When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Give Up (and turn a goblet instead)!

The idea was simple – take a fab looking piece of monkey puzzle and turn a calabash out of it. But, pretty soon it became apparent that this piece of monkey puzzle wasn’t going to play ball.

The live streams I’ve been doing on YouTube since the middle of March had been going so well until last night when this piece of monkey puzzle ended the run of success.

Measuring a solid 12×8″ of end grain timber, I was looking forward to turning a calabash with those gorgeous knots forming a star pattern around it.


The outside turned reasonably well. It was a bit bumpy as you would expect, but when it got to turning the end of the piece, it became rapidly apparent that this piece was past it’s best and proved impossible to cut well, no matter what I tried.

As you can see from this picture, the grain grain was pretty much shot. Push cuts, pull cuts, scraping – nothing would give me a decent surface to work with.

Although I could have continued with hacking the life out of this piece and sanded it to death to get the desired surface finish, I decided to abandon the piece.


Confronted with the knowledge that 560 people were sat in their living rooms and workshops around the world watch my live demonstration rapidly fall to pieces, I had a few moments of abject horror as my mind set had to change from a 12×8″ calabash to something else . . . but what? Um….

With my professional hat on, I took a few questions through the chat whilst in the back of my mind, figuring out what I could do fairly quickly from start to finish in the time I had left. Contrary to popular belief I do sleep sometimes, and I didn’t want to keep others up for hours with another lengthy start-to-finish project.

A few viewers reminded me that I had been playfully challenged by viewers of Mike Waldt to turn a goblet in a demo like he did a few weeks ago – and keep it one piece!

I don’t have a set length of time for my YouTube Lives but I do like to finish before 10pm after starting at 7.30. This time scale is roughly the same as a normal club demo, so it works well and there was just enough to get a goblet done from start to finish in the time left. Phew.

So after little bit of faffing around finding some timber to use, I set to work on this goblet.

It was mostly turned with a 3/8″ bowl gouge, but hollowed with a 6mm carbide tool which I find works very well and it is pretty efficient at digging out the bowl.

After a little sanding, the bottom of the bowl was airbrushed with a mix of Earth, Ruby and Burnt Orange from the Intrinsic Colour Collection. The colour is a warm brown – just what I was looking for (in a bit of a rush!). To top it off, it was sealed with cellulose sealer and then finished with Hampshire Sheen Gloss Finishing Wax (what else!).


In the end, I think the presentation was a success even through the original goal wasn’t complete and the goblet isn’t particularly elegent. One of the things you need to learn as a turner is knowing when to stop – particularly when you have an audience. There’s no shame in (almost) admitting defeat – sometimes the piece has either ‘gone’ too far to be useful, or it exceeds your level of experience, or patience.

As always, my amazing viewers were understanding and appreciated the rescue effort to not let them down and get at least something turned for them from start to finish! Lol.

After the end of the presentation, we stopped for the usual chat and banter which is always a bit of good fun – this then later continued in a Zoom meeting ‘after party’.

During this chatty bit, I introduced a club I’ve started that is based purely in Zoom called Woodturning360. Membership has a host of benefits including two meetings each month, professional remote demonstrations, product discounts and a dedicated Facebook group.

Click HERE to find out more and see if it is of interest to you.


See below to watch everything unfold, and thank you very much if you watched it live and even more thanks if you sent a Super Chat donation!


https://youtu.be/q8NhNVVyqkI

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