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What kind of tools do you go for?

I have my own philosophy about tools. With some crude ones I have done some good work. It is not so much the tool that you have but the use to which you put the tool. Japanese master builders put together the most complicated joints requiring no nails, either of wood or metal. They accomplish this with a couple of hand saws, some chisels, a mallet and use their knee and the weight of their bodies as a vise. Those tools they do use are of the highest quality but they have learned how to get the most out of them.

I started my turning using a second hand inexpensive Sears and Roebuck lathe sold to me by a former patient. By the time I moved up to a the lathe I have now, I had learned to get the most out of the lathe I had been using. So, I suggest to someone just starting out that they get the tool they can afford and learn to use it fully before investing in more expensive equipment. If you get that tool used, then you will not be investing very much. Look in free papers that list things for sale or look in the classifieds in your newspaper.

Once you have the tool, it is good to get a book on the proper use and care of that tool so that you become knowledgeable. There are excellent books written on every commonly used wood working tool in the shop, replete with photographs and easy to follow text. It was not like that when I started working wood.

As an inexperienced turner I wanted to show my children my new found skill. I had a very uneven piece of wood on the lathe so I made a note to turn the wood at the lowest speed. I adjusted the belts accordingly and then with my children standing on either side of me, I turned on the lathe.

As the lathe cranked up to its maximum speed the large chunk of wood came spinning wildly into the air and crashed into a metal bucked on the floor putting a large dent in it that served as a reminder to my folly for many years―I realized that I had adjusted the belts for the maximum and not the minimum speed. I had insufficient knowledge about my machine, and my error could have injured my children or myself had any of us been hit with the flying wood. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so learn all you can about your wood working machine before you ever turn it on. Don’t operate in haste and repent in leisure.

As you use your starter machine you become aware of what it will do well. In time you notice that it won’t do some of the things you want and you begin to make mental notes of the features you will require when you upgrade to your next machine. Then when you do make a purchase of the newer machine, you really appreciate the additional features it offers.

It is not a bad idea to approach life in a similar manner. Get as much knowledge as you can before you start out on any venture. Learn to do the very best you can within the framework of that venture as you make mental note on the new features you would like your next venture to embrace. This is called growth, and that is the nature of life.

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