Turning Archive 2007

QC Criteria - Customers or Critics? *LINK*

charlie belden
>I posted this to rec.crafts.woodturning but there are probably folks here who don't have usenet access who have opinions on the subject.

(Note: I’m using the positive connotation of the word “critics” - as in critique / constructive criticism - rather than its negative nit picking egotistical attacks connotation)

One of the many advantages of being a member of a turners club is the opportunity to see day long demonstrations by well known turners. I had the pleasure of spending a Sunday watching Cindy Drozda demonstrate her method of turning three types of boxes, two with her signature beautiful finialed (is there such a word?) tops. She’s a great teacher in addition to being a very accomplished turner and artist. Her love of, and passion for, turning is infectous. Attached is a link to her web site. Photos can only give you an idea of what this turner does.

The first piece she created was an elegant little lidded holly box with a padouk inlaid “rim” and foot. At maybe 2 1/2” diameter and perhaps 3 1/2” tall - including the long delicate finial - there was a lot of very precise turning packed into a very small and beautiful package.

The piece required two critical fits - the inlayed padouk to the box rim and the finialed lid to the inlay rimmed box. The blending of all three to form a continuous whole isn’t trivial either - but I want to focus on the issue of “fit”.

If you’ve made a “turned lidded box” you know how tricky it can be to get a nice fit. Even when you sneak up on it, it can be a Too Big, Still Too Big, Just A Little Too Big - TOO SMALL! Thing.

Now if you’re turning a lidded box to show off your turning skills to other turners, a good fit means a “click” or “pop” fit. Anything less is too loose or too tight. BUT - if you want to impress a non-turner - say a potential purchaser of your turned lidded box, a nice snug “click” or “pop” fit might work against you, especially if the lid has a delicate finial. If, however, the top lifts off easily, revealing the inside of the box, and let’s not forget the underside of the lid, well the potential for a sale goes up noticably. And even if the person doesn’t buy a piece, the look on their face as they examine, and appreciate the piece can be a pay off that money can’t buy.

“Lid Fit” is just one example of the question - how much of what we shoot for when turning is critical to the piece and how much is just “I can - so I do”? Is a uniform 1/16ht inch wall thickness really that significant to the piece? Sure, for Christmas Tree Ornaments, where weight is an important factor, really thin wall are desirable. But on a foot tall, 8 inch diameter piece, is there really any need for uniform thin walls? Other than the challenge of hollowing through a seemingly impossibly small opening in the top, why not hollow through a larger opening in the bottom and “plug” it when th hollowing is complete? Is the non-turner really going to notice, less alone appreciate, a surface right off the perfect continuous finish cut as opposed to one that was sanded smooth then given a film finish?

Do you turn to the limits of your skills, and maybe just beyond what you think you can do, or do you turn to make your idea into a tangible object - that may or may not be appreciated by anyone else on the planet?

charlie belden

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