Falling into the vortex …

I bought my first lathe nearly twenty years ago, almost by accident. It was one of several used tools I acquired when a small local woodworking shop was liquidated. The lathe, an older, Rockwell-Delta, sat almost untouched in a corner of my shop for a couple of years. I concentrated mainly on scroll saw work then, and I’ve got to admit I was a little intimidated by the thought of turning. I didn’t have many turning tools, and the ones I had were dull. Turning with dull tools is no fun, I quickly discovered.

Still, I always liked turned wood projects and I wanted to try it. I purchased a Tormek sharpener at a wood show in Little Rock a couple of years after I bought the lathe and after reading a lot of instructions and watching some videos, I went to work on my tools. The difference was amazing. Watching the long spirals of wood shavings curl away from those sharp steel tools was addicting. I had entered the woodturning “vortex.”

Those of us with this addiction call it the vortex because turning one thing leads to another and then another until you’re sucked completely in. Every new project is a challenge, and there are always projects you want to try. New woods to work with. And new tools to acquire. And, of course, a woodworker can never have enough clamps and sandpaper and other basic supplies. Not to mention the wood. Turners have a true appreciation for woods. Each piece reveals different figures and patterns and grains, and you never know exactly what you’re going to find when you make that first cut.

After making a few pens and starting my duck call line, I wanted to try bowls and hollow forms. And then boxes with finials on fitted lids. I’ve also made Christmas ornaments and several different types of gift items, and there are many things I want to try. Lots of ideas swirling in my mind, waiting for the right piece of wood, the right time.

Once I was solidly caught up in the vortex, I started attending estate sales and haunting eBay for turning tools. I found out there are some real bargains to be had if you’re patient and persistent. And I began saving for the lathe I really wanted – a Oneway 2436. I finally got it in 2006, and it’s my prized possession. A joy to use. Now if only I had a few more accessories for it …

I belong to several woodworkers organizations: Central Arkansas Woodturners, American Association of Woodturners, Stateline Woodturners, and Woodworkers Association of Arkansas. I really enjoy the meetings and demonstrations. I’ve made a lot of good friends in the woodworking community. There’s always something new to learn. A new technique, a new design, a new finish. And, as my wife points out in resignation, a new tool I “really need.” Welcome to my vortex.

In my next post, I’ll talk a little more about Wing Stalker Calls, the duck calls and turkey calls I’ve been making and selling for the past few years. I have some tips for both turners and hunters that I’ve picked up in the process. Thanks for visiting, and I hope you’ll check back here again.

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