Turning Archive

Re: Woodturning Vocabulary and Instruction

Jon Behnke
I think that trying to come up with terminology to describe turning is over complicating the process. I don't believe that most could read a description on how to make the cut on the inside of a bowl or roll a bead would actually then be able to make the cuts. Many of these cuts have compound movements, something that is felt more than anything else. In a sense, we chase the cut, we roll the tool and/ or adjust handle height to continue the cut. It can't really be described in words any more than a dance move made by a ballerina or playing a musical instrument, it's learned with time and practice. Once you learn the "feel" of a good cut you continue to make minute adjustments to continue that cut and after time muscle memory takes over and you don't have to think as much, it comes more naturally.

A good mentor is invaluable in learning to turn. Without a guide to see what is being done correctly and what is not, the struggle to achieve a good cut can become tedious to the point of frustration and discouragement.

This is where the arguments for or against carbide tools comes in. With carbide tools the turner doesn't have to learn the intricacies of conventional turning tools, the learning curve is much shorter. This is fine for some, even better in some cases. People don't all have the same hand coordination or even the time to invest to learn conventional tools. The limitations of carbide tools can show up later, then the argument becomes; should that turner have taken the time to learn conventional tools from the beginning or will they have to re-learn to eliminate any bad habits picked up from using a different style tool?

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