What do wooden pens, table legs and candle sticks have in common? These items can all be made using woodturning. This month our woodturning friends shared their knowledge about this fascinating craft.
October 9, 2019
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Crafting Circle - Woodturning
Presented by Leeanne Frydrychowicz and Jennifer Quinn
October 9, 2019
Leeanne F: Welcome to Hadley's Crafting Circle. My name is Leeanne Frydrychowicz, and I'm one of the Learning Experts here at Hadley. I teach all of the Braille Literacy courses, as well as all of our math courses. I'm also doing some designing of new Braille courses for the upcoming years, as well as run the group. I've been an avid crafter for most of my life, definitely all my adult life. But I was pretty crafty when I was a kid, as well. My particular interests are knitting, scrapbooking, card-making and quilting. That's kind of my passion area, but I love to dabble in all kinds of crafts. I'm really thrilled to introduce you to Jennifer Quinn as our new co-host for the group. Jennifer, do you want to say hi, and tell us a little bit about yourself?
Jennifer Q: Hi. Can you hear me?
Leeanne F: Yep.
Jennifer Q: Great. I was having some technical difficulties earlier, but I think I'm good. My name is Jennifer Quinn. I've been with Hadley for about five and a half years. I am the graphic designer and photographer here. So, when I heard there was going to be an opening for this group, I was really excited to come on board. My particular art interests are mixed media collage, and I work a lot with paper and acrylic, watercolor, ink. And then, I also teach art workshops about once a month, to a group of women here in Chicago. We do a range of things, from jewelry to paper items... just anything that you can think of, we've probably tried it. We've even tried some knitting and sewing. So, I'm really excited to hear about the woodworking today. I haven't done any of this for many years, so I'm really looking forward to hearing today's session.
Leeanne F: Okay. Thank you, Jennifer. Welcome to the group. They're a fantastic group of people. Some regulars that I've noticed over the past few months since we got started, as well as new people popping in every month. So it's nice to see some new names, as well. What I wanted to get to, and this is just ... It's a fascinating topic for me today, which I know absolutely nothing about. But two of our group members, both Ray and Merle, have volunteered ... Well, I asked them if they'd be willing to talk to the group. Just because I think that there's a lot of interest in woodturning, even if it's not a hobby that you'd like to pursue yourself. Just finding out more about it, how it's done, what tools they use ... all of that is great.
Leeanne F: Okay, so I can hear Merle and Ray. Thank you so much for being agreeable and coming and talking with us. So, if you can maybe introduce yourselves, and tell us what you do. Tell us about woodturning.
Ray: My name is Ray. I am a wood shop teacher here at the Division of Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Salt Lake City, Utah. I've been woodturning for about seven or eight years now, I guess, and been teaching it for almost six years. I never did any woodturning when I could see. I'm totally blind from retinitis pigmentosa. And I came here to the Blind Center and did woodturning for the first time and fell in love with it.
So, I started my own woodworking business after I left here. And then, like I said, a little over five years ago, I was hired to teach wood shop here. Let's see ... I'll let Merle talk about himself a little bit. And then we can discuss exactly what woodturning is. And if anybody has any questions, just raise your hand, and we can answer them as we go along, I think.
Merle: I'm Merle. I live in Lincoln City, Oregon. And I've been woodturning for about a year and a half, almost two years. I went up to American Lakes up here, Tacoma, Washington... is a blind rehab center for the veterans. I got introduced to woodturning, and I fell in love with it. And I've been doing it ever since. I used to do wooden piggy banks, boxes, and that. And I put that stuff all to the side because I love turning wood. Part of what I do with it is with the wood lathe. And it has several different parts to it. It has what they call a head stock. That's where the motor is at. Then it's got the table, where they have a piece in there. It's called the banjo. That's where your tool rests, sets on. And then, it's got the tail stock, where you put your piece on your wood lathe, and you move all the pieces together and tighten it up. And when you're turning it, you take a square piece of wood, and you make it round. And then you can shape it to whatever.
I make ink pens, mainly. So I make different shapes. I add a little character to it every once in a while. And I make several different things. I make seam rippers for people that do sewing. I make wine bottle stoppers. I make bottle openers, keychains. And I just started making some little mini snowmen for Christmas trees. I'm donating them up here at Oral Hull for their winter retreat, for ... Blind people can paint ornaments.
