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How did you get started in wood turning?

Discussion in 'Woodturning Discussion Forum' started by PapaDoc, Apr 27, 2004.

  1. crashfromboston


    Aug 5, 2004
    i got my first taste of turning in the mid 80's in shop class.. had to turn some legs for a coffee table. was off and running.. made baseball bats.. (got good at drilling out and corking.. as well ).. made rolling pins. and lots of other items turned between centers..

    fast forward 15 years.. i find myself fishing in the salt water adn losing 15$ salt water surf plugs.. found other people making their own.. bought myself a lathe.. some tools.. never ended up making plugs.. started with mallets, bottle stoppers.. rollign pins.. waiting on my first real chuck so i can start bowls, weed pots, and other items..

    addiction.. thats something that you can get treatment for.. there is no treatment for turning.. you just have to do more and more, and its still never enough.. my brother is one of those flat woodworkers.. and he never understood why i always seem to make round things..

    waiting on the ok to order the chucks and eventually the pm or oneway of my dreams..

    but for now my jet mini works..

    is there any help?
  2. melogic


    Mar 14, 2005
    Southeast Ohio
    Home Page:
    How I got addicted

    I have had the love of wood working ever since I was a kid. My father is the one that showed me that love. He could make anything he put his mind to with wood. I helped him build cabinets in my aunts basement and in his own basement when I was about 10 or 12 years old. Over the years he purchased many new tools, one being a lathe. He purchased mainly Craftsman tools just because that's what he liked. After he passed away in November of 1997, I received all of his shop tools. My three other brothers did not have the time nor the patience for them. I had never turned anything on a lathe before but my wife and I had made several crafts from wood and sold a lot as well. So, in February of 2003, my wife gave me, as a birthday gift, a pen turning class at Woodcraft. We have since turned over 1500 pens and this year took a bowl turning class and purchased a DVD by Bill Grumbine. I have turned 3 bowls to date and still working away on the lathe. My wife and 14 year old daughter turn as well and we just recently purchased our 3rd lathe. My father would be so proud of the 3 of us.

    Mark Lynch
    Southern Ohio
  3. William M. Zerby

    William M. Zerby

    Jan 26, 2005
    Rio Rancho New Mexico
    How I got into turning.

    My father and I began building those tissue and balsa rubber motor airplanes when I was about 5 or 6. My Grandfather could do anything, having grown up at the turn of the last century on a homestead farm in way northern Minn. about 10 miles from the Canadian border. He built homes, boats, all kinds of stuff. By the time I got to highschool I was a confirmed tinkerer. We got our first color television by me picking up a broken one at a garage sale and fixing it. My mother said I was always taking stuff apart to figure out how it worked. My brother and I built RC boats and airplanes. In college I built a model of my final drafting project rather than doing the ink drawings. After graduation I ended up in Houston Tx. working for Texas Instruments. A co-worker got me involved with building custom knives and making custom pistol grips/gun stocks. After moving to NM in Dec. of 1982 I started building furniture by hand as a hobby business. This lasted until 1986 when I ended up on dialysis due to a genetic kidney diesease. In Sep. of 1986 I became the second cadavear transplant at the newly started transplant program here. I think I must have been driving my wife batty being stuck inside all the time and not allowed to go back to work or back to the shop. I was only allowed outside 1hr. a day she bought me a really cheap wood lathe from Enco in self-defense. After building the stand for it I turned it on. About 5 seconds later I stopped being a cabinet maker and morphed into a woodturner. This was so complete that in the next 16 years I only built 2 pieces of furniture; a cradle for our children to sleep in and a terarium for my wife's pet Iguana. In Aug. 2002 my day job at Philips Semiconductors ended with the plant closing after 20 years. In Aug. of 2003 I went full-time as a turner. The last 18 months have been a real roller coaster, but I wouldn't change anything. Even the self-employeed, trying to build a business issues pale in relation to doing the thing I love the most after my family!

