Ambitious Beginnings by Larry
Eleven or so years ago I went to a craft fair on a sunny Saturday afternoon. As is usually the case, there were a wide variety of crafters there hawking their work. It was a good show. As I meandered among the booths pausing to check out the work, I came across a woodturner with a midi lathe setup to work. He had a very large display of all manner of pens, bottle stoppers, and other small objects. He had a small table to one side with some weird looking pieces of which there was no apt description. They were simply artsy.
I spent a considerable amount of time looking over the pens and other offerings. I took my time admiring his work. I had never seen anything this nice for a simple pen. Then I heard him say to a customer, “would you like a particular piece of wood for that?” My curiosity was piqued. I tuned in time to see the young woman point to a piece of wood he had on a display. I had no clue what the wood was or why she was picking it but I was intently curious. He asked her what type of pen she wanted. She asked him if he had something masculine, yet elegant. He brought out several larger pen types and let her choose.
He reached under the counter and brought out a pair of blanks in her chosen wood and pen style and mounted them on the lathe and began the turning process. In short time he had them sanded and applied a finish to them. He then took the blanks off and assembled the parts into a remarkable pen. I was shocked and amazed. This had taken no more than 20 minutes.
After he was finished, I asked him about his tools, gouges, and what I might need to do something like this. He smiled and gave me a list he had under the counter detailing what I needed. I soon bought my first lathe from Pen State and began gathering the tools I needed. As soon as I turned my first successful piece I was hooked. I knew I would be expanding my inventory to better tools, possibly to create bowls and other things.
Fast forward 11 years to present time. I have started a club, have a 22″ swing lathe, a huge collection of tools and gadgets, and am always looking for new things to try, to learn new methods and see what I can create.
Every time I get on the lathe and create something I think back to my first time and can still feel the excitement of turning.
I consider myself to be a permanent newbie.