Monday, February 29, 2016

Practice, Practice, Practice!

My pastor used the following quotation by Robert H. Schuller in a recent sermon. Although the context it was presented in was a little different, I think it applies to woodturning equally well. 

"Spectacular achievement is always preceded by unspectacular preparation."

This message is for novice turners as most experience turners already recognize the value of this advice. The point is, it is hard to just start out and make something spectacular without a lot of practice. It takes making a lot of shavings to get tool control. Until you get tool control, it is hard to get really comfortable holding your tools without using a death grip. If you are always worried about a catch, you won’t enjoy turning much!

If you want to make that last smooth, clean cut on a bowl my advice is to take a bowl blank and simply practice your cuts. Observe the quality of cut when you start making changes in the flute position. Carefully observe the change in sound and cut quality after you sharpen your tool. Think about how you position your feet. Waste away the blank with practice cuts until you have nothing left but shavings.

Find some little simple turning project that you can do over and over until you really get that muscle memory so the tool movement becomes effortless. And then do a lot of them. It doesn’t matter whether it is a lamp or fan pull, a tiny little ring bowl, a bottle stopper or whatever. If it is something made of green wood so much the better because the shavings are nicer and there is less dust.  Practice!

I know this advice is not well received by everyone. Some of us are more impatient then others. Who ever reads the instruction manual for assembling some new gadget we got? Just look at the picture and do it. Get er done!  Who want to waste time practicing when they could be doing.

Well for me, part of the fun of woodturning is just making shavings. It takes me to a different place. I forgot about what is going on outside my shop and just enjoy the journey. Sometimes that journey results in something I want to show others. Sometimes it just results in shavings to mulch the backyard and designer firewood. It is all good.

Think about the cuts that cause you problems or that you lack confidence in and practice them. Again and Again and Again. Start a turning session with a beads and cove stick. Practice, Practice, Practice.

Ok, I am stepping down from my soap box.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Making a Chess Set

I am finally turning a chess set. I am through the Pawns and ready to start on the Rooks. I also made a chess board which gave me a chance to actually polish up my pyrography and Zentangle skills. Here is a picture of the board and some pawns. It is taking a while since tax season has started and I am working as an AARP Tax Aide. I will be posting videos on my YouTube channel so stay tuned. The first episode on Pawns will air on YouTube Friday, Feb 26. My plan will be to issue a new episode each week covering turning one of the chess pieces and some aspect such as design, coloring, finishing, weighting, etc. I have posted a video on making this chessboard to start off the series.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Beads of Courage Boxes

Here is a message from Steve Mellott who is spearheading the efforts of Georgia woodturning clubs to make Beads of Courage boxes,
"Wow – the Beads of Courage initiative has really taken off!  To date, I’ve had 18 clubs request 482 beads.  And it is not just in the southeastern United States – woodturners throughout the nation have begun to support this program.  
In response to this overwhelming support, the Beads of Courage program has released the following new guidelines regarding boxes.  If you have already made boxes that don’t comply with the guidelines, don’t worry – they will still take the boxes.  Just try to ensure that all new boxes fit within the guidelines. "
·         Beads of Courage members may receive thousands of beads.  It is desirable for your boxes to hold all of them.  As a result, turned or rectangular boxes need to be large.  Large is better!  Recommended interior dimensions for turned boxes are 6” diameter (5” minimum), 5” height (4” minimum).  Recommended interior dimensions for flatwork boxes are 4” x 6” x 4.”
·         Box bases should be wide enough so the box is stable and does not tip over easily.  Lids should be easy for small or ill children to remove or lift.  Any finials should be easy for a small child to grasp and not too elaborate so they don’t break.  Avoid excessively elaborate designs that may easily break or be damaged.
·         Finishing of boxes is extremely important!   Beads of Courage members who receive these boxes are susceptible to germs/infections/molds.  Bowls that have not been properly sealed can harbor mold.  Please take the time to ensure you are using a safe finishing process that does not contain toxic materials.  Also, do not use finishes like linseed oil that take a long time to off gas.
·         All kinds of wood are beautiful!  Please refrain from painting Beads of Courage boxes.  Instead, highlight the beauty of the wood with clear varnish or stain, and/or burning.
·         Embed the Beads of Courage logo bead in the design of the box.  If this is not possible, burn or letter Beads of Courage onto the lid or side of the box.  Complete a Beads of Courage artist card and place it in the completed box.
·         It is nice if you can personalize your donation.  Marking your name or initials, type(s) of wood, and date on the box bottom is one way.  It is also nice to enclose a personal note of encouragement, business, card, etc. inside the box. 
Here is a link to a Part 1 of 3 of a a full length demonstration I did in January of this year for the Middle Georgia Woodturners on how to turn a Beads of Courage box starting with a green bowl blank.