Saturday, December 16, 2017

Philip Moulthrop Studio Tour - May 2012

by Wes Jones

Philip Moulthrop Studio Tour By Wes Jones If you missed the studio tour, you missed a once in a lifetime opportunity. I have known Philip and his son Matt for a number of years. I have admired the work of the Moulthrop family ever since the first article on the grandfather, Ed Moulthrop, was published in 1983. That article was one of the things that made me want to take up woodturning in a big way and put conventional woodworking on the back burner.

We had 14 people at the studio tour and we spent a couple of hours touring Philip’s home and studio. He has 40-50 turned pieces on display throughout his home. They range from 4” to 32” in diameter in a number of different species of wood. And they are absolutely magnificent. Besides the typical Moulthrop closed bowl design, he makes platters, wall hangings, and vases. Of particular interest to me were the “mosaic” bowls and platters that Philip makes, where he imbeds pieces of wood in a black epoxy matrix. They are really stunning. Philip and Matt have worked on the epoxy finishing materials and the polishing techniques through the years and have made substantial improvements over the finish that Ed developed.

Philip’s studio takes up his whole basement and is divided between turning, PEG soaking, drying, finishing, and polishing areas. His two very large ‘home-made’ bowl lathes are very impressive. Philip commented that he had bought a Powermatic 3520 several years ago, but he later sold it because he never used it. He demonstrated the large hook and lance tools that he uses to shape the pieces. To provide the leverage needed on these large pieces, he uses a toolrest with movable fulcrum pins and very long tool handles. Because the tools are heavy and up to 8-feet long, he has a wheeled trolley that he uses to support the tool handle.

A neat piece of equipment that Philip designed and had built was a large frame with multiple interconnected chain-driven spindles. He puts bowls that have been coated with epoxy finish on the spindles and they rotate very slowly while the epoxy hardens. He also has a number of 4-foot diameter plastic tubs containing PEG 1000, which is a polyethylene glycol compound. These tubs are full of roughed out bowls soaking for several weeks so that the PEG can displace the water in the wood cells.

The studio is very well laid out. The sanding and finishing area has a large filtration and exhaust fan to pull dust and fumes out of the work area and exhaust them outside. He also has a drying closet with shelves for a number of pieces and a dehumidifier to speed up the drying process. Several dozen pieces of work in process were in various stages of completion in the studio.

Philip is very organized. One whole wall at the bottom of the steps is devoted to bins holding labeled rolls of sandpaper. In the backyard is his wood yard, where log sections are seasoning and waiting to be selected for turning. Philip’s whole operation is as impressive as the woodturned art that he makes.

After the tour, Philip served refreshments and continued answering our questions. He graciously autographed copies of the book, Moulthrop – A Legacy In Wood, by Kevin Wallace. This beautiful volume tells the story of the three generations of Moulthrop turners. The pictures are fantastic and nicely complement the interesting and compelling story.

I want to extend the thanks of the Chattahoochee Woodturners to Philip for opening his studio to us and giving us an up close and personal view of the operation of a true woodturning artist.

The following pictures were taken by Mike Gibson of our tour of Philip’s studio and home.

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