Popular Woodworking 2004-08 № 142, страница 78

Popular Woodworking 2004-08 № 142, страница 78

At the Lathe

It's Time to Turn

If your lathe sits idle in your shop, here's the best way to start using it.

If you have ever turned or watched someone else turn, you know the process can be exciting. The shavings peel away and the piece takes shape as if by magic.

Although turning is one of the most straightforward ways of working wood, this seemingly simple process can be used to make a variety of things, far beyond the obvious staircase spindles, table legs and so on.

In the past 30 years, there has been an explosion of creativity in woodturning that once hardly could have been imagined. Exquisite bowls and vessels, sculptural pieces of every description and many works defying categorization are being made by people from every walk of life and of all ages.

Nevertheless, if you have ever turned on the lathe and put gouge to wood without a proper understanding of the process, the dramatic results may well have put you off lathe work entirely. In far too many shops, the lathe sits in a corner, abandoned after some disastrous event, perhaps forgotten or functioning as a somewhat expensive (and not very effective) storage table. In fact, I am told that roughly half of the readers of this magazine who have lathes don't regularly turn.

My most important goal for this column will be to change that statistic. In fact, my secret wish is to get everyone turning. I believe this could drastically improve the condition of the world. As a good friend of mine likes to say, "Manipulate wood, not people."

How to Be a Successful Turner

To succeed at the lathe, you need several things. Clearly, you must have a lathe, a few

basic turning tools and the means to sharpen them. A band saw, while not absolutely necessary, is enormously helpful in preparing your wood for turning.

Second, you will need to have (or begin to acquire) an understanding of the underlying principles of turning: choosing appropriate material, properly mounting the workpiece on the lathe, sharpening, knowing which tools to use for various operations and learning how to use them correctly.

Third, you must practice. There's no shortcut and no substitute for practice and experience. But you need to be practicing the right

by Judy Ditmer

Judy, author of two turning books and many articles, has been turning since 1985. She teaches and demonstrates her skills throughout the United States and Canada.

way to do things. Teaching you proper techniques is what I hope to accomplish here.

Any art or craft when done by an experienced person looks easy; most are, of course, more difficult than they appear. My observation, based on having done many types of crafts (including painting, clay, woodworking and others), is that turning is at the far end of that spectrum. When done well it appears to be very easy, but in reality it's often much more difficult to learn than expected.

Much woodworking lends itself to being broken down into a series of simple steps. By doing so, it is possible, with patience and the right tools, to build some pretty impressive pieces right from the beginning. (This is not to say there aren't always a great many skills still to be learned. Obviously, it takes years to become truly expert at most things.)

Turning may look easy because of the


Popular Woodworking August 2004

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