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I have begun!


Janel

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Hi all,

 

This week marks the beginning of a significant study period for me. Recently, at a regional meeting of woodturners I met Jim Sannerud, who is a woodturning teacher. With the assistance of the fellowship funds that has been made available to me, I am beginning an intense period of time focusing on learning woodturning technique with Jim as my teacher. I drive to Saint Paul, Minnesota three to four days a week for perhaps 3-4 weeks, spending 5-6 hours a day on the lathe, plus much more with discussion about the tools and machinery that should be part of a turner's shop. This will give me a solid background and much experience to draw upon when I begin to work at my studio on my own.

 

It is amazing to be taking lessons for the first time since the 1970's, to learn a skill that I hope to incorporate with new work in the years ahead. Everything else that I have done since those early years has been self-taught, and at a very slow pace of discovery. The first two days of lessons has impressed upon me how complicated woodturning is. It looks so simple and fun! I believe that it will be more simple with time and concentration, but right now, it feels very weird to be a beginner at something!

 

How using a lathe will tie into my work as a carver remains to be seen. I look forward to merging abilities with ideas in the years ahead. Meanwhile, I will work diligently to get beyond the rank of newbie, and to strive to bring my skills to a point where I can turn what it is that I want to use in combination with my carving.

 

Right now, I am learning how to move the tools, and to guide them to cut the wood cleanly and in the smooth straight lines that seem effortless for the experienced turners. The smooth curve is not yet within my power on the egg shape that was today's lesson. There is hope though! Those of you who know how to use the lathe will appreciate where I am right now, I believe. Every so now and then the tools, hands, arms and body all work in harmony and a smooth curved surface appears! This is really complicated! I remind myself that for me making pots is effortless, and so should be turning with enough time and experience.

 

Many thanks to Jim S. for his capable and patient teaching.

 

Janel

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Good go Janel.

The only thing about a lathe it can become a good habit. Not like pottery you cannot move the wood but can remove it. Lathe turning is where I got my site name and sign in name. I would look for wood in the fire wood pile to turn. most of the time was bowls or turned boxes with lids. I have turned and then carved the bowls and the boxes.

The best advice I can tell you is to keep the tools sharp, wear face and breathing protection, and do not be fear the high speed . Use light cuts with high speed and watch the turning appear in front of your eyes.

That is one thing that I miss. Turning.

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Thanks to you all! This has been an interesting and exiting week for me. We went shopping today, to check out a few lathes from a wood worker's store that was closing its classroom shop, and picked up a small JET lathe that will do for learning on. Also a dust removal unit, and checked out the band saw that will be on sale early tomorrow. It is weird to be spending money in these tough economic times, but part of the fellowship plan was for just this purpose, and will be best served by acquiring the equipment necessary for woodturning. Now how to fit it all into my workspace! There was a little time to practice some basic tool techniques, and I am happy to say, some of the movements that were difficult on Wednesday make more sense today. I look forward to next Monday.

 

This is a serious educational time for me. Jim S. is a thorough and thoughtful teacher. He knows what needs to be done and is making it possible for me to aim towards my goals of learning to turn wood and to set up what I need for independent work in my studio. Having a great teacher, and time to devote to learning helps to offset my feeling of bewilderment of actually being immersed in a period of change in my life. I woke up too early today, wondering about what I was actually getting myself into here, and am encouraged that I seem to be able to learn so far! Lets see what happens next week!

 

Janel

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  • 2 weeks later...

No photos yet, sorry! I am learning, and also putting Jim S. through his paces as we try to create tools for doing the small sorts of work I hope to be doing once I have my studio set up with lathe and other equipment. One more week after this week, and I will be on my own for a while. This has been very interesting and enjoyable. Photos will be taken when I am able to take time away from the projects being worked on. The lesson days go very quickly!

 

Janel

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No photos yet, sorry! I am learning, and also putting Jim S. through his paces as we try to create tools for doing the small sorts of work I hope to be doing once I have my studio set up with lathe and other equipment. One more week after this week, and I will be on my own for a while. This has been very interesting and enjoyable. Photos will be taken when I am able to take time away from the projects being worked on. The lesson days go very quickly!

