Here's My Woodturning!
by Richard Mialki
N Tonawanda, NY
Note: click any picture to see a larger version.
I started out in the 80's doing scroll saw work with a couple of table top tools. Sometime around the year 2000, my wife offered to buy me a tool for our anniversary and she accompanied me to the local tool store. I found a good deal on a 14" floor model band saw that my wife agreed to purchase. While there, I noticed this mini lathe and expressed an interest to be able to make things on it. My wife surprised me and said I could have it also. I was not familiar with the lathe and for awhile it just sat in the box.
Some time later, I attended a local woodworking show and saw these men doing work on a lathe. After talking with one of the men, he introduced me to a Jim Hilburger. I told Jim my story and he gave me a card from his wallet that had his address, phone, and e-mail address on one side and directions to his shop on the other side. Jim said to give him a call and he would show me how to turn at no cost to me.
Later Jim convinced me to join a turning club. I became so interested in what I saw that I later joined the other 3 local clubs. I have met so many nice men that will share their ideas and show how they accomplished their work that I believe if everyone took up turning, there wouldn't be any bad people in this world.
I decided many years back that I am a hobbyist and I do this for the enjoyment. I make what interests me and when I tire of looking at it, I give it away. It is always a challenge to create something different and there is no greater pleasure then making something with your hands and then to give it to someone that appreciates it.
My greatest joy comes from an annual event that our clubs participate in. I am one of the coordinators for this event: we ask our members to donate their wood products and for 12 days, we sell these items at the Erie County Fair, in Western New York. All of the money that we take in goes to Make-A-Wish and since 2005, we have raised $76,895. We are currently gathering to do the Fair this year, which runs from Aug. 8 thru Aug 19. We run 2 lathes every day, from 10 AM to 10 PM and have 80 to 90 volunteers helping over the 12 days. You can view this on the web site
, go to past events and then scroll down to Fair 2011 and Fair 2010.
This piece is Common Buckthorn, which came from a local area. It is an intrusive large bush or a small tree, has berries that the birds eat, but nothing grows under its branches. The largest diameter of any trunk is 4 to 6 inches. This piece came from a crotch and most of the wood has the orange center with a small yellow trim, followed by the tan sap wood.
You can email Richard at
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