Woodturning is a form of woodworking. A piece of wood is mounted on a lathe, the lathe turns the wood while the tool is still, supported on a tool rest.
Lathes were commonly powered by the turner. A Pole Lathe was made up of a long springy pole and a cord tied from the treadle, around the work piece and then onto the end of the pole. On each push of the treadle the work piece would revolve one way, as the treadle rose the work piece would revolve the other way, making wood turning using this method both time consuming and active work. Modern electric
lathes (of the kind I use!) turn the wood from 200 to 3000 rpm, depending on its size.
The tools used are gouges, chisels, scrapers and parting tools, along with many bespoke tools which are hand made. An essential piece of equipment for any turner is a grinding wheel as tools are most effective when they are sharp.
There are many things to take into consideration before turning can commence. Is the wood seasoned (dry) or green (wet)? If it is green and still contains the pith (the very centre of the wood) then the wood is likely to split as it dries out. So if you are preparing wood to use for a bowl then it is best to ensure the pith is removed. That way you can rough turn the bowl (leaving it bigger than the finished size), as the wood dries the bowl will warp but not split and once it is dry it can go back on the lathe to be turned to the finished product. It is best to use seasoned wood for spindle turning as the wood used usually contains the pith so will warp as it dries out.
You need to decide which product to make out of which piece of wood and how it is best to show off the grain of the wood. Turning the wood slightly off centre can give a much better effect as you are cutting through the layers of the grain rather than along them.
The colour, grain, proportions, shape, detail and finish all go towards making an aesthetically pleasing product when it is completed.
Once I have turned a piece to the correct size and shape I go over it one last time with razor sharp tools. This limits the need for sanding. The products I turn are done so by hand and that sometimes shows in the tool witness marks left on the piece. I do not want to remove this unique feature by sanding it away; my pieces are honest and hand crafted. All my work is finished with care using natural waxes or oils.