Ever since I started down the path, through the forest of wood-working, my imagination has been captivated by turning. It always seemed so magical to me, yet intimidated me.
I remember my first experience at turning. The lathe was some old little piece of cast iron, attached to a motor by belt and pulley. I have no idea how many RPM’s the thing spun at, I believe it was a bit fast. My brother was showing me how to do it, fresh out of shop class (no offense bro).
The wood held captive on the lathe was a rugged, old, crusty piece of oak. Not something I would choose to turn these days. I wouldn’t have been surprised if it had harbored some barbed wire, deep in it’s bowels. The “turning tools”, were actually dull, poor quality carving tools, from a big box store.
So, the wood is buzzing away at who knows what RPM, and I hesitantly ease my little dull carving tool into the work piece. It was not pretty, and I’m amazed I didn’t rip a finger or two off. My career in turning lay stagnant after that, for a good long while.
But a day came when I regained some confidence, a little know-how, and tools. I started on small pieces of green wood, and I was hooked. I am no pro at turning, but find it to be one of the most enjoyable wood- working tasks. It’s highly meditative to me and relaxes my mind. It’s more of a shop past-time for me, besides the handles I turn for some of my saws.
One of my favorite fun-time projects is turning file and rasp handles. I can be as creative as I want, I experiment with new shapes and patterns on each new blank, and approach it with wonder and excitement. If I screw up on a handle, no big deal, it’s only scrap wood after all. It’s economical, fun, relaxing, and satisfying.
I’m not sure about the terminology of turning, but I call the outline you see on the work piece as it’s spinning, “The ghost”. I may have read this somewhere, I’m not sure. If you’ve done any turning this terminology may seem apparent to you. The work piece almost becomes translucent.
So when my mind is filled with turmoil, I find it very soothing to step up to the lathe, lose myself to the action of cutting spinning wood, and become mesmerized by the ghost.
Side note: I am in the process of setting my shop up in Montana, and will be back in full swing in 2-3 weeks. Thanks for your patience – KLR