Sylva Spoon

Spinning Things

Thomas Bartlett1 Comment

Apprenticeship Day 14

I had quite the productive morning. I used the bandsaw and adze to rough out some plates. I rough turned the outside of a cup. Nothing quite like turning the outside of an end-grain cup for a confidence boost in your turning abilities. I have no idea how to hollow them, but don't take that fuzzy glow away from me. 

Wooden plates

Wooden plates

I also roughed out another ale bowl and did what I could to a handled mug. I can turn above and below the handle, but used the axe to remove the excess material either side of the handle. Jarrod has a few of these on his to-list, so I'll ask him to give me some pointers on working that area later. I'd really like to get to the point where I can make handled cups of my own, as they're only possible due to the reciprocal action of the pole lathe. 

Axe and wooden mug

From watching Jarrod hollow out cups, and how so much of it is done by feel alone, my skill level isn't where it needs to be yet. I'm happy with how I'm progressing, and it's good to know your limits. I feel that if I tried the cups too soon, I'd probably become frustrated with the process. It's important to me that I enjoy this work.

We also had a chat about social media. We're both active on Instagram. I've got a Facebook page, Pinterest, Twitter and Google+ but don't really use the last two. It was interesting to chat about our two approaches to social media, what we each hope to achieve and how we go about doing it. As small business owners, you have to wear all the hats: designer, maker, marketer, salesperson, tea maker. It can be really easy to hid behind making stuff, and not engage in all the other things that actually make a business successful. Let along figuring out the correct 'strategies' for engagement. 

For the time being my social media strategy has not been very focused. Mainly because I haven't been doing much in terms of online sales. The majority my products are sold through craft fairs. This summer I had a hard time juggling maintaining stock on the website with the high turnover of items at craft fairs. I've got something in the works to help remedy that, so stay tuned. I might also do some infrequent sales of one-of-a-kind items to give you international peeps the opportunity to get in on the action. 

After lunch I got back to turning. I roughed out another bowl, adding it to the growing pile for Jarrod to finish. Seeing the small forest of mandrels sticking out the wood shavings, I thought it would be good to turn another mandrel. I guess I'm just a glutton for punishment, ending my long day of turning with doing mandrel. 


While I was turning it, Jarrod and I got chatting about mandrel - bowl ratios. The mandrel in the bowl Jarrod was working on was a touch too large, and he was trying to clearly articulate why. He could easily tell the ratio was off, but giving a clear and science based explanation wasn't easy. We bounced around the metaphor of a bicycle. The gears on a bike change how fast you peddle and how fast that peddling moves the bike along. We got a little confused when trying to tie the metaphor back to bowl turning. If the mandrel is the gear, is the bowl the bike wheel? And if that's the case, is the tool cutting along the bowl the ground? That didn't quite work. What changes the speed? Pumping the lathe quicker? A smaller mandrel? We were pretty sure the term velocity should come in somewhere, but I'm not entirely sure what that means. Most importantly, who wears the lycra?

In spite of my unhelpful fashion comments, Jarrod found a way to clearly explain how mandrel size impacts bowl turning. I think he's going to put part of that explanation in his upcoming book. I'll wait with bated breath to see how playing cards between the spokes fit into the equation.