Finally Set up my "Shop" in Baghdad

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Blog entry by EOD_Eric posted 08-18-2009 11:41 PM 1213 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Well, I have spent the past few weeks getting my lathe together. I received a lathe for Christmas and deployed shortly thereafter. Fortunately for me, it was a lower-end midi model that I felt comfortable hauling to Iraq when I deployed at the beginning of February. Now, with my Masters out of the way, I have a few odd hours each week of spare time. I found a stash of wood (I have no idea what species) that was evidently cut down years ago…completely dry with large checks throughout. That said, there is some salvageable wood in there for small turnings. My first task one early Sunday morning in the 115 degree heat was to divide up one of the better shape trees into manageable size. I had ordered a 30 inch bow saw and spent about 3 hours trying to cut through this tree. I was smoked at the end, but had 3 pieces I could get back to the unit. My next step was to assemble a lathe table. I was able to scavenge a variety of plywood and 4×4s and cobbled together a decent table. I weighted it down with sandbags (plenty of those in Baghdad!) and cinder blocks. The lathe is bolted through the top. After humping my lathe in and out of my room for a couple of nights, I decided to add a cover to the table that I could secure and weather proof so I could leave the lathe outside. The cover doubles as a tool table when I am turning and turned out to be a great timesaver. I am on project number two now (a bowl). Almost everything is scavenged here. I have a few of my tools here, but no band saw or chainsaw, so my blanks are only roughly cut to size and diameter. I spend almost as much time prepping stock as I do on turning. There is no grinder, so I am hand sharpening gouges by hand. Boy, I never, ever realized how much time and effort is saved by using a grinder for sharpening! There are no finishes to be seen here, either, although I was able to order beeswax tonight and get it shipped here. I can buy superglue at the PX for $2 for a .07 oz bottle. And, to top it off, the variable speed box is no longer working and I have to send it back for repair. When all is said and done, however, it was all worth it after I spent a good 5 hours total turning a 4 inch x 4 inch by 9 inch piece of wood into an egg. I am so glad that I brought my lathe and look forward to many more hours using it. -Eric

9 comments so far

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4121 days

#1 posted 08-18-2009 11:45 PM

Your story makes me appreciate my tools.

Thanks for sharing and come home safe.

Post pix of the set up if you can.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Abbott's profile


2570 posts in 3325 days

#2 posted 08-18-2009 11:46 PM

Well that sounds like something that will keep your hands and mind occupied when off duty. It will be fun seeing what you come up with only the tools you have over there.

Keep your head down and thanks for your service.

-- Ohh mann...pancakes and boobies...I'll bet that's what Heaven is like! ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣

View a1Jim's profile


117114 posts in 3599 days

#3 posted 08-19-2009 12:13 AM

It’s great that you can do some turning. Enjoy you shop set up .Be safe
Thanks for your service

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3325 days

#4 posted 08-19-2009 02:05 AM

sounds like some pretty good ingenuity…lugging a small lathe is no easy thing either…but you have done it and are getting some good woodworking time…..thankyou for your service to our country….god bless you all and your families….be safe…...salute

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View Rustic's profile


3253 posts in 3618 days

#5 posted 08-19-2009 02:05 AM

Awesome that you could take your lathe and find the time to turn in between dodging rounds. LOL Semper FI

--, Rick Kruse, Grand Rapids, MI

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3844 days

#6 posted 08-19-2009 02:06 AM

Congratulations on the ingenuity, Eric. If you get the chance why don’t you post some pictures?

Keep safe and I hope that you are hope to your shop and family soon.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View douglbe's profile


369 posts in 3983 days

#7 posted 08-19-2009 02:39 AM

Glad you have something to keep you for being bored. My son is at Al Asad Air base and bored stiff. He does not have and interest in woodworking like I do, so he can stay bored. This will certainly help you pass the time.

Thanks for you service and be safe.

-- Doug, Reed City, Michigan

View degoose's profile


7234 posts in 3376 days

#8 posted 08-19-2009 10:13 PM

Ingenuity at its best.
I add my thanks for your service in this time of trouble.

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3695 days

#9 posted 08-19-2009 10:34 PM

Congrats Eric, I hope you stay safe.

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