Turning Archive 2006

Learning. Thanks Russ. Thanks Keith.(Very long)

Dinyar Chavda
>Most of the denizens of this board are aware of the recent discussions re aids to design, which covered golden rectangles, golden triangles and the rules of 1/3rds. (Some of you may have said, "Enough already!!!!" several times, as the threads went on and on, sort of like a Bollywood movie.)

I want to share a couple of recent experiences that were influenced by those discussions.

I had some pieces of decent-sized dogwood, which I love to turn. It exemplifies the true joy of turning, with beautiful shavings, a tool finish that requires very little sanding, colors that range from white to cream to pink to brown, plus beautiful bark that, for some reason, seems to retain the moss on it for a long time in the humid weather we have in Philly. The only problem is that the wood moves--heck, it doesn't move, it strides along. Makes cherry look stable. But I don't mind that, given the kinds of things I make.

Anyway, I was turning one of the pieces, it was nicely shaped, and then the gouge made a bad cut (notice how it was the gouge that made that cut, not me), and I had jagged edges at the rim of the piece. So, I had to clean it up, which meant that the rim ended up smaller than originally planned. And the piece looked wrong. I knew that I had to make some of the other dimensions smaller, but I was not sure exactly how to do it, and I did not want to experiment on the wood, as there wasn't a lot of it.

I remembered Russ' rule #4, which had said something about the ratio of rims to other dimensions, so I got it off the computer, printed out all the rules (they are now taped onto the wall behind me in the shop), and it told me what I had to do in order to get a decent shape. I had to change multiple aspects of the piece, but I knew the direction I had to move in, and the end result was extremely gratifying to me.

So, thank you (once again!), Russ.

Yesterday, I took a piece of pink birch to make a hollow form. I slapped it on the lathe--I had a vague idea as to what I wanted to do with it, roughed it into an approximate cylindrical shape, and was getting ready to start shaping it, when something that Keith had said popped into my head, quote: 'I cannot, and refuse, to tell a student "put this piece on the lathe, and see what happens." ' (This was about midway through all the threads)

Now the reason it stuck with me is because that's pretty close to what I do--slap it on, and "let the wood talk to me". Unfortunately, what the wood often says to me is "Ow! Ow! That hurts!" Or it speaks in one of those American accents that Steve Mushinski was talking about, and I can't understand a large part of what it says!!:-)

Anyway, despite the fact that it goes against my grain to do so ("goes against my grain"---get it!!! Groan!), I put down the gouge, and measured all the dimensions, marked where the tennon was going to be, and then did something very simple, i.e., divided the piece into thirds, and imagined what the shape was going to be like. As soon as I did that, I realized that the piece was too long for the place where the maximum diameter would hae been. Decision time--do I give up on the shape, or do I give up on the wood. I hate to waste anything! It killed me to do so, but I made the piece much shorter than I would have otherwise. Because I was doing something I did not want to do, it also slowed me down (I tend to be impatient!), and made me think more about what I was doing at every step.

The net result is a shape that I absolutely love---even Janet said, "That's a beauty".

Does that mean that I wil now sit down and draw out what I intend to make before I attack the next piece of wood? Maybe, although most of the time I will go directly to the wood. But the point is that changing what I habitually do will result in a better end-result.

So, thanks, Keith. I still disagree on the Triangles, but you have expanded my way of approaching turning.

What's the moral of all this? Yes, Virginia, there is a moral behind this rambling!!!

It's easy to learn from someone that I agree with. I am open to what that person says, I find myself nodding to what I hear, and I can process the information and make it part of my knowledge base, and act on it. In consulting, we used to call it moving the information from the head to the gut.

It's much more difficult to listen to what someone has to say when I disagree with them. My lips become one thin line, my arms are folded across my chest, and, even before the person has finished their sentence, I am formulating a comeback to it. A very common human response, but one that ends up hurting me most of the time--with some exceptions that I won't go into now to avoid making this political! :-) But every once in a while, I realize I am in my 50s, and the mommy in me overcomes the child in me. That's when I can grow. (Without getting into it, I think it is a way of using the Hawthorne Effect to my advantage.)

So, thanks Russ, for once again riding to my rescue. And thanks Keith, for hanging in there and arguing in the face of opposition. While I still don't understand the triangles approach, I have walked away with something unexpected, and far more valuable.


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