Background

I still have the iirst two pieces I ever turned. The first was a bowl in Iroko. 7VHn (190mm) diameter, 3:/«in (82mm) tall, turned on a 6in (150mm) faceplate with 1 in (25mm) long screws. The base is lin (25mm) thick. At the time I thought it was wonderful and so did my family. Later on I wanted to burn it. but now I find it most interesting to look back on, even though it has spent many years in the garden holding o plant pot. The second piece was a three-legged stool which I used twice a day for sewn years to milk the cow. It now has pride of place in the house. Both pieces were made in evening classes at the local high school, before I had a lathe of my own. in the winter of 1973/4.

Once I had my own lathe, woodturning became part of my living. I made mainly domestic items: lamps, bowls, candlesticks, trays and goblets. I sold them from my workshop which is on the road up to Dunnet Head, the most northerly point on the Scottish mainland. One item I was particularly keen to make was a spinning wheel so that we could spin our own wool. I sold the first one before it was finished and the neighbour who bought it, Joan Glass, won first prize for her spinning at the Royal Highland Show in the 1970s. This in turn created a market for my wheels and they became my best product.

Top My first ever turning piece: a bowl in iroko, 7:/.in (190mm) diameter. Turned in on evening class at my local high school. Held on 6m (150mm) faceplate.

Middle My second turning piece: a three-legged stool in sapeie. I used this lot milking the cow twice a day for seven years.

Right Lamp in sycamwe.

Maiepnan, 3amnmeHHbifi aoTopcKUM npaBOM

Below Lidded bowl in atrormosia.

I had never attempted boxes; back then it was a measure of how gocd a turner you were - does the top go pop as it is removed? That was until I got an order tor 500 apple-shaped boxes, in apple wood, for the New York Times in the 1980s. Then it became worth learning. By the time I h3d made 50 boxes I was really in the swing of it. Ray Key made half the order, which certainly took the pressure off me.

After meeting Richard Raffan in 1981. I began turning green (unseasoned) wood and have been doing so ever since. I started off using interesting woods brought up from Inverness (130 miles south), but after a while decided to use only local woods. As our local wood is mainly light-coloured European sycamore {Acer pseudoplatanus), it wasn't long before my wife Liz was working with me to decorate the pieces. We still continue to turn and decorate local sycamore. The images on these pages are mainly early pieces that I made before I began working with green wood.

Top Orkney upright spinning wheel in afrcrmosia. This was my main product in the 1970s.

Left Spinning chair in atrormosia. These became popular tor christening and wedding presents.

Below Lidded bowl in atrormosia.

Part one: Equipment

The equipment you buy needs to be appropriate for what you want to make, which could be anything from miniatures to world record bowls. In general, most turners want to be able to produce a range of work from 12-18in (30-45cm) diameter bowls or vessels to pens, standard lamps and egg cups. All these are compatible with a carefully selected set of equipment, which we will look at in this section. Once you have the tools and equipment, it is worth taking time to understand them and the turning process. This will not only save you money but, more importantly, will greatly improve your enjoyment and ability in the woodturning shed.

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A Course In Wood Turning

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