Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Where did you start?

All of us who turn must have started somewhere. By that I mean we must have begun with one piece or one style, either faceplate or spindle turning. Everyone says you have to start with spindles, I think because it is cheap, easy (sort of) and safe, an important concern if you are the company selling a lathe and recommending a starting project. Of course, some people start to turn to turn spindles literally, for a chair or other furniture project.
I began while living in Sherbrooke Village, Nova Scotia, part of the historical museum (no, I was not an exhibit, thank you very much). It is considered a teaching village and Rick Lair, the wood turner and a chair maker extraordinaire, taught wood turning from time to time. In his class the first thing I made was shavings, just to practice. then I made a mallet, modelled after the potato mashers used in the 18th century. I still have the mallet.
That was about all for a good ten years or more. Then I got a lathe, one of the old single tube jobs. Still have it. At first I turned a couple of dibbers and rolling pins but I really got the lathe for bowls. So I put on a chunk of wood and turned a bowl. I read and turned some more bowls.
Now a days, more than ten years have passed, and likely 80% (just a guess) of my turning is spindles like pens, ornaments, dibbers and the like. When I need to refresh my memory and my skills, I turn a bowl. It reminds me of things like rubbing the bevel, choosing line and cut, determining the point of entry, relaxing to the cut and the like.
Really, I think face plate stuff is easier and more fundamental than spindle turning although both are fun and important. For sure a bowl gouge or an Oland tool is easier than a skew. When I teach I like to start folks on tealights and bowls.
So what about you? How did you start and what do you turn today?


Mike Burr said...

I started actually with the dreaded skew. I had some small between centers stock and was playing around making 6 inch baseball bats for the boys to play with. I roughed them round and then proceded to see what kind of damage this knife like thing would do. From there I expanded into doing the spindles for the front porch, and then onto the first of 2 bowls. Was looking at some stuff from woodcraft the other day and thinking "That would make an interesting bowl." Oh well, there goes the addiction.

Peter said...

I was doing a big renovation on a huge front porch in Port Dalhousie On. The home owner asked if I could turn some small posts to match the ones around the "widows walk" on the roof. "Sure" I said, "If I had a lathe" Next day he showed up with a Rockwell/Beaver and set of Record tools he had bought for me. I used the 3480 rpm motor of my tablesaw and started to learn spindle turning! It was scary!
Didn't do anything with the lathe afterwards for many years until 2000 when out of curiosity I took a chunk of spalted wormy maple out of the firewood pile and strapped a 1725rpm washing machine motor to the old Beaver and turned my first bowl. The rest is history and a severe addiction. Unfortunately I have very limited tine for turning right now, but retirement looms next March WOOHOOO!!!

Twisted Turner said...

Me I started out turning a file handle in jr. High schoool. I did not touch a lathe for 20 some odd years. And then bought a midi lathe and decided I wanted to make goblets and vases. I learned real quick that what I was tought in jr. high was the wrong way to go about it. I have been turning for about 5 or 6 years now and I look back on my first turnings that I thought were pretty good then and compare them to what I am turning now What a difference :).

Darrell Feltmate said...

Makes you wonder about all that stuff we learned in school, does it not? (from a former school teacher and the son of two) By the way, you kow you are addicted when you drive down the street and see a gnarly, twisted mess of an oak and you say, "I want that tree."

sandysea said...

Hmmm....my boyfriend is a master carpenter with a wood shop. Seems like I work more and more with him on job sites installing custom cabinetry and the like....learning to use the chop saw, screw guns, jigsaws, etc. I have learned to LOVE wood and the beauty that exists in it.

So today he introduced me to the lathe. I played with it along with him and want to make some pepper grinders for Christmas for him and for a few family members.

Scary? OH YEAH that thing spins out of control and it is on the slow speed; but I think I could get addicted to this wood turning. Any any help will be appreciated. Tips for a newbie (a girl no less) and ideas for some beautiful things....it takes my mind off my real job...I am an accountant, self employed and sometimes this gives me a headache.

Thanks for the site it is great!!!

Darrell Feltmate said...

Great to have you on the lathe. Power tools have helped to drop the gender barrier. Once you get a piece of wood on to the lathe the heavy stuff is over. For that matter a lot of what I turn rarely goes over five pounds. There are a lot of women turning now and it is great to add another to the roster. Keep it up.