Wood turning practice

So whilst I’m being more ‘agile’ at work, I’m also getting to spend more of my own time on my wood working projects.
Well I say ‘projects’ but it’s really just practice, and I really need it! I am sometimes enormously frustrated by the mistakes I continue to make – normally a tool that digs in or skips out of place and causes a spiral gouge. One tiny slip and you destroy the surface you’ve slowly tried to hone to clean and flat….but on the flip side it is very gratifying to wind up with something that looks like this:

Spalted Beach Bowl

This is made from some beech that was cut down from a tree at the bottom of the garden, in the house I lived in as a kid. It wasn’t that long ago that I was laughing that my father still had lumps of this tree in his garage. But now that I have the lathe, and he needed to clear out space, I am really happy! It’s already well seasoned, and the spalting patterns (black lines) are fantastic. It means that I can be relatively inept and still produce something that looks beautiful.

In this piece I tried to leave some of the rough edge of the natural edge on the underside, a I think it adds a nice element to the bowl.

natrual edge on base of bowl

As I’ve mentioned before, I started going to a local wood turners group, and one of the things they like to do is have a ‘novice’ table. Basically each month they set a challenge to the novices, and last month’s challenge was to make a bowl about 6″ by 2″. So this is my effort. I’m fairly happy with it, however I am painfully aware of the faults.

I’m hoping that when the experienced members of the wood turning group critique it, they will provide some guidance on how to avoid such mistakes. I’ve talked about how hard it is to know where to invest money. So I am really hoping to get some good input on whether continued practice is key, or achieving a sharper edge, or possibly investing in some new tools to finish certain parts better. But we shall see what they have to say.

In the mean time I had a go at finishing something I’ve had on my to-do list for some time. A friend asked if I could try to create a new drawer knob for a chest of drawers he has. The original one had a broken base. I had tried a little before, with the theory of using a cloning jig I made. However I’ve realized that the jig really requires a completely different kind of cutting tool to do a good job. The skew that I was trying to use, attached to a block that followed a template, was acting as little more than a scraper, which was no good for the tool or the workpiece. Everything ended up with very torn fibres on the end grain.

So I had a go at just trying to copy by eye… and here is how it looks:

cloned draw knob

In the ‘flesh’ as it were, it’s clearly not great copy. Again I guess something that might come better with practice. But in the pictures, and at a distance I think it’s passable. I shall take it to my friend and see what he thinks. I can always have another go sometime 😉

On the subject of copying items, I had a quick go at making a chess piece: just a simple pawn shape. This was sufficient to remind me how hard it’s going to be to make a chess set! Just the act of working on something so small is tough, let alone any attempt to make 8 identical copies! I shall have to do some reading on new ideas of how to clone items. Or possibly get hold of some special cutters to try to improve my cloning jig.

If anyone reading this has any ideas… suggestions would be gratefully received.

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