Not sure you turn just for the fun of it or with a specific goal in
If the former, pick a tool and then try and make it do something
that's not what you think is its primary purpose, preferably between
centers - on something relaitvely small - and at lower rpms. Try
doing some beads - with a 3/4" roughing gouge - or curves - coves
or even an ogee with a skew.
Don't know how old your kid(s) are - but they can be a great inspiration
for a piece - and the motivation to figure out how it can be turned.
If it's interesting it'll get you out to the shop to try and test your
If he/she/them are old enough and likes "doin' things with dad" - and
shop isn't a death trap - take him/her/them with you to the shop and
have them participate - selecting wood, looking at tools. If you've got
a dust collector, or even a shop vac - and ear protection let them
sweep shaving up - and into a hose that makes them disapper. Kids love
that. Make sure they understand that the vacumm hose should
NEVER get near their face and ears - or the face and ears of siblings.
Have them stand - with a face shield on (kids love wearing "grown up
stuff" - where you can turn curlies at them (wet wood works best).
Tape a long piece of wide construction paper to a wall, have a kid
stand against the wall in profile and trace their outline onto the
Make two copies. Let the kid fill in the outline with crayons, finger
or whatever. On the other copy, sketch in a vertical "centerline" and
start looking for line and curves that' when spun would produce and
interesting shape to turn. Don't try this with a cat.
Play doodles with a small kid. "Put this pencil in the middle of this
sheet of paper, close your eyes and when I say GO, just start making
squiggles 'til I say STOP!" Then do something like "Ready? Set.
Get another sheet of paper. When the kids ready, eyes closed say
"OK. Start on THREE. Don't start 'till I say THREE. Read? One . . .
Two . . . FOUR!" Get another sheet of paper. Explain the "rules"
again looking very "serious" as in so serious it's funny - and obviously
intended to make them smile - or laugh.
When you've got your first squiggle - the two of you should look for
something - a face, an animal outline, a cartoon character. When
one is found - emphasize its lines to bring it out of the background
of lines. When the kid gets the idea have them do it and you do it
(on separate pieces of paper of course). While he/she/they are
looking for things in their squiggle you do the same in yours - looking
for a profile that may be interesting to turn.
If you're good at visualizing things, take a rectangular cross section
piece of wood - say 6" long and put three or four dots on each end.
Number them all - 1 through "n". Pick one from each end and try
and visualize them spinning around the resulting axis. Now "see"
where the "in focus" vs the "blurred outline" area will be. Imagine
turning a bead in that area. Now imagine what the piece would look
like when it stops turning.
Consider doing something simple - but elegant - for the wife - a little
turned box or even a simple ring holder. Doing something for others
while doing something for yourself can be a Double Word Score.
Get out all your edged tools and sharpen the ones that need it. Maybe
even tweek a grind - perhaps put a slight curve on a skew and see
what happens when you use it.
If you've got some snow on the ground, bundle up a kid or two
and go make a Snow Vase (think weed pot) and stick some small
branches in the top.
The key - at least for me - is to do something interesting - and fun.
Life's full of Got To. Leave time for I DON'T GOT TO - BUT I WANT
TO - preferable the WANT TO is fun.