Mountaineer Woodturners

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Introduction to woodturning 101

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Getting Started

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I am lost, help!

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by Jason Carnes

This article introduces the first in a series of articles about learning to be a woodturner.  I myself am fairly new to woodturning and I can empathize with the confusion and questions that a new turner has as they begin their path to mastering this new craft.  I was at a local Arts and Craft's fair and I came across a woodturner (Byron Young) making little spinning tops for children.  He along with a friend (Larry Weese Jr.)  had a booth displaying their artwork.  I found their art to be very interesting and cool.  They were both very friendly and approachable. I was working on another project (I also make Coin Rings) and I needed a special part and I was curious if the item could be made on the lathe. As it turned out it was indeed possible to make the specialized part.  This chance meeting left an imprint in my artistic mind and my curosity grew about woodturning.


But I wasn't sure where to really start.  I like most people went to youtube and did some searches and there are indeed hundreds, if not thousands of videos there on woodturning.  Most of them are based on doing some kind of project like a bowl or chesspiece.  I wasn't ready to even jump to that stage, I had questions like, What do I need to buy?  What do I not need to buy?  What kind of wood should I start with?  I heard woodturning can be dangerous, what do I need to know to keep myself safe? I don't have large bank account to go out and buy an entire woodshop worth of tools.


Fast forward several months and I've learned a lot from my fellow club members and I thought I would start to share my experience with other people who might be interested in woodturning but not sure where to start.


With that in mind I sifted through hundreds of youtube videos to find a good one for the curious and future woodturner to watch to help you wrap your mind around a few beginning questions.  Like, What size lathe should I get, a large one or a small one?  Wait a minute, what is a lathe and what are these tool things you speak of?  So for those of you who didn't grow up in a woodshop and you wish to start your journey into the world of woodturning, check out the video below and I highly recommend you seek out a local woodturning club (like Mountaineer Woodturners) to visit.


If your too shy to ask questions (aka, like my wife) you can just listen, watch, and learn until you feel comfortable enough to ask questions.  If your a little more bold then feel free to jump in and ask master woodturners who have priceless decades worth of experience and knowledge to share.  I can not express strong enough, that before you decide to start buying equipment that you ask questions someone with experience in woodturning other than a sales person.