I Learned to Turn

A few days ago, I was selling my spoons at an arts & crafts show, and I got talking to one of the other vendors there, a semi-retired gentleman who turns wooden bowls and vessels.  He had a number of pieces made from spalted wood, and we talked a lot about salvaging downed trees for our projects.  I mentioned that I had always wanted to try turning but had never really gotten the chance.  Before I knew it, he had invited me to spend some time in his shop learning to turn.

Not long afterward, I found myself in his two-car garage/shop listening carefully while he talked me through the basics of turning.  Some of it was familiar–sharp tools, attention to cutting angles, cutting “downhill”–but I was still a little nervous when I first put the gouge to the wood.

I chewed up one bit of wood just trying out each tool.  Then I asked if I could try making something I could actually use: a carving mallet.  He said, “sure.”  I picked a promising piece of pecan out of the pile (sorry about all that alliteration), mounted it on the lathe, and started turning.  This is the result:


As I turned the mallet, an end check appeared in the handle.  No matter, my mentor told me.  He took it over to his workbench and filled in the void with crushed malachite and superglue.


It’s not a perfect mallet, but I think it’s serviceable.  I’m afraid I left the handle too thick, though to tell the truth, I’m hesitant to try it out.

Whether or not I actually use this mallet, I think I’m going to have to get myself a lathe–thanks to my new friend and mentor.

This entry was posted in Tool Making, Turning and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to I Learned to Turn

  1. flo schuler says:

    Is the lathe electric or do you operate it with a foot pedal like the old sewing machines?

  2. Turning is a blast. I made a simple leg powered lathe and it worked great.

  3. Bob Jones says:

    Yep, turning is getting me too. I recently found a powermatic 45. If you find one, give it a home. They are great machines. If you want a spring pole, check out the roubo translation info on my blog. It’s on my bucket list.

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