At roughly 40 years of age, this old workhorse has lived most its life in Beaverdale garages. No, I’m not referring to any person; I’m talking about the wood lathe currently residing in Josh Larson’s garage.
“It used to belong to my fiancé’s stepfather’s father,” says Larson. “He was having an estate sale about six months ago and told me I could grab anything we might want for our place. I saw the old lathe and couldn’t resist.”
For those unfamiliar with carpentry, woodturning or the tools of the trade, the lathe is an apparatus that rotates a piece of wood on its axis. This allows the craftsman to perform various operations like carving, cutting or sanding to the wood piece with symmetry.
“When I decided to get the lathe, my first thought was to carve out some plugs (a sort of jewelry worn by those with larger-gauge piercings),” says Larson. “The only problem is I’ve been so busy I haven’t had the chance to play with this thing as much as I’d like. When I get the chance, and when it warms up, I’d like to try to make either table or chair legs. They don’t have to be amazingly intricate; the evenness is what’s important.”
Take one look at the range of websites that feature a “how to” for the lathe and it becomes clear: this is not an easy instrument to learn. Learning the craft is tricky in itself, but making sure to avoid having a fatal accident is priority No. 1. There is a safety guard to prevent dust and woodchips from shooting at you, but the majority of the dangerous gears are exposed and won’t think twice about grabbing a finger or some hair.
These dangers make the lathe so intriguing. This isn’t something a person can pick up during a two-hour workshop; experience is everything.
From the school of “measure twice, cut once,” Larson approaches the machine with respect and notes the potential dangers.
“I was born and raised a ‘fix it yourself.’ Being careful comes with the trade,” he says. “If you approach the lathe with a sense of cautious excitement, it allows for incredible detail to be etched in the surface of the wood, transforming an otherwise sturdy table into a conversation topic.”
Contact Darren at 953-4822 ext. 304 or email@example.com to recommend someone for an upcoming issue of “What’s In Your Garage?”