Sunday, January 18, 2009

My First Love

For the first 10 years of my woodworking journey, people who found out that I'm a woodworker would ask excitedly, "Oh, do you have a lathe?"

"Well no, I don't really need one. But I have just about every other woodworking tool." They always responded with a look of mild disappointment.

Years later, a horrible thing happened. I realized that I had purchased every tool I would ever need to build the projects on my list.

So, like a good woodworker, I started to look for projects that would justify purchasing a new tool—a lathe. Because once you buy a lathe, you'll need to outfit it with chisels and gouges, chucks and spindles, and loads of other accessories. Life was good again.

First it was pens. Who can't use a pen? Why, I could make my own Christmas gifts for the rest of my life!

Then I figured I could make drawer pulls, legs for tavern tables, bowls for gifts. And there are endless ways in which turning can enhance a piece of furniture.

So now I've signed up for 8 woodturning classes and hopefully one day I'll produce some nice lathework.

However, my first love will always be woodworking. It's how I identify myself—as a woodworker. There are woodworkers who turn and woodturners who build furniture, chip carvers who make treenware, cabinet makers who whittle, and the list goes on.

You can learn to work with wood any number of ways, but you will always have your first love—the way in which you identify yourself—whichever woodworking discipline it may be. (But that's just my opinion—feel free to prove me wrong.)

Not sure what I'll do once I've purchased everything I need for lathework. But a quick glance around the shop reveals that I don't own a scrollsaw....

The photo above is of two tops I turned after taking two woodturning classes. The cherry turned much more easily than the poplar which tended to chip and fuzz. They're nothing impressive, but I still have six more classes to go!

20 comments:

Bill Stankus said...

Have you seen Bonnie Klein's work?

Mike said...

Kari,
How could you possibly have purchased every tool you need for the projects on your list? Obviously either your list is not extensive enough or you are not aware of the tools that are out there that you "need". I believe that a lathe or a scroll saw would fall under the listing of "equipment" anyway so maybe you didn't realize you needed "equipment" as well as tools. Turning requires only a few basic tools and some chucks. Try to remember your hand tool roots and look for the old simple ways they did things, avoid gizmocity!
Mike

The Village Carpenter said...

Bill, thanks for the name. I wasn't familiar with her. Her tops are beautiful!

Mike, I'm also the only woodworker, in the history of woodworking, to actually own enough clamps. :o)

Shazza said...

Hey VC - they look good to me! How big are they?

Show that lathe who is boss!

Jeremy (jmk89) said...

Wash your mouth out with soap, Kari. You are just not trying hard enough! Of course there are more tools you need. And besides there are new kinds of old tools that you will need - like Lidwig clamps (www.lidwig.com.au) (Try them, you will see, as Dr Seuss said).

Seriously, welcome to the lathe. It will start you on a whole new range of projects (and a whole new world of tools for the lathe and for the non-lathe aspects of the projects you now want to make.

I decided that I would get an old metalworking lathe so I could make my own metal bits when I make or repair tools for woodworking (you know those bizarre thread screws that Stanley use that you can't buy). Now I am thinking of maybe making my own clock mechanism to put in a shelf clock of my own design.....

Doug Berch said...

Beautiful tops!

Yes, there are always more tools; the ones we need for our primary work and the ones we just want. At least this might explain the two person crosscut saw I dragged home from an auction once!

Woodfired! said...

Of course then you will need to extend your workshop. Which is another project. Which requires its own tools - drop saw, rivet gun, plastering trowels, cement mixer??

Can't believe you said that about your clamps :o) That would be truely unique. But I'm sure you just haven't hit the right project yet. I'm pretty sure that an infinite number of clamps will eventually prove to be one too few.

The Great Ethan Allen said...

wow! harsh crowd here today! Lathe bla! who needs one! There are probably dozens of old men out there that have one collecting dust in their garage now that they have turned a bowl for everyone they know! ( the same could be said about a scroll saw) I'm on of those "resistant tool collectors" who basically has to exhaust every means available before I break down and buy what will make the job a dream instead of nightmare. I think a table saw is more important personally. Then again, I'm a wood carver! chisels, dremels and routers are my tools of choice.

The Village Carpenter said...

Shazza, the tops are only about 2" high. I'm practicing working small so I can make drawer pulls.

Jeremy, metalworking definitely compliments ww. I can see where a metal lathe would come in handy. hmmm....

Doug, I'm SURE you needed that 2 man crosscut saw. If nothing else, it makes a cool wall decoration. :o)

Mark, I'll have to start building larger projects if I want to buy more clamps. Making handplanes and little boxes just doesn't cut it!

TGEA, I'm with you on being a frugal tool buyer, but sometimes I see one that's just too pretty and I get all googly-eyed. Carving, though—you can never have enough chisels and gouges! ; )

Woodbloke said...

Dear oh dear Kari, I can see that you've made headlong progress down the 'Slope'(from which there is no return...from one who knows!) I just hope that somewhere in your budget there's an few dollars put by for an ice axe and crampons to slow you up a tad.
Lathes are good. I classify myself as a woodworker with a lathe, not a turner who likes doing benchwork...if you follow. I mainly use it for making pulls and small things between centres, so I don't need the biggest spiny thing on the market. The main requirement is to buy something thats really solid (cast iron is best) and a few decent HSS tools, not forgetting a good mask for the dust and shavings
...sorry, you're just plain wrong about cramps! - Rob

montanamark said...

Kari,

Cool tops! They remind me of Chess pieces, which is something else to turn. Years ago I turned about 20 small tops and they were a blast - quick and very creative. If you really want a cool top try some fancy hardwoods like osage orange, purpleheart or ebony. You can really get those suckers to shine.

The Village Carpenter said...

Rob, I bought a friend's full size, cast iron, Jet lathe, complete with full set of tools, for half price. He'd only used the lathe and tools half a dozen times, so it was a deal I couldn't pass up! Now I'm taking classes to learn to use it/them. It was sort of putting the cart before the horse, but this way, I'm able to practice in between classes.

Montanamark, I thought they looked like chess pieces, too. I have a nice chunk of osage orange but I'm waiting to get a little better at lathework first. I've seen friends' turnings that were made with exotic hardwoods and they are slick and shiny, for sure!

Anonymous said...

Kari-
You might consider developing a "need" for tools to make the tools you need! Getting a metal lathe led to a milling machine that is going to lead to building a small forge and who knows where that will lead!!
Laurie

The Village Carpenter said...

Laurie, I've actually thought about putting some kind of forge in the backyard. Wonder what my neighbors would think of that!

Shannon said...

Where are you taking turning classes? Are the 8 part of a series or just specific topics?

The Village Carpenter said...

Shannon, I'm taking a 7 week turning course at the Woodcraft Store in Harrisburg. Prior to that, I took a beginner class on spindle turning.

In each class in the course, we will learn to make a particular object. Last week was the top.

It's a great program, taught by my friend, Kay Pomroy. She's going to be teaching the course again (I think in April) and I believe it will be posted this Friday on the Woodcraft site.

Anonymous said...

Kari -

If you think you have all the clamps you could possibly use. I bet you've never tried to build a boat....

Pete

The Village Carpenter said...

Pete, I made a little toy boat with popsickle sticks as a kid, but I guess that doesn't count, does it? :o)

Woodfired! said...

Depends. How many clamps did you use?

Wood Dude said...

I'm one of those goofy ones who belong to the cult of the scroll saw, but also believe there is no project in human existence that cannot be done better with a new tool.

Good luck with the lathe, there are some people out there doing some fantastic stuff. Southwest wooden pottery that has been glued together then turned is beautiful.