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A tall Hackberry Vase. Consistent 3/16 all the way down,
and about 17" tall and 7.5" across.

Here are My Woodturnings!

by Randal Weber

Note: click any picture to see a larger version.

I’ve been a woodworker in one form or another since I was a little kid. There is an old picture of me around somewhere from when I was 5 up on my Grandpa’s garage roof, helping the big men. In high school I worked in the carpentry shop at the local college during the summer. And then in college I worked doing facility maintenance. I’ve always been around construction one way or another.

I spent 7 years in the US Air Force where I became interested in technique, design, and finishing. That’s when things like table saws and router tables entered my world.

I left the military in 2001 and began to do remodeling work, which I have been doing ever since. But building pieces has always been part of what I did, and my forte in the remodeling world was always trim work. Most people around here know me know me as a GC/Trimmer.

I'm not getting any younger, and after awhile of toting a trailer around town and tearing up houses, opportunity came to try the other side of the fence. This past September I joined an established co-op with 4 other woodworkers. It's a diverse crowd, and one I am enjoying. They set the bar pretty high, and it's a good environment to be in.

I got started in woodturning with the bed pictured below, which is a Walnut Cannonball Bed based on an antique and finished with Lockwood dyes and wiping varnish:

I had a gal who wanted me to repair her bed. After I did that for her I loved it and wanted to make one for myself, but I didn't know how to turn. That was probably about 2010. I had a friend who does turning who said he'd be willing to help me make the legs, and after that experience, I dove into the deep end of the pool. I have a Powermatic 3520b and enough bed that I can put 8ft between centers. The lathe part of the process has always been more of a hobby than anything. Nobody hires you to make a bowl. Not me, anyways. I think what I like about it is the freedom. With furniture and cabinetry, it's details, dimensions, measurements, and precise fit. With a bowl it's all organic. It's whatever you feel like doing that day, and the 3 dimensional nature of cutting with a gouge is a fabulous way to de-stress. There's always more to learn, more to try, and something within the process where your technique could use some honing. You'll never know it all, and that's certainly true if you start talking to other turners.

I do sell off my projects, but it's in no great volume. I maybe do about one craft show a year, and the rest of the sales are usually someone who wants a pepper mill as a gift and calls me. So I certainly don't do it for the money. I do it because I enjoy it, and it is yet another way to play with, and learn about all the many facets of the various wood species and how they react. I also love blemishes. Knots, bug holes, defects, you name it. The very first vase started my love for these things. It's always a gamble, and one you'll lose on occasion, but sometimes those defects make the piece. Those are great days. You can see this effect in a few of my pieces below:

A Walnut Salad Bowl that is very typical of my everyday turnings with a great grain balance. About 10" diameter and finished with Mahoney's Walnut Oil Finish.

Walnut Pepper Mill.

Spalted Maple Pen.

A Hackberry hollow form about 9" diameter.

Spalted Maple Vase, which was the first hollow piece I had ever turned.

Another Maple Vase. I normally frown on checking in the wood, but it was so perfect, and so identical in size. They're all hairlines, and at a 90 degree angle to the figure. Orienting the thing so they became a showcase rather than something for the firewood pile to me exemplifies that "the book answer is not always the right answer."

Pine Bowl with Mahoney's Walnut Oil Finish . It has a bullet in the rim. I cut halfway through it and stopped. That determined the size I was going to make the finished piece. I knew I had to keep the bullet.

A few more of my pieces are below:

You can see more of Randal's work on his website, .

Submit your own woodturnings or woodturning shop to this column! Simply SEND US PHOTOS of your woodturning projects or shop along with captions and a brief history and description of your woodturning. (Email photos at 800x600 resolution.) Receive a $50 store credit if we show your turning in a future issue!

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