It’s hard to believe that it’s been two and a half years since I started this woodturning journey. During that time I’ve had lots of false starts and broken items, but I’ve made some beautiful pieces as well. I’ve learned a lot, and am looking forward to many more years of wood turning.
There’s two big things though that I didn’t expect:
- How much that knowledge has translated into other things
- Just how much I want to branch out of “round things” and start doing other woodworking things
All that Knowledge
I’ve learned just just about anything is food safe once it’s dry, but some finishes are more durable than others if you’re using them with food. I’ve learned what to use if the bowl has some small cracks in it and I want to strengthen the piece (Tung Oil, if you’re curious). I’ve learned when to just use a little bee’s wax, and when it would be better to use bee’s wax mixed with mineral or Tung oil. I’ve focused mainly on mineral, Tung, and Danish oils, just to name a few.
If you thought that super glue was only good for repairing things, think again. A CA glue/mineral oil finish is super strong and can be buffed to be super shiny too.
Sanding sealer, while not always the best thing to use as a finish by itself, does have its place in the finishing process.
There’s so many different ways to finish wood, and I haven’t even begun to dig into the shellacs yet!
When I started, adding color to wood seemed a bit mysterious. There just had to be a special way to infuse wood with unique and unusual colors, right? For the most part, nope, if it has a color, it can be used to color woods. There’s definitely some things to watch out for if you want the dye to be food safe (which sounds like a great topic for another post). Beyond that though, it’s all fair game.
I’ve used everything from your standard wood stains available from any hardware store, to resin dyes, to more unusual things like markers, hibiscus flowers, and even vintage show polish cream (talk about bold colors!)
While technically not a dye, I’ve also made my own ebonizer out of vinegar and steel wool.
In a nutshell, lamination is nothing more than gluing two or more pieces of wood together. Learning that simplified definition certainly demystified the technique for me. It’s also opened up a new world of possibilities with some of those wood scraps.
Boxes and Containers
When you get down to it, a lidded container is nothing more than two bowls that fit together in a certain way, so I don’t know what stopped me from doing one sooner.
It sounds silly when I write it out, but this journey has certainly taught me more about being confident in my work. I see every little flaw in my work, which while it drives me to be better, it also lowers how I perceive and value what I make. However, having others look at my work, and not only “approve” of it, but want to know how I did it, or better still, want to actually buy it and use it, has made me realize that I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. I make a decent product, and it’s something that people do want to own. Shoot, half the things I make may never be available because my wife claims them first!
Still, watching the reactions of people who have seen my work is giving me more confidence in what I’m doing. And when I get a compliment from a long time woodworker, well, that helps fuel my ego a little too…
Up until recently I’ve stuck mostly with bowls and vases. I’ve recently made some bottle stoppers, wands, and tops. They were a blast to make, and I’ll be adding all of them to my “rotation” as they’ll be items that should sell at a craft fair or online.
In order to do certain designs, I ended up buying some wood carving knives. I’ve only really just started, but I enjoyed it, and already have a few ideas up my sleeve for some rainy day projects where I can sit on the porch and carve.
I picked up an old hand plane because the price was right. The same is true for the electric hand planer that I have. I’ve been slowly practicing with them on scrap wood and removing the tenon from some of my “test” bowls that I don’t mind if I mess up.
It seems that I’m currently a little better at the old hand plane. Quite frankly, the electric planer scares me a bit, mostly because I don’t have a great place to put things while I plane them, so I’m stuck holding the piece steady. Still, it’s more to learn, and will be great with making cutting boards and other “flat” items.
While cleaning things up I actually found my router. I’m embarrassed to admit that it was right in plain sight, already attached to the router table on the shelf. So while there’s little need for a router with bowls and other lathe-made items, it’s going to be super useful as I branch out into flat things.
I know that there’s even more that I want to do than I have listed here, but I think my self-reflection is long enough. Especially if you’ve made it this far (thank you!)