Welcome to Turners Anonymous

member AndyTurners Anonymous is a group of about 100 wood turning enthusiasts from the area surrounding Pittsburgh. We love all things about wood turning... the satisfaction of a sharp clean cut; the smell of freshly sliced cherry shavings; an excuse to buy new, expensive tools; and most importantly, the chance to help others to explore and enjoy the hobby as much as we do.

Please feel free to explore these pages to learn more about Turners Anonymous, look at some photos, and consider coming to a meeting.

Are there any programs or turners you would like to see in our future featured presentations? The Board is currently planning these events for the next 12-18 months, so now is the time to be heard. Feel free to send me an email, and I will pass along your input.

For those who want to get a leg up on future Instant Galleries, or if you have ideas for future Galleries, Rick Paterni has listed all the topics for the rest of 2014.

September Meeting - Heart Shaped Bowls

Heart Shaped Bowl September 20th, the date of our first meeting of the new season is right around the bend. It's hard to believe summer is almost over. The doors of the Society for Contemporary Craft will open at 9:00 AM for coffee and donuts with the meeting commencing around 9:45. Dave Betler will present a demo on creating a Heart Shaped Bowl. The picture above is one of Dave's results. It is a pretty intriguing turning to say the least. If you if attended our summer picnic you got a chance to see one up close. Can you figure out how this bowl was turned and why it ends up looking heart shaped? Dave humbly says it has more to do with how the blank is cut than the turner but you and I will have to wait until the September meeting to agree with that. We look forward to seeing you again! - Dave Beringer

Don't forget to bring your pieces in that you made from the walnut blanks that were discributed at the May meeting!

The subject for the September Instant Gallery is "Pieces Inspired by Jimmy Clewes"

April Meeting - Turning Shorts

This meeting was a great success, even though it got off to a bit of a chilly start. We all began our time together at the Society for Contemporary Crafts parking lot. As happens once in a great while, there was a snafu. The person from the Society who opens up did not show at the normal 8:30 AM. Just to let you know, we have tremendous support from the Society. In order to meet our needs, they come in at 8:30 to open up on the days of our events, even though the Society does not open till 10:00 AM. We are very fortunate to have them as our partners, I believe this was the first snafu in the 11 years we have been using their facilities. The last 8 years of those have been on a full time basis. Our resilient membership made the best of the situation and for that we thank you. There were a lot of discussions going on outside in what was cheerful sunny spring morning.

Once inside, the membership warmed up quickly and as always, they provided encouragement to the demonstrators. This style of meeting allowed the members to get a close view of what was going on at each station. Most of those attending even left with some wood chips on what they they wore to the meeting. We had five lathe demonstration stations set up in our meeting room at the Society for Contemporary Crafts. The format was very interactive with each demonstrator providing about 20 minutes of a topical presentation/demonstration to small groups of attendees. Not only did we all learn by listening and watching, but many of us took advantage of the offers by each of the demonstrators for hands-on practice of the techniques shown.

The demonstrations and demonstrators were as follows:

Dave Betler - Oval Turned Tool Handles
Dave demonstrated the off-center turning techniques he uses to construct very comfortable tool handles. He brought with him many examples of his work on his own tools (turning tools as well as a hammer) and an assortment of tool handle "works in process" with which to demonstrate 2- and 3-axis turning to produce exceptionally comfortable tool handles. Dave further enhances the beauty of some of his tool handles by gluing up the initial blanks from a variety of contrasting pieces of wood.

John Schlueter - The Perfect Bowl Interior
John demonstrated his techniques for achieving that pleasing, flowing curve on the inside of a bowl. His techniques allow elimination of the bumps and grooves from the interior of your next bowl. In hollowing a nice chunk of cherry during his demo and practice by various attendees, John won the prize for making the largest pile of shavings!

Dave Beringer - Creating a foot to be proud of!
Dave demonstrated a number of ways to reverse turn a bowl to reveal the stylish foot that lives inside the chuck tenon that was used to turn the bowl. His techniques featured inexpensive ways to accomplish a job that some might think requires elaborate vacuum chucking techniques or specialized (and costly) large format scroll chuck jaws.

Rick Paterni - Proper use of a Scraper
Yeah we have all been there. Scrapers do have their place whether it be for shear scraping away torn grain or blending areas of your turning. Rick demonstrated the use of scrapers to achieve exceptional finished surfaces.

Craig Smith - Spindle Turning made EASY!
Craig has turned many a spindle for his customers, for many different applications. He shared his spindle turning techniques as well as his approach for replicating multiple spindles. He showed the attendees how he approaches a multi-spindle project, including work organization and how he breaks down the turning with diagrams and color coded calipers to allow spindles to be replicated. Craig provided many great ideas for the attendees to tackle their next chair, table or railing requiring multiple "identical" spindles.

