Weekend Projected – Turned and carved wall hanging

Monday 9 July 2018

There has been a movement in artistic turning over the last two or three years towards ambitious turned and carved wall hangings. Some of these are simply stunning. I have been particularly impressed by the work of Nick Agar and this project uses some of the same techniques that he adopts. In this project I will show you how I made a small, fairly simple version from a through-cut board with natural edges which includes turning in the centre, textured detail and easy to do hand carving. Of course you can adapt the style of the piece to suit your own tastes, but the principles will remain similar.

Tools used:

Flat skew chisel

6mm square scraper

12mm bowl gouge

Proxxon long-necked angle grinder fitted with Arbortech mini carving disc

Gas torch

Wire brush


Start with a plank of wood which measures about 30-40mm thick. The piece I used was mulberry wood (Morus alba) and was about 210mm wide x 365mm high. Take a piece of plywood – which is a bit bigger than the wood you will be turning – and screw this securely to a 230mm diameter faceplate. Then, to secure the wood you will be turning to the plywood, screw it to the plywood with two screws in opposite corners of the wood. Make sure the screws are long enough to go about 15mm or 20mm into the wood plank – not enough to come through the other side – and are close to the edge of the wood, so there is no chance you will be using tools in that area


Glue the other two corners to the plywood with silicon glue. Fix the faceplate into place on the headstock. Now you are ready to start turning the piece


The first thing to do is to level the surface. Start the lathe at a low speed, about 250rpm. Place a 12mm bowl gouge on the toolrest to protrude just enough to touch and cut the piece of wood in the centre, then draw it in slightly, towards you and then along the toolrest to where the edge of the wood will be, allowing the tool to touch the piece as it turns. Skim the surface to smooth it out and gradually move the tool towards the centre. Do this a few times until the surface is level


Next, you need to smooth the surface with a square-ended scraper


Draw two circles in the centre of the piece; one close to the centre at about 100mm diameter; the other right up to the edge of the wood at about 220mm. Increase the lathe speed to about 360rpm for texturing and tool work. Fill in these two circles with texturing. There is a variety of texturing tools available but I find an interesting effect can be achieved with the Arbortech black mini carving disc attached to the Proxxon long-necked angle grinder. This should be used with care, holding with both hands after turning the lathe on at low speed. Switch on the Proxxon and gently but firmly touch the area you want to texture with the carving disc. Hold it steady so the texturing stays within the line you have drawn


Now you can define the outer and inner edges of the texturing with a 'V' cut in the centre and a wider cut on the outer edge, using a flat skew chisel


Next, fill in the outer circle with texturing. As it is a wider band you will need to use the carving disc in two different positions to fill the area


Clean up the surface with a rotary brush attached to a drill. Use a 6mm square scraper to mark out two or three grooves at the outer line of the circle


Sand the surface using sanding pads attached to a drill. Start with 150 grit, then 220, 320, 400 and finally 600 grit


Sand any grooved areas by hand, doubling over the sandpaper


If there are any cracks or uneven areas on the surface of the wood, use a small gas lighter to emphasise them. Scorch the surface lightly and then brush off any excess dust and charcoal from the piece


Use a pair of compasses to draw three curved lines at one end of the wood


Remove the work from the lathe, place the faceplate in a vice and then carve out the marked lines with a 'V' shaped carving chisel. Carve into a fluted shape and then sand the carved area well, up to 600 grit


Return the work to the lathe. To emphasise the grain of the wood lightly scorch the surface, along the lines of the grain


Apply varnish with a brush, wipe off with paper and repeat


Remove the work from the lathe and take out the screws attaching it to the plywood. Then prize the wood off the plywood, where the glue holds it


Using a larger gas burner, scorch all around the sides of the work until it is quite black. With a wire brush remove any excess charcoal then finally apply varnish


The finished piece is now ready to be hung on the wall