 

Janel

 

Hi Janel

 

I am interested in your turning endeavor. Are you planning to carve the turnings or do pure turnings? After being a potter for years I thought going back to work involving symmetry would not be appealing to you. I have dabbled in turning for several years and then started in earnest this past summer. I took instructions in turning in December this past year and learned that every cut I was making was done the wrong way. The instructor is an englishman , quite efficient and knowledgable, so I am sure you will understand.

 

In a show at Delmano you had a piece that looked like one cone inside of another, two kinds of wood. I tried to find it on their web site today but could not. If you recall this piece please tell how you made it. I am assuming that it was not lathe turned.

 

Look forward to your future lathe work.

 

Wayne

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Hi Wayne,

 

You have pointed out one of the considerations I have had in the past years that cause me to avoid learning to use the lathe. At a point during the time I was carving lidded boxes, circles, the circle and turned vessel became too strong visually, and the carved surfaces got lost (to my eyes) when set out all together. Now, having committed to learning to use the lathe, I am fully aware of the circles and symmetry. The process of learning to turn will cause me to revisit shape and form, but my hope is to also explore incomplete form. It is difficult to describe with few words... to open a piece of wood on the lathe, or turning with care leaving a portion to be carved, other areas to be removed... it is all nebulous now until I get past the skill building part (lifetime of learning?). Some forms will be turned little bowls with lids, as the form of kagami buta, manju, or ryusa netsuke. My intent to work on the small forms is challenging the teacher, since such small work is not a common direction, so once again, the tools are not readily available. We are learning about adapting tools and technique.

 

Yes you are thinking about "Unturned Vessel". I have it back, so it may not be on del Mano's site now. It was all hand carved, and the title is a play on words, so to say. I liked the little piece of boxwood and wanted to see what such a form looked like, and made the little holder to set it upright. There is a little "key" to orient the boxwood part to the blackwood, since the boxwood is not totally round. It is tiny!

 

Next week is the last week of lessons, ending with installing the tools and equipment in my studio and making sure that I am ready to fly on my own for a while. When I collect photos, and create some, I will post them. So far, I am too involved with keeping it all under control and remembering the tools, positions and sequences. Nothing is completely finished either. Each project seems to need a new tool or three, and then the day has passed before the assignment is complete. It is a case of self-assignments, to help prepare me to do the work that I want to be doing. This is being so interesting!

 

 

Janel

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Janel,

I have been a wood turner for a few years and have recently started carving small scale work, some carving using the lathe for my rough forms. I have attached images of a bottle top of boxwood painted with acrylic that I recently completed. I think you will find that once you are comfortable with your wood turning skills, and the speed with which you can rough out material (or finish), that this will open up doors for new bodies of work.

Gerrit

 

post-1881-1234541847.jpg

 

 

post-1881-1234541874.jpg

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Gerrit, that is an amazing item that you showed us. It looks like you picked it up out of the gritty gutter. Is that really all wood? Thanks for the push and encouragement!

 

Thanks Toothy, the story will change when I get the tools installed in my studio. We will see how I divide my days then! I sure need the practice.

 

Tomorrow is the last commuting day to the city (one hour each way, rush hour traffic too). Then two days this next week Jim S. will come up to the studio with the tools and equipment that has been collected for making my studio ready for woodturning on my own. He will also get some wheel throwing lessons in our pottery studio, for the fun of it.

 

I am looking forward to staying home and getting some hours each day at the studio after this week is over. It is about time for it! I am also looking forward to connecting with resources for HSS steel for tool making, since each time I launch into a project, new tools need to be made to do the cutting for the tiny pieces that I am working on. I will get my vocabulary together, and try to ask some questions with the right words to describe what may be needed.

 

Janel

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Janel you may want to check out the catlog from craft supplies for some turning tools

http://www.woodturnerscatalog.com/store/catalog?Args=

they have some good tools. some of them I had before katrina some Robert sorby and a swivel tip holder with removable cutters

This tool worked so well with the removable cutters . I made some different shape and sizes. used it for a lot of small detail cuts.