Thanks guys for demonstrations well done!
By Griff Holmes and Dave Beringer

March Meeting

Craig For the third year since I have been writing these reports, the March meeting of Turner's Anonymous once again coincided with the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Pittsburgh. The parking lots were not too full of revelers, but I did see a carful of Ghostbusters. (What is the St. Patrick's day connection to Ghostbusters?)

The March meeting was a hands-on project. Each team was encouraged to work together to create a bowl or platter from a square piece while keeping those corners in place as part of the bowl.

Craig Dave Beringer spent a few minutes at the beginning explaining the concept and presented a few samples of finished bowls and platters. And then, the lathes were on. There were five teams and each team had a piece of ash or poplar to work with. At my turning station, the bowl turners varied from skilled to novice; we had at least one new member. We used a screw chuck to mount our block of ash, and we turned the base of the bowl, added a tenon and flipped it around for the inside. It seems our team made plenty of mistakes to learn from. E.g. we left our wings too thin at the beginning, we finished our corners too late, we had tearout on the corners, and I had a couple of good catches. At least our bowl never flew off the chuck.

We all had a great time with the project and I think some valuable tips and tricks were shared. It was good getting to know some of our fellow members better.

Thanks to all of the members that guided the teams and program and kept everyone safe. A special thanks to Dave Beringer for putting together a great hands-on project.

- Bob Eckert

February Meeting

Craig The February meeting of Turner's Anonymous featured a session entitled From Tree to Bowl. Craig Smith and Dave Beringer were the hosts for the program. Dave started with a slide show. He had taken a log the previous weekend and cut it into a bowl blank. Dave showed how to split the log lengthwise with a chain saw to cut down through the pith. He explained how you can remove a slab from the middle of the log to be sure to get the pith.

Dave puts latex emulsion over the entire log to keep it from drying out too fast. Discs are used in 1" increments to define the bowl blank to cut out. A bowl blank had been prepared by Dave on the band saw for use in Craig's demo.

After the slide show, Craig took over by cutting the blank into a roughed out bowl. Dave did the voice over while Craig demonstrated. Dave explained that the initial cuts on the bowl were taken at an angle, and the material came off fast and effortlessly this way. Soon a tenon was formed and the bowl was mounted in the chuck. Craig emphasized that this is the time to take a critical look at the piece and make any adjustments, including discarding it if there is a problem.

Craig then worked on the interior of the bowl to remove much of the waste. Craig and Dave agreed that the thickness of a roughed out bowl should be 10% of the diameter, and it should be of uniform thickness to allow even drying. Finally, the end grain, rim and tenon should be coated with the latex emulsion. Dave just coats the entire bowl.

Here is a link to the document that was shared during the presentation.

Thanks guys for a thorough and fun program.

- Bob Eckert

Instant Gallery

To help us celebrate a return to the bowl, we are planning the theme for the February Instant gallery to also be the bowl. We would like you to bring your "best" bowl even if it was not turned recently to help us celebrate. What makes your best bowl? It may be what you think is the perfect shape, your favorite wood, wonderful grain pattern or maybe it has some special meaning. Even your best failure would be good.

As always, please bring any other turnings you may have finished since the last meeting that you would like to share. In the future we will be providing the instant gallery topics more in advance of the meeting to encourage greater participation.

- Dave Beringer, Craig Smith

January Meeting

Jack Brown The January 18th meeting of Turner's Anonymous featured a presentation by Jack Brown. Jack demonstrated a number of techniques and shared some homemade jigs.

First Jack explained a method he uses to make a dividing head to mount on the head stock. He offered a number of reasons why you may want to do this, i.e. counting holes can be a pain; counting holes can present an opportunity for error; and, finally, you can divide your circle into numbers like 3 or 7 that may not be on your dividing head. By using a free internet program, Gear Template Generator, from Woodgears.CA, Jack showed how you can make a drawing for generating your dividing head templates.

Jack then shared a home-made stop to engage the dividing head. His latest design uses rare earth magnets to engage the lathe bed. A pivot rotates a screw up to engage a hole in the dividing head. With this rig he can simply mark a line on a blank, or he can use a router or other power tool to remove material.

Jack Brown For the purpose of the demonstration, Jack marked the blank. He used a special table on a post that replaced the toolrest and offered a level surface. For marking, a carpenter's pencil was recommended for its broad flat surface. Jack suggested always using the printed side up.

A table saw sled he had designed was the fourth home-made device. (Wow!) It clamps a round or square blank, supports and locates the back edge and length, and allows for miter cuts of varying angles. He recommended a 45 degree cut for a two-pointed ornament and a 20 degree cut for a 4 or 5-pointed ornament. Finally he cut the blank into a beautiful form that could easily be used for an ornament. Similar finished ornaments were passed around.