Ray: And then... This is Ray again. For what I make... that was a good description, Merle, with the lathe. The lathes come in different sizes. You can get a mini-lathe, that you can do maybe up to 14 inches on, or so. Or you can get a full-sized lathe that you can turn something as long as a baseball bat, or table legs, or anything real long. And then, you can even get customized ones where you could even turn masts for a ship, or telephone poles, or balustrades for pillars for a porch on your house, or something like that.
But what we're focusing on is pretty much stuff that you can do on a mini-lathe. And like Merle, I make a lot of pens, and keychains and stuff. I also make pizza cutters, ice cream scoops, candlesticks, back scratchers. Just pretty much... and bowls, bases, lamps, salt and pepper mills. You name it, it's quite a variety of things you can make on the lathe.
You can turn many different things on a lathe, as far as materials. Predominantly, it's wood, but you can also turn acrylics. You can turn deer antler. You can turn buffalo horn. I just recently turned a piece of a crocodile jaw. So, you can do many different things, but wood is primarily it. And you can use domestic or exotic woods. Domestic woods are generally any wood that's found in the United States, and exotic is found elsewhere in the world. So predominantly, like walnut or maple or oak or elm, here in the States. Overseas, you-
Ray: Go ahead, Merle.
Merle: Or even holly wood from a holly bush. I've made ink pens from ... I cut off a branch from my holly tree. And I made some ink pens and that, out of that.
Ray: That's [crosstalk].
Merle: That's [inaudible] Leeanne ... I sold one to Leeanne. It was made out of the holly tree.
Leeanne F: This is Leeanne. I'm going to interject here. They're beautiful. They're absolutely beautiful. For those of you that really like a good, tactile feel of a pen or a pencil, or just the beauty of it, tactilely. It's a very nice feel, very smooth. The shape is really nice. I had a question for you, and I ... Please, and encourage you to ask any questions as they come up.
My question is, how do you decide, if you're doing something that's wood, because you said you primarily work with wood, how do you decide what type of wood to use on any project?
Merle: Myself, personally, I have several different species of wood. I go by what I like. I do some, what are called zebra wood. I use purple heart. I use yellow heart. I've used ironwood, I use acrylic acetates. I turn whatever I can. I turn elk horn into pens, and they turned out really pretty. But I have a source here in Oregon, where my son works for a company that makes exotic moldings. So I buy scrap from them. And the choice of wood I get is whatever they have in stock.
Leeanne F: Okay. What about you, Ray? How do you decide?
Ray: Well, I decide kind of on either ... Well, like Merle. The kind of wood I like to turn. But also, if I have a customer, what color they're looking for. Or sometimes, I like to use what I call woods with a story, or historic woods. I made a pen for our governor here, of Utah. We had an old, across the Great Salt Lake, there was an old train trestle that was about 100 years old. They went and tore it down and reclaimed the wood. So I got some of that wood. So, the one I made for him was made from the old train trestle that went across the Great Salt Lake, so it had some historic interest to it, for our governor.
Other woods I like to use, I'll use walnut or maple, or padauk, or bloodwood, or lacewood. It just depends on the color that they're looking for. There's thousands of different varieties. And what's nice about turning pens or smaller things with them, is you don't need a lot of wood. A typical pen blank you start with is about five inches long and three-quarter inches square. So, it doesn't have to be a very big piece. And with the exotics, some of them can get fairly expensive for a small piece of wood. But Pink Ivory is one that I like to turn.
Leeanne F: Okay. Okay. We have a few questions, a few raised hands. So if you don't mind, I'll lower their hands and have them ask their questions. Okay?
Merle: All righty.
Leeanne F: Let's see. The person that... Their phone number begins with 817. Could you tell us your name?
Cleora: Yes. This is Cleora.
Leeanne F: Okay. And what is your question?
Cleora: Well, it's sort of a two-part question, I guess. When they talk about making pens, I'm thinking about an ink pen-
Cleora: ... something that you would write with.
Merle: Yes, Ma'am.
Cleora: So, how do you hollow that out? Does the lathe hollow it out? And also, like if you're making furniture, I have some furniture that has ... Now that I know about lathes, obviously what they've done is they've taken one piece of wood and made the pattern. And then sliced it in half, to make the two decorative pieces on either side of the drawer. So, is that done with the lathe, also? Or do you have to have someone else do that?
Merle: Well, on ink pens, you take a drill. I have a chuck for my lathe that will spin the piece of wood. And then I have a drill, and I drill a hole all the way through it. And then you insert a brass tube in there. That's what you ... when you're assembling your piece, if you've got a pen press, and you have to press all the parts together.
