Nick Agar

Last weekend my turning club had Nick Agar come to do a full day demo and a Hands-On worshop. I was familiar with Nick’s work since I had been his videographer at the AAW Symposium in Tampa, so when I heard he was on an extended tour of the US and had some free time we knew we had to sign him up.

Nick is best known for his Viking Sunset bowl and I thought it would be a good project both for a demo and for the Hands-On session. It would teach a lot of different techniques. I had made one of his Viking Sunset bowls and it had turned out OK, but there were some improvements I could make so I decided to take the Hands-On session as well.

Agar 001smNick was very much at ease and you could see that he was really familiar with this project, but also had a tremendous amount of in depth knowledge about woodturning.

He started out with the Viking Sunset bowl demo, first showing us how he roughs out the bowl shape using a pull cut.

Agar 002smAfter this he does a push cut that removes much of the tear-out, the moves on to a shear cut. He hones the gouge for the last shear cut to get the surface ready for sanding.

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Agar 003smWith a smooth outside of the bowl the projects moves into more artistic fun – the adding of texture. Two of his favorite tools are the Sorby big and mini sprialling tools. Nick now does the Sorby videos on the use of these tools and he give very clear instructions of what you can and can’t do with them.

Agar 006smHowever, this is only the beginning. Once the spiralling is done he adds more texture using leather punches, screwdriver tips, a Wagner embossing tool and even pyrography. The whole purpose is to create deep impressions into the wood.

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Then the whole thing gets painted black using spirit dye and an airbrush. With the black dye in the impressions, covering the surface with a metallic gilding cream makes the impressions really pop. He uses a fingertip full and rubs it between finger and thumb to provide a thin layer. You don’t want any of the gilding cream to get into the impressions.

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Now to finish the inside. After facing off the blank he creates a beaded rim. This rim will also be painted black after texture has been applied.

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He then uses a 1/4” continental grind bowl gouge to undercut the rim and start down the wall of the interior. This gives him a much smoother surface, but this small gouge can’t do too much of the interior due to vibration, so he makes the switch to a more robust gouge. Using the continental grind gouge is something I want to learn more about during the hands-on session.

Agar 015smThe cut isn’t made all the way to the bottom. He leaves some wood which will later become a decorative medallion.

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Once the medallion has been textured, painted and gilded, he creates the “sunset”. Yellow and red spirit dyes applied through another airbrush do the trick.

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The bowl is almost done. Reverse chucking, turning off the tenon and then adding more decoration and the bowl is finished.

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We were all impressed.

A bit of lunch and then we were on to the second project. Nick started by showing us the basics of using an airbrush.

Airbrush001smThen he moved on to the use of stencils.


What to put this stenciled images on?? Not to worry. In no time he creates a large rimmed platter .

A few leaves would be nice.


It was amazing how quickly and easily he could make beautiful leaves.


A few more demos on the different texturing tools and we were done for the day. It was a day just packed with information.

The next day was our Hands-On session. Six of us had our mini-lathes set up to work on a Viking Sunset bowl. I had made one the week before, but there were some issues, so I wanted to take the session and have Nick walk me through all the steps.

HandsOn001I had some 8/4 hard maple which worked well, although it wouldn’t be a deep bowl. I was pleased with the shape and the quality of the finish. I also used the continental grind gouge for the first time to get a clean undercut. I generally use my swept back grind, but this turned out good.

Then I added my texturing, including getting out my Graeme Priddle style woodburner to add some pyro.

I was pretty pleased with the texture and then added the guilders cream.


Adding the cream definitely went better on this bowl than my first. I had tried all the metallic waxes at the local craft stores and none of them had worked as well as the stuff Nick had recommended from Craft Supply


Before we knew it, it was getting late, so we had to rush through the end of the project, but we were all pleased with the way our Viking Sunset bowls turned out.


Thanks Nick for a great demo and Hands-On.

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