What is it about woodturning, anyway? You’ve probably heard that question in one form or another. Why do you like turning so much? How can you spend all that time and not get bored? What is it you like about it anyway? These questions usually come from non-turners, who, of course, just don’t understand. You understand, and I understand, but have you tried to explain it to a non-turner? I haven’t had much success at that, so I decided to see if I could write down some answers to those questions.
Your mileage may vary, I remember Stuart Batty answering that question. He said he liked how fast it is. How a block of wood can be a finished piece, or at least ready to finish, in a matter of minutes. I can relate to that. With patience not being my strongest characteristic, I like to get a project finished in one go. It’s the immediate gratification. I’ll admit, I would have been a good drug addict if I hadn’t found other things to get addicted to. I just love getting a 20-pound blank on the lathe, and in a few minutes with a sharp gouge, there are 15 pounds of shavings on the floor and a new roughed out bowl is sitting in my curing cabinet. That’s immediate enough for me. Even better if that block of wood was “Road Kill”… wood that I’ve harvested for “free.” After we’ve been in the game awhile, finding road kill becomes second nature, and that free wood just seems to find us. We’ve all seen the T-shirt, “Life’s Too Short To Turn Crappy Wood.” It’s true…but I need to keep reminding myself of it because I love the challenge of making something beautiful out of something that was destined for the fire or the landfill. Sometimes I find myself trying to redeem some castaway piece of wood and some of my really good stuff is going to waste. Sometimes it works, often enough to keep me coming back to the weird looking pieces that no one else wants to try.
By the way, you may notice that the reason you turn wood reflects from other areas of your life. Redemption of Rejects…where does that come from? Oh yeah, I once helped found a church for recovering drug addicts, and I still help run a Foster Care agency that specializes in kids no one wants. So trying to turn something great from rejects comes naturally to me.