Tag Archives: Wood Turning

As the Spurtle turns….

This past weekend I was busy in the shop working on a variety of projects. Sunday I spent most of my day doing some wood-turning at the lathe.

A favorite warm up project of mine is to make a traditional wooden spurtle.

Variety of Spurtles
Variety of Spurtles

What’s a spurtle?

A spurtle is a traditional Scottish kitchen tool that dates back to the middle ages. Traditionally made from maple this utensil is often used to stir soups, and beat the lumps out of porridge.  If you are not big on porridge, it also works well with a wok and will not damage your pots and pans.

Dan turning on the lathe
Dan turning on the lathe

Over the weekend, my friend Dan Farnbach stopped by the shop for a quick lesson on the basics of spindle turning. He was a quick study and picked up a lot of the basics.

Roughing Gouge
Roughing Gouge

I learned about turning Spurtles from my friend and master wood turner Rich Friberg (NBSS PC2 Instructor). It’s a great way to make use of small pieces, produce something usable and explore design possibilities. For this piece I like how the small beads echo the light and dark similar to what you see in the curly figure itself.

Handle Detail
Handle Detail

A good spurtle is generally about a 10-12 inches long, held in the hand similar to a pencil or chop stick and stirs using a wrist action. I tend to like the designs that flair out a little bit at the bottom and are well balanced in the hand. Beyond that, the design possibilities are endless. The spurtle shown here is made from curly maple and finished with mineral oil. With use the finish can be renewed with more mineral oil or salad bowl oil.

Completed Spurtle
Completed Spurtle

If you make some spurtles of your own, make sure to share some pictures with us. If you get really good at making and using them you might want to enter the World Porridge Championships and compete for the Golden Spurtle.

Good luck and happy turning!

ADMINISTRATIVE NOTE:
Earlier this evening many of you may have received a partial post related to Sloyd showing a partial table — that was an accidental misfire wherein a draft got posted prematurely. But fear not, I do have some more Sloyd related posts coming up soon.

Rack ’em up — Lathe Tool Rack

As an avid wood turner I often spend a lot of time at the lathe.  When doing production work I am often trying to figure out better ways to be more efficient in my work. A modest time sink is often finding the next tool to use as historically my turning tools usually lived in a Woodcraft tool travel bag which was overflowing on a nearby table or tool, and a small rack for 4 tools that would sit on the end of my lathe’s bed. Over the past few weekends I set out to fix this problem…

Drilling Holes
Drilling Holes

The drill press got a workout hogging through a LOT of Maple…

Completed sets of holes
Completed sets of holes

Then came test fitting the joints….

Testing Joints
Testing Joints

Then making sure the size, shape and angles I figured actually worked for tools in the real world…

Working out design
Working out design

Refined the design a bit by tapering the sides…

Tapering the sides
Tapering the sides

Next up was fitting together each of the double units..

Completed racks awaiting finish
Completed racks awaiting finish

Then finishing them and installing them on to the 4’x4′ plywood backing. The backing, much like everything else in my workshop rides on a french cleat, so I can re-arrange my wall space each time my needs, tooling or shop changes.

Completed racks installed
Completed racks installed

Part of the beauty of this design is the over sized holes and the large dowel underneath which allows shavings to easily fall through the rack, rather than fill up as they would if the bottom of the holder was closed in. (This was a design element seen on similar, but smaller turning tool racks we had at NBSS — so thank you to my friend Rich Friberg or one of his predecessors for the inspiration 🙂  ) The completed rack looks naked without any tools, so time to populate it…

Completed racks, with room to grow
Completed racks, with room to grow

The completed rack has worked out great. When I turned the handles for my tools, I made them different shapes and species so I could tell them apart with only a quick glance and this rack allows for very fast identification and selection. There is room for my full sized tools, room for my smaller detail tools, and room to add more. (I’ve been itching to build some of the hollowing tools from Alan Lacer’s video on making your own turning tools). The rack holds 28 tools, 14 on each level, so as your collection of tools grows you can still make use of the shelf space — I filled some of the space with tiny turning blanks and rolls of turner’s tape)

Side view
Side view

Time to get back out into the shop and keep turning…