Despite the fact that I
stink at turning, I still keep at it. Sharpening the tools is no
problem. And I can make basic shapes. What vexes me is combining the
shapes to create the spindles I want for my chairs.
I have read
books (lots of them) on turning that are written by the big names. I’ve
watched videos. I’ve practiced. But I still feel like I’m missing some
part of the foundation I need to do good work.
Then earlier this year one of my students in a class turned me onto a book that was a game-changer. It’s called “Elementary Turning for Use in Manual Training Classes” by Frank Henry Selden. It took some effort to find the book because it’s not very common.
once I got my hands on it, it was like the day I first learned to
sharpen a smoothing plane and took a perfect and wispy shaving.
book is aimed at morons like myself. People who don’t have a knack for
turning (like my boss, Steve Shanesy). It assumes you know nothing. And
it builds you up from there. No detail is too small to mention to a
moron, so the book is perfect for me.
The best thing about it is
that the entire book is broken down into 62 brief and self-contained
lessons for you to perform on a lathe. The first 17 lessons are making
basic shapes. The lessons have names like “Three-eighths-inch Bead” and
“Spindle with Cones.” Then gradually the lessons become more complex to
create objects that might actually be useful, such as “Porch Spindle” or
After you learn to make components, you learn to
make them in multiples in lessons such as “Napkin Rings,” “Chair Legs”
and “Designs for Footstool Legs.” And then you make entire projects,
wrapping up your education with a Piano Stool.
For a book from 1907, it is profusely illustrated with photos and drawings of every operation.
reading this book, I was so excited that I insisted that we find a way
to get this book re-published, even though it wasn’t on our publication
schedule for 2010. After some sweet-talking and cajoling, I succeeded.
We sent my personal volume out to our high-resolution scanning service
(it’s the service that did the outstanding work on our “Exercises in
Wood-Working” book). And they spent more than a week cleaning up the
scans and photos.
We’ll be publishing this product through a
“print on demand” service here in the United States as an experiment to
keep down costs and get this product to market quickly. The book is
available for pre-order in our store right now for $17.99. You can get
it from our store here.
quite excited about this book for two reasons. One: I can share this
really great 198-page book with our readers, especially the ones who
struggle with turning like I do. And two: I got my original copy back so
I can get back to working my way through the lessons.
— Christopher Schwarz