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

Seed Pod Follow Up and Yorkshire Grit Give-Away

Following my Alien Seed Pod post and video, I have created a simplified version this week which uses a separate piece of wood for the tail.  This not only speeds up the process, but is also cleaner, easier and more achievable for most turners.  This was still only a prototype and proof of concept.  More work is required!


Pod 4 Relief CarvedI started by preparing a spalted Sycamore blank for the seed pod, with a tenon on both ends. After mounting in my chuck I drilled a 12mm / ½ inch recess to receive the tail section later.  After reversing the blank in the chuck I then proceeded to turn and hollow the seed pod shape, leaving a thicker rim for a little bit of carving.  On this pod I shaped the ‘leaves’ around the opening in relief unlike previous ones.

Next I cut a small section of board (in this case American Cherry) suitable for the tail section and mounted this in my chuck, end on.  I then turned a tenon to suit the recess in the pod, checking a couple of times to get a good fit.  I could have turned some of the waste board away at this point but it was easier to do this all in one on the bandsaw.  After removing the section from the Pod 4 Draw Tailchuck I drew my intended tail shape on one side and one edge, then cut the waste material away.

Moving to my pillar drill, I mounted a sanding bobbin in the chuck and proceeded to shape the tail, in all directions and dimensions, until I was happy with the result.  I hadn’t considered this method previously, but it was suggested by Alan Adler and turned out to be a most wonderful technique.  I then used regular woodworking glue (Titebond Original) to join the two pieces together and left this for a few hours to set.
Pod 4 Joined HalvesAfter joining the two halves I returned to the drill and cleaned up the joint between the two parts with the sanding bobbin.  I have only ever used the bobbins for light touch up jobs before this.  I now really appreciate the benefit of an oscillating spindle sander and will be looking to add one soon.  Following this I gave everything a hand sanding to 400 grit before texturing the tail with my pyrography machine.  I made sure that the burning came up above the joint between the two pieces to ensure that it was totally disguised.  I took the opportunity to experiment with textures again, though it isn’t too clear in the picture that the ‘scale’ effect gets smaller as it reaches the ‘hairy’ end of the tail.


Give-Away is now over, but Yorkshire Grit is available from

Yorkshire Grit Woodturners Abrasive Paste

Tin of Yorkshire GritThere has been plenty of discussion online recently about a new product on the market called Yorkshire Grit.  This is an abrasive paste produced by a chap local to me and is used to ‘wet sand’ a piece after sanding to 240 grit.  It is basically a blend of wax and grits that break down to finer and finer mesh sizes as it is worked over the surface of the piece, abrading to around 800 grit.  I have been lucky enough to ‘blag’ a tin of the product and I’d like to give it away to one of you.

Between now and 17th June 2016 simply watch the video above and sign-up for my FREE NEWSLETTER on this site and I’ll enter you in the draw.  Don’t worry if you have already subscribed and signed up, your name is already in the bag!  Hopefully the lucky winner will be drawn by Mike Waldt at the UK and Ireland Woodturning Symposium on 18th or 19th June 2016.  Unlike many other give-aways this isn’t country specific and will be shipped anywhere in the world.  There are only three rules:

  • Only one entry per person
  • No alternative is available
  • You have to be signed-up for the newsletter to be entered in the draw!


You can see more about the product in these videos:


Mike Waldt: Woodturning – Yorkshire Grit Review

Keith Barrow: Woodturning at 54a. #79 Trying out Yorkshire Grit abrasive paste


‘Alien’ Seed Pods


Video showing the creation of my ‘Alien’ Seed Pods

I was invited by Woodworking Europe to take part in a collaboration event to celebrate European Maker Week (30th May to 5th June 2016), which is a celebration of ‘makers’ and ‘innovators’ across 28 countries.  Participants were asked to create something on the theme of a star (inspired by the European flag) and to produce a YouTube video to be published simultaneously at 12:00 UTC on 29th May 2016.  Since this may be the last year that the UK is a part of Europe I was happy to accept the invitation and help promote British woodturning and ‘makers’.

I have recently started exploring the design potential of vessel openings (the entry hole on a hollow form for example) and knew immediately that this would form my ‘star’ inspiration.  I have also just started exploring non-functional, sculptural ideas for woodturning (very much inspired by artists like Alan Adler).  From this my ‘Alien’ Seed Pod prototypes happened.  Following these I plan to go on and explore the potential of these most interesting forms.

This was my first prototype of a seed pod. It has a long way to go!

This was my first prototype of a seed pod. It has a long way to go!

I made three prototypes initially, all in Sycamore.  The first explored a basic shape and colouring idea (including the star opening) which moved me forward but was somewhat disappointing.  The second expanded upon the carved tail idea and toyed with pyrography details.  This left the third which formed the main emphasis of the required YouTube video, developed a workable colouring idea and furthered the carving of the tail details.  Following these I have a minor plan to change the tail to a method incorporating a separate piece (in a different wood perhaps) which will also require less carving and shaping.

