He was alone in his garret, imitating in wood one of those indescribable ivory things, made up of crescents, spheres, inset one in another, all lined up like an obelisk and just as useless. He began the final part, the end was in reach! In the broken light of the workshop, blonde dust flew from his tool like a fan of sparks from the shoes of a galloping horse. The lathe wheels spun, whirring. He smiled, chin lowered, nostrils opened, lost in the complete, reliable happiness found in mediocre tasks which amuse the intelligence by easy difficulties, appeasing it with fulfillment, beyond which he did not dream.

— Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary, 1857

Find the centers with repeated strokes of the dividers.

Only a syphilitic French genius could dip into the flow state of woodturning and pull out the essence of bourgeois tedium. Woodturning was the once the hobby of kings. When Emperor Maximilian wasn't running the Holy Roman Empire, he was treadling away at his lathe. Tsar Peter the Great of Russia eagerly awaited every new attachment for his lathe made by his personal machinist. Through the eighteenth century, the woodturning bug spread among the upper crust of Europe. Aristocrats were turning pages as well, as great multivolume manuals of woodturning hit the shelves.

It didn't stop there. The bourgeois revolutions in Europe spread the woodturning hobby among the middling sorts. Readers understood Flaubert completely when he turned the hum of the hobby woodturner's lathe into poor Emma Bovary's water torture—another drip in the provincial ennui that finally drove her to suicide. If only Emma had taken up woodturning instead of opera and adultery! And if Flaubert had spent a little more time in the shop and less in the seamier boudoirs of Pigalle, he might have been a happier and healthier guy.

Too late for them, but our 2,ooo-year-old bargain with lathes still stands. For the great gift of perfect axial symmetry, all they ask is that we learn to work wood across the grain.

Let's first think flat. If you wanted to make a smooth hollow across the grain of a flat board, what tool would you choose—a scraper or a gouge? You'd choose the gouge, of course. The scraper could eventually do the hollow part of the job, but it sure wouldn't do the smooth. With the gouge, however, you could make shearing cuts across the grain, quickly shaping a smooth hollow—unless you chose the gouge but used it as a scraper, dragging it across the wood. Then you'd really have a mess!

But it happens all the time. When a length of wood is spinning in the lathe, it seems to take on an amorphous, plastic quality, but only our perception has changed—not the wood. Our persistence of vision makes the wood seem blurred, but the wood is persistent too—it's still cross-grained, and it wants to be treated that way.

So, when your friends pick up your turning gouge and stick it straight into the spinning wood, it may be the blurring that prompts them to use it as a scraper. Or, it may be fear. Even when you show them how to hold the gouge properly, it looks as if the tool is just on the edge of digging in and disaster. It is.

Time to stop turning and start teaching. Stop the lathe and turn the wood by hand as you show them how the gouge always cuts with the bevel rubbing. Show them that the gouge can never dig in as long as its rounded tip rides above the point of contact. Turn the wood by hand until they can make a cross-grain shaving curl unbroken from the skewed edge of the gouge. Then they're ready to start turning.

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Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

There are a lot of things that either needs to be repaired, or put together when youre a homeowner. If youre a new homeowner, and have just gotten out of apartment style living, you might want to take this list with you to the hardware store. From remolding jobs to putting together furniture you can use these 5 power tools to get your stuff together. Dont forget too that youll need a few extra tools for other jobs around the house.

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