For your table leg like that, a lot of times they have a duplicator. Where they can turn one leg, and then they can duplicate it. You keep making all the same curves, because you got the duplicator.
Ray: I think what you were saying about having the same profile, that it's like a half piece of wood? Kind of rounded on one side, and flat on the back?
Cleora: Right. It's a decorative piece. I don't know quite how to describe it. It's very old furniture. It's probably made back in the late 1800s. And the drawers, and the headboard, and everything, they have these decorative pieces. And it's [inaudible] together-
Ray: Yeah. I know what you're talking about. So, what you do ... Yeah, that's done on a lathe. You take two pieces of wood, and then you stick the two pieces together, with either double-faced tape, or just a little bit of glue on each end. And then you turn it as one round piece, and then you split it apart when you're done. And then you've got two half-pieces. Or if you want to do quarter-round pieces, you can do four pieces, all glued together, turned round, and then split it apart into quarters.
Cleora: So is that done by the lathe also? Or do you have to have-
Cleora: Oh, the lathe does that also.
Merle: Yeah. You glue or you take double-faced tape and you stick your two pieces of board together. Then you mount it up your lathe and you turn it to the profile you want. Then when you get done, you take it and you split it back open. You take where the double-faced tape is at, and you open it back up. Then you have two pieces, and they're identical.
Cleora: Well, that's with the original piece. But are you saying the lathe ... Oh, okay. I got you. I understand. Thank you.
Merle: Did that answer your question?
Cleora: Can I also ask about the Santa Claus? They're not symmetrical.
Merle: What I so with that is, I start out with a piece of wood about inch and a half square. And I put a centering hole on each end, so I can put it on my lathe with the ... on the tail stock or the head stock. And then ... and the tail stock goes in it, it centers it. Then I just turn it round. Then I add a hat to it, and then I add each little ball to it for [inaudible] little snowballs.
Cleora: Oh, how neat. Okay. Well, thank you. That [crosstalk] question.
Merle: You're welcome.
Leeanne F: Thank you, Cleora, for your questions. I appreciate that.
Cleora: Oh, you're welcome.
Leeanne F: Okay.
Merle: And the-
Leeanne F: Go ahead.
Merle: The type of chisel that you use ... Myself, personally, I use what is a carbide tip. There are replaceable tips on your chisels. That way you keep them nice and sharp all the time. You don't have to sharpen them because they have four surfaces on the square one, and you can just keep turning it to a sharp one. Your round one, you keep turning it to keep on a sharp edge.
Ray: Yeah. And I use the same type of tools. They're much more blind-friendly. Because I would say the one difficult thing for me is sharpening your tools on a grinder. Because when you're sharpening them, you have to see exactly what color the metal is heating up to, and get the right angle, and all of that. So, these Easy Wood Tools truly are easy. They weren't invented for blind people, but they sure do work out well if you're blind.
Leeanne F: Okay. Well, thank you. Thank you. Okay. Sue Brasel, I see that you have your hand raised.
Sue: Yeah, I do. I'm a wood engraver. And I like to make rings. So when I go out and take branches, what do you do so that the wood does not split in half as you're drilling, and as you're carving around the outside? I've got a big problem with that. And, do you let the wood dry before using it?
Merle: Well, the holly from the holly tree that I turned, they were green. But what I did do is, once I got them to the size I wanted them, I put it in the microwave or in ... I have a hot air cooker. And I put them in there for about three minutes. And it kind of draws out a lot of the moisture, so they... keeps them from splitting and stuff like that.
Ray: Yeah. The term "green" means that it's wet. It's fresh wood. It's not dried. We're not talking about the color of the wood. We're just talking about-
Merle: Yeah. The moisture content.
Ray: ...that it's fresh. And a thing I do ... I've done the microwave method. And also, I will take a piece of wood if it's too wet, and I will put it in... I'll turn my oven on to 250 degrees and put the wood on the cookie rack or on a sheet or on a rack itself. And let it cook, basically, for about half an hour to 45 minutes at 250. Then I turn the oven off and leave it in the oven overnight. Then by the morning ... and let it cool down on its own. And then, by the morning, the wood is pretty much dried. That helps from stopping the... to crack the wood.
