The art of woodturning

One unlucky result of the development of unique styles is that beginners can be baffled by an apparent conflict in instructions in manuals, means used in demonstrations, and in techniques shown in woodturning videos. The beginner should not be distressed by this. Underlying this variety there are certain rules which are followed by all turners and which allow the novice to experiment and to discover different techniques with self-esteem and without peril. These rules and the way they can be attached to different situations and different tools are laid out on this site.

Tackling woodturning problems

However, because there are a number of ways to tackle problems, I, like other people, have my favourite way of doing things. As a result the views I will put forward may differ from those of other instructors. They are a mix of the things I have discovered to work for me and my own particular take to woodturning. You can even make blinds.

Because of such differences in opinions there is a principle which I think is very important: one should not make statements in a book of this kind, particularly if they are controversial, without explaining the reasons for them.

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The art of woodturning

Woodturning is an art not a science. Each knowledgeable practitioner has his own specific way of doing things. The reason for this is that wood unlike, say, metal or plastic, is not an homogeneous material. No two pieces of wood are the same even when cut from adjacent positions in the tree.

In contrast, think of a piece of steel to be utilised in (for instance) a motor car: many metallurgists, and other specialists, will have been used in its production, and testing, to make sure that it has the required characteristics, and that these will be the same from one batch of material to another. This means that things like granular structure, its durability, elasticity and its tensile strength will be the same for every sample.

Fibre structure

Wood isn't like that. Adjacent pieces will show differences in features like fibre structure, grain pattern, hardness and bendiness. As each unique work piece rotates on the lathe and is traversed by the tool the turner has to make slight adjustments to his method as he is presented with a stream of changing data.

To add to the options which have to be made a range of tools can be used to achieve the same simple forms and this equipment can be ground to a variety of shapes and angles. Even the lathes that turners use can alter their style. As woodturners change their skills so they find their own answers to the problems they meet, and blend together the various tools and methods the people of this craft have at their disposal in their own unique ways.

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