The pages are filled with endless photographs, with just a short caption accompanying each one and little formatted text to tie the book together.  Of course if I had read the beginning of the book before purchase I would have seen that it is described as a ‘caption driven instructional text’….

But that’s not all.  The majority of the pieces are decorated with a Rose Engine Lathe.  Though it doesn’t mention this on the front cover, I enjoy to see Rose Engine work, but it leaves my pieces looking incomplete and lacking.  There is a decent sized chapter on Rose Engines within the book, but this just leaves me even further out in the cold!  The photographs in many turning books leave you agog at the beauty or complexity of the pieces.  But again, this is an ‘instructional text’ and the pictures are definitely more instructional than beautiful.

Containing 80 pages,  it is split into 7 chapters:

  1. Cylinder Boxes with Dyed Epoxy Threads
  2. Cubic Boxes with Threaded Pyramidal Lids
  3. Threaded Spherical Boxes on Pedestals Embellished with Rose Engine Ornamental Designs
  4. Threaded Rotating Ring Capsule Boxes with Rose Engine Lathe Decorations
  5. The Nuts and Bolts of Threaded Boxes
  6. Threaded Pierced-Through Boxes with Rose Engine Lathe Embellishments
  7. Gallery

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Turning Boxes with Threaded Lids by Bill Bowers

Turning Boxes with Threaded Lids by Bill Bowers

Book Review: Turned Boxes (50 Designs) – Chris Stot

Superficially this is a very simple book.  50 designs are presented with all the project details required to create the pieces yourself.  Following through the projects sequentially you will be introduced to more complex designs and more demanding tool work with each piece.  However as you progress through the book you should also find yourself examining form and detail in other work and starting to explore your own potential.  The first part of the book is dedicated to materials, tools and design inspirations.

Turned Boxes has 177 pages and is split into three parts:

Part 1: Technique and Inspiration

  1. A brief history of turned boxes
  2. A woodturner’s life
  3. Safety in the workshop
  4. Tools and machinery
  5. Timber and materials
  6. Deciding what to make
  7. Inspiration and where to find it
  8. Decorating boxes
  9. Finishes for boxes
  10. Displaying your work
  11. Common Faults

Part II: 50 Turned Boxes

  1. Simple box
  2. Chinese hat box
  3. Onion-top box
  4. Finial box
  5. Easy box
  6. Spherical box
  7. Vase box
  8. Beaded-lid box
  9. Zebrano box
  10. Yew box
  11. Elegant box
  12. Square-lidded box
  13. Pill box
  14. Teardrop box
  15. Ginger jar
  16. Collector’s box
  17. Mosque box
  18. Egg box
  19. Ball box
  20. Yew saucer
  21. Footed box
  22. Mushroom box
  23. Apple box
  24. Saturn box
  25. Japanese lantern box
  26. Pagoda box
  27. Bird-box ornament
  28. Bird box
  29. Finial egg box
  30. Tipsey boxes 1 and 2
  31. Trinket box
  32. Seattle tower box
  33. UFO box
  34. Galaxy box
  35. Clam box
  36. Skep or beehive box
  37. Inset-lid box
  38. Double-decker box
  39. Four-stack box
  40. Commissionaire box
  41. Top hat box
  42. Bowler hat box
  43. Jockey cap box
  44. Acorn box
  45. Picture-frame inset box
  46. Three-centre spire box
  47. Lattice-lidded box
  48. Doughnut box
  49. Off-centre oddity box
  50. Flask box

Part III: A Gallery of Turned Boxes

Showing work from: Allan Batty, Kip Christensen, Michael Hosaluk, Ray Key and Hans Joachim Weissflog


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(50) Turned Boxes by Chris Stott

(50) Turned Boxes by Chris Stott


Book Review: Woodturning Design by Derek Hayes

Like many other turners, design for me used to mean waiting to see what would happen with the piece of wood I had chosen to turn and then convincing myself that I had planned this all along.

My perspective on design started to change after enrolling on a University course on design principles.  Though based around product and packaging design the course encouraged me to start keeping a little book of sketches depicting shape and style that I found interesting.  Over time I started to ‘see’ the little idiosyncrasies of design within a multitude of forms.  Woodturning Design takes you on the same journey, but naturally with an emphasis on what can be done with turned materials.

