יום חמישי, דצמבר 14, 2006

A day with Eli Avisera

Warning long post, read summary for the summary...
Summary: Enjoyed a day long workshop with Eli Avisera, made a very nice plate for my wife.

Last week, on Wednesday I had the opportunity of getting away from work for a day and join for that day, a week long workshop at Eli Avisera's workshop near Jerusalem.
The workshop is located at the edge of small village on the Jerusalem mountains with a great view. Eli gives there lessons in woodworking, carving and sculpting, but mainly in woodturning. He has I think 10 lathes lined up for the students each with its own tool stand and accessories, so that there is "line" when you want to do something.

I think I mentioned I did my beginner course by Eli, and it was a memorable experience, since then I have went there again a few times to see demos or learn specific techniques (private lessons), and it was always a pleasure.

The day began at 8:00(am) with some coffee and talk, from there we went to a sharpening lesson, where Eli explained about the concept of sharpening and showed various techniques to sharpen turning tools, and sharpening his own signature tools which need some tweaks in the standard way - such as the double bevel he recommends and his special design for the skew and parting tool which makes them VERY easy to sharpen (even freehand!), unfortunately it doesn't make the skew catch any less (unless it is Eli using it, it is a marvel to see him work that tool) :-(

  • Sharpening is crucial for quality work (and for ease of work).

  • It is faster and cooler to sharpen freehand but using jigs is very effective and accurate especially if you are a beginner - in short, buy a jig, and use your time in order to better yourself at woodturning - sharpening will come along...

  • Your skew should be VERY sharp.

  • Sharpen often, that actually mean that you will spend less time at the sharpening station - your tool will only need touching

(I need to say that isn't the first time I heard these things from him, but each time it sinks in a bit better, also this isn't really original material, just very important - except for his signature tools).

After a break we went on to the days main event: turning a plate, each of us got a nice mahogany blank and made himself a plate (about 12" wide max). Eli demonstrated many techniques to accomplish all aspects of turning the plate (holding, cutting, finishing, different finishes and how to apply them). And each of us went on to do our own thing - it was a lot of fun. we got to talk and discuss many aspects of the trade.

After we all finished, Eli did a few more short demonstrations on how to use a Japanese ring chuck (If anyone knows where to get one), also make a lady pen, and eccentric turning using escoullans chuck.

You can see some of it in the pictures (the picture is a link to whole gallery) below, also got here a video or two...

Mahogany Plate turning:

Eccentric goblet with Escoullen chuck:

יום ראשון, נובמבר 26, 2006

How did I get to woodturning

OK, first let me apologize for my story telling, I tend to stretch, so if you like it enjoy - if not I apologize and you can skip to the end for a summary...

About two years ago I was about to get married (and I did), this was during passover holiday - my workplace had a mandated vacation, offices closed. so it is a week of vacation. There wasn't much to arrange anymore, and anyway almost everything is closed, so it was not busy. My mom who just started with her own hobbies (sculpting and mozaics, made a big chess/game table for my father from ceramics (the table-top, the rest is steel), she also a bought a set to go along, but it was way to small for the table. I who always liked working with wood, decided to carve him a chess set from wood, and set about to start - I had time, a utility knife and Pine wood from some cutoffs.
I started carving the pawns, it took a long time to get the first one done, and I was slowly starting to realize that there must be a better way to do it - no way that this is how chess sets are made, only master carvers can produce a matching set - and it would be too costly to but such sets, and yet - hand made sets exist and they are not that expensive... I started dreaming about this CNC machine which I knew must exist. I planned it out in my head, and then went looking online for it. Knowing what it should be able to do, but not knowing anything else, such as the lingo or look.
Eventually, I found out about this amazing tool called the LATHE, and saw some examples of things done with it. I found out about the manual lathe (not CNC) and decided that is what would do the trick. However, I had no idea if I could do it myself or if I would even like it... I ordered two or three books from amazon on the subject and waited for my wedding when I would recieve them from my family arriving from the USA. The wedding managed to make me forget the books for awhile....

All this time I continued with my carving effort, that ended with a badly cut finger that got me to the ER and quite a few stitches... Two weeks before my wedding. But everything was good by the wedding.

After the wedding when everything started to settle, I started to read the books, and was really itching to try it out. My wife was all there for me, and encouraged me to pursue this (I usualy talk a lot and do little if anything...). So I looked a little more and found a course in Israel with Eli Avisera (http://www.avisera.co.il) which was in hind site the best thing I could choose. I learned there all the basics and more, and had nice projects to show for my time... The course showed me more than anything that woodturning is something I want to do. And to this day I hold Eli responsible for this addiction :-)

After the course ended, I let it all simmer inside, and again at my wife's insistence (do you see how wonderfull she is?) I decided to purchase equipment so I can do this at home, as a hobby. After consulting with Eli and looking/asking online (mostly at rec.crafts.woodturning), I bought a JET mini and some accessories and tools (mostly Avisera tools), and my hobby was launched.

Lessons? If you live in Israel, look out for shipping charges, There are cheaper ways to ship than FedEx/UPS :-(

Summary: After understanding that through carving I can't reach the level of quality for the chess set I wanted to make, I started to look around and found about woodturning, I did a course and got hooked!

BTW, I never finished making that chess set yet, still on the drawing board.

First post - introduction


My name is Moshe Eshel and I love wood turning, this blog will be dedicated to my adventures (failures mostly :-() in the amazing world of wood turning. I started with wood turning a little while after I got married to my beautiful wife almost two years back. My motivation is the story of the next post, but I will say that she encouraged me to spend the money and take a course which I did, and I was hooked!

My wife also encouraged me to spend as much money as I need so I can also have this as a hobby - meaning buy all the needed equipment (and some more :-)), I was reluctant to spend so much money, but she almost forced me to do it - and I am thankful that she succeeded in that.

I live in a small rural village in Israel, which makes the turning even more fun because of the closeness to nature, I just wished I had more time to spend at this! Most of my time is dedicated to my regular work as a software engineer and to my wife Tili and baby daughter Mia (I have a few more blogs dedicated to those parts of my life... So that no one gets mixed up.).

I mostly turn small spindle work (pens, spinning tops, goblets), mostly limited by my small lathe (a JET Mini which I love) - when I feel that I'm good enough, which I'm not, and learned all the necessary skills and correct usage of tools, I might upgrade myself to a bigger lathe.

This blog will be companied with my web albums, where I'll try to have some pictures to display what I'm talking about.

Thank you, enjoy, and I'd love your comments...