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Janel and Dick,

Thanks for your comments. The majority of my work up until around six months ago was making narative wood sculpture using the lathe as a primary tool for making parts. Recently I have found that small scale carving gives me a whole set of new challenges and a pleasant break from making political and pop culture art. Picking things up on the beach or a hiking trail and trying to duplicate found objects is a lot of fun (also frustrating at times).

Gerrit

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My studio has changed, and is not yet settled, except for the new equipment. Everything that was displaced is still looking for a new location, and for a while it will remain stacked where it landed until I get some new work going. The set up works, but it sure makes a mess! I've yet to acquire a dust capture system for the power tools. On the ceiling is a dust filtration unit, but it does not capture it all right off, but it does a good job clearing the air. I wear a mask when turning dry wood. Around the corner is a second lathe that is even smaller than the Jet Mini showing in the photo.

 

I am working on good photos of the wee pieces that were my initial results from the lessons. Well, the very first I won't show because they were really just tool movement practice. I started counting pieces when using good wood. It has promise ;).

 

studio_jet2_w.jpg

 

jet_mini2_w.jpg

Jet Mini lathe. The stand is borrowed for a few weeks, until I am able to find one of my own.

 

grinder_nova_w.jpg

On the right is a Nova Mercury lathe, which is smaller than the Jet Mini. The grinder is a slow speed unit, designed for sharpening tools. It has a Wolverine sharpening system for those who choose to rely on a jig rather than by sharpening by eye alone for setting the angel of the bevel.

 

Phew! I am ready to move forward with some new work!

 

Janel

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That's the best start one can wish. All you have to do now is make some dust! Looking forward to pictures of a whole new world.

 

 

 

The next challenge is where to keep your turning tools ...

Jet sells a simple tool rack one can mount on the stand. But maybe Janels extra small chissels will fall right through it.

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Thanks you all. I have made some dust a couple of times, and what a clean up job! This is a studio that has seen so little of that stuff over the years of the small carvings! The dust collection system must wait until I see some money coming in. ;) Meanwhile, the ShopVac (plus ear plugs) will aid the cleanup process, along with the overhead air filtration unit. While turning, I wear a face mask for dust as well as a face shield for flying bits of wood, especially at the beginning.

 

There is a bench to the right of the Jet upon which I place the tools in use. The yellow unit with the metal drawers is where the tools are stored, along with the centers, chuck and other miscellany. I will need more shelving and drawers... never enough places to put things!

 

All the while before learning to turn, I thought that small pieces were made with small tools, but now I know that tools with longer handles provide much more control with much less strain. Some of the first projects were making of tool handles for the HSS steel tool blanks to be inserted into. Some projects have required small tools that are not part of my teacher's daily tool supply, so we did get creative with some things with smaller handles, and for tiny movements and cuts, gentle work, the short handles were useful. There is so much to learn!

 

Jim S. did show that a tiny top for spinning, perhaps 1/3 inch in length, can be made with a spindle or detail gouge of standard size. Tool control and keeping the cutting edge sharp go a long way with woodturning.

 

One thing for tools that Jim uses is a metal bucket filled with rye grass seeds, which support the tools when jammed into the bucket. He knows his tools by the color and look of the handles. I've only seen the Jet stand tool holders in photos. I think that the lathe is so small that such an attachment would likely be in my way at some point or another. The bench to my right, and the drawers to the left seem convenient enough for now.

 

The windows are great, but when looking against the light while standing on the dark side, makes for some difficulty with the lighting. I need at least one more elbow lamp for overhead and to the right side. That second lamp is somewhere in the closets, I believe!

 

I have photos now of the first wee pieces, but must process them. Soon I will share them with you.

 

Janel

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  • 3 weeks later...

I spent the day rearranging the woodturning area, to try to add storage and maximize the use of space. It isn't ready for a photo yet, but moving everything around is like the little tile moving game, move this before that, and remove this and that back so that this can move there... quite a shuffle, but I think with some new screws and a couple of lights, and a stress mat for standing on I'll be back in the game by the end of tomorrow.

 

Janel

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