But when you're talking about the rings, making rings and cutting a branch, while you're cutting a piece of wood for a pen blank, or something, you're not just slicing off and ... The center of the limb or whatever is called the pith, P-I-T-H. And you don't want that in your wood, because that'll dry out and cause it to crack. Say if you had a ... maybe a four-inch wide branch, you want to cut that in half, to cut the pith out. And then just use each side of the wood, so you don't have to worry as much about cracking.
Sue: Okay. That's interesting. Thank you.
Leeanne F: Okay. Thank you, Sue. And I see we have another hand raised. Let's see. Tammy, did you have a question or a comment?
Tammy: Yes. I find this very interesting. And I think you probably have buyers that would like to buy your stuff that you're making. Do any of you make wooden toys?
Merle: I don't turn any wooden toys. I used to make toys when I was doing just regular wood. I made a little toy called a Flippy Car. It had a little ramp, and it had wheels, and it would roll down, it hit the bottom of the ramp, and flip all the way over and [crosstalk].
Tammy: Oh, okay.
Ray: The only thing I make toy-wise is maybe some spinning tops on the lathe. But that's just about it.
Tammy: Oh, okay. Yeah.
Leeanne F: Okay. Thank you. Thank you, Tammy. We will have both Ray's and Merle's contact information on the Show Notes on our website. So that way, you can contact them privately, through email, should you want to either order something from them, or just ask more questions. Okay. I see that Larry, you have your hand raised. Do you have a question or a comment?
Larry: Yes, I do. And a couple of things ... Merle, yeah, thank you for saying that. Because Merle, I would love to get in touch with you, and come up and visit you, since I'm just down the 101 in Florence [crosstalk]-
Larry: Couple questions ... one is, what, for a smaller lathe, and tools ... Roughly, what kind of money can we be talking about, to purchase the equipment, and where's the best place to look? And second is, it really intrigues me, since we can turn tactilely, with our hands and fingers. But how do you put a finish on things that you turn, without sight?
Merle: Well, with mine, I use a high-friction polish. I put it on a paper towel, and make sure it gets all coated really good. Then I take that paper towel and fold it. I put a lot of pressure on it, and that's what makes the polish shine. And what I've been doing lately is, after I get done with the high-friction polish, I been putting three layers of beeswax on it. That's how I get ... where it gets kind of a depth to it.
Ray: Yeah. For myself, for finishing, it depends on what I'm making. For my pens, I use the friction polish like Merle does. And I use a Renaissance wax that was designed to protect old parchments and that. So, it has a UV protectant on it, as well as stops fingerprints. But if I'm doing like a bowl, or a vase, or a pepper mill, or something like that, I generally do a lacquer finish that I apply while it's spinning on the lathe. Even applying the finish is very tactile to do.
Merle: And then, for [inaudible]. It's hard getting a lathe. I just bought a new lathe off of Amazon. And it's a 10 by 18, and it runs about $300 for the lathe.
Ray: Yeah. And 10 by 18 means you can turn something up to 18 inches long-
Merle: Long [crosstalk] 10 inches in diameter.
Ray: ... and/or up to 10 inches, yeah, in diameter.
Larry: Okay. Great.
Ray: Yeah. The cheapest lathe I've seen, they call it an 8/12. So, you can turn something up to eight inches in diameter, or up to twelve inches long. And that's $200, and that's variable speed. It weighs about 50 pounds. I have one of those that actually, when I go camping and that, I'll take it with me and plug it in. And go find some wood around, and turn while I'm sitting at the campground, or whatever. Or if I'm doing a demonstration for whatever ... Cub Scouts or anything, I've demonstrated on, at our local woodturning clubs. So that's a great source, if you're interested in woodturning.
Pretty much all major towns have a woodturning club. So you could go online and check for that. Then I've also demonstrated at our Utah Woodturning Symposium on the state level. And I've demonstrated on an international level at the American Association of Woodturners’ annual convention, that was in Portland last year. You can get a lot of information there. But as far as cost, you can spend pretty much from $200 to $10,000 on a lathe. But it all [crosstalk].
Merle: And your chisels, they run about, anywhere from $69 to a hundred and something, per chisel.
Ray: Yeah, but you generally ... With Easy Wood Tools, you'd need about ... Well, for pens and stuff, you really only need one chisel. But three is generally what you have. I would say for what ... $500 to $600, Merle?
Merle: Yeah. About something like that. I think with my three chisels that I bought, when I bought them, I think I give $179 for them. From Woodcrafters.
Ray: Yeah. As we speak, there's a company called The Craft Supply U.S.A. And I just got an email today, that they have 15% off the Easy Wood Tools right now. That's a pretty good deal.
