How are you doing? I know there are bigger problems in the world at the moment, but it hasn’t been a good week for woodworkers. First of all the cancellation of the North of England Woodworking Show (that’s the Harrogate one), and then I’ve just learned that the AWGB Seminar planned for late September has also been cancelled. I’ve been told of another show cancellation as well, but I’ve been asked not to say anything until a proper announcement (coming soon) has been made. The only good news about any of the above is that all of these events are being re-planned for next year.
Where does this put the Woodturning Weekender? you may ask. It’s a good question; I’m planning a Weekender bulletin very soon, in which I’ll update everyone who has subscribed. Suffice to say, at the moment, we’re still going ahead… Meanwhile, let’s get on with some questions…

First off this week it’s a return to the question that came up last week about compost! I misunderstood the original question, and failed to take into account the effect any finishes may have on minibeasts, microbes and fungi that do all the work. I’m grateful to Chestnuteer Viv, who the question came from (indirectly) for his input, and having dug a little deeper (pardon the pun) I’ve revised my thoughts on this…
In the absence of definitive information I think it’s best to err on the side of caution. My local council only accept ‘untreated’ wood shavings, and do not accept sawdust in their compost collections at all. Based on this, I think it would be best to avoid allowing shavings that have had any sort of coating on them to enter into the compost system. This removes any chance of harm coming to anyone. The obvious method, to me, would be to collect up any shavings from the first stage of the turning, up to the point when any finishes are used but prior to any sanding. These can be added to the compost if required. Any shavings/dust created after that point should be swept up and discarded in the appropriate way.

Another Chestnuteer, Frederick, was having trouble getting a good finish with our Acrylic Gloss Lacquer. He’d applied Ebonising Lacquer first, then our Iridescent Paints, followed by several coats of the lacquer, rubbing down to a smooth surface between each coat. Every time the lacquer was drying to a matt finish, did I have any ideas why this should be?
There are a couple of things that came to mind; it could be that not enough of the lacquer was being applied. It’s a fine line between too much – resulting in runs and sags – and not enough – resulting in a poor finish. There needs to be enough lacquer on the surface for it to flow out properly and give a full gloss. I suggested being just a little more generous with the lacquer.
The other suggestion is that the change in the weather (we’d just gone from extremely hot to cold and rainy) could be causing the problem. A damp atmosphere will often affect finishes in this way. Ensuring a comfortably warm working area is key. Frederick brought the items indoors to warm up a little before spraying them again, and was very happy with the results.

Did you see Rick Dobney’s demo for us on YouTube as part of our Conkers LIVE series? It was great, and if you missed it you can still see it here.
During the demo, Rick turned an aluminium finial. It looked great, and Rick was careful to mention the dangers of the aluminium swarf, which is extremely sharp. But I was contacted by someone who had been told that small aluminium chips can spontaneously combust, which could be especially dangerous if included in a bag of shavings.
I’ve done some research into this, and asked some ‘in-the-know’ people and the general consensus is that any reports of this are erroneous, and any fires that may have occurred, were created by other factors. Commonly available aluminium bar and its debris are unlikely to be combustible at all.
Using reclaimed aircraft, car or motorcycle parts should be approached with care if they have a high magnesium content (I don’t know how you’d know, sorry), but even then, creating the exact disposal conditions to cause problems is extremely unlikely.
So the choice of how you deal with metal swarf is yours.

Phew! That turned into a long Newsletter, sorry about that. Just lots of info to try and squeeze in. So I’ll just say have a good week and I’ll see you back here in seven days!