Starting the enormous lampshade...

12 April 2014, Woodturning in practice, Would you like to leave a comment?

This has to be my most challenging commission to date and the first time I'll be attempting something truly gigantic.

I’ve been approached by the designer of a bistro, who is looking for a feature with a difference. The plan is for me to make a 3’ diameter lampshade, complete with natural edge! They would like me to turn the piece green so that it slowly distorts over time.

This is a big step up from my normal process and will require quite a few changes to my methods. My friends at DF timber will be called upon once again – I’ve no access to a forklift, so my workshop is out of the equation.

After quite a bit of searching, I discovered an ash trunk, which was large enough and free from defects. Ash is probably the best timber to use for green turning, due to its natural resistance to cracking. Its grain is not too dense and usually easier to work. With the help of a local tree surgeon, I cut out the piece I wanted and loaded it onto his wagon.

This is the tree I used - it was the only one I could find that was large enough!...


My chosen piece loaded onto the wagon...

Log on wagon.jpg

Unloaded and ready for processing...

Unloading the log.jpg

An awful lot of chain sawing was required, in order to get it down to size. At this stage it was impossible to lift by hand, so a forklift was on standby all the time!

A large piece of ash!.jpg

Chainsawed blank.jpg

I needed an engine hoist to lift and position the blank on the lathe. The faceplate had been fastened in place with large coach screws, so I was confident it would not drop off. However, after removing the engine hoist, it looked very precarious indeed!

Lifting a large blank.jpg

Large blank on lathe.jpg

I’ll be starting the turning process soon – there’s going to be a lot of wood to remove! Updates will follow shortly...

Jonathan Leech

Written by Jonathan Leech

Jonathan Leech is a woodturner working and living in Cumbria. He specialises in making bowls, dishes and platters from local sustainably sourced timber. Read more or about Jonathan or see a selection of his work.

Your comments

  1. Gravatar of chris
    chris16 April 2014 11:59

    Hi Jonathan

    love following you blog, your always stuns and inspires.

    The big lamp looks like it will be a interesting project, I was commissioned to make a small run of live edge pendants a while ago for a nondo's restaurant. Half the diameter but still challenging, especially as they wanted them in a month turned from green. Below is a link to the final things.

    No real question or comment, just a thought shared between fellow woodturners.


  2. Gravatar of Jonathan Leech
    Jonathan Leech18 April 2014 08:29

    Hi Chris,

    I've nearly finished the big shade - it was a lot harder than I expected. I'm getting a local welder to make me a new tool rest, since it is too deep to reach inside!

    I love your pendants - the natural edge is a great feature. Do you know if they have moved much since turning?

    Best wishes

  3. Gravatar of chris
    chris18 April 2014 21:25

    Well i roughed them and left them to dry for several months before finishing,but they were still at 18-20% mc when they left. I imagine they will have moved a little.

    you must have an almighty lathe to turn that on. I enjoyed your post a while back when you had gotten your new JET lathe being a "smaller" lathe for candleholders and things. If thats your small lathe then you must have something mega for your normal work.

    I look forward to seeing the shade, are you hang a giant bulb made for it ?

  4. Gravatar of Jonathan Leech
    Jonathan Leech28 April 2014 10:25

    They sound very dry - the big lampshade was turned green, so will probably be a rather interesting shape in a few months time!

    I used a VB for the big shade, although you could have done it on a regular lathe at a push. The jet is fantastic and fairly powerful, although it is dwarfed by the VB - the main advantage is that there is no lathe bed, so you can stand in front of it when you are turning.

    I guess the big Jet is a slight overkill for candlesticks! - I was going to buy a much smaller machine, but changed my mind at the last moment!

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