Larry: All right. Thank you.
Leeanne F: Okay. Thank you, Larry.
Jennifer Q: This is Jennifer. I had a question for you. What would you say you'd need just to get started? If you've never done this, but you're interested, what kind of financial commitment do you have to make? And what's the basic? Do you need a large lathe, a small one?
Merle: When I started, I bought a used lathe at the ... Portland's Emporium up there. I paid $100 for the lathe. But then, when you get that, if you're going to be turning ink pens, you got to buy a mandrel, which is a piece of ... that fits into your tail stock, or your head stock. And then it's got where you can put your barrels on there, and your tail stock up to it to turn them.
And then you need a set of chisels. The Easy chisels are the best. And what I use is, I use the square one for rounding off, taking off the square edges. And then I use the round one to shape it. So, you're talking ... I just bought a brand-new lathe. Like I say, it was a 10 by 18, and it was $200, or $300 on Amazon. And your chisels is about $170. And your mandrel runs about ... Oh, I'd say $60 to $80. And that'll pretty much get you started. But I'd also get a ... what they call a mandrel saver. That way, you don't have to put so many bushings and that on it to get it tightened up.
Jennifer Q: I really like the idea of getting a used one, just to try it out at first. And what kind of project would you say is a good project that, for a beginner, that someone could do? A couple of things that you might try.
Merle: Well, when I first started it, I started making ink pens. I was at American Lakes, up here at Tacoma, Washington. And I made two ink pens. And then they said, "Okay, now it's time to do something different." So, I made a wine bottle stopper. And that was out of a piece of wood that was about anywhere from an inch and a half, to two inches square. And they're about, anywhere from two and an eighth, or two and three-quarter, up to four inches, depending on how big you want your wine bottle stopper to be.
Ray: I agree with Merle. Pens are really nice. Or little keychains, just to get practice. But for starting, I would go check out your local ... See if you can find a local woodturning club. Or if you have maybe a Woodcraft, or a Rockler woodworking store, and ask them. Because sometimes, they have a class that you could take, where you could go in and just try it, and see if you like it. Or, if you go to a woodturning club, go and just say, introduce yourself. You're new, you know blind people can do it. Would anybody be interested in showing them? Chances are, someone will say, "Hey, come on over to my garage and I'll show you how to do this," or whatever. Then you can try it and use someone else's equipment [inaudible] what you like.
Then if you do, then you go from there. Here at the Blind Center ... and you might check out your local Blind Center, too, to see if they have a wood shop class. Here, when I started, I introduced the woodturning into the curriculum. And I've had several students that have left here, and gone out and purchased their own lathes, and are making a bit of extra money and gifts, and stuff like that, with pens or whatever on the lathe.
Leeanne F: This is Leeanne. Merle and Ray, my question ... Well, I've got a lot of questions. But one of them that just came to mind ... I wrote down lots of questions, because I think it's just fascinating. And we do have a Woodcraft not too far from my house. And I always wanted to go in, and I never have. But this might be motivation for me to do it. My question is, are there any extra precautions that a person that is sight-impaired might need, that a person that is sighted might not? Did you have any fears when you first started, about safety issues? Any way to overcome those safety concerns?
Merle: Well, for blind or sighted, I recommend you have a face mask, or face shield.
Leeanne F: Okay.
Merle: And you want to wear ... Any clothes you wear, you don't want to wear loose clothes. You don't want to wear jewelry or necklaces or anything like that, because they can get caught up in the lathe and they can injure you. The safety stuff, for a blind person, is almost the same as it is for a sighted person.
Ray: Yeah. I don't think there's any, really different. If you follow all the safety instructions that come with the equipment, you won't get hurt. Where people get hurt, is when they take a shortcut. One thing I've noticed is the tool rest, what the lathe chisel sets on. They always say, "Turn your lathe off before you adjust it." Well, I've seen so many people that can see, just go ahead and adjust it without turning the lathe off. Well, it's just a matter of time before they get hurt. So, if you turn it off each time, you're not going to get hurt.
Merle: And you also have, when you're holding your chisel, if you have a certain ... I take my little index finger, and that stays right on that tool rest. Because that's my guide for when I'm running my chisel.
Leeanne F: Okay.
Merle: And my thumb sits up on top of the tool that holds it down to the tool rest. Them two fingers are what do a lot of my actual ... helping to turn it. They keep everything in the same plane and that.
