As The Lathe Turns #5: This Idiot Can Learn

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Blog entry by William posted 02-11-2013 10:25 PM 2692 reads 1 time favorited 38 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: I Feel Like An Idiot Part 5 of As The Lathe Turns series Part 6: Lessons Learned In Bowl Turning »

In the photo above, you see yesterday’s results. That was yesterday though. This is a new day. If you read yesterday’s blog entry, and then read this one, you’ll understand the idea behind the title of this one.

Stefang, I want to thank you for pointing me to Bob Hamilton’s videos. They were a huge help. I’ve read and watched a lot of videos, and you are correct, there are so many techniques shown all over the place that it’s hard to know right from wrong. I quickly learned to trust Mr. Hamilton’s advice though from his honesty, and good way of explaining things.
I stayed up late last night, actually much too late, watching Mr. Hamilton’s videos and some of the other people’s videos that he had “liked”. I learned a lot. Some things you can read. You can watch videos. There are things though that you never know you’re doing wrong until someone finds a way for you to learn the proper way. That’s what happened last night. I had one of those eureka moments.
I don’t know if it was Mr. Hamilton, or one of his other “liked” videos, but someone had glued a pencil to the wings above the flute on their gouge. This allowed me to see exactly the cutting position of their tool as they worked. It was like a light went off and I knew exactly what I had done wrong. Well, I knew one of the most major things I’d done wrong anyway.

First things first is, I want to thank every single person who has tried helping me. Bearpie, Kreegan, Stefang, and Jamie Speirs have all been especially helpful to me. Those videos though, that was what made it all come together, for this problem anyway.
I decided that I was going about bowls all wrong. Don’t ask me why I was insisting on doing a bowl by cutting end grain. I guess it just made sense to me at the time, round log, round bowl. I am leaving the end grain behind for now. While I do thing it is a useful skill that I will learn more of dow the road, I feel it is out of my skill range at this point in time.
Before doing so though, I just had to find out if I had learned anything from those videos.

I don’t know how much you can see in this photo, but I went about two inches deep in the end grain. I did so without a single catch. It went smoothly. This wasn’t much, but extremely satisfactory to me. I was not going any deeper. Something else I learned from all the videos I watched last night was that someone finally answered a serious question for me. I learned the difference between a spindle gouge and a bowl gouge besides just the cut and flute, and the dangers of going to deeply using spindle gouge to hollow out a bowl. However, I found some reasonably priced bowl gouges and am going to get me some.

Now, before I go any further, let me explain something. I do not feel very well today. I did not even attempt to make a bowl today. I did just try to learn some techniques based on the videos Stefang recommended to me. I had a doctor appointment this morning. As soon as I made it back to the shop though, I used that same log I was chopping up yesterday and sliced off another piece.
Then I realized something. The blades I have for my bandsaw were not going to be good at all for cutting this wet wood. I’ve tried before with disaserous results. It is amazing how quickly green wood can ruin the wrong blade on a band saw. Additionally, there was no way I was going to ruin that thrity dollar blade presently on there trying to. So, check off one more thing I need to get if I am going to really get into this bowl turning thing very much.

There was also no way I was going to allow those facts to stop me from practicing what I thought I’d learned.

I watched a video a long time ago about, why you never mount wood into a lathe in this orientation. I think that has been part of my hesitation. I decided to go for it though. I felt that I could see how things went and go from there. I wore a face sheild, stayed out of the line of fire of the chunk of wood, and flipped the lathe on. My fears of wood grain running this way quickly disippated. Yes, I resepct it, but I am no longer scared to death of it.
Now, some of you may see this chunk of log, with it’s round bottom, mounted like this with a true beginner messing with it and aske if I am completely nuts.

Well, yes. Yes I am. However, stating the obvious at this point does nothing to help this conversation.

I had no intention of turning this completely into a bowl. As I stated before, this was just an exercise in technique. So I chunked it up on a screw chuck and only turned it enough to get it well balanced. Then I turned it around, exposing the clean side of it, and screwed it back onto the screw chuck again, so I could see what, if anything I had learned.

It may not seem like much to some, but this was a HUGE accomplishment for me. I have struggled for a while to get this far.
No, it does not look great, but I will get there with practice. I wasn’t expecting to all of a sudden be an expert bowl turner. I simply wished to see if I could make a dent into hollowing out this bowl without things getting crazy enough to make me stop again. It was a complete success. I did have a couple of catches on this one when I tried to take too much of a bite at one time. I backed off and took smaller passes though and things went amazingly smoothly.
I feel today like I may still be an idiot, but an idiot that is learning something at least. And if I stick with it and learn enough, maybe one day I can help someone else like others have helped me. Thank you all. I hope you’re still there when I have my next duh moment.
For anyone who may be having trouble with turning, go watch some of Mr. Hamilton’s videos. Stefang, one of our fellow Lumberjocks, recommended them to me, and they were a huge help.
Thank you again Stefang.


38 comments so far

View DIYaholic's profile


19620 posts in 2673 days

#1 posted 02-11-2013 10:56 PM

Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks???

A very fetching start! No bones about it!!!

Congrats on learning a new trick!!!

