My skew and I have a troubled relationship. It is by far my favorite turning tool and when things go right I feel I can do anything. We also fight a lot. To the level where those “never again” words cross my lips. It usually takes some form of counseling to get us back together.
Our latest blowout was over rolling a bead.
I think video is one of the best self-help teaching mediums. Projects can be conveyed in words and pictures. Philosophies can be discussed. But video uniquely communicates movement. It’s the medium that allows us to use the most basic learning techniques, mimicry.
I’ve spent a decade turning beads using the point of the skew, either on the toe or heel, because that’s what the experts and print say to do. This technique works exceptionally well 95 percent of the time. And that last 5 percent… well, that’s when you walk out to the garden and plant the skew for the tomatoes to climb.
During our last “break” I came across a video of a production woodturner making candlesticks. I spent a good hour studying the two-minute clip. He used a planing cut for the entire process of cutting beads instead of the point – something I was taught to never do. Yet, because of his finger placement and movement on the tool rest, you could see how efficient his process was.
When you plane a bead, you don’t take an even shaving. It will be thicker in the middle. That’s the nature of slicing circles. Watching where and how shavings curled off his blade told me he was balancing the thickest part just ahead of the mid-point but the constant forward slide along the rest kept the cutting edge from diving in and heading backwards (a catch). His fingers also told me how he was manipulating pressure differences between his thumb and finger to accomplish this balancing act.
The video allowed me to stop, reverse, slow and analyze the subconscious things this expert was doing that most teachers wouldn’t think to express. Things that I could mimic later.
So, all those kids who got wooden Easter Eggs from me this year can thank video technology. Video brought the skew and me back together.