Turning progress

After my last post, I decided to actually walk my talk – I took a Monday off in order to have some uninterrupted shop time.  It sure helped – I got to experience first-hand the process for constructing a laminated bowl blank, and worked on some of my turning technique. By the end of the week I’d produced my first large bowl, and just today I turned a serving tray from start to finish in one session.

I’d also gotten some good advice for moving past the design phobia I’d written about previously. Some folks suggested I just go for it, and try to make the ugliest bowl possible.  I wasn’t willing to go that far, but another idea (that seems obvious now) is to start with a “published” design and modify from there.  That’s essentially what I ended up doing.  I started with a rough profile from Richard Raffan’s book on bowl design, loaded it into a drawing program, and tweaked the curves until it fit the contraints of the board I was using.  This is the result:

First large bowl, side view

First large bowl, side view

I turned today’s serving tray while having another of his books open on the bench for referral. Even though neither form was a direct copy, I’m leaning to trust my eye.  For example, in the first of two pictures below I have the “first draft” of the serving tray.  It looked too thick to my eye (almost like a pie plate!), so I trimmed it down a bit. The second picture  shows the thinner (and more elegant) version (with finish applied).

First draft of tray - too thick

First draft of tray - too thick

Tray after trimming down

Tray after trimming down

I’m getting over my fear of bad design.  I still have lots to learn – some detail work on face turning still feels scary (I had one “catch” that dang near tore through the rim – but fixing it forced me to become comfortable with turning the rim down to a delicate thickness. It looks better as a result).  Finishing on the lathe is still a challenge.  I use Myland’s High Build Friction Polish when I turn pens, and I tried it on the serving tray.  It looks reasonably okay, but there are circular streaks in the finish.  Makes me wonder whether I should have taken it off the lathe altogether and finished it like any other piece of woodworking.

It also felt good to start with a block of wood this morning and within a few hours have a finished tray. I was feeling inspired to spend time at the lathe, not designing and gluing up segments today. I’m glad I followed my nose on that one (speaking of which, Indian Rosewood has a wonderful fragrance when cut!).

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