Weekend Woodturning Projects, by Mark Baker
by J. Norman Reid
If you are looking for a way to get started in turning wood or want some guidance on developing your skills, Weekend Woodturning Projects is a book you should definitely consider. The author, Mark Baker, editor of Woodturning magazine, draws on the kinds of projects that helped him develop into a master turner. The result is a guide to building your own skills as you work through the 25 projects in the book. Starting with simple spindle turning projects, you learn to add details to these before progressing to faceplate turning, hollow forms, and projects that combine all of the techniques. By the time you have finished the projects, you'll be ready to tackle many others of your own design and choosing.
Each project begins with a list of the tools and equipment you'll need to complete it, along with a scale drawing and photograph of the project. Step-by-step photos with text then describe each step of the process of turning, then finishing the project.
The projects progress from a rolling pin and meat tenderizer to a bud vase or "weed pot," egg cup and candlestick to salt-and-pepper shakers, a lidded box, beaded bowl, a natural edge vase, clock, two-part vase, lidded bowl, and tree ornament, among others. All are modestly-sized and designed to be useful around the house or as items that can be sold in shops or craft fairs.
All the projects can be completed using a mini-lathe with a 12 inch or greater swing and a minimum of 15 inches between centers. A variable speed model will be most convenient, but a belted model such as the
will work as well if budget considerations dictate a lower-cost machine. Larger lathes can also be used for these projects but are not necessary. Another advantage is that these projects can all be completed with a minimum set of turning tools, which helps to hold down the initial costs of starting out in wood turning.
The book opens with an introduction to the tools needed for these projects--lathes, chucks, drive centers, turning tools, abrasives, finishes, safety equipment and other gear. It introduces the concept of creating your own chucks from scrap wood left over from previous projects. And it presents a good discussion, illustrated with clear graphs, of the best best lathe speeds for safely turning variously sized spindle and faceplate turnings.
The book is lavishly and beautifully illustrated throughout and the steps for each project are clearly described, making it easy to follow and repeat the author's actions.
The book makes a few assumptions that the novice woodturner will have to meet. It assumes that the turner has a basic knowledge of lathe operations and, since tool sharpening is not discussed, that subject will need to be learned elsewhere. In general, the nature of the cuts needed to achieve the best results are well-illustrated, though in a few places the descriptions and instructions for making the cuts could be clearer.
This book is best suited for beginning woodturners who have basic familiarity with basic lathe operations. It will also be helpful to more experienced turners who can benefit from a progressive enhancement of their turning skills. The projects in the book will be fun for turners at any skill level and even experienced turners will find ideas and inspiration for new projects. If you are interested in small projects that have useful applications around the home, you'll love this book.
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Weekend Woodturning Projects
The reviewer is a woodworker, writer, and woodworking instructor living with his wife in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains with a woodshop full of power and hand tools and four cats who believe they are cabinetmaker's assistants.
He can be reached by email at