Joe Laird – Profile

As one of Nature’s most versatile materials, wood has been put to both practical and decorative use for centuries. The diversity of the wood itself accentuates its bold attractiveness.

In the hands of  Craftsman, wood can be transformed into a wide variety of distinctive shapes for use in domestic and commercial settings. It is that talent that Joe Laird brings to his skill as a wood turner, and his reputation for creativity and quality is recognised both in Ireland and overseas.

Wood has been central to his entire life as a 7th generation cabinetmaker; Joe has spent all his working life with wood and is truly passionate about his craft. He likes the wood to determine the final piece, often using the wood’s natural qualities and idiosyncrasies to enhance the visual and aesthetic appeal of the finished item. Adding texture, colour and metals to certain pieces is a particular feature of his contemporary work. His ability to produce a perfect silk-like finish on the inside that contradicts the outside of each piece has also been a significant factor in winning numerous awards over the years.

Joe has brought his wood skills to the wood turning world only in the last 20 years, and turned wood turning into his profession 16 years ago, with his time now spent both teaching and demonstrating overseas and at home in Dublin. Recently Joe has been accepted onto the Register of Professional Turners (RPT) as the First International wood turner outside the UK to be recognized.  A truly great achievement and Joe is honoured to be accepted onto the register.

Over the last 12 years Joe has developed and perfected the amazing Irish Oak Whiskey Tumbler which now holds its own with Whiskey enthusiasts Worldwide. This now forms part of a handmade production run for Joe and has a limited amount produced each year.

Joe hopes to spend many more years learning and exploring the endless possibilities of this fascinating natural material we all seem to love:   Wood.


1. SQUARE BOWL – Ever wonder how a Square bowl with 4 flat sides can be turned on a lathe? Well as they say; its not hard once you know, so come along and we will go through the steps of preparing the blanks. Turning the outside to produce 4 flat sides and then turning the inside to contradict the outside shape. We will look at other possibilities to develop this even futher by adding beads and a round foot to enhance the piece. This is a fun a rewarding piece to take on and great potential for development.

2. SHAMROCK BOWL – This is an interesting and challenging piece to do. We will cover faceplate turning to true up the blank and alternative methods that might be possible, then the geometry on how to mark the piece (important)  Once marked we make 3 off  centre chucking points on the back which is like a practice run for the main 3 bowls being turned on the front. Each bowl has its own challenges as the first one has full surface contact but as we move on we have less wood to to play with. I will give you all the do’s and don’t’s I know on how to get the best results with this piece. Then we will mount for spindle turning to produce the stem for the shamrock look (intadating) Finally we will remove our chucking points to produce a really interesting piece of woodturning. This is a challenging piece to take on but once we take our time and follow the steps we will achieve the reward.

 3. CELTIC BOWL – This is one of my favourite pieces to do, I have sold many over the years and even though they start out the same they all tend to be unique depending on the timber we use. We will discuss the piece and how it developed over the years, the form of the piece also is important as the outside completely contradicts the inside so it doesn’t follow tradition. Then we will look at the textures that I use along with some alternatives and tips. Adding inserts, metal or wood to this piece is a bonus and we will cover that along with making a simple jig for your lathe to do the drilling.  Colour is also a factor with this as the outside is different from the inside so even though we have turned a new piece we will make it look old withsome colour. A very pleasing and rewarding piece to do and a lovely item to have in your own collection. 

Masterclass – Off centre figure with texture and colour