Joys of Woodturning!

By Allan Korkola

Allan Korkola Woodturning

Who would have thought? Here I was questioning myself, in my mid-80’s in retirement, as to the wisdom of spending big dollars to buy a wood lathe, tools, and accessories on something that for years has “interested “ me. Yet here was a fellow member of the Simcoe Woodturners’ Guild telling me at his age of 92 that he was selling all of his woodturning equipment so that he could buy new equipment because his was getting old. Wow! Here I am worried I am doing something foolish as the only woodturning experience I have goes back to grade 8 when in our brief exposure then to industrial arts I proudly turned a candle stick holder for my Mom. 

One thing I have discovered as a novice woodturner is the opportunity for creativity. More than once in my early experience and to the present I have discovered that within a block of wood one can discover beautiful and unexpected end results. You may start out to turn a large bowl but it ends up being a delightful small mushroom for a Grandchild. As you turn the wood reveals its grain and pattern and takes you to a gratifying outcome. It happens all the time. 

Woodturning Cup

Our Simcoe Woodturners’ Guild I suspect not unlike other Guilds, is largely composed of retirees, both men and women from a variety of interesting careers, all finding enjoyment in a solitary past time, yet brought together now via a common interest.  I am continually surprised with the quality of turnings members have achieved. Many have gone past the stage of turning vessels and canisters to making  segmented artistic works of art. Some turnings have 1000s of pieces of varied woods embedded in a complicated pattern. Marvelous! And often turnings are salvaged from what would otherwise be scrap pieces of wood. Nothing wasted! Not only are the turnings themselves a work of art, but the finishing of some projects into glass-like surfaces is very impressive. A lot of insight and skill is required to achieve the level many of these old folk display regularly.

By the way our Province has several Woodturner Guild “Chapters”’ so if you are interested there is a good chance that there is a Guild not far from you, ready to welcome you. As one might suspect the WGO also is affiliated with the American Association of Woodturners (AAW) that also has Chapters throughout the USA. Both Provincial and National bodies organize workshops and conventions where one can pursue their interests to a higher level. I have even heard that some ship cruises center their onboard itinerary to woodturning seminars and demonstrations.  No shortage of contacts wherever you go. 

Woodturning bowls in Severn

And those contacts, locally and abroad, result in new friendships and new experiences. Nothing to scoff at! This may be especially true in retirement years when we may no longer be in daily contact with a number of working colleagues.

A few of us have noticed a growing interest in woodturning from established and new residents to our Washago area. So we are wondering if there are sufficient local individuals, male or female, novice or experienced, young or old, in forming an informal group to meet periodically to share information and experiences pertaining to wood turning. If you interested contact Allan at akorkola@me.com 

If interest is sufficient we could meet monthly at different individual workshops/garages to demonstrate techniques, do “Show and Tell,” and tell tales.  Not sure? Well come out and see if this is a hobby you might want to pursue. My experience is that woodturners are ready to share information and be most supportive.  Everyone goes through the same turning experience!

Is there a message? I guess as the adage goes, you’re never too old to learn. If you are blessed with good health it is just a matter of opening yourself to new experiences. I for one can assure you there are many happy outcomes in doing so.