Why turn wood?

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woodwish

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Got into an interesting discussion last night over a cup of coffee at the local grill about why I turn wood. Two of the other guys also do a lot of woodworking but hate turning, claim they can't stand to take perfectly good wood and turn most of it into shavings. I tried to explain why I love it but had a hard time coming up with a valid answer. I think my biggest reason is that I love the adventure of seeing what's inside the wood. Flat work is pretty much what-you-see-is-what-you-get in my opinion. You never really know what a turned piece is going to look like until you turn it, every piece of God's work seems to be a new experience when turned down layer by layer. Any thoughts? Why do you turn?
 
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Rifleman1776

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Turning is a creative art form that many enjoy. When I built my shop I decided not to make large furniture because the space I have won't accomodate the equipment needed and neither would my budget. I sold a high quality scrollsaw because that endeavor just did not appeal to me. But turning does and I find it a relaxing, theraputic activity. And, sometimes, I even turn out an object that others see beauty in. And I turn WOOD because that is the material nature intended us to use. [:p][:)]
 

vick

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Wood turning is more artistic in my opinion than most flat work. Also I can create small useable object (pens, bottle stoppers, bowls) in a relatively short amount of time. I do not get much shop time and this appeals to me greatly.
 

alamocdc

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Having started out in flat work, I'd like to say that I can understand where they are coming from. However, I really can't. I've always loved the beauty of a turned piece. Yes, you can create some very attractive flat work, but you better be prepared to PAY for it. And you better make sure you get everything right at those prices. According to LOML, I spend too much on my wood for turnings, but I think the lamps and bowls (and even pens) I get from it are much more attractive than the furniture and jewelry boxes I make. [:D] Not to mention that the perfectionist in me takes too long to do flat work for anything other than my own use, or gifts for my family. I find the lathe much more forgiving. [;)]
 

Old Griz

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I think the operative question here should be
<b>WHY NOT!!!!!.... </b>
heck anyone can cut a straight line on a $1500 piece of machinery... it takes a certain amount of talent to totally screw up a beautiful piece of wood on a similarly priced lathe... [}:)]
Like Frank (now that is a scary thought [}:)]), I did not set up my shop for flat work.. in my case my disablility would not let me play with large heavy sheets of plywood, etc.
So I started doing scroll art. I still design scroll saw patterns for other scrollers and do some scrolling, but woodturning has become my primary obsession. Scrolling is an very artistic endevour, especially when you design your work, but turning is sooooo much more satisfying for some reason...
 

tipusnr

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If your friends really believe that about woodturning (that most of the wood becomes shavings part) they have been watching too many bowl turners.

I use woods the flatworkers throw away and cut blanks down even further when making traditional slimlines so I can use the cutoffs for laminations.

But the REAL reason I turn wood (and other materials) is I LIKE turned objects. I like their look and feel and always have. But that's just me!!!
 

JimGo

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Originally posted by Rifleman
<br />And, sometimes, I even turn out an object that others see beauty in.
<br />
Frank,
Just wait 'till they're done with you at your eye exam, you'll be able to see the beauty in them too! [:D]

I turn because, like the others here have said, I can make something pretty cool (don't know that I'd call mine beautiful yet) in a 6' deep by 3' wide shop. I don't know any flat-work people who can do that. Plus, I can make a $100 (hopefully) pen in about an hour, what can THEY do in an hour?
 
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My answer to these woodworkers is "Why would you want to limit yourself to the amount of tools you can buy?"


I do both, turning and flat work.

When I turn bowls, I always cut a slice or two off a burl for use in a flat lidded box.

Whenever I'm doing flat work I always keep my eyes peeled for a section that would make a nice pen.

I've found since I started turning my flat work has greatly improved.

Allot of the skills I learned doing flat work has helped me tremendously in turning.
 

ctEaglesc

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Going on the assumption that a lot of wood is wasted in turning I can see their point though they are only looking at their work in 2 dimensions.
I like making my own blanks using scraps and build the future turned object from the inside out. Also, it takes much less time turn turn and finish a pen than it does an entertainment center.
I can carry my work in my pocket, show it and sell it.
try that with the flatwork that most people make.
I enjoy both.
 

Scott

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For me it comes down to time. I can make a nice piece of furniture, and have done. Weeks of work will go into each piece. I really like having furniture I built in my house. My computer desk is made to just fit the space it occupies, and it is laid out just how I want it. But again, it takes weeks of work for each piece.