Jack's next demo was the creation of a three-sided blank with curved sides. He used the process above to mark the side of the blank, but he wrapped the marks around onto the ends. He used the end marks to divide each blank end, marking the center and three offset points. He turned the blank about the offset points at slow speed and cut to the reference lines. The result was a three-sided blank that could then be used for a box, vase or ornament. One only needs to add a tenon to hold and turn the remaining features in the round.

Thanks for sharing Jack; that was a great program with a lot of neat ideas.

- Bob Eckert

December Meeting

Dec meeting

Dec meeting December 21st was the shortest day of the year, but Turner's Anonymous helped to fill the day with a wonderful Christmas party. Cookies and other holiday treats were provided by the members. There was plenty of delicious foods to go with the morning coffee. As in the past, the party was centered around an ornament and lidded box exchange. The members who participated made an ornament and, if they desired, a lidded box. There were about forty ornaments and ten lidded boxes. After a drawing to see who would go first, each participant picked the ornament they desired from those that remained. Finally the last two were exchanged. As each ornament is picked, the designer gets up to describe their ornament, its wood, its finish and its method of construction. Snowmen, bird houses and Christmas trees are well represented. A music box and a pair of incline cars were some of the more unique items. The exchange was hosted by Dave Beringer in his Santa hat and assisted by Craig Smith. As Dave remarked, he is always impressed by the rapt attention given to the exchange. "You could hear a pin drop," Dave said. The level of creativity, and quality craftsmanship is also in full view.

As I look to my left, I can see our beautiful tree with the lovely turned ornaments from this and previous years' exchanges. In addition, looking around the room, I see a small collection of boxes. Some help me to remember current members while others recall past members who have moved on. My first year participating, a previous member and board officer Leslie and I had the last ornaments remaining on the string. We made an exchange. She had made a lovely ornament, which has a classic form, is very artistic, and features a hand bent and soldered hook. I hope mine was adequate. This Christmas, my wife gave me a book on turning ornaments; I am starting to plan for next year!

- Bob Eckert

November Meeting

Art Liestman The November 16th meeting of Turner's Anonymous featured an all-day presentation by Art Liestman of Vancouver B.C.

Art started with a slide show of some of his (and his associates) works. He explained that turning is largely a subtractive process. He shared his jigsaw puzzle based works and explained the order of fabrication. He showed how he tries to incorporate "gesture" in his pieces with some dancing pieces carved from cylinders. One work was called "Manifestations of the Terpsichorean Muse" reflecting his interest in music and Monty Python. Art also shared his technique for painting his pieces; he uses pyrography as a stop to keep acrylic paints from wicking. A bowl rimmed with characters from Sherlock Holmes' dancing men code was a crowd favorite.

Art then began his demonstration by sharing what he calls the lost wood process. By laminating a scrap piece of wood between two good pieces and then removing the scrap, oval or almond shapes are achievable on the lathe; it is even possible to hollow the pieces and leave no entry hole. Art shared the process for making an almond-shaped box. One trick included his method for aligning grain by using two drilled holes prior to re-sawing.

Art Liestman After a fine lunch of pizza and salad organized by John Schlueter, Art shared the process of therming. It was interesting to find that the technique is over 200 years old and was developed in France. Art had very nice machined fixtures to hold three or four blocks of wood equally spaced around a central shaft. Through turning, he was able to cut one surface of each of the four blocks simultaneously. Then, by rotating the blocks, he could shape each surface subsequently. Ultimately, this can leave a three or four-sided piece with each side carrying a unique curve, if desired.

After a short break, Art presented a slideshow of teapots. Starting with the history of teapots, he quickly moved to a sampling of turned teapots by himself and others. The presentation really explored the form. He talked about the five elements of the teapot: vessel, handle, spout, lid, and feet. He explained that, in contrast to general turning, making a teapot includes additive processes. Art suggested methods for spout and handle joinery and options for spout fabrication.

Hopefully all members in attendance were inspired by Art Liestman's presentation and novel techniques.

- Bob Eckert

October Meeting

The October 19th meeting of Turner's Anonymous featured a hands-on workshop arranged by Bill Hayes. The focus of the workshop was to create your own bottle stopper.

The kit included a nice lamination of cherry and maple along with the stopper mechanism. The finish available was a Deft lacquer. After completion of the bottle stopper, the members had the option to donate it to the veterans. A gift box was provided with the kit for this purpose.

There were five lathes supported by members who gave individual instruction on the bottle stopper creation. The five members at the lathe were Bob Zentner, Tim Janeway, Rich Homar, Rick Kristofik and Becky Maruca. Unlike the last hands-on program, the stopper was created in its entirety at one station.

