Ashley Harwood Visits the Northeast Florida Woodturning Association

Ashley Harwood Visits the Northeast Florida Woodturning Association

March 21, 2015

Bob Hunt

Head Shot

Ashley Harwood, of Charleston, SC, did a day-long demonstration at the shop of Jim and Sandy Schroeer for our club and a few guests. Her demonstration included lots of instruction on how to execute her push cut, turning her beautiful sea urchin ornaments and elegant finials, turning a bowl, and a multitude of tips on turning, sharpening, design and tool selection, and finished her day with a slide show presentation of her trip to the jungles of Panama to start a turning program for the locals. I was busy taking photographs so I did not get to take notes, so I will document her demo in photos with captions. On Sunday, she held a hands-on class for 8 of our members, which I did not attend.

For those of you not familiar with Ashley, you can see her website at: Ashley has only been turning for about 6 years and is already one of the fastest rising stars of the turning scene. She began turning at the suggestion of her father, apprenticed under Stuart Batty, set her goal to become a professional turner and international demonstrator, and accomplished all this in just a few short years.

Our thanks to Ashley for the wonderful day with her and all she taught us. And to Jim (get well soon, Jim) and Sandy for once again opening the doors of their shop so we can have a place for our demonstrations. And, of course, to all the attendees who spent the day with us. If you ever get the chance to attend a demo by Ashley, or, better yet to take a class from her, do so. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Ed Malesky, our club President, is smiling and sweating. Smiling because he is introducing our demonstrator. Sweating because he had spent the last hour hustling to get the video equipment set up and debugged. For those of you up North, it was a chilly 80 degrees that day here in Florida.

Ed Intro

Evidently Ashley didn’t trust my photo skills, so she took her own photo of the crowd before she got started. She took one photo, I took 203. So, there!

Ashley taking photo

This is the crowd she saw through her viewfinder. We had a very nice turnout today!


She says she needs her coffee fix before she turns. If that’s all it takes, I want to know her brand!

Coffee cup

Notice the ring on her left hand? That’s an engagement ring. Ashley informed us she was getting married about two weeks after this demo. Sigh.


Ashley is standing behind a brand new Robust lathe, generously provided by our good friend Don Geiger. Thank you so much, Don.


Don is the owner of Geiger’s Solutions. He developed some of the most innovative jigs and devices to help turners sharpen their tools. Now he has added the Robust lathe to the turning related equipment he sells. If you ever need any of these items, be sure to contact Don at the phone number shown in the photo. Tell him we sent you, and thank him for his support of this demo.

Like all good demonstrators, Ashley started by discussing her tools, favorite grind for different tools and cutting requirements, how she sharpens, body stance, tool presentation angles, etc.

Sharpening slide

Gouge profile

Of course, you need one of these to sharpen your gouge like she does, which she conveniently happens to sell Since she learned turning from Stuart Batty, it only makes sense that she is a distributor of his tools (hence the SB logo).

Sharpening platform

You need a gouge different from the dozen or so you already own to be able to turn like her, so just choose from the dozens of tools she brought with her.

And, just in case you are as old as I am, and your memory is starting to slip, you need her video to remind you what you saw today, and step by step instructions on how to try to replicate one of her beautiful ornaments. If you only knew how to operate that new iPad the grandkids bought you for Christmas, you could download this video, put it in front of your lathe, and follow along as you make your first sea urchin ornament.

Urchin 3

Ashley has developed a very professional, highly detailed set of slides to illustrate how to sharpen your gouge.


Then she showed in real time how to sharpen your gouges. In all fairness, she taught us how to sharpen using the standard platform that comes with every grinder, in case you decided not to purchase her set up.


To start your urchin ornament, fill it with expanding foam. When it hardens, use a cone-shaped grinding wheel that you can find at any grocery store. Huh? She corrected herself to say that you could find it at any hardware store. Natural mistake.

To make the finial, start with a piece of ebony…..

finial 1

. take away all the wood that is not part of the finial ….

finial 2

…. sand what’s left ….

finial 3

. put all the pieces together with a dowel, some glue and some fishing line ….

Urchin 2

. and you have yourself a beautiful sea urchin ornament. Now, wasn’t that easy?

Kay never blinked

I don’t think Kay blinked the whole time!

Ashely with ornament

And here is the maker with her creation.

Enough of the small stuff, let’s make some shavings fly and turn a bowl!

Bowl 1

Ashley started by mounting a bowl blank on the lathe between centers.

Bowl 2

Notice the delicate (no, I didn’t say girlie) touch when she is flattening the bottom, or was it the top, of the blank.

As if she knew what I was thinking, she switched to a heavier grip.

Bowl 3

Ashley always cuts off the corner to help start shaping the bowl. Notice she is using her signature push cut.

Bowl 4


Bowl 5

I asked her not to pose, so what does she do?

Bowl 6

Looks like an order of Wendy’s curly fries on her arm.

Bowl 5

Bowl 7

She keeps her thumb in the gouge flute and pushes down on the tool rest for control.

Bowl 8

Ashley likes to get shavings to stick to the wall! Something only a turner would think of.

Starting to hollow the bowl, cutting from the rim towards the bottom.

Bowl 9

She rounds the edge of the bowl with a negative rake scraper.

Bowl 10

Changes gouges to get across the bottom. There’s that delicate touch again!

Bowl 11

Don’t let the purists tell you that you can never use a scraper.

Bowl 9

Ashley uses a full bowl blank just to make her jam chuck! Now she can clean up the bottom of the bowl.

Bowl 13

She’s posing again!!

Bowl 14

Bowl 15

Nice bowl.

Eat your heart out, guys.

She had sold so many bowls she had to borrow this one from her fiancé to show us her normal rim detail.

Bowl 16

Her fiancé has a wedding cake business, so she turns stands he can either sell or rent along with his wonderful cakes!

Cake stand

At the end of the day she shared photos of her trip to Panama where she started a turning program for the locals.


Group photo

Ashley and her students

I know I can speak for everyone when I say just how thoroughly we enjoyed Ashley’s demo. In her few short years as a turner she has developed a great talent not just as an accomplished turner, but as a demonstrator, as well. We wish her continued success in her career, and in her upcoming marriage!

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