Leeanne F: Sure. Okay. Thank you for that. Okay. We do have another question here. The person that starts ... The phone number starts with 734. Could you tell us your name, please?
Alison: Yes. This is Alison from Michigan. Does the lathe come with instructions? And how are you able to get access to them instructions, because of course, they're in print, no?
Merle: Well, with me, I have a machine that's called a ClearView. And I can clip it on there and stand it. It then reads the paper to me. Or, if you don't have something like that, you got a computer with a scanner. You can scan it into your computer, and then you can get it to read it to you.
Ray: Yeah. If you have an iPhone, you can use any of the apps that are out there, like Seeing AI, or something, to read the manual. But a lot of times now, you can find the manuals online, if you have access to the computer, you can download them. Let JAWS read them to you.
Alison: Yeah. What brands of lathes are there? And do you turn out Shaker boxes? My grandfather used to ... They had these molds, and he used to turn Shaker boxes. And I just loved the smell of the wood shop studio, the smell of the varnishes and the woods. It smells good.
Ray: Yeah, that's one thing I like, is the olfactory part of woodturning, too. Each species of wood, as you turn it, has a different scent or smell to it. Some great, some horrible.
Merle: I like to turn with Kentucky Cedar. Most people know it as the incense cedar, that makes cedar boxes out of them. It smells so good when you're turning that.
Ray: Yeah. I like to turn olive wood. And bloodwood kind of has a cinnamon smell to it. And olive wood. And sassafras smells kind of like root beer. So there's a lot of different scents out there. But deer antler smells like burning flesh. So that's a horrible one.
Leeanne F: Alison, anything else?
Alison: I've been hearing a lot about Oral Hull Camp. Do they have woodturning classes up there? Because if they do, I'd like to check them out.
Merle: Well, what I do is, here in the summer, they have two different adventures. They have a moderate adventure, and an extreme adventure. And we do woodturning up there during them adventures. And they have in the fall, they had a crafting seminar, and I helped 15 people turn ink pens and keychains and that while we were up there.
Alison: That's neat. I could start my little business if I wanted to.
Merle: What I do with mine, I sell my ink pens wherever I can sell them. I set up in a parking lot and do stuff like that. But I also have my ink pens for sale in the Chinook Winds Casino up here in Lincoln City. And there's a place that's called the ... Winddriven, and I got my ink pens and stuff like that. They're selling them for me. It's always nice when somebody else sells them for you.
Alison: Well, thank you. Thank you.
Leeanne F: Thank you, Alison. Okay. Does anybody else have any other questions? I still have lots of questions that I'm happy to keep asking them. But if anybody's interested in any part of this, or has a question, or would like more information, please just raise your hand there. Okay, Dennis. I'm going to unmute you. Go ahead, Dennis.
Dennis: Yeah, hi. This is a great conversation. Like I said before we got started, I've been turning for about 15 years. And I know this is a beginner thing, so I'll stick with that. But when I first started, I couldn't get anybody to touch me, as far as ... I went to the Woodcraft store. And I don't look blind, so I went in and talked to the folks there. And they said, "Oh, yeah. We have classes. We'll be happy to sign you up." I said, "Oh, by the way, I'm blind." They said, "Oh. I'm not sure we want you in the class. You may get hurt. We don't want the liability." So I did take the suggestion that you guys have been saying, and I went to the local woodturning club. And they were kind of standoffish for a while, because they didn't know who this blind guy was. And eventually, I guess I had enough enthusiasm that they wanted, they figured, "Well, this guy really wants to do something that we like to do, as well." And it is an addiction. Once you get started, it's-
Merle: It sure is.
Dennis: Yeah. It's a great outlet for creativity, and so on and so forth. And I did start with pens. But the woodturning clubs are great. And they ended up sponsoring me to go out to Pennsylvania to study for a woodturner out there, Robert Rosand, and I spent a couple days with him. And it was just wonderful and learned a lot. Because there's a lot of nuances. There's a lot of information that's coming out here. But there's a lot of little pieces and parts that can't be described here, if you don't have a mentor. For example, drilling out a piece of wood. You know, if you're going to put that on the lathe to drill, you're going to need some kind of a chuck and your tail stock, to be able to hold that drill bit.
Merle: Yeah. I have a chuck that's adjustable, that you can put your piece in. It grabs two corners, so your piece doesn't even have to be square. As long as you got that tight, when you bring your tail stock up with your drill bit in it, and then you lock your tail stock down. Then you use your quill to advance the drill bit. Because your drill bit doesn't turn.
