The Huon Trophy

Posted by

Over January our family helped lead a youth camp, in which we introduced a bunch of grade 9-12 kids to the fun of white-water kayaking over the course of a week. Toward the end of the camp we had a little accident, but before the evidence was discarded I snapped it up with the idea of using it to create a perpetual Huon Trophy.

Starting with an old Tasmanian Oak window lintel, I dressed, cut and glued it up into a block which would form the trophy base.

Some rummaging about revealed a nearly perfectly sized scrap for the stem. It is a delicate balance when deciding what scrap to keep and what to discard of into the firewood pile. so when a smaller piece of retained scrap comes in handy it makes me feel as though I have the fulcrum optimally placed. I turned the stem to round, with a tenon on one end the same size as my largest forstner bit.

Rough turning the stem

It was then time to drill a matching hole in the base blank, trim the corners and glue in the stem to form the completed blank. Keen eyed readers may note that the orientation of the blank changed through this series of photos. Whilst drilling the hole I was in bowl blank mode, and forgot that it really needed to be in the spindle orientation to match the stem. I’m sure a more accomplished turner would have been able to happily cope with the changed grain orientation, but I chose to play it safe and re-drill the hole on the correct plane.

The blank was now ready to turn. I mounted it in the lathe and with the slowest speed started roughing out the shape. This was the heaviest blank I’ve turned to date so it was with a little trepidation that I spun up that hunk of wood. In then end it wasn’t scary at all. Being reasonably well balanced, and with a heavy lathe bed it behaved very well. That being said, bone dry timber is hard going, and seemed to dull my chisels very quickly.

I really didn’t have much of an idea of what I was aiming for, and for a while kept changing and refining until finally the shape just sort of found itself. Phew, as I was hogging off a lot of wood in my deliberations! Lesson learned for next time: have a clear(er) idea of what you’re aiming for before you start.

And with that, all that was left was to sand, apply several coats of shellac and finish with wax. I bent a piece of aluminium bar to which I attached the helmet, and screwed to the top of the stem. As a finishing touch, I found some brass shim material and made the inaugural plaque, engraved with the Dremel, and screwed to the base. Thank goodness I have a bunch of tiny brass screws in my box making supplies jar.

All in all I was really pleased with how it turned out. It is the first time I’ve glued up multiple components to form a single blank, and apart form being more conscious of getting a better match between the base and stem, I’m chuffed. There is enough place for twenty plaques, so I don’t expect I’ll need to make another one until 2040.

Oh, and if you’ve ever considered white-water kayaking, your really should give it a go. It’s much safer than you think!


March, 2021

One comment

  1. I can only hope that the original wearer of that helmet was patched up with as much care! – A very beautiful looking trophy though. Almost worth the scalp it cost to make it!

Leave a Reply