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 2854 days

#2 posted 02-11-2013 11:42 PM

William my hat off to you for your perseverance
You have cracked it, there will be no holding you
back now.
I think your first bowl came out great, don’t change it
Sit it in front of you for inspiration


-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View JL7's profile


8662 posts in 2963 days

#3 posted 02-11-2013 11:51 PM

That didn’t take long…..good for the learnin’ and hope you’re feeling better soon…..

-- Jeff .... Minnesota, USA

View Doe's profile


1402 posts in 2828 days

#4 posted 02-11-2013 11:53 PM

I agree with Jamie. Way to go!

-- Mother Nature talks, I try to listen

View mitch48's profile


5 posts in 1930 days

#5 posted 02-12-2013 12:04 AM

Good for you! Isn’t it nice to have a thought turn into a reality? Keep up the Beginner’s Mind!

-- "That which you do not know; the doing will quickly teach you."

View RVroman's profile


163 posts in 2021 days

#6 posted 02-12-2013 12:04 AM

Glad to hear it was such a productive day, and it sounds like great strides were made. Not only is your cutting going to be easier with this orientation, but you end product as well. Also glad to hear you are getting bowl gouges, like anything else, you can force the wrong tool to do a job, but the results (and safety) are often compromised.

Also, I just went back through all your blogs (I did not find them until #4) and as far as the HF lathe goes…. I had one of those for about 5 years and used it HEAVILY and it was still working great the day I sold it. The only reason I parted with it is that I outgrew it and it would not do some of the things I now want to do. But as an entry level lathe you cannot go wrong, especially for the price. Definitely heed the warnings about keeping the reeves drive lubricated though or they will stop sliding.

-- Robert --- making toothpicks one 3x3x12 blank at a time!

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2840 days

#7 posted 02-12-2013 12:08 AM

Thank you all.

Jamie, the way I always look at a challenge in woodworking is this. Am I going to allow a chunk of wood to beat me?
Besides, I can’t remember ever giving up in my life. Thank you for your help and words of confidence.

Jeff, thank you. I went to the doctor today. He gave me three different medicines and says I’ll be feeling better in a few days. Let’s hope so.

Thank you Doe.

Mitch, that beginner’s mind is something that often is of essence. Until I decided to back off a notch and start at the beginning, my progress had stopped. I often jump into things too quickly. That’s the way one learns to swim I always so though, jump in the deep end.


View William's profile


9949 posts in 2840 days

#8 posted 02-12-2013 12:10 AM

Thank you Robert.
And I’m glad to hear someone else who is happy with that lathe. I was warned about it, but I think it is a bargain. I weighed a lot before deciding on that one. Of course, I’d love to have a better (read more expensive) lathe, but like you, think this one will get me in the race and is a good deal for the money.


View RVroman's profile


163 posts in 2021 days

#9 posted 02-12-2013 12:28 AM

“I’d love to have a better (read more expensive) lathe,”

I think that is something that never stops, currently my “big lathe’ is the Jet 1642, but I still drool over the next step up, and have recently added a mini.

However, as I am sure you are finding, the turning vortex is deep. There is always some other accessory out there, and before you know it the lathe becomes the cheapest investment when you add everything else up. One thing I would say is really evaluate the need for those “fancy things”. I have more than one accessory that I either convinced myself, or was convinced by someone, I needed, and in reality it just sits.

Above all though, have fun!

-- Robert --- making toothpicks one 3x3x12 blank at a time!

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2840 days

#10 posted 02-12-2013 12:41 AM

Thanks for the advice Robert.
I have already noticed that, because of limited budget, I need to consider my options carefully.
The bowl gouges for example, I’m ordering a three piece set from Penn State Industries. I figure they’ll do me good for a good long time. I considered some real nice ones, but I just couldn’t justify the price over what the ones I ordered sell for, when they both get good reviews from customers.
Also, I’m absorbing subject as much as I can about making certain things myself. If you’ve seen much of my work, you’ll probably already guess that this would probably one day lead to me actually building a lathe with more capacity than I can afford to buy. That’s what I done about my band saw problem.


View eddie's profile


8565 posts in 2611 days

#11 posted 02-12-2013 01:00 AM

William looks like your getting the hang of those lathes , but i know you and you would master em . sooner r later cant keep a good man down

-- Jesus Is Alright with me

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2840 days

#12 posted 02-12-2013 01:13 AM

Thank Eddie.
Couldn’t have done it without you on this one.
The lathe you gave me works beautifully for roughing out.
I hope you’re feeling better.
I’m sick myself, but Dave and I wanna make it over as soon as we can.


View boxcarmarty's profile


16181 posts in 2358 days

#13 posted 02-12-2013 01:14 AM

You can lead the old dog to the bowl, but you can’t make him drink from it…..

-- My mind is like lighting, one brilliant flash, then its gone.....

View Kreegan's profile


1452 posts in 2144 days

#14 posted 02-12-2013 01:40 AM

Good job! Definite improvement. Keep it up!

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3301 days

#15 posted 02-12-2013 01:45 AM

now just wait a minute here william, i didnt get thanked at all anywhere in here…hey, i added the LOL…isnt that worth something, some part of your progress here…come on now…the clown always get a little credit….lol…so ok, my LOL didnt really have much to do with your new found turning skills…but…....:)...just sayin…:)

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

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