Dennis: [inaudible] which is kind of odd for people to see it, initially.
Merle: Yeah, I know it. And your piece is turning, but your drill doesn't turn, so-
Dennis: Right. It's one of these-
Merle: ... [crosstalk]-
Dennis: Well, somebody described to me, it's one of the only woodworking... maybe the only woodworking activity where the tools don't move.
Ray: Well, the thing I loved about woodturning when I started is, there's something about taking the blade to the wood, as opposed to the wood to the blade. When you're cutting with the table saw, you've got a spinning blade, and you're pushing the wood through it. Well-
Ray: ... if you're holding the blade, and the wood's spinning it, with the lathe. So, it's ... I don't know. For some reason, I like that change, too.
Dennis: Yeah. But I guess my point is with this is that, is that there's some ways to get started. But there's a lot of little pieces and parts and little nuances like that chuck in your tail stock to drill a hole.
Ray: [crosstalk 00:40:23]. Oh, yeah.
Dennis: So, like with anything, a mentor is a great [inaudible] thing.
Merle: And you get a good mentor if you go to a woodturning [inaudible].
Merle: ... club.
Merle: A lot of them people, they just love to share their knowledge.
Dennis: And as far as the tools go, I was wondering where you were going to go with that. Because when, like I said earlier before we started, I went up to the American Association of Woodturners, up in St. Paul, and we put together an Accessible Lathe program to teach people who are blind how to turn. Hopefully, it's still up at the AAW's website. Because we did-
Ray: Yeah, it is.
Dennis: [crosstalk]. Is it?
Dennis: Well, that's me in there, on the videos.
Ray: Oh, cool.
Dennis: Yeah. So, but one of the things that, for a little bit more advanced, and this is ... I didn't even know about Easy Wood Tools back in the day. I don't even think they were around in the day. I used a system called the Tormek for sharpening the tools. I used a system called Tormek. [crosstalk 00:41:27]. It's a slow, very slow, so it's almost like a little water fountain. And the stone that sharpens your blades runs through water. And then you have all the jigs that go. It's not cheap, by any means. But it definitely ... My tools are very, very sharp. And I use the regular tools, as well as the Easy Wood Tools. As far as the Accessible Lathe program at the AAW, we got some donations from the guy at Easy Wood Tools, who's a great guy.
Ray: Craig Jackson.
Dennis: Yeah. Craig Jackson. Yeah, yeah. Craig is ... out of Kentucky, he's a great guy. And he donated like six sets of tools, so that when we put on some sample classes, to try some of the techniques out, we were able to use those tools to participate. It's also a lot cheaper in the long run, because if you don't have an Easy Wood Tool that has the carbide tips on them, you have to get a sharpening system, and jigs, and all kinds of things. Which starts to run into multiple hundreds of dollars, just before you can even sharpen any of the tools that you have to buy. So, it's a great way to start.
That's my comment. I really appreciate you guys putting this together. It sounds like you're doing some good things, as far as ... One other thing too, if people can do it, is, it's kind of an advantage for somebody who's blind, is hollowing. They call it blind turning, because you don't see the tip of the tool when it goes into the wood. And I do that eventually, and hollow out little globes and things like that, for Christmas ornaments. So that, they're round, but they don't have any weight inside them, because they're all hollow inside. You do them by feel, which a lot of people who are sighted have a hard time doing that. The nice thing is you get more advanced in some of these turning things. So, that's my comment.
Leeanne F: Thank you, Dennis.
Ray: Hey, Dennis?
Ray: Make sure you check out the Show Notes, to get our contact information, so we can keep in touch.
Dennis: Absolutely. Absolutely. You know, and this time of year is starting to crank up. I don't do very many shows. I do one at the [inaudible]. Where I used to work, I go to their craft show, and I sell quite a bit of things there. So I get down in the shop about a couple times a week. And now, this time of year, people are after me all over, trying to get ... So, this is a good time for talking about woodturning. Because it's right into the holiday season, getting ready for all the holiday gifts, which is a great thing for woodturners.
Leeanne F: Okay, Tammy. You are unmuted. Do you have a question or a comment?
Tammy: I just have a comment. As a blind person, I think you guys are probably doing things safer than someone that can see. Because you got to be aware of what you're doing. And I think you're probably a lot safer with your tools, turning them off when need be. Turning them on when you need to. And that's my comment.
Ray: Well, thank you.
Leeanne F: Okay. Thank you, Tammy.
