The other week I was looking for places I could go to see wood turning being demonstrated, and a bit of Googling turned up http://www.hants-woodturners-hwa.co.uk/. I was very happy to discover this group meets not more than 10 minutes walk from my house. Unfortunately I found this the day *after* their last meeting ;-( However it wasn't too much of a wait and last night I went to my first meeting.
It was pretty cool, aside from being the youngest person there by about a decade ;-) The night was about showing various home made tools and techniques for holding work on a lathe for finishing and such. There was a pretty impressive array of homemade tools, nicely engineered and it generally made me realise I've got a long way to go... ;-)
One guy seemed pretty casual about the various tools and tool rests he'd made, apparently an engineer by trade, he had some very impressively made bits and pieces, that all inspired me to want to be able to make my own tools. Thus creating a whole new category of things I could buy in order to play with making things, such as a propane torch, big metal vice and masonry nails which apparently allow you to forge your own metal cutters. I've read various sites that claim this is not a difficult process, so I'm keen to give it a go, but perhaps I shall rein myself in for the moment...
Another thing that a few people mentioned was how useful a bandsaw is...;-) lending more weight to my desire to get one, but that will definitely have to wait.
All in all I found the night pretty interesting, even though one of the members claimed that it was pretty boring compared to normal as there were no actual demonstrations running. I shall look forward to next month going again and seeing more practical stuff going on.
Oh, and they have the idea of a 'novice table' and asked those of us that were new to see if we can make a bowl, no more than 6"x2" and bring it along next time for being critiqued. Something that should encourage me to practice and make an effort to produce something specific. Now I just have to buy a bowl blank... and roughing gouge... and a bowl gouge... and a round nose scraper... and a live centre tail stock.... (curse this hobby it is going to bankrupt me!)
On the subject of live centre tailstock... several people showed little things they'd made that help support work without marking it, that all relied on having a live centre tailstock (one with bearings that rotates with the work) which I take as good reason to get around to buying one. There are just some things that you can't easily do without support at both ends of the work piece, and the tail stock I have at the moment is no good against a finished end.
All inspired by going to the meeting I spent a couple of hours in the garage this evening finishing my first attempt at making a tool, in this case a mallet:
The handle is oval, by turning using 3 separate points on the end of the shaft, the handle goes from round at the bottom to oval at the top. Then a round shaft goes into the head. At the moment the front of the head has a small section of reduced diameter that I'd like to wrap a band of metal around, to prevent the end splitting out in use.
I'm pretty happy with how it has come out, time will tell if the wood is dry enough to not split. I used a microwaving technique to dry out the wood as much as possible, since it was basically just green. But I've never tried it before so I may or may not have done a good enough job.
Having got as far as I could with that I have started to turn a handle for a new lathe tool, working on the assumption that I will get around to trying my hand at making my own cutter bits... I'll post about that when I try it, I may even remember to take a camera to the garage to take some in progress shots.