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Getting a Mentor

Joined
Jan 3, 2021
Messages
68
Likes
27
Location
Spartanburg, South Carolina
Hi, all-After learning to turn mostly from YouTube videos and 1 WoodCraft Saturday beginner class, I really need some 1-on-1 to unlearn some bad habits and quit using my carbide and NRS as crutches for poor technique with the bowl gouge. So doing some sleuthing on here, I found local woodturner and mentor Martin Isetts. After weeks of back and forth e-mails due to covid and my crazy work schedule, we finally got together at his house yesterday for an intense lesson on doing a bowl with just 1 tool-his Ellsworth-ground bowl gouge. Funny thing is, he's just a few streets away, and we're also sort of related in a weird, distant way (long story).

He set us up a green holly blank to turn with only 1 tool; he wouldn't let me cheat at all, and 3 hours later, I'd turned the smoothest bowl I've done yet, with the best proportions, and made more progress in 1 afternoon than I have in 9 months-what a revelation in just the fundamentals. Martin is a wonderful, patient teacher who just kept asking me what I would do at each stage before demonstrating and watching/critiquing my practice gently-he didn't even count the one horrible catch that almost ruined the bowl!

And turning on his amazing One-Way 1640 was a revelation in how smooth, powerful and precise a lathe can be-no comparison to my Laguna. Maybe "one day I will own a OneWay"-I wonder if they need a new ad jingle? Anyway, he is coming to my shop tomorrow-my God, I've got to CLEAN UP!-and plans on giving me more lessons-I think a lidded box is next.

I wish I had done this sooner, "but covid." It seems that "Yeah, I got the 2nd dose too" is the new ticket to freedom for a growing number of people. I am now thinking of setting up for one of Ashley Harwood's classes down in Charleston, SC, only about 3 hours from here. The journey continues. Aaron
 
Joined
Jun 29, 2017
Messages
755
Likes
481
Location
Jasper, Alabama
Hello Aaron, I use to turn pens and all I used was carbide tools. After several years of turning pens I decided that I would like to learn how to turn bowls exclusively. I knew that most of the bowl turners used bowl gouges..........so I bought my first bowl gouge. That was 4 years ago and never looked back! :)


Don't get me wrong......a lot of turners use carbide tools and are a good fit for them but I prefer traditional turning tools.

For me........I chose HSS tools because they force you to learn to sharpen which is an important skill. HSS will hold a finer edge than carbide and is much easier to sharpen and I get a smoother finish with the gouges. Happy turning!
 
Joined
Jan 3, 2021
Messages
68
Likes
27
Location
Spartanburg, South Carolina
Thanks for the feedback Al and Lamar. I definitely think carbide has many useful applications, and in fact plan on getting some of the Hunter line. I was just using it as a crutch in situations where I was afraid of a catch with the gouges. When I was a mentor on a straight razor restoration forum-yes, that's a thing-we often advised guys new to straight razor shaving (which can be intimidating until you get the hang of it) to finish up with a double-edge razor while they were learning. And sharpening is an even more important skill in that world.
 
Joined
Aug 14, 2007
Messages
3,281
Likes
997
Location
Eugene, OR
Well, the internet was functioning when I learned to turn, but I didn't have a computer. We did get a local club started, and I learned more from the club than I did from the books and VHS tapes I watched. There are many things I learned by trial and error that could have been learned in one hands on session...... Don't worry about cleaning up the shop....

robo hippy
 
Joined
Nov 4, 2011
Messages
253
Likes
386
Location
Bay Settlement, WI
I have been fortunate to have a couple of excellent mentors in the local clubs I have belonged to, but the greatest gift was an AAW EOG scholarship that allowed me to spend a week at Arrowmont with David Ellsworth. There are still some classes I want to take, so the sooner Covid is behind us, the better.
 
Joined
Feb 16, 2021
Messages
135
Likes
78
Location
Parkersburg, West Virginia
I feel your pain Aaron. Glad you found somebody close. I was the same way with the carbide tools. I recently bought a good bowl gouge and what a difference. I hardly use the carbides any more. I just found a local club. One of the guys at the club is going to have me come to his shop and give me some tips. He said he can get me to the point where 180 grit is the starting sandpaper. That would be nice.
 
Joined
Jan 3, 2021
Messages
68
Likes
27
Location
Spartanburg, South Carolina
Speaking of local clubs, he is also setting me up with Carolina Mountain Woodturners, who claim to be the largest wood-turning club in the country. Pretty sure I'm going to do that too in the hopes that we can soon meet socially again. I really hate Zoom meetings!
 
Joined
Feb 16, 2021
Messages
135
Likes
78
Location
Parkersburg, West Virginia
The club I found is a private bunch of guys that meet in a guys shop. I heard about them from a guy at church and ended up knowing the guy who‘s shop we all gather at. I found out about Mountaineer Woodturners from Larry that offered to have me visit his shop. That will be around 45 minutes away. I will start going there next month.
 
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