ManSpace Mag Launch


Currently at the launch of the new magazine, with a bit of a display of assorted tools I grabbed from the shed. Interesting to be a part of it – normally mags are well established before I become involved so seeing one just starting out (and being a part of it as a guest author) is pretty cool!


I was having a look at my workbench, and couldn’t see it for all the tools and accessories over it. There was a large collection of jaws, chucks and turning chisels all over it. Time for some cleanup!

I am struggling to figure out where I will actually mount storage, but that is a problem for another day. In the meantime, I first chose to look at the storage of the jaw sets. I could just have them tossed into a sectioned box (or continue to be stored in their significantly oversized boxes they are sold in), but instead decided to explore a more visual storage method.

Lathe Jaw Storage

Lathe Jaw Storage

I’ve used dowels (2 per jaw) to retain the jaw in place, and have located them with the mounting rings where appropriate.

Between a Rock….

You are walking in the bush, or beside a stream, and see a rock like any other, a bit dirty, perhaps with a good collection of moss (not a rock of the rolling variety).  You might walk right on pass, use it as a stepping stone, or pick it up and toss it into the water for a satisfying splash.

Or, like some, you may instead recognise a potential treasure waiting to be released from its crusty cocoon.

Takes a bit to do that however – it is a rock after all, so a diamond blade is definitely the order of the day.  So into my Dad’s workshop, and after firmly clamping the rock (I’m sure he’ll tell us what it is!) it is slowly fed into the constantly oil lubricated blade, first slicing it in two, before cutting off some thin slices.

An experienced eye may be able to have a pretty fair idea of what is inside, but really it is a mystery until the stone is cleaved.

In this case, I have a couple of thin slices and along with a fair few other slices from different stones, ready to be incorporated into some wooden designs – perhaps an infill section of a box lid.

So pretty interesting not only to get to see what is inside what is otherwise just another boulder, but also to be able to cut it to a thickness, and sometimes a shape that can be utilised in another project.


“An Evening With” – cancelled

Please note:

Carbatec have cancelled the entire “An evening with” programme, so the upcoming booking on September 1 (An Evening with Stu’s Shed) has also been cancelled.

This includes any other evenings that were also arranged with other presenters.

Sorry about the short notice – I’ve only just found out myself.

An unnecessary weight

Sometimes, it adds to the whole tactile experience when you pick up a wooden object and feel the weight and substance of the object.  On the other hand when I’m turning these days, I like the idea that the object is no heavier than it needs to be, or to put it another way, that the object has a wall thickness that is as thin as possible without compromising the structural integrity.

I had another go today, this time at a piece of walnut that I found in my wood rack and came up with the following bowl:

Walnut Bowl

It isn’t as dark as I was expecting (for walnut), but it still has a very nice pattern to the grain.

To give you an idea of size/scale, here is the bowl with my hand for reference.


For the underside, I used the expanding jaw to hold the bowl while turning the inside, so then remounted the bowl in Cole jaws and turned the majority of it away to leave a subtle raised-ring foot for the bowl.


Now as to the weight and wall thickness.  I measured the walls to have an average thickness of 3.5mm, and it is surprisingly light when you pick it up.  So I weighed it.

Bowl Weight

A whole 40g. The weight of 8 sheets of A4 80 gsm paper.

Guess there is very little extraneous timber left in that bowl!


This section of an old Rimu tree was 815 years old when it was felled in the 1920s. It is now housed in the Auckland Museum, and although it isn’t the largest, or widest or anything, it is still quite an impressive sample.  I can remember seeing it on many visits over the past 40 years.

Ancient Rimu

At 815 years (from 1920), that makes it germination date (equivalent to its birth date) in 1105.  This tree certainly saw its share of history, including the building of Notre Dame in 1163, the foundation of Oxford University in 1168, the use of windmills in 1185.  There is so much that happened in the lifetime of this tree – it is quite incredible.

Wonder how many pens could be made from this slab?

Make a pretty impressive turned bowl!

Aotearoa Pounamu

It is sometimes hard to find the perfect souvenir, especially from a place that was once also home.  I was looking for something particularly meaningful, a bit of a statement of my past. I already have a bone fishhook – a very traditional symbol representing the hook used by Maui when he hooked and pulled Aotearoa from the sea.  Hei Matua (the fishing hook) represents strength & determination, and safe passage over water.

Polynesian Sailing Canoe at Auckland Museum

I wanted to add to this something carved from Greenstone (also known as Jade). With such a flood of cheap Chinese knockoffs, and non-New Zealand Jade being sold as if it was genuine, I tried hard to identify something locally crafted, from genuine New Zealand stone. As a woodworker, there was an extra layer of meaning in the piece I chose – a traditional adze-head form. Greenstone is Pounamu in the native tongue (an official language in New Zealand).

It is said that each piece absorbs the mana (the spirit) of the individual, and the stone forever yearns for its source- Aotearoa, and a promise that those whole leave the shores will one day return. (Added importance therefore of getting New Zealand stone, and not some Chinese knockoff.  To be fair, Canada is also a source of quality Jade, and a lot of that is also sold in New Zealand.  Look for “New Zealand Nephrite Jade”.  If it just says “Nephrite Jade” it is likely British Colombian.  If it doesn’t have that, it is likely to be Chinese. You have to ask if it is not clear.  Not that Chinese jade is necessarily of lesser quality, but I have a problem with the concept that I am trying to buy something authentic- hand crafted/carved Aotearoa Pounamu (New Zealand Greenstone), and don’t want some cheap crap machine manufactured, potentially inferior quality jade that may or may not be chemically treated so it looks better than it is.)

Greenstone is a traditional material chosen primarily for its ornamental properties. It was used as a practical material although was often reserved for obsidian- a volcanic glass. Very hard, and being glass, can be chipped to form an extremely sharp working edge.

Adze Heads at Auckland Museum

I must admit to being very disappointed (but I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised) when I discovered that there was so much foreign jade imported, and shaped offshore into traditional designs.  Why there isn’t a ban on the importation of it is rather confusing. Is the pursuit of the almighty dollar more important than heritage? One major reseller of jade in Rotorua looked as if almost 3/4 of their stock was foreign materials and/or foreign shaped & carved.

Something to be aware of, if shopping for a memento, and wanted something traditional. Not everything green is (NZ) stone.

Aotearoa Pounamu

Other than the bone fish hook (Hei Matua) that I already had, the Adze head piece was the one that I added this time.  Known as Toki, it was originally a carving tool that became ceremonial, inherited Taonga (treasure), which symbolises strength and courage.

The final piece was one my wife got, which incorporates the Koru, which is the unfurling fern frond and depicts new beginnings and growth.  Both jade pieces were carved by a young Rotorua carver Scott Parker.

Silver Fern Frond

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