Woodturning Design starts with a forward, which I quote here, by Mark Baker, currently the editor of Woodturning Magazine.

“Good design is fundamental to all that we make, but it is an area that is often perceived as difficult, esoteric or for the ‘art brigade’, so it is given a cursory glance until we hit a problem with what we are making.  It pays to spend a bit of time thinking about what we are going to make, how it is to look, the implications of its purpose and what impact changes will make to it.  One doesn’t have to a born artist to master some of the fundamental principles explained in this book, so don’t be put off of by the dreaded ‘design’ word.  A few simple steps following the guidelines shown and you will be well on the way to creating masterpieces of your own and having a lot more fun too.”

The book contains 175 pages and is split into 4 parts and 11 chapters:

Part One – Principles

  1. Design Elements
  2. Sketching
  3. Proportion
  4. Pattern

Part Two – Practice

  1. Open Forms
  2. Enclosed Forms
  3. The Foot
  4. The Rim

Part Three – Application

  1. Using Wood
  2. Using Decoration
  3. Using Colour

Part Four – Gallery


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Woodturning Design by Derek Hayes

Woodturning Design by Derek Hayes

Book Review: Ellsworth on Woodturning – David Ellsworth

The two biggest names in the world when it comes to woodturning have to be David Ellsworth and Richard Raffan.  They came from a time of pioneering in both woodturning skill and, certainly in David Ellsworth case, woodturning adventure.  Living from hand to mouth they touted their skills around the world on a demonstration circus as the new woodturning craze started to develop.  David Ellsworth was something of a pool hustler and tells tales of playing every night in order to fund his turning habit.

There is hardly a skill or technique Ellsworth doesn’t cover in this book, from making your own tools (as he did for most of his career) to harvesting and drying green wood, with Yoga thrown in for good measure.  Everything is covered here.  I treat this like a coffee table book.  I have read it many times but like it handy so that I can ‘dip into it’ for inspiration or practical advice when needed.  I love the mention of an old mexican proverb – “a man’s wealth is measured by the size of his wood pile”.  Perhaps I am a millionaire after all.

Containing a whopping 247 pages, this tome is split into 17 main chapters:

  1. Working with Green Wood and Dry Wood
  2. Managing Materials
  3. Why Turning Tools Work
  4. Making Tools and Tool Handles
  5. Sharpening
  6. Chucks, Glue Blocks and Faceplates
  7. Design
  8. The Body
  9. Turning an Open Bowl with a Cut Rim
  10. Turning an Open Bowl with a Natural Edge
  11. Turning the Exterior of a Hollow Form
  12. Turning the Interior of a Hollow Form
  13. Turning Spirit Forms
  14. Jam Chucks and Vacuum Chucks
  15. Sanding
  16. Finishing
  17. Drying Green Wood Vessels

Appendix – Teaching




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Ellsworth on Woodturning by David Ellsworth

Ellsworth on Woodturning by David Ellsworth

Book Review: Woodturning, A Foundation Course – Keith Rowley

First published in 1990, but reprinted and updated many times, this is the defacto bible on Woodturning, especially in Europe, but popular throughout the world. If there is only one book on your shelf, this is the one to have.  The latest version of the book has an accompanying DVD. I’m not sure if DVD’s had even been invented when I bought my copy!

The book covers almost every aspect of turning, but looked at from the aspect of a new turner.  From lathe choice, through tools and chucks to wood selection. From your first trip to the lathe to producing your first pieces, EVERYTHING is covered.  However, the most important information I took on board from the book, when I was a novice, was Keith Rowley’s six ‘Laws of Woodturning’ which I reproduce here.  In the book they are covered in greater detail.

  1. The speed of the lathe must be compatible with the size, weight and length of wood to be turned.
  2. The tool must be on the rest before the whirling timber is engaged, and must remain so whenever the tool is in contact with the wood.
  3. The bevel (grinding angle) of the cutting tools must rub the wood behind the cut.
  4. The only part of the tool that should be in contact with the wood is that part of the tool that is receiving direct support from the toolrest.
  5. Always cut ‘downhill’ or with the grain.
  6. Scrapers must be kept perfectly flat (in section) on the toolrest and presented in the ‘trailing mode’, i.e. with the tool handle higher than the tool edge.

