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Woodturning News: General News

GREEN VALLEY NEWS: Women with Power Tools! They're building it themselves (11/01/2017)

Wednesday, November 1, 2017   (0 Comments)
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Forget calling a handyman for home construction and repairs. More and more women are picking up power tools and not only doing their own home repairs, they’re designing and building their own furniture, tiling floors and getting their hands into home projects once considered a man’s work.

Retired educator Jan Wee moved to Green Valley eight years ago from Washington state and brought with her a passion for working with wood. No stranger to getting her hands dirty, Wee says she has repaired her home’s walls and even painted the entire outside of her house in County Club Vistas I last spring.

“I wasn’t happy with the paint job that someone I hired had done, so I used nearly 30 gallons of paint and did it myself,” Wee says. “It is a lot of work, but I’ve done home repair and renovations before and I believe in doing things myself much of the time.”

A longtime woodcarver, Wee wanted to make her own display cabinets for her carvings and other collectibles and sought help from a Swedish cabinet maker in Tacoma, Washington.

“I chose my own wood — solid oak — because it’s strong and I like the look of it,” she says.

Wee also designed and made the beveled glass doors that decorate the top shelves of her display cases.

On top of the cabinets Wee features her many carvings of birds and a bust of her late Corgi, Baron — a life-size carving she says took her four years to finish.

Her latest interest, besides Pickleball and walking Ryder, her 14-year-old Corgi, is wood turning.

“It’s not carving but wood-working done on a lathe,” she says. “It’s a whole different skill.”

Her own workshop

Wee works in her own temperature-controlled home studio that she designed herself. It houses her hand tools, a variety of saws, a collection of motor-driven lathes and other wood-turning equipment.

“I had my work space designed and installed to my height for comfort and made sure the studio had lots of light,” she adds.

Wee employs a lathe to spin the wood at a high speed while using cutting tools, including a variety of chisels and knives, to carve the pieces of woods into the shapes she desires.

“I did take some classes in wood turning in Washington and in Tucson, but I also read articles and try to keep up on various techniques,” she says. “The machines can be expensive. I also have a friend, Bonnie Klein, who invented a mini-lathe and that one is special to me and it’s great for certain projects.”

Wee says that her recent obsession is creating basket illusion wood-turning art pieces that resemble basket weavings.

“It all starts with a piece of wood and using special tools — and this takes hours — I am able to make the wood look like baskets,” she says. “Some think the process is tedious, but I enjoy it.”

Wee makes ornate plates and vessels using her basket weave technique, some featuring birds and others highlighting Native American designs. She also makes pens using her wood-turning skills and creates bowls, some decorated with acrylic paint designs and others with colorful beads.

“I am very particular about each thing I do and I’m interested in so many things,” she says.

Laying floor tile

When Minnesota transplant Elise Braaten told her friends she was going to tile the floor in her master bedroom, she said her friends “laughed or groaned.”

“They told me that it would be too much to tackle, but the more they said I couldn’t do it, the more I wanted to do it myself,” Braaten says. “The boxes of tiles alone weighed more than 50 pounds each, and the only help I got on this project was help loading them into my car by the tile store’s sales staff. Tearing out the carpet myself was the easy part.”

Although the project took several weeks to complete, Braaten laid the ceramic tile herself, both in the main bedroom and the closet floor in the bedroom.

“I watched numerous You Tube videos online trying to learn the best way to tile a room using the materials I selected and after I finished, I was relieved but very pleased,” she says. “The next time I will remove all the furniture before I start, though. I ended up pushing the king size bed to one side of the room and then had to wait until the tile set before I could move the bed again and work on the other side.”

Her Las Campanas home has two bedrooms and one serves as her artist studio.

“I wanted to keep my studio, but I needed to use the room as a guest room too, so instead of taking up space buying twin beds for the room, I made two Murphy beds instead because they can be hidden away.”

Bed building

A Murphy bed, sometimes called a wall bed, can be pulled down because it’s hinged at one end so it can be folded up and stored vertically against a wall, Braaten says.

Again, using the internet and You Tube videos as her building instruction resource, Braaten built two Murphy beds using hinges she bought at a hardware store to make the beds lift up into a cabinet she also made herself.

“I used inexpensive wood and saved thousands making them myself,” she says. “I bought two twin mattresses and my grown son can sleep comfortably on it when he visits.”

When she needed more shelf space in the kitchen, Braaten designed and built a cabinet she calls a “pull out.”

“It’s made of wood with shelving and is the width of the space between my refrigerator and the wall,” she says. “I painted it the color of the wall, assembled it on a slider and put a door pull on the front panel so I can pull it out and slide it back in. It takes up no space and is hidden unless you know it’s there.”

Braaten says her next project is tiling her bathroom.

“I’m kind of excited to get started,” she says. “If someone says I can’t do it, just watch me get it done.”


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