segmented-wood-bowl-26aI remember turning my first wood piece back in the 1950’s in my father’s wood shop. It was a small candy dish cut from a scrap of Rosewood that my father had brought home from his days working at Stanley Tools.

As the years passed, my life took a number of twists and turns, but my love for working with wood never died. The feel of a chisel or the smell of fresh cut pine would instantly transport me back to dad’s shop.

Years later my family bought me a lathe. After turning a few very nondescript pieces, I turned to the Internet for advice on sharpening my lathe tools. There I stumbled on sites describing how to turn segmented vessels. Now this was interesting! I thought, “I think I can do that.”

With my new found inspiration I carefully designed and cut the pieces for my first bowl, glued it up, and began turning. I could not hide the smile on my face. Beneath those chunks of scrap was a beautiful bowl. The rest is history. Each new project becomes increasingly more complex, with some vessels requiring thousands of pieces of wood to execute the design.

segmented-wood-urn-25Each piece of art starts as nothing more than an idea, then gradually comes to reality. My inspiration comes from a variety of sources such as Indian pottery and textiles, ancient vessels, the works of craftsmen of years gone by and more.

Inspired by these ideas, I begin by sketching some of the features such as the overall shape and patterns that will ultimately become set in wood. From my sketches, I use a CAD system to accurately draw the exact shape, refine the patterns, add color, and change everything until the computer screen matches my vision.

Some of the challenge of wood turning is figuring out how to execute my designs such as cutting certain patterns, gluing the wood layers together, designing shop jigs, and selecting the right wood combinations.

Once the design is completed, the cutting begins. Each piece is meticulously cut and glued together in rings, or sometimes multiple laminations are glued, then cut and glued again.

Layers of rings are finally assembled into a rough shape, and turning on the lathe begins. After turning and sanding, several coats of finish are applied, with wet sanding between each coat. Finally, a coat of wax is buffed to a finely polished finish. Each piece is signed, numbered, and dated, along with a list of the woods that were used. Each exquisitely handcrafted piece becomes a valued family heirloom that will be treasured for years to come.