Monday, May 11, 2015

Wood turning.....the beginning

 So back to the story....

My Snowman
The following month I went to a community hall about 20 minutes from me and had a fantastic time. I watched the club chairman turn an adorable little snowman before being let loose on a small lathe to make my own. Sure that it was unlikely that my piece would look even remotely snowman-like I had a go anyway and was so pleased when at the end of the night I went home with a little piece of sycamore that ACTUALLY looked like a snowman. He spend the next six weeks on display before being packed away with the rest of the ornaments for next year. I haven't missed missed a meeting yet (2 each month).

Santa must have decided that with all the turmoil lately that I deserved a nice present and brought me a lathe for Christmas. Yes, my own lathe. Not a big one of course (I have to be able lift the darn thing) but an entry level one perfect for someone starting out. An Amazon gift card bought me a starter set of tools and off I went.

I had an awful lot to learn.

With monthly demonstration and hands on evenings I got better at handling the tools and I made a few other little things but at home I tended to spend too long watching turning videos on Youtube and not actually much time on my lathe, partly due to a lack of a suitable bench to put my lathe on.

My Lathe Station
This all changed when a new member to the wood turning group I attend, just so happened to live quite literally around the corner from me AND I found an abandoned, heavy duty bookcase at the bus stop 20/30 feet from my front door in the same week.  Now I had a sturdy lathe station with storage beneath the lathe and a buddy who wants to learn to turn too. G has a more comprehensive workshop where I can use the band saw to prepare wood quickly and also he has a good supply of hardwood scraps from local joiners which he was happy to share meaning I didn't need to worry about ruining the few nice pieces I had.

Inspired by Japanese rice bowl
My first visit to G's workshop I started work on my first ever bowl. Sadly once I got it home I decided to refine a surface I had already finished and it did not end well. With a bang the bowl exploded sending pieces of Sapele everywhere. Thankfully a few days earlier I had invested in an full face shield which saved my left face from disaster (I wear glasses so eyes were safe). I swear never to turn without my face shield! The guy on Youtube is right, goggles are not enough. Those bowl shards had sharp edges and could have done some damage.

First Completed Bowl
Undeterred I chucked up another blank (from G) and completed my first bowl. It was not perfect by any means but it was mine and I was proud of it.

There are a few other things I have turned for practise, a tool handle, a mallet handle for a 100% recycled mallet for guide camp this summer, a couple of mushrooms (a lathe staple) and a failed honey dipper (half my fault, half the wood grain was too course) but you didn't come here to read about full sized items did you?!?

I had pinned many mini turnings on pinterest, some simple, some definitely not simple. On my last trip to G's workshop I had dug around in the bin for the bits left over when you cut a circle out of a square on the band saw for a bowl. The pieces in the corner were cut into small blocks (1" square by 2 inches long) and they came home with me. Later that week I had been working on some normal sized items and after the honey dipper I decided to try something small in dolls house small.

To be continued



  1. love your story, Kim! thanks for sharing...I have been thinking of learning to turn wood as well! look forward to your next posting!

    1. Thank you Suzanne, things will get smaller from here....