An evening with a difference…

Wearing my AWGB hat (or visor, as it was) I gave a presentation to a Scout group this evening. The presentation was a trial-run for the new initiative the AWGB has been working on for nearly two years. Essentially the initiative brings woodturning into the scouting movement, and will result in woodturning being a component within a range of badges and awards. The work invloved in getting this initiative off the ground has been long, and at times difficult, but after seeing the youngsters this evening, faces alive with the sheer joy of working the wood, and the delight when they “got it”, made it all worthwhile.

All the youngsters who attended have signed up for the woodturning component, which is fantastic. I hope a few are bitten by the bug and delve deeper into the hobby in the future. There were two in particular who just had it. Explain once and got the knack.

I showed them a range of turnery, from the conventional, to the not so conventional, and they seemed genuinely excited at the possibilities and began imagining things they might make.

It was a great evening and I enjoyed every second.

New web address’ coming…

Just a note for information…

cobwebcrafts.co.uk has moved servers, so if you get an error message please refresh your browser

andycoates.co.uk is now mine after a long, long wait, and may become a separate website, or simply direct to the CC site. I don’t know yet.

The address for this blog will also soon change, to: woodturningblog.co.uk

When I shift everything around I’ll notify again, but at least you are pre-warned.

Jarrah Burr…

I don’t usually use imported wood, but along with the big lathe I got some large burrs of Jarrah. It seemed wasteful to turn a huge (probably difficult to sell) bowl so I cut one into three slabs and decided to turn three platter/bowls from it.

The first is 15″ by 2 1/2″ and has a lightly textured rim…

The second is a deep bowl, with a deep void (not visible in the photo) underneath. I didn’t want to break through the void, so the wall is left thick. It is 11 3/4″ by 4″…

The third is 15″ by 3 1/4″ and has a heavy rolled rim…

The burr is bone dry, and was very hard and dusty, with resin-filled voids all over it. The results are pleasing, and they make attractive pieces, but give me a nice clean piece of ash any day.  Cutting the burr was hard work and sanding had to start at 120 to remove the tool marks, and was taken down to 600 and then oiled after sealing with three coats of cellulose.

I reckon over the three I lost 1/4″ of bowl gouge due to the constant re-grinding. Not a good rate of steel loss!

If I can face coring the next burr, I may try one very large bowl as a display piece, and use the core for two or more other pieces. I can’t see one selling, but it would be a good talking point and may drive interest in the smaller ones.

It’s interesting that there are a number of turners out there that routinely scorch and heavily texture Jarrah Burr, and yet I couldn’t bring myself to do so…the colour is so pretty, and the burr figure likewise, it seemed sacrilegious. Perhaps I should have been bolder?

I then spent the afternoon making Dreidel and small boxes for a coming event. One extreme to another!

Professional Woodturner…

I had a lengthy phonecall last evening from a woodturner wishing to “take it to the next level”, by which he explained he meant two things: progressing, and becoming a professional woodtutner. “How do I do  this?” was the basic question. And the answers, I’m sure, were less than straightforward.

The first thing, I suppose, is to assess what you can do and if there’s a market for it. Can you turn a wide range of things to a good standard? Do you specialise in a way which will limit your earning ability? Do you produce only spindles, bowls, decorative work? This list could go on and on.

Once you’ve done this, decided you want to proceed, the first port of call should be the tax man. Get a Unique Tax Reference (UTR), and declare yourself as a self employed woodturner, and then either keep careful records of all outgoings and earnings, or better yet get somebody else to do that for you.

The next step, or perhaps this should have been an earlier step, decide where you’ll work. Your home, bought or rented, may have conditions in the deeds or rental agreement which preculde the running of a business from home. If so, you need premises…and this means business rates, utilities, insurance, public liability, fitting out costs Etc.

You might also consider a business course. Many enterprise schemes run by your local council can provide these free of charge.

After all this is down to hard work and building a business the only way possible…hard work and long hours. With any luck you’ll make it, and in a slightly modified version of the old song, If you can make it now you’ll make it any time. You’ll have to do things you would probably rather not, you’ll have to learn to work to drawings and deadlines, you’ll find being your own boss is not a liberating as you imagined it would be, and you’ll have many moments when you question your sanity and wisdom. But then you’ll sell a piece or work for £800 and suddenly the world is all rosy and pink…untill the week after when you sell nothing all week.  Or you’ll decide to take the day off and walk  the dog and nobody can stop you and you’ll think “this is the life”.

I don’t really have the answers, all I have is my own experience, and for what that’s worth I’m happy to share it if people ask.

One thing is certain, you have to love turning to make it a “living”. Good luck if you try.

A short walk…

was called for after the workshop today, so we headed over to Carlton Marshes, a couple of miles away from home. The marshes are grazed by cattle, and are a quiet spot in an already quiet area.

A few photos so you can get the feel of the place…

Can you name the tree? Or the catapillar? Or the Bird? I’m sure you got the other!