CHAPTER NEWS: Southeast Missouri Woodturners, Woodturners, making new items with an old trade (02/06
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
DAILY DUNKIN DEMOCRAT: Woodturners, making new items with an old trade (02/06/2016)
When it comes to crafting wood into intricate items like tiny Christmas ornaments or large ornate tables, the members of the American Association of Woodturners (AAW) do it best. Woodturning is a form of woodworking that creates objects on a lathe, or a machine specifically used for shaping a piece of material such as wood or metal by rotating it rapidly along its axis while pressing a fixed cutting or abrading tool against it.
On Tuesday, Feb. 1, the Kennett woodturners came together for their regularly scheduled meeting at the workshop of Kennett resident, Ron Harris. The group meets each month to talk about and work on objects for individual projects or on an object as a group. Last year, the club worked on a large two-tone table that they donated to the Delta Children's Home Auction. "The table was entered into competition at the Delta Fair and won the grand prize," said Harris. "At the Delta Children's Home Auction it brought $4,100, which was far beyond our expectations."
Brian Davis likes making bowls, while Edwin Bradley enjoys creating smaller things like goblets, ornaments, rings, and unique items. Larry Cowgill has a passion for making duck calls and Harris enjoys doing a little bit of everything, including making the winner's trophy cup for the Sedalia Championship Bull Riding competition each year.
Cowgill demonstrated some real skill with his combination bowl in a curved stand. The beautiful bowl seemed to be made in one piece; however, it was obvious with the various colors in the wood it was made from different pieces.
Harris placed a press on the table to show how the pieces were glued together in order to make one large block of wood. That was where the variations in colors came from, which were different pieces of wood. He then grabbed a long, slender, tool that resembled a very long screwdriver, but at its tip was a tiny, round blade that was used to cut the wood as it was turned on the lathe to create the bowl, along with its rounded, rectangular stand. According to Harris, that particular tool would cost approximately $145 if purchased today.
"That was his first bowl," said Harris, referring to the one that Cowgill made. "That is one that I would have never picked to do for years."
"I said, 'this is going to get easier isn't it?'" said Cowgill, referring to the bowl. "He (Harris) told me, 'You picked the hardest one to begin with; however, everything else will be easy.'"
Woodturning is not a cheap hobby to get into, as the club members explained a lathe can cost anywhere from $200 to $7,000 depending on the size, and that does not include the hand tools that are needed. "You can buy a very basic set of cheap tools for about $100," said Bradley. "But as you work, they don't stay sharp, especially with certain types of wood, and that keeps you from having to do so much sanding on it. The sharper the tool, the cleaner the cut, so you have to do a lot less work on it to correct the rough edges."
It is like the tools in a kitchen. "You wouldn't use a butter knife to cut a steak," said Davis. "The same applies to the tools in woodworking."
Another tool is used to make various designs, textures and the spirals that are seen in wood table legs. "It is a lot of fun," said Harris. "You can spend a lot of money, but it can be fun saving up to spend it on that one particular tool or saw that you want."
So far, for this year's group project, club members have not made up their minds on what to do. Over the years, in addition to the Delta Children's Home, they have made and donated items to the Bootheel Youth Museum Auction. Some of the items they have made and donated in the past have included a poker table, king-sized bed, secretary desk, hall coat tree, keeper chest, a gun rack, and this past year, a table.
Some of the members go to Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg to a craft school there in order to learn new techniques in woodworking, or even other crafts that they may be interested in. "It is a week long course, and they feed and board us right there on campus," said Harris. "We may work from 7 a.m. until midnight."
Not all of the members have attended the workshop, but those who do, are gracious enough to give those who didn't go some tips they may have learned, like taking a dent out of a precious piece of work after dropping it.
Harris told the story about a bowl that Davis had been working on for weeks fell from the lathe. "I took what I learned and applied it to the bowl and it did pull out the dents like it was supposed to," said Harris. "It made me feel real good that it worked; then Brian went on to enter the bowl in the same category as me in the fair, and he beat me." They all had a good laugh over that one.
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