Here, Rob Stoakley takes you through some of th e must have turning essentials including Axminster Tools' Evolution Series Turner's Smock and a nifty tip to make your Flexipad sander more productive.

The Flexipads Fix

Having had a forced hiatus from all workshop activities, I decided to ease my way back in by turning some stuff on the lathe. As a result, I topped up my sanding equipment with Flexipads sanding pads, which I use with a flexible shaft.

These sanding pads are available in a variety of different sizes and are excellent. But, as Andy L (one of our customers) noted in July 2015, the foam pad “gets hot very quickly and the hooks melt”.

They do indeed and it’s extremely easy to make them disappear quickly, which makes sticking the abrasive discs to the pad difficult. The 50mm conical Flexipad retails for around £10. Under moderate use on the lathe over the course of a couple of days, I rendered the pad almost bald!

I’d find it a tad irksome to keep shelling out every time I needed to replace a Flexipads sander, so I thought that there must be a fix that could somehow be made. It was, in the event, surprisingly simple and very cost effective.

What hooks remain on the periphery of the pad were removed on the disc sander to leave a flat, clean surface.


I then found a source of 50mm wide, heavy duty, velcro-style self-adhesive hook and loop fastening, which I bought for £4.22 a metre. It also happened to be exactly the right width for the Flexipad sander.

It was then a simple matter to cut out a circular piece and stick it onto the pad. There’s also plenty of the hook and loop fastening left over for the next time this needs to be repeated.


This particular Flexipad is meant to be used with 50mm dia circular sanding pads. But if you use Abranet® sanding sheets in the workshop, you’ll find these are equally as effective.

Evolution Series Turner's Smock

At the same time as I bought the rest of my turning gear, I purchased a new Evolution Turner's Smock having spoken at length about them with Colwin Way from the Skill Centre.

Evolution Turner’s Smock
Evolution Turner’s Smock, as used by our Skill Centre tutors (Colwin Way second on the right) and students

There are some very significant improvements made to this new smock, which makes it far better than the old pattern:

• Sleeves are much shorter, and can be closed off with a velcro-style tab. This minimises the danger of long cuffs becoming entangled in a revolving chuck.

• The full length, heavy duty metal zip closes right to the throat. The zip in turn is hidden by a fabric cover, which is secured by several velcro-style tabs. This is beneficial, as any work held against the turner’s body is not likely to be damaged by the zip. The new smock also sports a high collar with another velcro-style fastening to keep shavings at bay.

• There’s now a breast pocket which is useful for a 150mm rule and pencil.

• Finally, there are two large pockets at the rear. These won’t get filled with shavings as a result of a busy day’s work at the lathe.

The smock range is available from medium to extra-large. If there’s any doubt about sizing, opt for the larger size. It will provide more freedom of movement when turning.