These six simple laws should keep all turners safe and in control.  They certainly worked for me.

The book consists of 177 pages and is split into 11 main chapters:

  1. Trees and Wood
  2. The Woodturning Lathe and Accessories
  3. Tools of  the Trade
  4. On Sharpening
  5. Laws of Woodturning
  6. Turning Between Centres
  7. Faceplate Turning
  8. Copy-Turning
  9. Sanding and Finishing
  10. Boring and Routing on the Lathe
  11. Safety, Design, Courses…


Amazon LogoKeith Rowley - A foundation Course

Book Review: Woodturning Wizardry – David Springett

Woodturning Wizardry is a book to blow your mind and stretch your imagination.  David Springett is the master of mind bending sculptural pieces, with spheres within spheres, impossible multifaceted spiky stars within square turnings atop beautiful thin stemmed goblets, fabulous lattice work and an incredible turned arrow passing through a glass bottle!

Many of the pieces in this book require a variety of special jigs and tools, but the creation of all these are covered in the book.  Fantastically detailed plans, descriptions and photographs accompany all the projects and pieces.

I have made a couple of jigs and tools but have yet to complete a piece that I would consider a keeper.  However I keep picking up this book time after time for inspiration and wouldn’t want to be without it.  One day I’ll get there!

The book is split into three parts and 19 chapters:

Part One Preparation

  1. Wood
  2. Making jigs and chucks
  3. Toolmaking
  4. Turning spheres
  5. Setting out the surface of a sphere

Part Two Projects

  1. Arrow through bottle
  2. Lattice circles
  3. Offset lattice lid
  4. Box with domed lattice lid
  5. Lattice Pomander
  6. Singapore Ball
  7. Spiked star in cube
  8. Spiked star in sphere
  9. Captive cube in sphere
  10. Lidded box in sphere
  11. Chinese balls
  12. Chinese rings
  13. Pierced sphere
  14. Interlocking spheres

Part Three Gallery


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Woodturning Wizardry by David Springett

Woodturning Wizardry by David Springett

Book Review: Woodturning Evolution – Nick Agar and David Springett

This book may confuse you.  If it doesn’t then it will likely change your view of turning hollow forms for ever!  The subtitle of the book is ‘Dynamic projects for you to make’. In ‘Woodturning Evolution’ Nick Agar and David Springett introduce a method of creating hollow forms and sculptural pieces form flat boards of wood.  If you are immediately thinking segmented turning then you need to think again!  The pieces on the front cover of the book have been formed by mounting two boards on a simple jig, turning a section away from the ‘interior’ of each board, then combining them into a ‘tube’.  The tube can then be sliced in various angles and rejoined to create totally new pieces.  Confused?  I was at first, I have to admit, however after understanding the process I now find this an absolutely inspiration method of creating sculptural forms that I have been experimenting with for some time.  I hope to have a series of pieces, created with this process, developed during 2016.

The book contains 176 pages in 7 chapters.  14 project pieces are covered in full detail:


  1. Foreward
  2. Introduction
  3. Suitable Woods
  4. Tools and Equipment
  5. Holding the Work
  6. Health and Safety
  7. Finding Inspiration


  1. The Wave
  2. ‘Chinese’ Vessel
  3. ‘Clarice Cliff’ Vessel
  4. Cockerel, Iguana and Kiwi
  5. Iguana
  6. Kiwi
  7. Snake
  8. Zebrano
  9. Elephant Vessel
  10. Deco Vessel
  11. Whisper
  12. Outside the Box
  13. Wall Plaque
  14. Horn


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Woodturning Evolution by Nick Agar and David Springett

Woodturning Evolution by Nick Agar and David Springett

On My Bookshelf…

Throughout June / July 2016 I am gradually adding a list of turning related books that adorn my shelves.  I try to give a short review and content details with each one.  If there is any specific details that you would like to know about a book or its contents, just ask!

