To Every Season…

To Every Season…

There is no bad time of the year to have a go at turning. Every student at Rowden now makes an incredible (that is to say, incredibly complicated) tail vice and the metal vice handle requires a round cross section handle. The perfect opportunity to have a go at turning.

At first it can be a little terrifying, especially with a dry and dense hardwood to turn, but with sharp tools and a bit of practice it can be a very mellow, soulful and utterly satisfying process.

What I really liked about turning the handle on my vice was that the process is so unlike cabinetmaking in so many respects, though the result can be measured and finished to exactly the same standard.

There’s no planing, no need for set squares, no hard block sanding. It is almost effortless. Done well, the spinning wood means you simply  let the chisels do the work for you, immediately followed by sanding the piece in situ. Ideal!

While there is certainly no space here to explain the hows and whats, I can tell you that everyone who tries it has succeeded, if not straight away. For many it becomes a welcome, enjoyable and rather lucrative skill to include as part of a cabinetmakers repertoire.

The school has a grand lathe that can turn anything up to a metre long, but a good workshop will typically have one on-site, maybe half the size, that will allow the maker to turn something unique for a piece of furniture, handles or legs, or standalone products like candlesticks and lamps, or a simple bowl. See one of mine pictured above!

If you haven’t already, I thoroughly recommend it!

Until next time,



David established Rowden Atelier in 1995, a now world renowned fine woodworking school. Discover Rowden, the woodworking courses, and the work that students go on to do.

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