Better Late than Never?

Hello everybody and welcome back to the iWoodWork Blog.

I'm going to cover a couple random topics today.

My first topic is related to an e-mail I received from one of our viewers (Hi Tim!). Tim rightly pointed out that the speed I advocated for in the Roughing It podcast was a bit on the slow side. Actually, the very slow side...

Tim correctly pointed out that the speed of the lathe could easily be set as high as 1000 rpm. And indeed, the higher the speed the better the final finish. Part of the reason I suggested the slower speeds was from a safety standpoint (which I did not point out). Since the faster the turning speed, the greater the impact of a catch with the roughing gouge, I didn’t want those totally new to turning to get scared off by a horrendous catch. Also, for folks new to the lathe and unfamiliar with the process of properly securing a blank in the lathe, I didn't want someone to accidentally eat a piece of wood because they had not properly tightened the blank in place (the faster you spin the blank the harder it can get thrown off the lathe). You folks may get really tired of my safety obsession - but after serving for 2 years as Safety Coordinator in another career, I can’t help myself. It’s really easy to get hurt woodworking...

There is also the question of the purpose of the Roughing Gouge. From the point of view of someone practicing new wood turning skills, learning to control the roughing gouge and produce as fine a finish as possible is a great exercise. As you're improving your skills, working up to the higher speeds and better finish is a great idea and one that I didn't talk about on the podcast at all. Rather, I skipped right to the point of view of a production woodturner. Two years ago I got to take a class with an internationally recognized woodturner named Richard Raffan, and his point was that in production woodturning, the goal is to round the blank as quickly as possible. Therefore he does not waste any time worrying about the level of finish he gets off his roughing gouge (unless of course he wants to). The instruction I gave during the podcast kind of straddles the fence a bit. I chose his technique to demonstrate because ultimately I agree that it is all about getting the blank round so that you can begin the important detail work. While he would have used the faster lathe speed, I chose to recommend a slower speed to the beginner. As your skills increase, so will the speed of your lathe. I hope this clarifies things a bit. I welcome your feedback about anything woodworking. Thanks Tim!

Another topic I wanted to discuss today concerns one of my most obvious failings. Namely, sticking to a deadline. Anyone reading my first blog post will notice it ends with “will discuss...on Monday” and I'm posting this the following Saturday. Likewise, while we will ultimately get our podcast release schedule on at least a monthly basis, our subscribed viewers have probably noticed it hasn't quite happened yet. I hope people aren't put off by the fact that my time estimates aren't always on target. I’m sure everyone will understand that the podcast has to fit into the busy schedules of three different individuals, the running of a woodworking business, a part-time job, and a family with a daughter that's about to turn 13. To make up for our less than consistent releases you'll be seeing in the months to come some short versions of the podcast turning (get it? wink, wink) up in our iWoodWork feed. These will start showing up sometime around the middle of April and should be an ongoing effort. Therefore, to avoid missing any episodes I recommend that you subscribe to the feed in the iTunes or using your favorite RSS reader. Keep in mind these shorts may be a little less serious than the podcast, so if folks aren't into that just look for the shows in the 5-10 minute range and feel free to delete those.

Finally, a quick mention of our recent change in video format. Hopefully, most of you have noticed no change at all. We have changed our postproduction compression to look better on a wider range of monitors. To date no one has commented that they are having problems viewing the new format, so hopefully this change has been a good one. You should now be able to view this podcast on anything up to 30” HD displays with little or no artifact - maybe even bigger, but I don’t have anything larger to test it on. If anyone is having difficulty viewing the latest podcast, feel free to drop me an e-mail: mark@iwoodwork.net.

Well that's about it for this posting. I’m going out to the shop now. It’s time to rough out some lumber for my next project (I keep tripping over the boards while I’m doing other things)...

Have Fun and Stay Safe.



P.S. I'm going to commit today to a new posting in the blog no later than next Friday, so check back next week. Feel free to flame me if I fail!

Let's Get This Thing Going!


Well, hello everybody and welcome to the first installment of the IWoodWork Blog.

With today’s post begins an ongoing effort to communicate with the viewers of this podcast. These posts will include information about the podcast, links to resources relevant to the current month’s podcast, comments on the daily trials and tribulations of woodworking, and anything else that happens to cross my mind. Very soon we will be accepting your comments and questions as part of the blog as well. I just have to tweak the code a little more. Hopefully, we’ll generate some meaningful discussions in the months to come...

Today’s post will be pretty routine. Just some comments about Episode 6 of the iWoodWork Podcast.

Episode 6, entitled “Roughing It”, is the first of what I hope will be several podcasts related to one of my goals for 2009 - namely, to integrate woodturning into my furniture making business. Please note, this should in no way be interpreted as suggesting that I have ANY woodturning skills whatsoever! Now normally this would be a problem for someone who wants to produce a show about turning. Instead, I think this is an ideal opportunity to approach a new subject so that those new to woodturning may see a realistic portrayal of what it’s really like to learn a new woodworking skill from scratch. Since showing the reality of woodworking is one of the core goals of this podcast, I’d like to show the podcast viewers the mistakes and set backs that often occur along the road to mastery. No doubt this will make some of you smack your foreheads and ask “what is this guy playing at” but there are plenty of television shows that offer expert views from master craftsman who, because they must constrain a show to set length (30 minutes), feel compelled to cut out the mistakes, the tedium, or the behind-the-scenes views that are part of everyday woodworking. If this kind of quick, furniture project oriented information is what you need to further your woodworking skills, then this set of podcasts may not be for you...

For those of you who aren’t now smacking your foreheads, I’ll continue. One of the criticisms I’ve always had about woodworking instruction, is that it is often difficult for instructors to “dumb down” their instructions for the rawest newbies to catch on to the details and tricks that an experienced woodworker does almost subconsciously. Now by criticism of woodworking instruction, I don’t mean the quality of instructors are lacking, but that I am (there’s nothing better than a week long woodworking class to serve up an ample helping of humble pie - not that humble pie is necessarily a bad thing... ). However, after talking with many woodworkers, I began to hear that I was not alone in feeling some frustration that I was missing some things when I went to classes, rented videos, or read books and magazines, that remained as obstacles to further progress in acquiring new skills. In fact, it’s even harder to convey that subtle (but vital) information necessary to master something new via the printed word (like the “feel” or the “sound” of a joint when it is fit just right). If anyone is curious at this point, I consider myself to be a intermediate or “journeyman” woodworker. Good enough to make quality pieces, but unwilling to attempt the hardest stuff, especially when people are paying for the product.

So with Episode 6 of the iWoodWork Podcast we are going to try a few new things and see where they lead us. Maybe we can discover some of those hidden gems of woodturning wisdom...

This post is already too long, so I’ll discuss our video format change on Monday...