I do woodturning because it feeds my artistic side, and does it in short pieces of time. I can make a pen in an hour. I can make a bottle-stopper in a half an hour. In the front door, out the back door, in an evening. And they look great! You can't get that doing flat work. Heck, bowl-turning even takes too long for my taste! [:D]

Instant gratification! That's the keyword for me.

Scott.
 

Woodbutcher68

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I turn and scroll, for relaxation. In the fall I do craft shows to get sell off the inventory and buy more wood and shop toys. I'm equally hooked on both. People have asked me to build them furniture and I reply: "Why would you want a crooked table?"
 

btboone

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&gt;If I could get $100 an hour, you better watch out for the new vise prices

Paul, they might sell to an upscale clientel like those in Miami. Hmm... Miami Vise [:D]
 

Bob A

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I set up my shop a couple of years ago for flat work. After a few not so pretty boxes and a long but enjoyable 3 months building an entertainment center, I decided I should get a lathe for turning table legs. I never got around to turning any table legs. In fact I have not done any flat work since.

I don't know how to explain it, but there is just something about cutting away on some wet wood with a bowl gouge that I find very therepeutic(sp?). That and the fact that in a day in the shop I can turn a handful of pens and a bowl or two. I have a 2 routers, planer, jointer, biscuit joiner, palm sanders, etc... that haven't seen any use since I got my lathe.
 
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I have an RBI scroll saw and used to really enjoy scrolling UNTIL I worked a wood show in Phoenix and watched the turners. That did it![:D] I bought my Jet and the rest is history. Now the only thing that the RBI gets used for is cutting blanks! Anybody want to buy a slightly used RBI?[8D][:D]
 

Daniel

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Why do I turn wood, mainly because I can. I also rebuild and repair houses. I do flat work as well. I work on houses so I don't have to do woodworking out in the rain, and pay a few bills. I do flat work because I love craftsmanship, tools, and learning how all the parts go together well. I turn to express my artistic side. I also paint and draw amoung other things. I like the process I go through at the lathe. often deciding what a finished pen will look like as I see it being exposed.
there is clearly a difference in turning and flat work for me.
I turn pens because I like pens and I like turning. the space needed is a plus as well. But as I said. the biggest reason I turn is because I can. that and some pieces of wood just beg to be sawdust.
 

woodbutcher

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$5000.00 worth of pens fit in a briefcase wich fits well in the back of my 04 Cobra. The same $$$ of cabinets takes up my truck and trailer. It also requires at least 2 grown men to move them. I take my sample case on vacation and it suddenly becomes a legitimate business trip. Plus I actually make sales and or contacts during these events. My.02 worth,
Jim
 

bdar

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Why turn wood? Firstly because we can. I don't know about anybody else but when I first started turning at the age of 13 I was told by an older turner that I would see shapes and that the timber would talk to me. I didn't uderstand for a long time and then it happened, I knew what the design was going to be when I put a bowl blank on the lathe, and the timber did start to talk to me. I do a rough sketch of the finished item now to have as a reference. I notice the tone of the timber now more as I turn, even though I measure thicknesses I listen for them first. Every piece I turn has a part of me go with it. A tree is one of natures most beautiful gifts, the majesty, the beauty of grain and the strength it has. To be able to turn a piece of it allows me to bring the tree back to life so show the beauty that is hidden by the bark. As Tom says, hands, mind and heart, that's why I turn wood.
 

woodwish

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Wow, many great responses but I especially enjoyed "bdar" way of expressing it almost like a spiritual experience. I think many of us feel the same way but that was very well worded. Daniel and others also summed it up well- We turn because we can. Sounds like a good t-shirt slogan? I'm off the next two days, I think I shall go turn because I can [;)]
 

Randy_

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Remind those guys that their flat lumber was originally round and we are just trying to return it to its original configuration!! [:D]

And for those concerned about waste, there is a fair amount of waste turning a round tree into a flat board!!!
 

GregMuller

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Because otherwise I might take the square wood and beat myself into a bloody mess on the shop floor over the stress of five kids, a crazy wife and a job I hate. Yea stress relief.[:D]
 

PenWorks

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Originally posted by GregMuller
<br /> the stress of five kids, a crazy wife and a job I hate. Yea stress relief.[:D]

Greg, sounds like a typical day. [V] Reminds me of a John Prine tune..
Dear Abby, dear Abby......
My fountain pen leaks....
My wife hollars at me....
and my kids are all freaks....
Signed
Unhappy
[:D]
 
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