I started to make turned wooden objects a few years ago in Little Weighton, East Yorkshire, but was unable to bring my lathe and some other equipment because it would not fit into the new house in Sheffield. I sold it to my purchaser. However, I have now bought a new lathe, from the delightfully named Turner’s Retreat, just outside Doncaster, a Record Coronet Herald lathe with electronic variable speed (with reverse), and a Robert Sorby (of Sheffield) Patriot chuck. I also bought a Record wet stone sharpening system, to keep my chisels as sharp as possible, and a dust extractor, for my health’s sake.
The Sheffield Woodturning Club happens to be based just down the road from my house, and I have been attending regularly for the past six months or so. We meet on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month, alternately a demonstration and a “hands-on” session, when experienced members mentor and teach those like me who are beginners.
Sonnet to a block of wood
Twelve inches long by four by four,
this oblong cube of seasoned chestnut wood
seemed to resist my roughing gouge’s blade
which chewed its corners, chipped the square to round.
Rough cylinder, what form would it assume?
My urge to turn it curvy overwhelmed,
so, spinning faster, chisels sharpened keen,
it slowly changed itself into a vase.
Its many imperfections, ridges, lumps,
I gently smoothed away with grades of rough
abrasive, finer till the surface shone.
Its grain, till now unseen, began to show,
three coats of Danish oil enhanced each ring:
the chestnut’s glory in my vase did sing.
Peter Campion, January 2010