Tammy: And I'm enjoying this.
Leeanne F: Thank you so much for that.
Ray: You're welcome.
Merle: Thank you. Now, that chuck that I was talking about, that holds the piece to drill it ... When I bought that, I just bought it about a month ago, and it was $100 for that one piece. So, you can get into some equipment that will cost you. But it just makes your turning easier.
Ray: Yeah. And what I say is, that's why I started selling some of the stuff. Because like Dennis said, what are going to do with 100 pens? But when you sell it, you can reinvest it into better equipment, and make bigger things, and whatnot. So, I started selling stuff to support my habit, as I call it.
Merle: That's what I do, too.
Ray: And just to get an idea, some of the pens that I've made, the cheapest ones I sell for $20. And the most expensive pen I've sold is $160. And most of them average around $40 to $60, I guess.
Leeanne F: Okay.
Merle: Yeah. Most of mine, I sell most of mine for $30. I did make some pen and pencil sets. But I don't do them anymore, because the pencil kits just don't work out right. They're hard to work with.
Leeanne F: Okay. All right. We do have one more question. See if we can fit this one in. Alison, did you have a question or a comment?
Alison: Yes. The woodturning stuff that you've turned, do you buy all of your projects out of kits, or no?
Merle: All the metal parts for them are out of a kit. You buy them from different places. You can buy them from Peachtree. You can buy them from Pen State. I buy most of mine from a company called Woodturners in Indiana. You can buy them from Rockler. You can buy them from Woodcrafter's. There's all kinds of outlets where you buy the kit. And a lot of times, most of the kits ... When I buy my ink pen kits, I buy them by the hundred. Because I can get them a little bit cheaper.
Alison: Okay. Thank you very much. I find this very interesting.
Leeanne F: Thank you, Alison.
Merle: Thank you.
Leeanne F: Merle and Ray, I truly, truly appreciate all of your know-how, your knowledge, and sharing it with us. We do have one more quick one. Now, I've listed Sharon twice, so I'm unmuting the person raising their hand. If this isn't Sharon, I apologize. So, if you can tell us your name and your question or comment?
Leeanne F: Okay.
Sharon: And I was thinking, while you all was talking about places that may have wood and stuff like that ... I don't know if they got any on Waco. But I have done a little bit of crafting myself, on some things. A little bit of woodworking, and a little bit of beads and stuff like that. And also, I found out I can even do ceramics. I don't know if you ever heard of those or not. But I learned how to do that, too. And also, I'm ... I found out another thing, too. I found out ... I know a girl. Well, I met her. But I don't know her real well, but she does quilting also. And it's amazing how she can do it.
Leeanne F: Yeah, there's all kinds-
Ray: We can do anything if you put your mind to it.
Leeanne F: Sure.
Ray: We are not-
Leeanne F: Right. And Sharon, this is because every month, we're going to be focusing on a different type of craft, or a different topic. So, we're hoping to cover a wide range, so that there's something for everybody that, even if you're not interested, it's interesting to learn about what are some adaptive things we can do, to be a quilter, and to be a blind sewer, a blind seamstress, a blind knitter. How to use what skills we already have, adapt them for vision loss ... Or start something brand new, even though you have a vision loss. So hopefully, you'll stay tuned with us over the next coming months, to learn more about it. Because I'm hoping quilting will be one of our next ones coming up, because that's my area that I love.
Sharon: I guess we all like just about anything that has to do with crafting and stuff like that.
Leeanne F: Sharon, I think that for those that have that creative need, that need to create, and to have beauty in their world, I think that it takes the shapes of many different areas. And I think that some people get stuck on one, and then others just branch out and explore. Because there are so many interesting areas. I'm really thinking this evening, I need to take a trip over to Woodcraft to see what there is that I could learn to do. Because I always wanted to go in the store, and I'm not saying it's the best one. All I know is it's the one that's near me. So, it might be worth exploring.
Ray: It's a good store. Check it out.
Leeanne F: Yeah, okay. Sue-
Merle: You were talking about ceramics a little bit ago. I used to do ceramics. I had over 400 molds that I casted all my own ceramics with. And my ex-wife and I, I used to fire them, and we would paint them and take them to different Christmas bazaars, and stuff like that and sell them.
Leeanne F: Thank you so much, to Ray and to Merle, for all of your tips, your hints ... just letting us know what's out there. Thank you, everyone. Have a fantastic month. And we'll see you all next month. Take care.