Feature Mondays - In The Workshop With Joe Jedrychowski archive

Monday 12 January 2015

We meet Joe Jedrychowski who shows us around his workshop and tells us more about his turning journey


A friend of mine, Dick Metlen, introduced me to woodturning about 15 years ago. We had a history of introducing each other to various hobbies, over a span of 25 years, and we were hobbyist woodworkers for years before we started woodturning. Unfortunately, I bought a cheap Taiwan-manufactured lathe on which I couldn't even use a chuck, so I was limited to a faceplate and between centre turning. I was still employed at the time and didn't have a lot of time for practice or classes, so I never progressed past making rolling pins.

After I retired I moved to Oregon, I got a better lathe and finally a dedicated basement shop space in 2008, and I consider having the dedicated shop when I officially started turning. In the Portland area there are now two woodturning clubs and a general woodworking guild. I took every class offered by the woodturning clubs, even if I didn't think I was that interested in the particular technique. I consider myself a hobbyist woodworker, not an artist. I do not have a studio, I have a shop. I've never sold anything, but have given away many pieces and enjoy seeing my work displayed or being used.

What and who have been the greatest influences in your work?

Of course the club demonstrations and the invited speakers are the best inspiration. Within the club, Jim Hall demonstrated surface enhancements, rose engine turning and shapes, while Bob Tuck, an octogenerian and professional woodturner, demonstrated that you can always learn something by attending meetings and classes whenever he could. Dale Larsen has perfected bowl shapes. Out-of-area demonstrators like Stuart Batty, Michael Hosaluk and Eli Avisera have pushed me beyond expectations.

If you were to offer one sage piece of advice to someone what would it be?

Take every hands-on class available, even if you don't think you're interested in that area of woodturning. Then, lock yourself in your shop and practise what you have learned. You'll be amazed how fast and how easily you can forget the technique nuances you just spent days learning. Secondly, get to grips with the fact that to progress, you need to invest not only in classes, but equipment. The equipment doesn't have to be new or owned solely by you, but the investment doesn't end with the lathe. The lathe is only the beginning. You'll need hollowing jigs, vacuum chucks, four-jaw chucks, airbrush equipment, carving tools, dust control devices, etc., or you'll just make rolling pins like I did.

What music and which book are you currently into?

We have a jazz radio station, a classic station and a public radio station in Portland which provide most of my listening. I also have a good CD player and a turntable. I prefer Chopin and choral music. And book: Duty by Robert Gates. I also enjoy mysteries by John Sandford and John Grisham.

What is your silliest mistake?

Not wearing a full-face shield from the start of my woodturning. I now wear a full-face shield when using any power tool. Yes, I've had turnings come apart as recently as two weeks ago. I can't stress safety enough.

What has been your greatest challenge?

Trying to catch up with woodturners who have an artistic background. I never had time for it in school.

Name one thing on your turning 'to do' list.

More surface treatment with hand and power carving, dyes and paint. I take classes in brush painting and have done some painting on turned items.

Tell us about the piece you are currently working on.

I have a large burl of silver maple (Acer rubric) which I am coring and hope to get three bowls. The piece also yielded a few 25mm thick flat pieces on which I will carve or do pyrography.

What is the one piece of equipment or tool you would not be without and why?

My Trend Airshield is a clever and effective way to keep dust from your lungs. I've tried masks, respirators and dust extraction, but the Trend one is very effective and as I mentioned before, you have to invest in equipment to progress and be safe.

If you could change one thing what would it be and why?

I'd want more space, light, heat and outlets in my workshop.

What is your favourite type of turning.

I'd say that was hollowing. It's boring - no pun intended - but the results you can achieve are terrific.

If you could have one wish, what would you wish for?

An unlimited supply of newly harvested burls and an Aston Martin. Not necessarily in that order. Seriously, I wish I'd started turning earlier in life or perhaps I should say I wish I had the time earlier in life to learn and practise turning. Flatwork was always easy for me; I could watch a TV programme on woodworking and go to the shop and do all of the steps to make a cabinet, cutting board or drawer. Turning has a steeper learning curve and was more difficult for me to learn.

If you could have one piece of equipment what would it be, and why?

I think I have all the equipment I need for now but who knows what is around the next corner? New things are always being introduced. Just go to a woodturning show and try out some of the new hollowing jigs, turning tools, bandsaw blades and other new products. There's always something else you need!

Woodworkers Institute

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Contact Details

Email: jjedro@comcast.net

5 Things That I Have Learnt With My Woodturning

1. A turning that is plain and uninspired can be made interesting with pyrography, carving, or paint
2. Do not stand directly in front of your turning, if possible, and always wear a faceshield
3. A workshop floor clean of debris, cords, hoses and scraps helps to avoid tripping
4. A steady rest works not only with spindles, but also dampens vibrations on bowls and hollow forms
5. Keep a first aid kit near the phone in your workshop or install a phone so you can call for help. A plastic jar works well to keep bandages, analgesics, hydrogen peroxide, tweezers with magnifier, eye drops, alcohol swabs and micropore tape for skin closure

Latest Home-made Jig

My home-made burl holder is made from two 585mm diameter pieces of 25mm MDF and bolts with wing nuts make a press that will hold a burl. The window in the top board allows the burl to be turned. It is attached to the lathe by a tenon glued and screwed to the bottom board. Balance is sometimes a problem, but wood weights can be screwed to the unit, between the boards to counter-balance. I usually use rubber between the burl and the holder to ensure grip and stand off to the side when turning with this unit.

Handy Hints

1. Take a chance on an unpromising piece of wood and see what's inside. The worst thing that can happen is your firewood pile will look better
2. Make a sample board with different finishes to check for curing time, effect of multiple coats, colour and effect on grain
3. Sign your work with a Pilot G2 rollerball 0.5 mm. It scores the wood and after 15 minutes your wood finish will not lift the ink
4. A CBN wheel will make sharpening fun
5. Buy a white fabric-marking pencil from a sewing or quilting store. It is useful for marking walnut and other dark woods
6. A 510mm box fan with a good quality HEPA furnace filter attached to the back of the fan is an effective dust extractor. Two fans and filters are even better. Two fans, filters and a powered respirator are best
7. Do not try to work in a cold workshop with four layers of sweaters, gloves and a hat keeping you warm. Turning is a potentially dangerous hobby and more so when wearing long sleeves and gloves. Put a space heater in the shop and bring the temperature up so it is tolerable

Likes & Dislikes

1. Selecting logs and crotches from felled trees for the perfect turning
2. Almost instant gratification: a cabinet or chair can take months; a bowl can take a couple of evenings
3. A bowl or other turning, even a rolling pin, is the perfect gift. Anyone can give a bottle of wine, but a turner can give a one-of-a-kind gift
1. Sanding
2. Waiting for some oil finishes to cure
3. Instructors/demonstrators who tell you that you can pick up an item - paint, dye, file, sharpening stone - anywhere. It usually leads to a hunting expedition