sábado, 21 de fevereiro de 2009

Wood Turning-start simple

It is very relaxing and reasonably easy to turn wood, there is the the advantage that it can be quite profitable: uses very little timber, needs very few tools and little workshop space. In fact some of the best timber for turning is in reality the wood that is not wanted for furniture making: has too many knots or twisting grain for the cabinet maker to resolve for construction, while for the turner, this is perfect, in that it is this decorative grain which can be exposed and enlivened by turning. The smallest objects, using tiny amounts of timber, can be sold for reasonable amount of cash. I was with friends in Italy, near Arrezo and Cortona, when we came across a shop selling furniture and bowls. The lady inside the shop was in fact Canadian, married to an Italian furniture maker, whose work was on show in the shop.

My friend has always liked and collected 'Treen' ware, he prefers the smallest pieces and these do require the most care and detail, I think much like dolls house furniture, the size facinates people and they can put the piece into the hand and admire the skill that made it.

The craftsman had chairs and tables, of high quality, for sale as well as bowls and many turned fruit wood 'fruits', minature apples and pears that opened up like small 'pill' boxes. I asked the lady about her husband and why he was not selling his goods, she remarked that he prefered to do the turning and had lost interest in furniture making, however she pointed out that his small workshop was but a stones throw down the street, so we upped sticks and went in search of him. Finding his workshop in a small lane, he was there working on some turnings, along with his cat ( I have some affinaty there for when I worked in the London Docks, I had shared my bench with a cat and her four kittens, unmoved by the sawing and router above her). On chatting about work it appeared that he had got fed up with negotiatig with customers over design and price of furniture ( I know the feeling only too well, the customer is nearly always interested in the price and time it takes to get the item) and that now he has hia wife to seperate the trading of work and he finds he makes far more money, for less work time, by turning wood.

There are a few basic hints with turning, although it is impossible for a blog posting to give much, other than a genaral flavour of the work and then let you go in search of books on the subjct, apart from anything elase, wood turning is as personal as any other craft and it is when you have an idea of the direction that you wish to go, that help is more productive. The Amazon site, for books, is one easy way to get the type of book that you would like, especially if you are not living in a city or near a good technical book shop.

It is best to have a lathe that suites your requirements and that it is strong and very well fixed to a firm flooring, vibration is a way to frustration with turning, it is so much easier to turn on a lathe which is robust. Make sure that the height is correct for you, it needs to be comfortable and you need full control of the chisels. The height is possibly best when the centre of the lathe is at the height of your elbow when you are standing vertically.

The other thing is to buy good chisels, quality helps in keeping the sharp edge and stopping bending and flexing of the steel. It is well worth buying a variety of different chucks and tail centres, they are of great help in allowing you to vary the type of turning that you may wish to try. Remember that most of the tools that you will buy are going to last you at least twenty years, so try to give them some thought and expense, it will repay in short time and allow you to consentrate on turning the wood and not over coming the problems that the tools are giving you.

If you are intending to do repetative work it is worth your while buying a number of measuring tools and possibly a few attachments for the lathe, such as the sizing attachment for a parting chisel and for bowel repetition, there are several bowl cutters that will cut out the waste for a large bowl, whilst giving you the centre as one piece to re use, as a smaller bowl.

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