Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What Turners Call a 'Design Opportunity'

  Finding bug-eaten holes deep through a work piece is always a disappointment.  Deciding what to do about them puts one in a quandry that can last for days.  This piece of Western Red Cedar looked sound as I prepared it for the lathe, but once the cutting began, it revealed a nasty flaw that would leave a 5/8" hole through the side no matter how I cut into it.  I could have drilled a round hole and plugged it with the same wood.  I could have filled it with colored epoxy.  I could have left it alone and titled the piece 'What's Bugging Me.'  Instead, I decided to let the flaw become a feature:

  Adding a leather strip looped through the hole and decorated with jewelry baubles seemed a nice way to make up for an unattractive flaw.  So, now it is a unique piece of artwork as well as a functional bowl.  This is, in the Turning World, what is called a 'Nice Save.' 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Commissioned Work

  Working to detailed specifications and having to duplicate a work piece was a new experience for me.  This is a commission offered to me by a local turner who had recently moved and hadn't yet bought a new lathe. He was asked to make 14 lamp finials to a customer's design, and offered me the work. Then he mentored me through the steps necessary, and even if I won't receive top dollar for my time, it was worth doing in how much I learned about the process!
  Eight are maple, six are walnut, and they'll sit atop a glass globe and a base made by the buyer. I worked off a CAD drawing done up by the other turner, and having several sets of calipers loaned to me to check dimensions as I turned was a real bonus.  I'm putting more calipers on my shopping list.
  The main lessons I took away from this experience probably apply to all woodworking:  Assume nothing, Check everything, and Never work when you are tired!
  It feels good to have completed the task and to get a "well done."