by: Michael O’Donnell
Like many people, I did a lot of video watching on YouTube to learn about wood turning. Unlike a lot of people, I also still love the ability to reference a physical book. There’s something about being able to quickly look something up (and not have the screen go black while you’re still reviewing it) that I find exceptionally useful.
This was my first official book on wood turning once I had my lathe and I was blindly pushing forward trying to make round things out of any wood I could find. It helped immensely.
First off, I immediately had visual references for some of the very basic things. Body stance, tool position, and even wood orientation are easy enough to see someone else do in a video, but with the imagery in this book I was able to actually see what I was doing wrong on several occasions. Reading about how to stand at the lathe made more sense to me than watching someone else do it. My back and feet are very grateful for that!
Once I had that down better, it was on to the planning and preparation section (I know, that section is first, but the nice part about a reference book is bouncing around, right?). I still go back and reference it because it’s about as straight forward as can be. The illustrations are simple, straight forward, and cover every imaginable variant I can think of (and some that I didn’t think of to be honest). While I still don’t have a decent way to prepare larger piece of wood for turning, it has helped me see what to look for as I’m trying to cut a piece down using my chainsaw on a poor-man’s saw horse.
The section on shrinkage and distortion has also been invaluable to me in focusing on what the piece will eventually look like. Being a new wood turning when I got this book, a large portion of the wood that I used was green. It just never had a chance to dry before I got too excited and decided to turn it. With the references in the book I’ve been able to make a few oval bowls without them cracking as they dried.
Of course, like any good book, it also provided some inspiration. One of the last examples in the book is is for a natural-edge, end-grain goblet. In the end, I didn’t select the best wood, and there were a few issues, including the wood curving more than I thought it did. Still, my goblet turned out ok, and still holds a place of honor on the book shelves at home.