In all three pieces I started by turning a basic flower / seed pod shape (not based on any particular species) and hollowed the interior to within a couple of millimetres thickness except around the opening area which I kept thicker to enable carving.  Using a simple template I produced a star shape around the top which I then carved and shaped to produce something almost petal like.  On the second and third prototypes I created texture, depth and definition to the ‘petals’ which added to it’s seed pod like appearance.  I expanded the size and complexity of the tail details which were carved insitu from the Sycamore blank with a variety of rotary tools and a lot of sanding!

This is the forward view of the second prototype.

This is the forward view of the second prototype.


After I made the second pod, I knew immediately what changes I wanted to make and how I wanted to proceed.  I put this one aside, unfinished, and moved straight on to the third.  I chose to make the video around this one so it actually took a couple of days to produce, compared to just a few hours with the first two. I had planned to use some form of pyrography on the third pod (you can see a little around the ‘mouth’ of the first), but I proceeded to colour and finish it before the pyrography plan formulated.  As I had already lacquered the piece I didn’t want to risk damage to the surface so returned to the second to pursue the pyrography.  This was my first foray into pyrography on a turned piece.  I have played around with waste wood and a simple soldering iron type in the past, but I have recently bought a ‘proper’ burner (Peter Childs Artist’s Pyrography Machine) and was itching to experiment with it.


Here I demonstrate the texture on the tail, produced with a pyrography pen.

Here I demonstrate the texture on the tail, produced with a pyrography pen.

After decoration, I left pod two with an unfinished surface which looks beautifully raw.  It really needs a protective coat of something, but I need to explore this further.  I played around a little with the pyrography to try and produce a ‘scaled’ appearance on the tail.  I’m not sure I achieved this, but I’m very happy with the result anyway.  Oddly I think this little prototype has become the most tactile piece I have made to date.  I can’t wait to explore the pyrography textures further.



A look into the mouth of prototype 3!

A look into the mouth of prototype 3!

Piece three is from a slightly larger blank which allowed me to open out the ‘mouth’ a little further and produce more detailed petals / folds and the addition of the stamen.  The tail is far more complex making better use of all the space within the blank, but adding a lot of work.  I planned to build upon the ‘marine’ colours of pod one but to induce a more iridescent effect with the spirit stains by over laying and merging colours.  I also wanted to explore a new medium I have just purchased, resistive / masking fluid.  When painted on to a surface it provides a latex cover which resists further colour.  Rubbing with your fingers quickly and easily removes the latex when required.  I used it here to create a mottled effect around the ‘petal’ area.  Though I like the result produced, I shall bring the effect further down the body next time and create a less defined separation between the colour zones.

The full view of 'marine' pod 3 showing the colour details

The full view of ‘marine’ pod 3 showing the colour details


Tools and Equipment Used

There is nothing really complicated in these pieces, but I did use a lot of tools and equipment in order to get the result I wanted.  Now lets be honest here, after the initial turning you could create the whole piece with a single carving tool and a load of sandpaper, but where would be the fun in that?  I enjoy using power tools as much as hand carving (which I like to save for opportunities when I am away from my workshop).

For hollowing the pod I used a ‘straight’ Kelton Hollowing Tool and the Crown Teardrop Scraper in the Crown Revolution Handle.  I can just squeeze both of these tools through a 16mm opening, though I had plenty more room on these three pieces.

An example of Latex Art Masking Fluid. This is the brand I used, but there are many others.

An example of Latex Art Masking Fluid. This is the brand I used, but there are many others.

For most of the ‘tail’ wood removal I used a Proxxon Long Kneck Mini-Angle Grinder and Dremel 4000 Series rotary tool with a variety of carbide burrs.  Details of these can been found on my Carbide and Rotary Tools page.   Further to these I also recently bought (and used to great effect on these pieces) a Kutzall Taper carbide burr (which has clusters of carbide ‘hairs’) and a set of relatively cheap (Chinese import?) 120 grit diamond burrs which were fantastic for sanding in difficult to reach areas but also for smaller areas over the entire piece.  These were well complimented with a set of (also cheap) diamond files which I bought from Axminster Tools in the UK, however they appear to be fairly generic Chinese tools and available from usual sources.  Not seen in the video was two sets of  ‘rifflers’.  These are shaped files and rasps for roughing and shaping in almost any direction.  I have an extremely course set, stone rifflers, and a very fine set designed for general metals and jewellers and I find these to all work well on wood.




A typical Chinese Diamond Burr Set

A typical Chinese Diamond Burr Set

These course rifflers, sometimes called 'Stone Rifflers' are very course and great for fast roughing.

These course rifflers, sometimes called ‘Stone Rifflers’ are very course and great for fast roughing.

A set of fine 'file' rifflers. Stone rifflers are extremely course.

A set of fine ‘file’ rifflers. Stone rifflers are extremely course.

Cheap Diamond File Set

Cheap Diamond File Set


I also used a few FlexCut carving tools.  I only have four, but use them all quite regularly and employed at least three on various parts of these pieces!  The ones I use have one handle and a range of interchangeable tools.  These can also be used in a Proxxon reciprocating carver which is on my ‘To Buy’ list.

Flexcut 'Craft Carver' Set

Flexcut ‘Craft Carver’ Set








For your convenience, here are links to most of these tools etc on Amazon.

Diamond Burrs
Diamond Files
Riffler Sets
Art Masking Fluid
Dremel 4000
Proxxon Long Neck Grinder
FlexCut Carving Tools










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