Several years ago I worked with my good friend and camping partner Phil Brennion, professional woodturner from Chino Valley, Arizona, to write an article on his method for turning translucent ponderosa pine vessels. Phil, a true turning perfectionist and demonstrator, has this infectious ability to get you to try new turning techniques and finishes.
It’s been three years since I dug out my mini-lathe from under a bench and put it to use. So in recent weeks, while working on an article for the magazine about bowl turning, I began to get the itch again. But before I could use my lathe, a 12″ Rikon, I had to clean it up and give it a fresh coat of Boeshield T-9 to ward off rust, followed by lube to make the banjo and tailstock slide smoothly. This was also a great time to try out the one part of equipment that had until now been missing from my turning arsenal: a sharpening jig. I’ve had an 8″ grinder with good wheels, but freehand sharpening my turning chisels was proving to be a disaster. So I broke down and got a Oneway Wolverine sharpening attachment for my grinder. It works perfectly with a little practice. Now my chisels are sharp, and I can quickly touch them up with repeatable precision.
So after a few failures at turning some dry chunks of firewood—actually I decided to call that practice—I turned out a decent bowl from a piece of 2″-thick red oak (on the left). Then I decided to glue together a bunch of the scraps that I seem to collect and make a few bowl blanks. The one on the right is the result of this, an 11″-inch diameter bowl that turned out decent. After blowing apart a maple bowl, I wrapped up the weekend with the elm bowl in the back. (It still needs a little sanding.) But overall I’m having fun getting back into turning. Bowls make nice gifts, so I’ll probably be making a few more over the next few months. I also want to practice my spindle turning skills so I can get back to making furniture.