This weekend, I completed my first turning class at my local Woodcraft store. It was a fantastic experience and well worth the time and tuition! The class consisted of a 3-hr session Friday evening and a full day Saturday.
The first evening we covered the many of the basics. I learned an enormous amount starting with background and history of turning as well as equipment, accessories, tools and sharpening, etc. We also got the chance to “chew” on a hunk-o-poplar and make it into a smaller piece (as well as a nice pile of chips). Nothing fancy, just walking through the basics from roughing and then on to some primitive shapes. It was a great chance to learn basic techniques and get hands-on time with many of the different tools to get a feel for them and what does/doesn’t work with each.
The next day was a full-day. Our first project was to create a mallet from a piece of rock maple. We walked through the process of establishing the basic design, creating the rough shape, refining it, and then choosing and applying our personalized features/details. The project took us about 2 hours from rough to finished project including sanding and applying the oil finish.
Our second project was to create a bowl. Bowl turning is something I haven’t done any research on so I was a bit intimidated at first but also excited to learn. During the initial roughing using the bowl gouge, I struggled with keeping my diameter consistent and staying on the bevel. After a number of passes and a fair amount of help from the instructor, I finally began to see the shape and figure of the wood emerge. Once the outter surface had been shaped, sanded and finished, it was time to turn the project around and begin on the inside. Hollowing the inside was the part that seemed the most foreign. After learning the basic steps I discovered that it really wasn’t difficult at all. I started with a center bored hole, then a cone to begin coring the center, and then I useda step cut to remove the bulk of the material. It actually turned out to be the most fun part of the project! Removing large quantities of material quickly and efficiently made me feel like an “instant pro”. It was incredibly satisfying feeling to see those ribbons come streaming off the work piece and piling up on the floor! I think I may have been bitten by the “bowl bug” now as well! ARRRGHHHHH! :)
In addition, this was my first opportunity to use a full-sized lathe. My classmate chose the Jet and I got to use the Powermatic. I have to say it was VERY nice indeed. Now I’ll have to see how that experience translates to my midi-lathe and what it can really do. I just hope that I’m able to resist the urge to run out and buy a “bigger, better” lathe at least for a few months! I make no guarantees how long I’ll be able to supress that urge, but a few months seems like a reasonable effort… :)
I also learned that my 10” slow-speed water bath sharpener is less than ideal for sharpening turning tools. Now to look into a good 8” grinder setup to keep the tools sharp! :)
The bottom line: Tons of new knowledge… must retain and practice! My excitment of turning continues to grow at an incredible rate! Every time I learn something new, my horizons expand and I realize that there is now even MORE that I want to learn and do! No end in sight at this point! I definitely need to win the lottery, become independently wealthy and retire so that I have time for all this.
Thanks for reading!
-- "Keep thy airspeed up, lest the earth come from below and smite thee." - William Kershner