    Kindest regards,
    William M. Zerby
  4. After leaving the farm and going to college I spent most of my adult life in my own business of certified TV and radio technician with sales and service and progressed into major appliance sales and service and then heavily into music where I carried all the major lines of guitars , amplifiers, records, tapes , etc. At the same time as running my business I would buy older fixer upper houses and do major renovations only to sell them and move on to another one. That work was all done in evenings and weekends while my wife and I were raising a family of four sons.. Then I finally built a brand new house myself from the ground up and lived in it for six years before moving from Ontario to British Columbia , Canada when I retired. I now live on a mountain side in the Rockies overlooking the beautiful Creston valley. But I needed a hobby so I took up scrollsawing and while making many dozens of fretwork clocks and hundreds of other fretwork projects, I worked my way up to building some of the most advanced fretwork clocks on the planet. Then I saw where some people were getting into turning pens on mini lathes so I bought a mini lathe as a change from scrollsawing and fretwork. After making over 100 pens I started experimenting with small bowls and such things. I soon out grew the mini lathe and got a full size one and I am having a blast turning out big platters and bowls , etc.
    I recently set up and started my own WW site that has a scrollsawing board, a turning board, an intarsia board and a general board so far. It is only two weeks old and the membership is increasing in leaps and bounds every day.
    it has been a blast and still is and probably always will be as long as I am able. But then I am just a young fella at 69 and with my name as Bill Young, I suppose I will always be a "Young" fella.
  5. Dr_dewey


    Apr 24, 2004
    Toronto, Ontario Canada
    Home Page:
    did a little turning in shop classes in primary and high school. Forty years later finally purchased a lathe.
  6. Rick-U


    Oct 26, 2004
    Cohutta, Georgia
    Home Page:
    Finally quit letting obstacles be excuses


    This thread has, indeed, been as wonderful as you described the one on the old site as being. Perhaps you will be able to identify just what it is about turning that holds us in such a powerful grasp. As for myself...

    I turned my first bowl for my mother in shop class in 1959. It was a laminated maple bowl about 10 x 4 inches with massive walls and bottom, and absolutely no style. I think she liked it, though, and it came back to me when she passed on. It hadn't faired very well, but never-the-less now rests on a shelf in my shop, er... excuse me, my studio. Between then and about 2 years ago I allowed myself to be too busy with school, a 20 year military career, and 15 years in the computer software industry, so that makes me a rookie.

    During that time I think I bought 2 or 3 lathes (Someone was trying to tell me something.) and sold them for lack of use. All together I turned very few things, and all were considerably worse than mediocre. When I had as much of high tech work as I could stand and quit in 2001, I knew I needed to do something creative and decided I would work with iron and wood. Wrong! Couldn't do everything. Chose wood. Bought a Delta Unisaw, 20" scroll saw, and 14" band saw to go with my other stuff including a Craftsman 12" round tube. (Still not turning much yet.) Now I started making stuff and realized I couldn't do it all. Liked turning. Chose turning. Now I didn't have money to upgrade my lathe. :eek: Found a Delta 40-700 in a barn sale and bought it for $100. What a step up! Managed to get some accessories and turn some more stuff. Loved doing it in spite of the frustration of trial and error learning. Went to a turning symposium. Joined a club. Hooked! Now I had to have a bigger lathe! Went out on a limb and got a PM3520. Glad I did. Still have the other tools (except for the Delta lathe I passed on to another newcomer), and I trip over them often on my way to and from my lathe. ;)

    If I had to choose one thing that draws me to turning more than any other it would have to be the joy I feel when I am able to reveal and highlight the beauty lying beneath the surface of what to others would simply be another piece of firewood.

    I am truly grateful to those who influenced my choices and who continue to enrich my experience.
  7. FlyingScooter


    Jan 13, 2006
    I got tired of paying for drumsticks, so i bought a lathe.
    hooked... totally hooked...
  8. Frank Kobilsek

    Frank Kobilsek

    Nov 30, 2005
    Mendota IL
    Carving on Steriods!

