About 20 years ago the family told me to find a hobby and stop being a grumpy old man. The temper was significantly improved by double hip replacements, but I had found a better therapy by buying a lathe and starting woodturning.
Like many kids of the 1960’s I had tried woodturning whilst at secondary school and enjoyed it, but approached the purchase of my first lathe with considerable trepidation; would I become bored? Could I do it? Cost?
As time passes I have found the challenges to increase, trying to improve my technique, design and form, material selection and finishes.
Having worked all my life as a field exploration geologist throughout Australia I knew there were some marvellous native timbers available, I didn’t want to focus on sheoak and jarrah as many turners in WA do. I initially focussed on “mallee roots”, the root legume developed by many of the eucalypts which inhabit the outback areas of WA and elsewhere in Australia.
This contrary material has cost me many a skinned knuckle and several split eyebrows. In recent years I have tended to move away from the “mallee roots”, partly because of the difficulty in obtaining good material as it is a favoured firewood due to its hardness and partly because of the problems it causes. Some of the products are shown in the gallery, I sometimes return to the limited material I retain to see if it has improved in temperament or I have improved in competence handling this difficult material.
We moved interstate for a while which gave me access to some Murray River redgum slabs from which I have made several tables as shown in the gallery, this tree was ring barked by my mate’s grandfather in about 1919, when he took over the block near Naracoote as a WW1 soldier settler. The tree was finally felled in about 1985 and slabbed with the ring barking notch still apparent. I have made one table as shown and am still pondering how to best utilise the final slab.
It is something which annoys me when I drive around the city and see some development going ahead which requires the felling of mature trees. Once felled the trunks are then automatically mulched, is this a fair recognition of the grandeur of a 100+ year old tree? Surely making something of use or artistic merit is a better acknowledgement of its passing.
I continue to try different aspects of woodturning and to a lesser extent cabinetmaking with varying degrees of success.
Many of the items shown in the galleries have been given away to family and friends, some became firewood, if you are interested in acquiring an item or something similar please contact me.
Any constructive criticisms or suggestions on ways to improve an article please feel free to comment.
I hope you enjoy my work.