Turning Archive 2006

Woodturning Magic

Steve in NC
>I set up my first public display of my work last week and as part of the process, I was asked to prepare a brochure that included an "Artist's Statement". I was at a loss as to what to write so I put together several thoughts I had collected as I was learning to turn. In re-reading this a week later it seems a bit hokie but at the same time pretty well describes why I have become hooked on turning. Thought it might ring true for some other newbies on the site.

Woodturning Magic

Chainsaw in hand, I approached the log pile. Looking for grain and figure, I select a twisted section of log and saw out a bowl blank.

After attaching the blank to the lathe, I pause before flipping the switch. There is always a bit of anxiety with this step. I find myself double checking the four slender screws holding the fifteen pound, unbalanced chunk of wood to the lathe. A chunk of wood soon to be spinning rapidly.

I step out of the line of fire, lower my face shield and flip the switch. The lathe dances a bit but the blank stays on. Anxious to uncover the rich figured wood below the bark, I start the turning process.

The first cuts are the hardest. The first cuts that take the shape from rectangular to round. The first cuts that bring the blank into balance and reveal the hidden grain and color.

After the rough turning, I study the blank. I visualize a final shape that will show off the wild variegated grain of the wood. I reach for a freshly sharpened tool and start the final shaping process. It is now that the magic happens.

With proper technique and sharp tools the wood literally starts to sing. Long ribbons of shavings fly into the air and settle around my feet, arms, and hands. There is no need to even watch the now obscured tip of the tool. The sweet music of the cut and the feel of the tool in my hands tell me I am on the “sweet spot”.

I stop the lathe and observe the form. Satisfied with the shape. I start the sanding process. Progressing through the various sanding grits the wood becomes smooth to the touch.

Finally the bowl is ready for the finish. I apply the oil and let it penetrate the grain. The figure and color become highlighted and deep. Once again the wood sings. The magic continues!

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