It’s no secret that over the past 20 years, the topic of hollowing has been long debated, the tools have evolved and the discipline has become more accessible. However, this has meant that as turners we are now faced with more options than you can point a sharpened HSS stick at!
In an effort to help guide and inform turners on this topic, we played host to the charming Wight Woodturners, who ventured across the open waters to join us for a day exploring the myriad of techniques, approach and tools (both past and present) to better get a handle on the options available, driven by hands on experience, impartial advice and personal opinion.
With our group of 10 intrepid turners arriving at 11am, we set about putting the kettle on - a key part of any good demo I’m sure you’ll agree - and took this chance to take specific questions from everyone, from any walk of woodturning. From sharpening to finishing, as well as dispelling a few myths, this was a valuable and interesting platform for discussion to start the day - so if you still think that curved bevel from a 6” vs 8” grinder is an issue, just give the Wight Woodturners a call to put your minds at ease. spoiler alert, it’s a load of old tripe
With the coffee mugs empty, it was time to head down to the demo room to start looking through the myriad tools on offer, the origins of their design, and how far we’ve come since the humble - and quite frankly terrifying - ring tool which tested both mental strength and welding skills when it came to re-joining the ring to its shaft!
Of course, a hollowing session wouldn’t be complete without the very first tool being the humble spindle gouge. Sure, it doesn’t have a multi-position head, a multi-handle form factor or a detachable cutter, but it sure does the job - at a basic level. Bore a hole with the gouge and turn from the centre out - simple! Of course, the world has come a long way since then.
Over the next few hours, our visitors were introduced to the affordable, the impossible and the epitome of hollowing tools, ensuring that everyone left the session informed and armed with everything they needed to make their own decision.
To give you an idea of the variety of tools on offer, we looked at:
Ring hollowing tools - the less said about these the better
Traditional hook tools derived from the Scandinavian soft-wood format
Modern hook tools such as those from Wiedemann
Straight-shafted, open carbide cutter tools such as the Hunter and Jimmy Clewes “Mate” tools
Shielded ring cutter tools from Rolly Munro, Hamlet Craft Tools, Crown and Robert Sorby
Pick cutter tools such as the BCT VersaTool and the now obsolete yet well remembered, Robert Sorby RS2000 system
...to name but a few...
Of course, the real beauty of a day like this is the ability to get “hands-on” with the tools and really put them through their paces, something which is well worthwhile if you’re splashing the cash on a serious piece of kit - getting a feel for a tool and seeing how it ‘fits’ your own style and approach is very difficult when you're just turning the glossy pages.
All in all, this was a superb day for everyone. Being able to focus on a specific aspect of turning allowed us all to be pragmatic, objective and ultimately more knowledgeable on the topic.
We would like to the thank the Wight Woodturners for making the journey to see us and for being a pleasure to host.
If you would like to organise a focus session or demo day for your club in our demo room (complete with 3 high-spec lathes) do let us know.
If you’re looking for more information on hollowing tools, you can explore the website, you can give us a call or if you happen to be in the area or passing by, why not drop by the shop.
The ToolPost, Unit 7, Hawksworth, Didcot, Oxfordshire, OX11 7HR