All in a day’s work


Mark Baker

Monday, November 18, 2019

I am having one of those days when I have been fielding calls, emails and conversations in which people are vexed, fractious and moaning about things. I am going share with you a few of my comments regarding said subjects.

Q Why are so many people using tipped tools when tipped tools are not as versatile as conventional turning tools?
A Whether people use tipped tools with the right shaft and tip profiles in the manner suitable for the job they are undertaking, or suitable conventional turning tools in the right way for the type of turning they are tackling is up to them.

If I was teaching someone new to turning, I would show them how to use conventional tools and then show the difference between those and tipped tools, explaining the pros and cons of each route. I would, however, add the caveat that conventional tools give the user more options and flexibility in use than tipped tools. But there are times when tipped tools or a conventional scraper will, in my opinion, be the right tool too.

I see so many people get irritated and heated regarding this. Once something is turned, sanded and finished how many can tell how it was turned? Very few.

So, who cares as long as it was turned in a safe manner and people created what they wanted to? I really don’t know why people get so heated on the subject – it is personal choice and both routes work.

Q I don’t like seeing enhanced work. I want to see the wood when I make something.
A It is your time, your workshop and your personal choice as to what you make. Others will take similar or different routes. As people develop we see them create a personal style of something which is ever-more refined. Many love experimenting and funding out what they like or dislike over time. Turners also change their minds and take a different tack every so often.

It’s for you to choose what to do, but remember, no matter what colour or other enhancement a piece has, the turning of the original piece is still something someone can learn from, refine, modify and adjust to their tastes. Look at what others are doing, learn from it and do your own thing.

That said, if you do mimic or are inspired by someone else’s clearly defined style of work, always give credit to the original maker/source.

Q What wood should I use for a project?
A There are few projects most turners create that require a specific wood. Thread-chased sections need dense, close-grained timber, something like cast resin or something else that will take a thread, but the whole project needs that. Structurally load-bearing turned items might need specific timber and shapes. If it’s for food storage or use with food it might need specific timbers and finishes.

Thin, sectioned work will require timber that can be turned thin without breaking, and work that requires carving and other such enhancement will need timber that is able to take that specific type of decoration and so on. Timber choice is yours, but do explore local timber sources and practise on timber that is not too expensive when you’re learning. Mistakes are part of the learning curve, so learning what timber, tool and technique will do what is what we all go through to develop our skill.

Whatever you do, remember to work safely and have fun,


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