    My Dad is a big hobby workworker. In early adult life I spend most of my time doing carpenter work around the dump apartments I had collected and planned to get rich on. As life changed my woodworking was more for pleasure and I was making small boxes etc. Took up woodcarving and after an acident that required I use a cane for a while I noticed how offensive aluminum canes and crutches are so I focused on carving canes that fit the hobbies and interest of the user. That led me to buy a small lathe for tapering dowels and turning features on to staffs of my carved cane heads. WOW turning was like carving on steroids. That was Thanksgiving 2003 and since then every spare moment and dime goes into turning something. Last year I didn't even plant my tomatoes. I will begin selling my work in a gallery this weekend and I hope to adjust my professional life in a few years to spend even more time at the lathe. The finish and feel of a good turning is something that can not be created by any other style of woodworking. I love it.
    Frank Kobilsek
  9. Dudley


    Dec 10, 2005
    SW Pennsylvania
    My wife has called me a hobby hopper for a few years. I'm 32 and have had a lot of hobbies in the 7 years we've been married. She has watched me spend a couple hundred dollars trying to learn how to play the guitar, a few more big ones when I decided I was going to shoot traditional archery, another couple hundred when I decided I wanted to shoot a flint lock like Davey Crocket, and a few thousand when I decided I wanted to become the next fat Bruce Lee and took karate classes. Then I decided I was goining to start my own motorcycle repair shop and there were the online classes. Finally I decided I was going to go back to school to get my masters degree...which I finished in September 2005!!!!!! :D

    It was durning my masters study that I caught Dave Hout turning a pen on DIY. I was hooked. But I had a new rule with my hobbies.... I would wait a year from the time I decided I wanted to do this or that before I spent any money. Thank goodness I made this rule.... I don't have a banjo, a horse, or a collection of pocket knives. I also decided that I really don't want to rebuild a motorcycle or classic car... and passed on that great deal on a early John Deere Model A (I live in town, a very small town, but I'm sure my 100 x 70 lot didn't need a farm tractor).

    However, I still watched Dave week after week transform a pice of wood into a beautiful piece. Since my rule was in place, I waited a little over a year and told SWMBO that I really wanted to turn some wood. She gave me the ok and I was going to buy a Jet Mini or a Delta Midi... then came my friend John with a Delta variable speed he wanted rid of after he used it twice in 13 years. It was almost as mint as the day he bought it. When I told my wife about the deal, she said "ok hobby hopper, it's a good deal, but how long are you going to use it?" I said "until it needs to be replaced."

    $500 for the lathe and an 8 piece tool set, I had my "new hobby" in the garage. Since it arrived on Christmas Eve (2005) I have spent about ten hours making shavings and dust. I'm planning on attending a meeting of a local AAW club, and got so hooked that I won't have to turn wood to prove my wife wrong, but because it's so much fun.

    Thanks to Dave Hout and DIY I am an aspiring woodturner of a few weeks. Thanks to John I'm learning on a machine that would have never fit into my budget if purchased new. Thanks to my wife for being so understanding. :rolleyes:

    Thanks to the fine folks on this forum, I have learned a lot (with a lot more to go)! :D

    Now if I just had the money for all the things I tried and didn't like, I would be able to get a nice chuck, some better tools, a Tormek...
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2006
  10. ChuckS


    Nov 26, 2004
    Mt Clemens, MI
    I started turning on a lark. I had bought some Jet tools & had a rebate to use, and my friendly local tool pusher had the Jet 1236 for $425, less the $100 rebate.... So I bought it. I quickly learned a lathe is much like a boat. The hull is the cheap part- it's all the support stuff that leads to bankruptcy. I read the manual, chucked a piece of green cedar, and made a complete mess. Had great fun, and found that turning can be great for people with relatively short attention spans. Instant feedback & results. Easy to learn, but I'll never run out of new things to learn.
    I was bad & went to Woodcraft & told them to fix me up with what I needed to turn bowls on my lathe. Another small fortune later, I was making some pretty nice stuff & people started to ask if I would sell them my work. Cool, I started to dig myself out of the financial hole all this woodturning stuff created. Bad, my Jet 1236 won't turn what I want, so it was time to sell it and add money in the form of a PM 3520, Vicmarc chuck, Kelton Hollower, and more......

