Working with wood is always challenging; there are defects hidden beneath the surface that aren’t apparent until you start milling or shaping; sometimes the wood moves in ways that you didn’t anticipate; and sometimes your skill or workmanship just isn’t up to your own standards. This is the case in this particular situation.
The tripod table that I am making for class is intended to be a reproduction of a table in the collection of the Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. In laying out the design, I very carefully took existing photographs from library books and the accession database maintained by Hancock Shaker Village and scaled them up on my full size drawing. This allowed me to create a pattern from which to turn the column.
Thinking that this would be a fairly straightforward turning, I was soon disabused of the notion finding that it was a lot more challenging than I had expected. However, I completed the turning and pulled it off the lathe; not entirely satisfied that I had accomplished my goal of an accurate reproduction nor with the turning that I had produced.
After careful thought and reflection as well as considering what my own notion of craftsmanship standards ought to be, I approached the subject with our instructor for the project, Steve Brown, and we came to the conclusion that I would re-turn the column and see how it came out. This ultimately paid off; after spending several hours in the lathe room carefully transferring the measurements and pattern to the roughed out blank (and going in on Saturday to finish up and get some additional instruction on my technique), I was able to produce what I consider a quality turning that faithfully represents the original.
Sometimes it pays to start over with fresh eyes, a calm and quiet mind, a little more instruction, and a lot of patience.