Mark Baker

Monday, August 7, 2017


I have long been amazed by the variety of things craftspeople and artists make and create. I believe that we all have the innate desire to be creative and that is outworked in various ways. Each route will involve learning techniques and rules of some sort and many may involve dealing with and understanding risks and hazards of some kind or other.

For turners there has been a massive increase in the amount of ‘enhanced’ work. This is not to everyone’s taste and it is a case of people working out their own likes and dislikes and creating items accordingly. The use of non-turning techniques on work increases ever more the avenues one can explore and is very exciting. But, many will ask the question: is it turning any more? My counter comment to that would be, does it matter? I feel like being a little provocative today. Most of my work is done with natural wood and nothing more than that, other than a finish placed on the item. The other turned work might involve carving, colouring, routing, burning (always outside of the workshop in the garden), sand blasting, bleaching and so on. I choose to scratch whatever creative itch I have to explore and love every minute of it. Yes I get frustrated, but I know that is part and parcel of the creative process. Not everything works first time, or even second, third, fourth… you get the message.

Here are a few interesting things for you to ponder concerning hobbyist turners.


* Pen turning is the largest aspect of turning undertaken.

* Faceplate turning is the second largest aspect of turning undertaken

* How to use and how to sharpen tools are the two of the most commonly asked questions. These are wholly understandable and of vital importance to what we do as turners to cut wood efficiently and safely.

* Midi lathes are the most commonly bought size of lathes. This is due to their being able to tackle a wide variety of projects without taking up too much space. Most people don’t need the capacity between to create long spindle work but if they do, many midi lathes offer a bed extension option solving the problem.

* Most faceplate projects undertaken are not bigger than 250-300mm in diameter. Thickness tends to be about 50 -75mm.

* Most turning is still not enhanced in any way other than being sanded and a finish being applied on the turning. So turning which shows the natural beauty of the wood and shape is still the most common type of turning by a long way.


Now, having said all that, and yes I am expecting some comments, turning is thriving. Despite the gloom mongers saying it is declining, it isn’t. Now what you choose to turn and what you do with that turning is up to you. You have chosen turning as a route to explore, so go for it. Just remember to work safely, have fun and relish the opportunity to be able to work with such a wonderful medium that allows you to do so much with it.


Best wishes,


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