First Turnings

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Project by Spur posted 03-01-2013 08:12 PM 1115 views 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I joined the local woodworkers guild about a year, and it has been a wonderful resource that I encourage everyone to try and find in their area. My guild has mentoring classes, one of which is pen turning, the other is woodturning, and cost is just for materials. I used a lathe for the first time in my life this week and, well, I need lotsa practice :-p but before I can use one of the lathes in the guild shop, I have to finish this 5 week turning course. I have to stress that the quality of my work is not to be used as a reflection on the 2 mentors for the class, they are doing a superb job, incredible patience, and the head instructor has an excellent teaching personality and delivery. The bowl is a green turning which apparently can not be completed until it sits in a paper bag for a few weeks and gets weighed until its weight stabilizes. The blank was a lot bigger. I couldn’t get a smooth cut. My walls have some work to go before they are of even thickness. The blank was considerably bigger than the result.

The pen turning, which was the day before, was likewise a disaster. I had found some scrap walnut in cutoff bins throughout the shop (I now dumpster dive all the cutoff containers around the shop whenever I go by). I ripped it down to blank size, enough for two blanks. The first, I turned all the way down to the brass insert tube. The second, I tried to speed up and ripped out a huge chink of walnut, again down to the tube. The last one, I had a piece of Chechen wood, and I quickly cut drilled and inserted the tube to get to turning so I had a chance to finish before the class ended. This one actually came out ok. I go to pressing everything together, and I had forgotten to ream it out. Ugh. So the pen is a little bit wonky.

So the last two nights of turning sound like they were a nightmare, and in a way, they maybe were, but I really enjoyed the heck out of it, and I am just dying to get to turning. I think the pen fiasco was a very valuable learning experience, and I am keeping that first pen as is (the finish really is nice), as a reminder to myself and my grandkids hopefully one day. We all start somewhere.

The undersized bowl will work well for holding peanuts or thumbtacks at work, a reminder to remember a little humility :) Hopefully it will have a good looking big brother beside it soon.

In the meantime, I have to wait a week between turnings until the class is over (Next week is either spindle or dry wood bowl turning), before I can use the shop lathes. Don’t have the means to just pick up a midi lathe to practice at home with, but by golly, I am going to be taking a lot of lunch breaks at the guild shop starting in April!!!!

-- Henryk, South Carolina

7 comments so far

View MasterSergeant's profile


1386 posts in 3018 days

#1 posted 03-01-2013 09:46 PM

Beware! Turning is addictive ;-D

-- Kelly, woodworker under construction

View Bob Collins's profile

Bob Collins

2640 posts in 4014 days

#2 posted 03-01-2013 10:36 PM

Nice first effort, getting catches is part of the learning and as Kelly above said it is very addictive.

-- Bob C, Australia. Your best teacher is your last mistake.

View Syd Sellers's profile

Syd Sellers

30 posts in 2254 days

#3 posted 03-02-2013 12:11 AM

Oh it’s too late to warn him now, he’s hocked…. He’s made a bowl….It goes on and on from here…

-- Syd Sellers Old woodturners never die, they just keep chipping away!

View hunter71's profile


3370 posts in 3517 days

#4 posted 03-02-2013 11:36 AM

Lookin’ good, now try to stop!!

-- A childs smile is payment enough.

View NH_Hermit's profile


394 posts in 3426 days

#5 posted 03-02-2013 12:58 PM

I bet right about now he’s checking Craig’s list for used lathes and the catalogs for turning tools. Maybe he’s eyeing his neighbor’s wood pile for some nice maple.

-- John from Hampstead

View Spur's profile


87 posts in 2357 days

#6 posted 03-02-2013 03:01 PM

Wow, so I am not alone. Yes Craigslist has been visited daily, as has harbor freight, amazon, and any big box store. Saw a neat one on Amazon with fairly good reviews as being a good value for the price. Since it is still out of the budget for the time being, hoping that craigslist turns something up. Even toying with how to rig my drill press up. Waiting 5 weeks before being able to practice, hard to imagine that my motor skills will retain much only turning once a week.

-- Henryk, South Carolina

View Fishinbo's profile


11362 posts in 2506 days

#7 posted 03-04-2013 04:02 PM

Great start on those nice pieces. I am sure that you will turn many more beautiful projects.

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