    Due to a nasty break-up, I lost my shop space, wood stash, dog, etc, and started turning pens on a Jet mini. I've made a few hundred by now. This past Christmas I was kept more than busy with commission work for pens. Pens paid all my Christmas bills this year :) Right now I'm negotiating an order for 50 high end pens for a major corporation. My 3520 gets fired up occasionally, but I need to find more time to use it. I'm kind of busy starting a coffee roasting company, rehabbing a house, and running a custom canvas company.

    I picked up a black cherry log section yesterday. It has a date with the big lathe. :D I think there are some nice bowls in it.

    Turning provides a nice mental health break and a bit of money.

  11. David Somers

    David Somers

    Aug 8, 2005
    Ballard (Seattle) WA and Volcano, Hawaii....on top
    I have always enjoyed wood, but got interested in lathes back in high school after making a chess set out of cold rolled steel and having it plated. I kept watching the wood shop folks playing with a wood lathe and was really intrigued, but never got into that class to try it. They were doing mostly spindle work. Over the years I did a variety of wood working for fun, and developed other hobbies that I still really enjoy like Scuba and underwater photography. I kept noticing turned work though, mostly salad bowls and other basic stuff, and occaisionally a piece that just made me say Wow!!! with its beautiful figure and shape and exquisite touch. During that time I finished college and was a Law Enforcement Ranger with the National Park Service. I eventually got sucked into computer work with the NPS and have had a great time with that. Oddly enough, I had more free time as an NPS geek than I did as a ranger and could enjoy my hobbies and the parks I worked in more.

    22 years later I transferred to the Big Island of Hawaii. Turned works are shown here in all the galleries and shops and I finally really started to pay attention to what was being done. It really intrigued me. I stumbled across a Woodcraft shop on the neighboring island of Oahu and saw the lathes they had there and the classes they offered. i got to know the owner and some of his staff and had fun talking to them about wood turning. In May of 2005 they offered a 1 day lathe class that I could attend as I passed through the island for work. Dave Higa, the instructor, was great and I was instantly hooked. I researched lathes and had some wonderful talks with the owner of that Woodcraft and one of his employees who turns professionally and decided on a Jet 1642 as a good compromise between a solid, hefty lathe and something that cost a bundle. The lathe arrived by barge a short while later and then sat unused in the garage for months while I continued some remodelling projects and got space ready for it. Finally, just after Thanksgiving, I got to spend some serious time on it and had a ball. I am only working on my 4rth bowl right now but feel very comfortable with the lathe and the tools and am looking forward to lots of enjoyable hours on it. My heavy travel schedule will make it hard to get long chunks of time on it for now, but that is OK. It feels good and the lessons I learn seem to be sticking with me so that is not a problem.

    Needless to say, with only 3.5 bowls under my belt so far I am far less than a novice, but I can see that this will make a wonderful retirement hobby/vocation for me. along with my other interests. I have 7 years before I am eligible to retire and will have lots of time to refine my technique and expand my interests. My wife and friends and local artist friends have been very excited with my few pieces so far. Fun woods are pretty easily available on the Big Island and there is lots of creativity around here to keep it challenging.

    That's my story so far. A long time in the making, with little activity until recently, but with the promise of lots of fun and challenges.

    I am looking foward to reading everyone else's stories in this thread. I am really intrigued as to what hooked you all. Keep all those stories coming, and many Maholo's for everyone's patient and detailed answers to my forum questions.
  12. Larry Marley

    Larry Marley

    May 14, 2005
    Mission Viejo, CA
    Home Page:
    I first used a lathe in junior high. To this day, I can still hear my shop teacher telling me to keep the tool rest close to the work. I bought my first lathe about 20 years later. It was a 12" Delta. I needed it to make some parts for a clock I was building. But in order make this purchase, I needed to convince my wife that I needed a lathe. I decided to use Pavlovian hints, so for the three months prior to Christmas, I used the word "lathe" in every good situation. Here are some examples:
    I love you, lathe. Honey, are you loosing weight?.....lathe. This has to be the best meat loaf I have ever eaten!....lathe.
    She finally made a deal with me that I could have a lathe for Christmas if I stopped saying the word lathe all the time.
    My father came over for Christmas day and I can't tell you who was more excited, me or my father. As he helped me set it up, he told me about the wood lathe his father had given him as a child.

