I haven’t turned any wood since I was in grade 8 woodwork class. It’s about the age of my oldest son is now and I thought I’d try including him in a project. Both learning to turn wood again and engaging my boy have proven challenging.
Anyway. I value the skills attached to woodworking, although I’m no craftsman, I get a kick out of trying to produce good woodwork and truth be known, there’s nothing I’d like more than having my sons in the shop with me doing stuff. But alas, life being the way it is, and ‘kids now-a-days’ and all that, it’s pretty hard to compete with the constant thrills of those dopamine smacking, adreniline thumping, heart racing games those boys of mine play. Sanding, comparitively, sucks.
Then it dawned on me, and I’m not ashamed to admit this, I figured rather than making the boy shovel snow senselessly for five hours, I’d actually pay him to be in the shop with me and try and learn something – I’m mean both of us learn something.
The following is how things shook down…today anyway.
That’s my boy Ike…he’s a good kid…tries hard…and right there, that’s a picture of him doing his old man a favour. He really doesn’t want to be there. Doesn’[t really like getting his hands dirty and dust bugs him. But he’s doing it, and my shop is a lot warmer than outside shoveling snow. So I get no grief from him. But I know he’s humouring me.
I start with the basics…truing up wood. I go over the compound-sliding miter saw with him showing him what square is all about and how to adjust both the saw blade and table fence. He nods politely. I get out a bunch of scrape maple (got lots and lots of that) and we go over the demensions of our potential cup/bowel thing. I show him how to aviod cutting his fingers off, don the right gear, and check and double check if the wood is square…gotta be square son. Not you boy…the wood.
After cutting four blocks up, 3 3/4 squ., each I go over the basics of gluing in a bid to get the wood all stuck together. “Laminating” I say…he nods…”less is better”, I say…he nods again. I do it once and then he does it. I say, again, “less is better son”, and proceed to scrape off a 1/2 pound of glue from the project with his glue stick and encourage him to give it another go. Then we get the claps out and I explain the difference between C claps and those Quick Grips and the use of scrap wood put between the the claps and the project and how that protects the project. He likes that…a little spark, I notice.
Then my own ignorance…I can’t remember how to make the wood round before fitting it onto the lathe. I figure I’d try using the joiner…you know…putting the fence at a 45 degree angle and shaving off the corners. But the block of laminated wood kicks back and my thumb ends up bleeding and my knuckle is throbbing. Damn…well, I’m sure there’s a lesson in there somewhere – most likely for me. The boy is concerned, but I can’t discern whether it’s for my thumb or what I’m about to subject him to. I show him where the bandages are kept in the shop…it’s all good I say…ignore it.
Then I figure I’ll use the chop saw and chop the edges off. It looks dangerous and I suppose it is, what with the guard having been broke off years ago and my shaky hand and all. But he’s now looking less bored, although he can’t hide his nervousness any longer.
But I git ‘er done. We glue a piece of paper between the project and a block of plywood that the lathe gets screwed into. It’d all be good but I eye-ball the part where I glue the project to the plywood. Yep…way, way off.
So I got it on there…and considering it’s been more than three decades since I’d done that before I was feeling pretty good about things.
Here’s my boy given ‘er on the lathe.
...not bad eh. But then I get at ‘er, and…ouch!
Sorry about that son…
So, his interest is waning, and I start scrambling to get a soild chuck of fir on the lathe just to keep up his interest up.
He has fun for a while…”neat!” and that’s the best I could hope for. And then I hear, “I’m cold. Hunger. Can we call it quits for a bit?” And I loose him.
But with him out of the way I find that I really like this turning stuff. And finish the piece I chipped.
And I finish it up with shellac and a I little note on the bottom.
But before I call it a day I try laminating two pieces of fir…next time it’ll be the boy finishing it up.