Operation Shroom

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Project by Grondor posted 11-07-2011 06:57 AM 1407 views 1 time favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I just got a lathe back in July (my very kind and very forgiving wife decided to give it to me for our 13th anniversary), and in order to practice every day I gave myself a simple project: make one wooden mushroom on the lathe every day, exploring the various skews, gouges and scrapers, play with eccentric turning, large pieces, small pieces, burning wire, etc. The project has kind of taken on a life of its own, and I’m currently up to 86 mushrooms! The smallest one, which you can see in the third picture, was actually put in an envelope with my step-son’s birthday card!

I’m using a variety of woods, from some rather green branches of apple-wood, maple and pine from a back-yard trimming to simple pine scraps, cedar, and a selection of exotic wood cut-offs I buy by the 10-pound box (purpleheart, mahogany, zebrawood, tigerwood, bloodwood, and a few others). This gives me a change to see how the tools react to different species.

I never aim for perfection with these—the natural world is hardly ever perfect. I try to go for something that catches and pleases or intrigues the eye.

Anyway, I said I’ll do this for one year, and that’s what I’m doing. 86 down, 269 to go!

8 comments so far

View HalDougherty's profile


1820 posts in 4206 days

#1 posted 11-07-2011 01:10 PM

Looks like you are progressing on your lathe skills. If you make the cap longer, and hollow it from the end, then leave a base at the stem so it will stand, your shrooms will evolve into a wine goblet. One of the woodworking magazines this month has an article that shows the details of making a goblet. It won’t take much longer to make the goblet than it does to turn a shroom. Next time there is a windstorm in your area, watch for free wood. Bartlett pear trees are brittle and break often in the Spring and Summer. The wood is very much like apple and green pear turns like butter cut with a knife. It’s a golden color and very hard so your finish will look like it’s a mile deep after a little tung oil or whatever you use. Now that you are an addicted woodturner, you can tell your wife that you can either buy wood forever or buy a chainsaw once. Check Craig’s List in your area for both free wood and a cheep chainsaw. Oh, and look for a bandsaw too. I got a “like new” Ridgid bandsaw a few weeks ago for $125.

-- Hal, Tennessee

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

25725 posts in 4075 days

#2 posted 11-07-2011 02:59 PM

Nice bunch(?) of shrooms. I don’t know what you call a group of mushrooms?
You be addicted to that new lathe!


-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Jordan's profile


1400 posts in 4094 days

#3 posted 11-07-2011 08:13 PM

Don’t smoke ‘em.


View SASmith               's profile


1850 posts in 3956 days

#4 posted 11-08-2011 12:34 AM

I like your idea. You can watch your skill grow as your collection grows.

-- Scott Smith, Southern Illinois

View jeepturner's profile


946 posts in 3762 days

#5 posted 11-08-2011 01:58 AM

That is going to be a large collection of mushrooms. I applaud your commitment but question your available storage. I don’t know how many bowls I have given away, but if you look around my house the answer might be, not enough.
I like that with your turnings you can fit them in a smaller place side by side and study your progress.
I second the chainsaw comment, if you don’t have on already.
Keep up the turning. It’s cathartic.

-- Mel,

View 58j35bonanza's profile


395 posts in 3662 days

#6 posted 11-08-2011 03:37 AM

Great long term project.
My wife and I went to a woodturners gathering at the coliseum in Greensboro, NC this past weekend. Just amazing what can be done with a lathe and experience. Keep it up. I look forward to see how you are doing on day 365.

-- Chuck

View scrappy's profile


3507 posts in 4400 days

#7 posted 11-08-2011 05:39 AM

This is a wonderful way to practice! I am always letting people know In order to improve on the lathe, you have to PRACTICE…...A LOT!

This “one a day” will help you to improve your skills and give you a visual time line on your skill improvement.

I applaud you!

Keep it up.


-- Scrap Wood's the best...the projects are smaller, and so is the mess!

View Grondor's profile


17 posts in 3412 days

#8 posted 11-12-2011 10:00 AM

Hal: I have been collecting quite a few tools with the purchase of a new house, a bandsaw being one of them. I have yet to get a chain saw, but it’s on my list. Thanks for the tips!

Jim: Addicted isn’t half of it—it’s the first hobby I’ve really fallen in love with … other than my wife, and she’d probably kill me if she heard me referring to her as a “hobby!” ;)

Jordan … you mean I’m making these for … decoration? Dammit, man, you should have told me earlier!

SASmith: I really do enjoy the chronological aspect of it. I’m slowly working on improving my technique and skill, and it’s interesting to flip through the pictures every now and then.

Jeep: Yup, I started putting them on top of an old-fashioned looking stereo, and it’s … well, full. I’ve even started making them really tiny just to fit more in (and improve my detail turning)!

Bonanza: I feel the same way! I’ve so far done eccentric turning, captured rings, small mushrooms, large mushrooms, worked with green wood, dried wood, hard wood, soft wood, and each is as intriguing and challenging as the next!

Scrappy: That was the reason I started this—I want to get good at it, and I can’t do that by being an “occasional turner.” Also, considering the weight and size of the lathe, I would feel horrible if I just left it sitting there collecting dust and unused tools!

Thanks everyone for the comments, I really appreciate the feedback!

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