Friday, October 22, 2010

Are you dissatisfied with your work?

Are you often dissatisfied with your work? Does the form please the eye from a distance? Does the surface finish hold up to close scrutiny? Is it nice to the touch? Do any natural features in the wood work well with this piece, in terms of scale and placement? Is there always something you didn't get quite right? If so, there is hope for you yet - Robert Genn says that "without displeasure there is no improvement and no progress."

Robert is a painter and blogger, and his post today, "Never satisfied", addresses the concerns of a painter who is never satisfied with his work. His comments could equally be applied to woodturning. He categorizes dissatisfaction in four ways, and provides four answers to each:

  • "Amateur epiphany" - being really satisfied with work is mainly the province of amateurs. 
  • "Journeyman jading" - it's time to think again and move on. 
  • "Workman remorse" - re-dedication, re-thinking and "back to basics" may be in order. 
  • "Professional humility" - high standards cannot always be met and perfection is an impossible dream.
Be sure to read his blog post to learn the full context then check out the rest of his blog and maybe even sign up for his twice-weekly newsletter.

Monday, March 08, 2010

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Friday, February 19, 2010

A quote for aspiring woodturners

No man ever reached to excellence in any one art or
Profession without having passed through the slow and
painful process of study and preparation.


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Why are sharp tools important?

It seems fairly obvious that sharp tools are necessary to be successful at woodturning, and very often a dull tool, or at least one that is not as sharp as it should be, is the reason for bad experiences. But have you ever considered why? I would like to suggest three reasons, though there may be others that I haven't identified yet.

  1. The most obvious is that a sharp tool will cut the wood cleaner. The wood fibers are more likely to be cleanly sliced by a keen edge than a dull one.
  2. A sharp edge can pick up a fine cut. A section through a sharp edge looks like two surfaces coming together at a fine point which is capable of removing fine shavings. When the tool becomes dull, that fine point becomes rounded off, and can only pick up a cut that is thicker than the rounded edge.
  3. A smaller force is needed to push a sharp tool through wood. There is an equal and opposite reaction, the rotating wood trying all the time to throw the tool backwards. A dull tool will see a larger backwards force, and will be harder to control.
Item three is perhaps the most important. A tool that is difficult to control may not cut in the direction you want it too, making it difficult to refine the shape of fine curves. If you have to push the tool forwards, you may just end up pushing it up and over the wood you are trying to cut. And if the wood succeeds in pushing the cutting edge backwards, the bevel may lift off the surface and a catch may result.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Nova Outrigger Hazard

I recently came close to having what could have been a serious accident with the outrigger on my Nova 3000. As I swung the swivel arm, it came crashing to the floor. Fortunately my feet were clear, and I was wearing safety shoes, but this hefty lump of metal could have caused some serious damage if it had landed on a foot.

What had happened is that over the years the threaded rod that holds it all together had slowly screwed its way up through the casting which is fixed to the lathe, leaving very little threaded into the lever underneath. So when I loosened the lever, then swung the toolrest around, the lever dropped off, with the toolrest assembly following suit.

In future I will be checking that threaded rod regularly to make sure it is not projecting out of the top of the casting. With hindsight this is pretty obvious.