Sylva Spoon

Turning Bowls

Thomas Bartlett1 Comment

Apprenticeship Day 5

(I took pictures with my dSLR, trying to be fancy, but I'm having issues downloading them. Gifs will have to do) 

Today started the same way all Mondays start at Woodspirit Handcraft. The 9am business meeting. We finalised the weeks' activities, reviewed how production was going, sorted out dates for Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Jarrod and Jasmin tried to reduce their lists of lists of lists to just a list, but I think we only go so far as making it a list of lists. Progress nonetheless.

The focus of the week is turning. So Jarrod and I went out of his rapidly diminishing woodpile to free some blanks from the longs. Jarrod cut and ripped some blanks. He's been talking about upgrading his old corded electric chainsaw he uses in the workshop, so I brought along my battery powered chainsaw for him to play with. Seems like he'll stick with a corded version, as he's got a petrol chainsaw so doesn't need the mobility of a battery powered machine. 


It's my job to take the chainsawed wood, round it off with the axe and rough turn it so Jarrod can finish it. I'm leaving the bowls thick, with only a little hollowing, so Jarrod's got plenty of timber to play with for the final shaping. 

We spent a chunk of the morning fine turning the lathe I'm working on. One of the poppets needed some minor reshaping to make it fit better to the bed of the lathe. My pedal got tweaked and we tightened up the bungee. 

Once I got turning, it was a bit of a frustrating day. I had the mandrels loosen up on two of the bowls I was working on. It happened due the compounding problems I had created. I'd mounted the bowl slightly off kilter and was cutting in a way that was more like scraping. I also have a bad habit of trying to muscle through the tricky spots.


Jarrod was extremely patient with me. He can tell by the sound my cuts are making if I'm having issues. He stopped his work and came over to help me several times. For my third and final bowl of the day Jarrod instructed me to go super-slow with it and try to apply the techniques he'd shown me. It took me probably 2-3 hours, but I ended up with a blank with a much nicer surface to it than the previous bowls. 

So I need to focus on not rushing forward, taking my time, getting a good surface finish. This week will be all about turning, so plenty of opportunities to practice.