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The Summer Heat is on in the Shop

It’s summer time here in Florida, and it’s hot, hot, hot, and oh yeah a bit humid to boot.

I’ve tried to not let it slow me down with regards to working in the shop, but I do have to work around the heat. During the month of July I got out early in the morning and worked till around noon. By that time of the day in July, the sun is high in the sky and the heat and humidity hangs from you. From the looks of it, August will be no different so it will be more early morning work in the shop till it gets too hot.

Still I have managed to turn out (no pun intended) some new items. In addition to trying to sneak in some summer turning in the shop, I have also spent some time cleaning and tuning up my lathe and other tools in preparation for fall.

The Eucalyptus by far has been my favorite wood to work with, both the ability to turn it as well as the color and grain of the wood which never ceases to amaze me. The colors of the wood range from a light brown along the outside to a deep reddish brown as you get deeper into the wood. Thus far I’ve been mainly making bowls with the Eucalyptus and even some bowls with candle holders in the center. They have been coming out very nicely.

I do have some of the Eucalyptus set aside that will be cut into spindles for other items such as pens, shaving sets, and even a bottle opener or two.

The Birch has been a pleasure to work with as well, and I have made some of that wood into tea light candle holders. While the Birch is a light colored wood, the spalting (coloring appearing in cut wood as it ages) has brought out some beautiful variations in the grain.

wooden bowls, bowls, candle holders
Eucalyptus bowls and candle holders

Also I have been playing around with making pen blanks. Using colored pencils I have set them into blanks and then turned them into pens. The effect is a splash of polka dots and color on the pens. It’s also another way to recycle something old and turn (pun completely intended) into something new.

Eucalyptus bowl and click pens
Eucalyptus Bowl and Slimline Pro click pens w/ colored pencils

Some planks of Cypress have also made their way into the shop that have been recovered from the local ship yard. I’ve cut a few into pieces that will be made into shallow bowls, and the rest of it is waiting to be cut either into spindles for magic wands and wine bottle toppers. I’ve really taken a liking to working with recovered and reclaimed wood as once you start digging into what looks like a tired old piece of wood you can uncover some hidden beauty.

Cypress planks
Cypress planks
Cypress bowl
Cypress bowl

In between that I have been lining up craft shows for the near future; including the August 4th First Friday in Tarpon Springs. Right on the heels of that I will be at Hippie Fest in Tarpon Springs on August 12th. These are both fun family craft shows with lots of great vendors, food, music, and crafts.

Other events in the Pinellas/Pasco area are also in the works and will be announced here and on my FaceBook page as they get closer.

Even though it has been a hot summer, I’ve been plugging away in the shop and look forward to seeing some of you out at the upcoming shows.

 

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The Beginning

It started one day with a passing comment while driving past a local wood shop: “I’ve always enjoyed wood working, just never had the opportunity to do much with it.”

A couple of months later I was given a gift card to a local Woodcraft store as a gift.

Not sure what to do with it I set it aside until I had some time on my hands and looked up their website. I was in awe of the tools, wood, and accessories but at that time I lived in an apartment and setting up any kind of shop was nothing but a dream.

As I poured over their website I saw they offered different woodworking classes. bowl making, band saw box making, salt and pepper mills, and pens.

Pens that caught my eye.

Looking at the different times they offered the class for pen making I made up my mind and signed up for a class.

A month and a half later I showed up to learn how to make a pen. The instructor asked me if I had any experience using a wood lathe, and I told him it had been many years; since high school wood shop.

He had me look over the display and pick out a pen and wood. After deciding on a pen style, I looked over the wood blanks. There were so many to choose from. How could I ever decide? Finally one caught my eye – a blank of Palm Red. I plucked it off the shelf and headed off to the classroom.

As I made the pen I lost track of time. Everything else around me faded and all that existed was that room, the lathe and the tools.

When class was over I had a fully functional pen that I had made.

I was hooked!

It was many months before I was able to do anything with what I had learned. The lease was coming up on the apartment and I needed to make a decision of what to do, resign the lease or look for something else.

The increase in the rent made my decision easy, and I started looking for a home to buy. I made sure the Realtor understood that a garage was a must for me.

Find a place we did and after doing some renovating and getting moved in I began putting together a shop, first came the midi-lathe, then bit by bit other tools, both hand and power.

That was just about two years ago now and what fun it has been. I learned so much along the way and am still learning but most of all having a great time doing it.

Here it is, the pen that tarted it all.
Here it is, the pen that started it all.