Listed in no particular order, click the book covers below for full details:

Hilary Bowen - Woodturning Jewellery

Woodturning Jewellery by Hilary Bowen

Woodturning Evolution by Nick Agar and David Springett

Woodturning Evolution by Nick Agar and David Springett

The Art of Turned Bowls by Richard Raffan

The Art of Turned Bowls by Richard Raffan

Book: Mark Sanger - Turning Hollow Forms 1

Turning Hollow Forms by Mark Sanger








Woodturning Wizardry by David Springett

Woodturning Wizardry by David Springett

Keith Rowley - A foundation Course

Woodturning, A foundation Course by Keith Rowley

Ellsworth on Woodturning by David Ellsworth

Ellsworth on Woodturning by David Ellsworth

Woodturning Design by Derek Hayes

Woodturning Design by Derek Hayes









(50) Turned Boxes by Chris Stott

(50) Turned Boxes by Chris Stott

Turning Boxes with Threaded Lids by Bill Bowers

Turning Boxes with Threaded Lids by Bill Bowers

Turning Green Wood by Michael O'Donnell

Turning Green Wood by Michael O’Donnell

All Screwed Up! by John Berkeley

All Screwed Up! by John Berkeley


Book Review: Woodturning Jewellery – Hilary Bowen

A 150+ page book, packed full of jewellery ideas and methods.  Hilary Bowen is a British female turner, of most forms, with a special interest in jewellery.  The book is written for turners, by a turner, not from the view of pure jewellery design.  Her methods and ideas are practical and achievable by most turners, with something for all experience levels. Though I didn’t do it justice in the long run, my video Video #16 – Update and Make Your Own Laminated Blanks’ was based on a principal from this book.

The book is split into 3 parts and 17 chapters.  Part three has particular relevance to turners in general, not just jewellery creators.

Part One – Preliminaries

  1. Health and Safety
  2. Tools and Equipment
  3. Timber
  4. Chucking Techniques
  5. Design

Part Two – Projects

  1. Earrings
  2. Brooches
  3. Bangles
  4. Rings
  5. Necklaces

Part Three – Further Techniques and Refinements

  1. Stains and Dyes
  2. Inlay Wire
  3. Laminating
  4. Other Decorative Techniques
  5. Finishing Techniques
  6. Jewellery Findings
  7. Turning Alternative Materials


Amazon LogoHilary Bowen - Woodturning Jewellery


Book Review: The Art of Turned Bowls – Richard Raffan


Possibly one of the best bowl turning books ever published.  Richard Raffan, a British turner now living in Australia, was one of a handful of turners from the 1960’s and 70’s that popularised the art and craft of turning around the world.

Split into 7 chapters, the book covers all aspects of bowl turning:

  1. Wood – What to Look For and Where to Find it
  2. Preparing Blanks – From Log to Lathe
  3. Form – The Good, The Bad and The Sublime
  4. Walls, Rims and Bases – Bowls That Feel as Good as They Look
  5. Green-Turned Bowls – Working with Warp
  6. Surface Decoration – Detailing , Coloring, Burning, Sandblasting
  7. Decorative Reshaping – Carved, Pierced, Hacked, Hewed and Joined

Chapters 4 and 6 are the winners for me.  There is wealth of information on every conceivable rim design and piece decoration and how that can ultimately dictate the overall design of the a bowl.

With 160 pages overall, the majority are packed with eye watering images to stretch your imagination.

Amazon LogoRichard Raffan - The Art of Turned Bowls

Book Review: Turning Hollow Forms – Mark Sanger

This is a wonderful introduction to turning hollow forms.  Though known for some quite modern pieces, here Mark Sanger introduces a range of timeless vessels with his own unique twist.  The text assumes basic turning ability but no prior knowledge of hollowing and walks you through from wood selection to finished piece. Seven project pieces are covered in greater detail with relevant designs, plans, dimensions, hollowing sequences and finishing notes which should provide you with the skills to handle any future hollow forms.  Chapter 2, ‘Wood’, is especially useful for it’s information on log selection and orientation to make the best use of your wood.

Though I was far from a novice hollower when I purchased the book I have found it invaluable and inspirational on many levels.  The book contains five main chapters:

  1. Health and Safety
  2. Wood
  3. Tools
  4. Form
  5. Projects



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Mark Sanger - Turning Hollow Forms 1