Turning Archive 2005

Interpreting what we see in the wood?

Keith Newton
>OK, I have a cherry crotch on the lathe that I got about this time last year, and while I am fighting part of it, there are some things that I just love. I was just wondering if others of you have to ever-so-often, get some relief and wax poetically about your love for wood?

I have to say that I am thrilled when my customers come in and buy my work, and seem to really appreciate the beauty of the object, and the beauty of the wood, but I have to say that I feel a little bit sorry that they don't have the intimate knowledge of what is the cause of a lot of what they see in the work, the same way that I do.

We turners are so lucky to get to see the beautiful natural color of the wood as it is freshly revealed before any oxidation occurs, I mean some of the pinks, reds , gold, and purples that just end up as brown by the time the customers see the work. They don't have a clue of the beauty we have seen.

I don't know how most of you acquire your wood, but I usually find all of my turning wood, so I have some knowledge of place and history, and maybe access to some personal history of the tree from the property owner of time and place. When I find things in the wood, I will contact the family and ask questions, or study the local weather history, and even consult a dendrochronologis if the situation has merits.

These trees have recorded in their rings their hardships, and their good times, and the interactions with us humans and everything weather related.

I started making things from wood in the mid-sixties, and other than carving wood, I bought most of it from the lumber-yards, and I think most of my peers considered me a pretty good woodworker. However I started turning about maybe 15 years ago, and I learned more about wood in the first five years after that, than I had over the previous 20 years, and each 5 years since have been the same. Isn't it great to have a passion for learning, and have a medium that keeps slowly revealing itself? I don't know if most of you have and wear a magnifying visor for sharpening or not, and if you do inspect the wood between sharpening under magnification, If not, the next thing you should do is get a visor. Life can be much better than what you are experiencing now. Your sharpening will improve, and your appreciation for wood will be enhanced as well.

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