So, the first book I worked on for Popular Woodworking scared the heck out of me at first. It was Alan Lacer’s Woodturning Projects & Techniques (available now at ShopWoodworking.com). Woodturning – aside from knowing that the wood spins and you shape it – was something I knew almost nothing about. And as I looked through the book the sheer amount of information was a bit overwhelming at first. I was worried I was in over my head. Tons to learn, yes. But the absolute beauty of the finished product shots and the artistry that goes into the pieces was fascinating. The cool factor of the process soon overcame the amount of detail – vast arrays of gouges and skews, lathe RPMs and the like – I was trying to digest. Ultimately, the book a great introduction to the craft of woodturning.
In speaking with the author, I learned about how he originally wrote the chapters in the book as articles for American Woodworker magazine over the course of 15 years. And AW was targeted to a general woodworking audience (not specifically turners), so the articles needed to be accessible to the general woodworker. All of this made more and more sense as I delved into the book and discovered how just how good of a woodturning course the book is. It covers basic tools and techniques, tool maintenance and sharpening, and then moves into the projects which are specifically chosen to develop different techniques from learning rolling cuts to creating flowing contours to turning a perfect sphere. Plus, the projects are super cool: natural edge bowls, a bocce ball lawn game, lidded boxes, lamps, even small stuff like wooden toy tops, fishing lures and Christmas ornaments (as well as important things to know how to turn like table legs). Very cool.
Check out an interview with Alan Lacer here, where he talks about the book and his insights into this amazing craft.