At the weekend I took a trip to John Davis Woodturning This was my first time in a real wood turning shop/workshop rather than just browsing items on line. It was very cool, nice to be able to actually see the various tools and get a proper feel for them. Also the huge stock of wood blanks was very tempting. John Davis himself was very friendly and came to chat to me about my level of experience, what I want to do etc. He saw some of the tools I was looking at, and made a point of showing me items that he had turned with much more basic tools. Keen to point out that for many people there is simply no need to spend lots of money on specialist tools.
It was also good to be able to see the various examples of his work, and be able to wander around his workshop. To get a real feel for what professsional wood turning looks like. I have to confess that there are elements to it that look very appealing, there certainly seemed to be a reasonable freedom to potter around in his workshop, (in which he has 5 lathes!) However it is also clear that it is a 7 day a week job, teaching, turning, demoing. And it's not all glamorous turning whatever he feels like to explore new things. He'd spent the previous day production turning spindles for a staircase. And of course he was open for business on a nice sunny Saturday.
I took the opportunity to spend some money and get a few more tools for my collection. In the end I decided to get a round nose scraper which is something that had been significantly missing from my tool set. But I also got a 3/8 inch spindle gouge and a 3/8 inch bowl gouge. Both smaller versions of tools I already own. I had initially picked up a spindle gouge with a swept back grind, but John had no problem talking me out of it (despite it being more expensive) as he finds the grind to be hopeless. Instead showing me the grind he has on his regular 3/8 spindle which he uses for a large proportion of his work. I also picked up a couple of wood blanks and some ebonising laquer. I didn't really track how much discount he gave me for the bulk purchase but it pretty much amounted to £10 off the tools meaning I got the wood and laquer for 'free'.
It was a nice experience, doing business with someone who sells what he uses. Knows the ins and outs, and can provide expert advice, as well as friendly conversation. Quite a different shopping experience to the norm. I will most certainly go back next time I feel like I can justify spending some money. Additionally since there was threadbear upstairs I should even get away with taking Kat with me again.