    Over the next 7 or 8 years, I did make several parts to repair furniture and a few bowls. It was when I started selling woodworking machinery that I attended my first AAW symposium in Pasadena, CA. I meet so many truly friendly and interesting people there, and the pieces were just beautiful.

    I stopped by a booth at the show and talked to a gentleman and his wife about his segmented bowl software. I had made one segmented project and was interested in how his product worked.

    By the next weekend I had turned a small bowl using his program and I was hooked. In the last three years I have restored and modified furniture with the lathe but most of the time I am turning for fun. I occasionally demonstrate for my employer at shows and usually have a consignment waiting to be completed.

    I created the web site http://MarleyTurned.com to show my progress to family and friends and now exchange emails with people from all over the world as a result. The turning community is so great to be a part of.
    I finally moved up to a 3520B in January, but this time, my wife suggested it.
    The meat loaf is still good Too! :)
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2006
  13. charlie knighton

    charlie knighton

    Jan 20, 2006
    just getting started

    for me, the journey has just begun, i took a class in the fall of 2005 at local community college taught by Terry Mitchell, we did not have any lathes to start the class, 3 weeks later we were setting the lathes up, its a curve with ups and downs which i enjoy very much :cool2: :cool2:
  14. Jim Bremer

    Jim Bremer

    Apr 24, 2005
    East Longmeadow MA
    Years in the making

    I started turning in June 2000 about six months after moving into my current home. In 1993, after almost twenty years as a graphic designer, I started designing and building fine furniture in my spare time. I moved into management in my job and needed a hands-on creative outlet. I built everything from armoire's to coffee tables to boxes and frames.

    In 1998 I took an interest in turned vessels and bowls and started to look for sites on the internet where I could see work on exhibit. I found the AAW site and decided to attend the symposium in Tacoma WA. Not long after that my company relocated me to East Longmeadow MA where I currently reside with my wife. Housing was hard to find at that time, but I did find the house of my dreams nonetheless. The part I liked most was the basement. It's huge, and made for a woodworker.

    I saw a VB36 Bowlmaster lathe at the symposium and bought one for myself. Fortunately the basement had a garage door so I could back my truck in and unload the monster. I made the mistake of buying about a dozen tools. I only use half of them.

    I'm fortunate to have a good job so I can support the habit. It's a great hobby and I'm always thinking of the next piece. I especially like doing collaborations with my wife and friends.

    Attached Files:

  15. jimwtolly


    May 31, 2005
    Dripping Springs Texas
    How I got started in Woodturning

    I'll try not to be to long winded:
    I saw a Shopsmith demo at a mall in CT way back in 1980. SO when we dicided to put an addition on our house I put an extra $2000.00 in the loan for a Mark IV Once the house addition was finished, "I had added " a 6X8 space to the new furnace room, I started fooling around with the "lathe" part. There were no turning clubs or AAW that I knew of so I ordered Dale Nish's book Creative Woodturning then taught myself. I thought I had died and gone to turning heaven when a Shopsmith store was put in 40 miles away. I went to one of their sawdust sessions, took some of my segmented turnings and was asked to do demonstrations.
    I lived about three blocks from the NewEngland Clock Company, I still have boxes full of Cherry "scraps" from there.
    When moning to Texas in 1992 I found that there was a Central Texas Woodturners Club. I joined and have been very active in the club ever since, Doing Demos, Program Charman, Vice President then President, I have Demonstrated at TTT, now SWAT and the AAW when it was in SanAntaio.
    BTW: I have a Shopsmith, Carb-Tek and my pride and Joy a Oneway 2436.
  16. Vinces WoodNWonders

