The Day I Became a Woodturner

Oh, it was a happy day!

My instructor is Skip Ingley, also known as my DH, AKA University of Florida College of Engineering 2011-2012 Teacher of the Year (I mention this so that through my filial bias I do not appear to be the only one who believes he is an awesome teacher). Leading up to this hands-on adventure, we watched LOTS of DVD’s featuring great woodworkers like Jimmy Clewes, Alan Lacer, Paul Sellers, and other masters who make it look so easy and fun!

We began with terminology: I must learn to identify the names of the tools and parts of the machines and their functions.

The Jet Lathe, DH’s Father’s Day present

The tailstock

The headstock

The Banjo and Tool Rest

Now, I am going to get one of these wood remnants, which are pieces of what used to be a 2×4.

Poplar or birch wood remnants

Next, I attach it to the spindle by pricking a little hole in the center of both ends of the block with an awl so the drive center mechanism can grab it and turn it.

This is another block he’d been working on, shown “speared” by the tailstock revolving center for a tight hold

The headstock drive center has a little tooth on it to attach the other end of the block.

To make this square peg a round one, I will use the Roughing Gouge.

roughing gouge

skew

I liked using the skew chisel most of all. I learned to use it for planing cuts and peeling cuts.

planing with a skew chisel

peeling cut in between two parting cuts

In planing, I am moving the skew down an area of the block, evening out the rounded surface. In peeling, I am digging into the block to cut out a portion of the wood. Cool as heck! The smell of wood is invigorating. The hum of the spinning spindle is an agreeable one. I can see why the wood shop can be an enchanting place to hang out. Before I became a woodturner, it just seemed like a large, disorderly storage area.

Now I try out the parting tool. It makes a straight (if you don’t tilt it) deep (if you dig in far enough) cut, the width of your blade. You can make two parting cuts and then peel or plane between the two.

parting tool

Or you can make a parting cut with the intent of severing one part of the piece from the rest of it.

contentedly rough-gouging

I will probably practice on that pile of 2×4 remnants before I take on a real project. We have discussed a honey dipper (definition #1, lol), a spirtle, a candlestick, or a little vase for dried flowers (weed pot) as a possible first project. Which of these, or another project, would you choose?

Teacup memories

I am so thrilled with my tea cup shelf (the one my DH made–see yesterday’s post)! I thought I might highlight a few of the displayed items.

This 1953 Paragon cup set commemorates Queen Elizabeth’s coronation.

Paragon ERII set

Another memento marking her Diamond Jubilee. Wow! Can you believe she has ruled for 60 years now? And she is still lovely and regal and inspiring.

Don’t you love the rich burnished cherry wood shelf and how it soulfully contrasts with the gleaming porcelain china?

Trip to Canada cup

This cup, with its beautiful wavy maple leaves, commemorates a visit to Canada by HRH the Princess and her husband Philip in 1951.

St. Lawrence Seaway cup

This set commemorates the Queen’s visit to open the Saint Lawrence Seaway in 1959. My grandfather began working at the American Embassy in Ottawa in 1951, and he and my grandmother moved into a newly-built apartment in the French section. “It was nice to live in a virgin apartment,” she wrote in her journal. Most of these tea cups were part of Gran’s collection.

Various cups and plates from Gran’s collection

This pic shows some Asian cups and a few other smaller-scale items, on a smaller shelf not made by my DH. The cup set on the bottom right is Irish and is such delicate porcelain, it’s almost transparent. The one in the middle says “A Present From Dunoon.”

This is my most recent cup set, commemorating the marriage of HRH Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Prince William and Kate Middleton set

Paragon stopped doing the official commissioned cups for the royals in 1960. This one is made by Royal Worcester.

Take another look at the gorgeous shelf made by my dear hubby; his labor of love for me! After seeing this beautiful vehicle all decked out with porcelain treasures, I had the most warm and wonderful memories of my grandmother.

Cherry wood teacup shelf

I can recall my gran drinking tea and coffee from beautiful, rounded, full bodied cups like these. When we stayed at their house on Spring Street in Alexandria, Virginia, drinking scalding liquids was such a big part of her morning routine. I can hear in my mind, the soft clink of her silver-plated teaspoon against a porcelain cup while she read the morning paper. As you may have guessed, I did not turn out to be a coffee or tea drinker. Her kitchen had a little dining alcove next to a window that opened onto the roof peak over the back cellar door, and in the winter she’d throw bread crumbs out onto the snow-covered roof peak for the cardinals to gather and eat, much to our delight! Breakfast for her was often tea and buttered toast, and she liked her toast well done, on the verge of burnt. She loved the “red birds” or cardinals, but especially loved to see the robins come to Alexandria, because it meant spring was on the way. She wrote in her journal about traveling around Canada in the 1950’s: “Nearly everyone on the bus had on some kind of a fur coat. They would be damp from snow and the bus smelled like a bunch of wet animals.” She didn’t learn to drive a car until she was quite elderly, retired, and living in Florida.

I wouldn’t know many of these details if Gran hadn’t left a typewritten 27-page journal, along with these mementos, her china and collectibles and linens and sewing desk. I’m sure each cup, each item, has its own story, but many details are already lost and irretrievable. Some day, someone may want to know about you. Won’t you take the time to record your thoughts for the fun and enlightenment of the next generation?

The Remnant Re-doer and the Woodworker

I, the remnant re-doer, collaborated with my DH, the woodworker, on a very exciting project!

He put together a wonderful plan for a shelf to display my teacup collection. And now, so soon after my happy birthday month, it is finally finished. So, that’s the woodworking part of this post, what about the remnant re-do?

The remnant project is on DH’s head!

He was out in his shop many, many hours, working on the cutting, sanding, staining, and assembly of this shelf. Some days were pretty beastly hot, and he asked if I had any remnants around to make him a sweatband to wear in the shop. I found a wash cloth that was quickly reworked. Here’s a little cartoon I drew (humor me please, it will be over soon!) on Penultimate, to illustrate the process.

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20120601-205831.jpg Bless his heart, he loved it! He said it was the best sweat band he’s ever had, because it is a wide sweatband; most of the store-bought ones are much more narrow and not as functional. 🙂

close up of the top saucer backrest

attaching the shelves and backrest bars in the shop annex AKA dining room

I actually got to help with some of the gluing and positioning. He carved a shallow groove at the back of each shelf for the saucers to stand upright.

finished cherry wood teacup shelf


He said it right: “This was a labor of love!” In between the time he started and finished the shelf, he had eye surgery, finished up a semester and started a summer semester, and was honored with a standing ovation at commencement exercises when they announced him as University of Florida Engineering Department teacher of the year. Fantastic!

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