The art of woodturning originated centuries ago, in European countries where spindle and bowl lathes were driven manually, with pedals like a bicycle. They were much larger and more elaborate than the compact machines of today, and were used to turn vessels of all sizes. However, these ancient devices usually operated at very low speeds (imagine woodturning at a rate of one revolution per second!) and required a great deal of time and patience to complete any project of significance. The power tools of today’s generation, by contrast, allow you to completely finish small projects such as pen turning in the space of just a few hours! And, to many in this era of “instant gratification”, even that may seem like a long time to some. But, the joys of woodworking are often found in this process, time-consuming though it may be; if art can be quickly and thoughtlessly created, it loses its appeal and meaning.
When working with a lathe, you should be prepared with a variety of tools that you’ll use to shape the wood as it turns. Beginners’ woodturning sets are available with a typical array of cutting tools, which will cover a range of sizes from small to large, depending on their purpose. These include gouges, chisels, scrapers, and skews. Be sure to shapen these tools before using them in your woodturning, for best results!
Turning blanks come in all varieties, from natural substances like wood and leather to acrylic and other artificial materials. Creations from natural woodturning blanks carry themselves with class and dignity, and show off a timeless appearance that will never appear outdated, compared to patterned acrylics that reflect contemporary stylings. Wood turning blanks are available in a huge variety of shapes, sizes, tree species, textures and colors. Most highly desirable are “figured” wood blocks that show undulating grain patterns, possessing more natural contrast, interest, and visual appeal. Spalted maple presents an especially dynamic appearance, and can be used to create very eye-catching objects!
Turning blanks can be mounted on a lathe using one of two methods. “Spindle Turning” involves securing the piece between the headstock and tailstock, and do not require hollowing to be done. Mounting your turning blank using this method is appropriate for small objects such as pens, as well as candlesticks and bottlestoppers. The alternative, “Face Plate Turning”, requires mounting the wood piece on the headstock spindle itself. This is commonly chosen for larger projects such as bowls, vases, urns, etc. and do have special requirements for the speed range of your lathe. (Not all lathes are suitable for face plate turning.)
With all this information in hand, you should be well prepared to select the perfect wood blank for your project, and begin turning your own wood creations!
Source by Jonathan Brownell