    Vinces WoodNWonders

    Jul 28, 2004
    Derby City
    Home Page:
    I got my first introduction to wood in 1977 Jr high woodshop. I was hooked at that point. I took Woodshop every year after that through high school and one year while at college. I remember thinking when I get my house I am going to have a shop. It took some time but I now have it. I did not have the room or money for a full woodworking studio so I started turning in Oct 2001. I bought a Jet mini and started turning pens. I was out there day and night! I found out that I am allergic to cocobolo and that if you put a halogen light to close to the side of your face you will be burnt the next day! Yes I am a slow learner in some respects but I have a great time. I sold hundreds of bottle stoppers and pens and upgraded to a Oneway 1640. I use vacuum chucking and outboard attachment when I can. Most recently, I started offering sanding abrasives through my website. www.VincesWoodNWonders.com. Turning is very therapeutic for me at the end of a challenging day.
  17. Mr. Don

    Mr. Don

    Jan 31, 2006
    Gaston, Oregon
    Intro to woodturning 101

    Started with a Christmas present. My wife gave me a small lathe 4 a gift....but said the woodshed was off limits!!!! The wood in there was 4 heat, not shavings, so she put a padlock on it!!! Since then, I have vastly improved the quality and the quantity of both the shavings and the turnings, so I am again welcome in the house. This woodturning thing should be against the law!!! It is habit-forming(addictive) and KOOL!!!!!
  18. Walt


    Jan 31, 2006
    Hanford, Ca
    I started back in Junior High down in Chula Vista, Ca back in '68. My shop instructor did not like how I was making dove tails and said I should try the lathe. I was hooked. I have not turned consistently since though. Years of cycle racing, 22 years of the Navy, etc.....

    16 years ago I bought a Craftsman 12" and it got some use but not like it has in the last 2 years. I mostly did spindle work, chairs, table’s headboards and stuff. But in the last 2 years I got into segmented turning. Which was spurred from an article I came across that I first read when I bought the lathe. To me, right now there is no other type turning that is more challenging. My lathe has limitations, the motor is in good shape, but the mono pole is the biggest limitation. Attaching a steady rest is not the easiest thing but I use the lathe will continue to until it dies.

    I can still hear my shop instructor telling me to “Just use the thumb" for the dove tails in his heavy German accent.

  19. Darryl Fective

    Darryl Fective

    Jan 20, 2011
    Traverse City, MI
    Palmer Sharpless' daughter was my middle school shop class instructor about 35 years ago. I learned good safety habits and use of all the classroom equipment, but there was a particular attraction to the lathe that stuck. After about a 20 year break from it, I bought a used Craftsman lathe to rekindle my turning interest. (a Powermatic 42-24 came a short time later)
  20. Jarred Hoffpauir

    Jarred Hoffpauir

    Jun 5, 2011
    Maple Valley, WA
    Im going to cheat a bit and copy something from my blog. If you want to read the rest of it you are welcome to at www.hobbytoart.blogspot.com

    I first learned about wood turning in my Jr. High wood shop class at Tahoma Jr. High with Mr. Dawson in 1988. The following year I went on a field trip to the AAW (American Association of Woodturners, (www.woodturner.org) and also met Mrs. Bonnie Klein (www.bonnieklein.com) who came into our shop class and showed us how to turn pens and other small projects on small lathes. I was hooked and just HAD to have one of these lathes so my parents bought it for me which at the time im sure was not an easy purchase to make. I made several pieces which my parents still proudly display. Shortly after I left Jr. High my interest strayed onto other things and my lathe went into storage in my fathers garage. Over the years I would look at it and think..."I should really turn something". Thinking about it was all that I managed until 20 years later when I was cleaning out my things from my dads place because he needed the space and I again found my beloved Klein Lathe. I also found my few tools and some pieces of wood.

    With some cleaning and a bit of fixing I revived the nearly 25 year old lathe and started it spinning once again. It brought back some wonderful feelings as I spun my first piece of wood between centers and slowly applied the tool to the wood. I decided to make a few things out of some of the scraps that I found in the old lathe box and ended up with a new pen, a coffee press and a pie crust crimper about 2 weeks later. I ended up giving them all away as presents. I knew the work was not that great but everyone seemed to just love them anyway.

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