Wood Turning Club Detailed Profiles


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Random Orbital Bob

Established Member
13 May 2011
Reaction score
Hampshire/Berks Border
The more experienced turners here have often talked about the benefits of joining a turning club when advising new turners about how to acquire knowledge and experience. I thought it worth just expanding on that to give some insight as to what happens at a typical club in any given calendar year so new turners, like the chaps I met at the weekend have a better understanding of what to expect so they can decide if it's for them.

I'm a member of Berkshire Woodturners Association (BWA) and we meet 3rd Wednesday of each month in Bracknell. The membership is around 70 with 30-50 typically attending the regular events. A typical evening starts at 7 with greetings all round and folk laying out the work they've produced for the competition. Each month there is a competition with two themes: a specific project which is deliberately different to expand knowledge and experience and an open category where anything you've turned you just bring along. Prizes exist for both at the end of the year. The project specific category is usually planned to dovetail such that the previous months meet had the pro turner demonstrate how its done so you've seen it live. Naturally there is no requirement to enter, it's for fun.

Soon after we meet the pro turner starts. We have pretty sophisticated AV with a gantry above the lathe and multiple camera's zooming into the various angles being displayed on two huge monitors so folk can really see the close up on the tools and techniques. The pro is also audio mic'd for sound.

At half time we'll stop for tea/coffee/biscuits and either our own team or the pro turner will judge the competition work. The comments are constructive and helpful because your piece gets an individual blow by blow from master woodturners which is an immensely useful means by which your skill evolves. The attention to detail is incredible and the standards of wood turners is waaaaaaaay higher than the general public when critiquing work. Valuable from a learning point of view. Incidentally, when I say pro turners doing demo's I'm talking about the top names in the industry, folk who are regularly published in woodturning magazine and produce commercial books/DVD's and are all registered professional turners. The pro will then finish the demo for the next hour or so and then after clearing up there may, possibly, perhaps be a tendency to go for a swiftie in the pub which is nearly 100 yards from the community centre where we meet :)

At Christmas we do a fun night where we bring all the club lathes to the meet and all have a go at turning something seasonal for a laugh amid mince pies etc. In the summer one of the greatest assets of BWA takes place, the auction. BWA is very lucky in that one of its principle members runs a wood related business and is the proud owner of a woodmiser industrial strength, trailable bandsaw. The gentlemen concerned has access to crown estate forestry where he works professionally but where there is far more wood than needed by the business and so the club gets access to all manner of the most fabulous English hardwoods imaginable. To put that in perspective, last auction we had walnut, laburnum, spalted beech, oak, olive ash, hornbeam, robinia, birch (massive slabs), oak, sycamore, yew. I think I spent £20 and the boot of my estate car with the seats down was literally choc a bloc. The cost of that wood to buy from any supplier would have been several hundred. Needless to say, the auction is an event we all look forward to!

Once a year we also have a kind of open day where we invite folk to just bring their problems to the table, we sharpen tools, do little talks on this that and the other, demonstrate techniques live on the lathes. We have the local toolshop have a stand and they discount all their Sorby range...that's a buying frenzy if ever I've seen one, Sorby chisels going for half price as well as Chestnut finishes.

We also run practical sessions where we setup about 7 lathes and turn specific projects just to learn and gain access to mentoring from the more experienced folks. We'll do this at members houses (incl mine), the club premises all depending on who's available at the time. These are usually run on a Saturday or Sunday.

The club is legally called an association and is a not for profit entity. Funds provided are entirely for the benefit of the membership and any surplus at the end of the year gets spent on more DVD's or upgrading lathes or the AV equipment. Membership costs £20 per year and on the days when a pro turner is demoing there's a £4 charge on the door. That's it. So for basically chicken feed you have access to a wealth of resources, knowledge and experience to help you celebrate this delightful craft and accelerate your evolution through it. To be honest, just one tip from a more experienced turner about tool choices will save you the cost of membership and if we want to wax lyrical about the economic benefits then the wood auction is in a league of its own!

We're having a free taster session this March 2nd for people to come along and literally put the tool to the wood with supervision to see if it's something they want to consider getting involved with. Here's the club website. By all means PM me if you want to come on the 2nd.


