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Stepping out to find JOY

Monday, October 9, 2017
I want to talk a little bit about finding that something that gets you excited or happy.  What do you find fulfilling?  What builds your confidence?

What a wonderful feeling it is to be interested in something, to try it and know that it's something you really enjoy.  It doesn't have to mean that you're good at it from the start or that you know everything about it.

Woodturning has really sparked an interest in me this past year - I find videos of people woodturning mesmerizing!

Earlier this year you might remember I bought an old lathe.  I had never touched a lathe before I got it but knew I had to start somewhere!  After I finished restoring it, I told my husband I was too nervous to put a piece of wood in and turn it on.  There's something about a fast-spinning block of wood - coupled with sharp tools - that scares me! After a small project I got a little more confident.  My next few attempts really had my heart going when my block of wood flung out of the lathe.  My confidence was broken and I didn't touch the lathe again for months.

I didn't want to give up on it so I signed myself up for a Woodturning 101 class at my local Woodcraft store.  I was so excited and nervous/anxious all at the same time!  Driving to the class felt like I was going on a blind date.  I didn't know what to expect or if I'd be bad at it.

 It helped that the instructor (Alan Leland) was nice and explained things really well.  He explained each step in detail and made us jump right into it.  I couldn't believe there were 5 novice students in the room working on a lathe with turning tools.  Some got the hang of it and others really struggled.  It was wonderful to see one of the students who was super nervous keep at it even after making mistakes.  Another student had her tool catch every-other minute and would freak out but keep working.  Others seemed to get it naturally and feel comfortable.

The instructor said his assistant was one of his past students who really struggled.  She took his beginning class several times and he told her she should be his assistant so she can keep practicing.

The point is, you don't have to be great from the start to be great in the end!  Having a natural talent helps but it's more about perseverance and practice.  If you really want to do something - try it out!  Get out of your comfort zone and investigate new things!

 Our first project was to turn a block of Poplar into a bead and cove stick.  We turned a row of beads, cut them back down to shape more beads for practice.  After that we cut every-other bead down for shaping coves.  It was a great learning exercise - invaluable actually!

Once we had more confidence and abilities we turned a mallet out of hard Maple.  Having the skills of a beginner and being able to make something like this was amazing to me!

It's been over a week now and I just finished practicing with my own tools.

 I started off with a chunk of yard waste.

 After roughing it out I formed grooves with a skew chisel.

 Shaping the beads with a small spindle gouge is more technical than I expected but super fun!  At this point I'm thinking "Wow, I'm doing it - Eek!"

After cutting the coves I was super giddy and excited thinking, "Seriously, I just turned a branch into this!"

I know I love woodturning - the question is - what will I do about it?  I'm going to keep practicing, learning and gaining confidence!  Talents aren't free - but it sure is a blessing that we can discover and work towards something that brings us joy.

What are you going to try?
2 comments on "Stepping out to find JOY"
  1. That's a very inspiring post. I have been wanting to try wood turning, too. Every time there is one on sale at Harbor Freight, I am tempted to buy it. I love to watch the woodworking shows on TV. One man has a foot powered lathe from the 1800's that is fascinating. It's like a treadle sewing machine. I have a collection of vintage sewing machines that I need to make some boxes for and some need restoration done on the cabinets. I suppose I should take care of those things first, but some day I will get that lathe! HA!

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    1. Old things are so fascinating!... I'd love to test out that old lathe! I highly recommend getting one - go for it!

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