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.

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