Here are a few of the things I noted:

A total of forty-nine kits were sold at $5 each. It was unknown how many would be donated to the vets.

All in all it was a fun program with lots of mingling. Thanks for organizing it Bill. - Bob Eckert

September Meeting


At the Turners Anonymous inaugural meeting of the 2013-2014 year, our own Dave Beringer demonstrated how to make various types of scoops handy for a variety of uses. Most of the demonstration focused on making a small spoon or coffee scoop. Dave brought a number of examples he had previously turned which were passed around the attendees early in the demonstration.

As usual, during the course of his presentation, Dave provided a steady stream of information and helpful tips, as well as cautions:

Dave's demonstration included a wide variety of turning methods and techniques: spindle turning, bowl turning, off center or Multi-axis turning, jam chucking and turning a sphere. He started with a 2"X2"X5" piece of wood between centers on the lathe, emphasizing that finding the precise centers on the ends was not that important. He then roughed to blank round with a spindle roughing gouge and put a tenon on one end with a parting tool. Afterwards, he noted that cutting tenons on both ends of the blank could have saved time later, using the off cut from the tail stock end as the starting point for the jam chuck used later in the demo.

After mounting the blank between centers, Dave turned most of a sphere on the tail stock end of the blank. Here, he used a short section of 1" PVC pipe as a gauge to see how close he was to a true sphere. For a true sphere, the inner circumference of the pipe section would be in full contact withy the surface of the sphere.

After finishing the sphere (this later becomes the scoop portion of the spoon) he remounted the work between centers to turn the handle of the spoon and do any sanding needed after completing the handle. Achieving a handle that is angled relative to the bowl of the spoon, requires some off-center turning, so when Dave mounted the blank between centers, he moved the tail stock live center point about 3/8" off center along the direction of the grain. After turning the handle, he put the piece back on the original center point at the tail stock to do any finish sanding and to part the piece from the lathe. What he had at this point looked like a small baby rattle with its handle attached on an angle to the spherical head of the rattle.

Next, Dave essentially turned a small "bowl" in the end grain of another piece of wood. The diameter of this bowl was such that the sphere portion of the "spoon in process" would fit tightly in the bowl when "jammed in". The depth of the bowl needs to deep enough that the sphere does not bottom out when pressed in. He cautioned that the side walls of the jam chuck should be thick enough that they do not deflect when the sphere is pressed in. The strength of the fit in the jam chuck comes from the slight compression of wood fibers as the sphere is pressed into the chuck, usually resulting in a "creaking" sound when successfully seated.

He then hollowed out the spoon bowl in the sphere using a small bowl gouge with a regular grind and finished off the interior of the bowl with a small scraper. After sanding the interior of the spoon's bowl, the completed scoop/spoon was removed from the jam chuck.

At this point in the demonstration, we had run out of time for further demos. However, Dave did talk through the process of making a larger scoop, basically turning a thick-stemmed goblet without a foot and, off the lathe, cutting through the sidewall of the goblet to form a scoop form with the thick stem serving as the handle of the scoop.

All in all, Dave provided a tremendous amount of information and very practical tips while making a spoon. Although the demo lasted over two hours, most of that time was spent talking about the process and pointing out practical solutions, answering questions, and even demonstrating some gouge sharpening techniques. In his own shop, Dave said one of these scoops would take maybe 20 minutes to complete! - Griff Holmes

May Meeting


Jack Brwon

The May 18th meeting of Turner's Anonymous featured a demonstration by Jack Brown of a magical upside-down salt shaker. It was a lovely warm spring day in the strip district - perfect for the last meeting before our summer hiatus.

Jack started out by discussing alternate arrangements of the upside-down salt shaker that he has made or seen on the internet. He shared the pitfalls of each alternative so you can be assured that Jack's design is the best. Jack's demo proceeded with a nice pacing. He showed how to manufacture each of the three parts and how to fit them together.

Salt shaker plans are available on the handout section of the members resources page, so I will not go into the process in depth. However, here are a few tips that Jack offered that are not on the handout:

Thanks Jack, for a great program! - Bob Eckert

Other Stuff

As of March 2012, the Board of Directors voted to cease publication of a printed newsletter for Turners Anonymous. The Board feels that this will help to enable better use of club resources and also to enable fresher updates on club information. Hopefully, going forward, additional types of content much greater than could be included in the newsletter will be developed on the website. For archival purposes, once a month, a "snap shot" of the home page will be captured and placed on the page where the old newsletters are stored. Here is this month's example of how the archives will look. As always, comments are welcome.

Here is a Video made in the "afterglow" of a satisfying session of roughing bowl blanks. Just for fun...