Here's a link to the flyer we're posting in pubs, village halls etc to publicise the taster session on March 2nd

http://www.berkshirewoodturners.org.uk/ ... _Flyer.pdf

If BWA is too far for you to travel I urge new turners to seriously consider joining one closer to them, you will never regret it. On that note I also encourage other clubs to follow what I've done here.
Good initiative Bob.

I belong to the Cumbria Woodturners who meet in Burneside near Kendal generally on the 3rd Saturday of each month. The meeting starts at 10am and finishes by 4pm.

Our club runs along very similar lines to many others with a professional demonstrator or homegrown talent leading us through a project or three throughout a meeting day. Attendance is £5 per meeting with an annual membership fee of £25. We're smaller than many with a membership of around 50 with 30-40 attendees at a meeting. Bring a packed lunch or we have a great chippy nearby and there's free coffee and/or tea.

You can find more details here...

...including how to find us, our programme for 2016 and some photos from past events.

Come along, you'll be very welcome.

There are several other great clubs nearby to us if we're not your closest...
Barrow in Furness,
Eden Valley http://www.edenvalleywoodturners.co.uk/Home.php,
Border Woodturners,
West Cumbria http://www.wcwt.co.uk/ and
Red Rose Woodturners https://rrwtc.wordpress.com/.

...and nearer to Bob, there are a few good clubs I know of...
Hampshire Woodturners (my old club) http://hants-woodturners-hwa.co.uk/
Test Valley Turners http://www.testvalleyturners.co.uk/ and
The Forest of Bere http://www.forestofberewoodturners.com/

I agree with what you say Bob they are a great asset to woodturners novice and more experienced. Why I did not join before now I don't know I have been to about 8 meetings so far that is 2 per month. The first is a Saturday all day where we have Pro turners approximately every 2 months and the other we have a member giving an in depth demo, then we meet on a Tuesday evening and an experienced turner will make a small object like a box or weed pot then anyone can have a go at turning it with the aid of the experienced turners this is done on the clubs 4 lathes.
We are also fortunate that to have a shop from one of the turning tool shops attend usually bringing a small selection of stock with him mainly finished and the like as these are the main things people want he will also bring anything from stock if you contact him in advanced.
Cornwall Association of Woodturners
Monthly meeting on the last Friday of the month 7pm - 10pm. Turning nights every Mon, Tues, Weds, Thursday 7.00pm - 10.00pm except around Xmas and through August at Wheal Jane near Truro. About fourteen lathes plus various grinders, tools and large bandsaw. There is a website, but its not updated very often - If anyone's interested I can forward contacts or other information.
It's a great thing to belong to an association. You can exchange ideas and get to know people which is one of the most important things when trying to run a business,
I like the activities that you do at Berkshire Woodturners Association (BWA), especially this one: "Once a year we also have a kind of open day where we invite folk to just bring their problems to the table, we sharpen tools, do little talks on this that and the other, demonstrate techniques live on the lathes. We have the local toolshop have a stand and they discount all their Sorby range...that's a buying frenzy if ever I've seen one, Sorby chisels going for half price as well as Chestnut finishes."
That's a great way to attract and involve the community and it's also a good way to get new members to join.
Thanks Emanuel. BWA has always been very active in the community, I didn't mention a lot of the charity support we do as it seems a bit immodest but the club does lots of demo's to local groups who have an interest. The local tool shop that comes to us once a year, we also support an outside event they do so the tools they sell can be shown working in the flesh, live as it were. The people are just kind, gentle folk as I think so often crafts type people tend to be.
Sounds like a great club Bob. I have never got round to joining my local club mainly as a couple of colleagues who went along said unfortunately it was a bit "political" ie loads of old duffers playing oneupmanship games with each other which I really don't have the time or the patience for.
That's a shame. Our "old duffers" are an inspiration and some of the most helpful people you'll ever meet. Their work just takes your breath away and is mind boggling in some cases ie how the heck did he do that :)

We also have a few women in the club too, we're very avant garde don't you know :)
Birstall Woodturning club is a hands on club located in James Walkers Mill in Mirfield. We have 17 lathes, Record, Nova, Axminster, Jet and Oneway. A pair of bandsaws, planer/thicknesser and various sanders. We are open Monday to Thursday inclusive and Saturday mornings.
We have 100+ members who pay £100 per year membership and £3 per visit. Tuition and advice is free. We have monthly demos by well known professional turners and occasional master classes.