Where Are My Turning Tools?

Today Roy Underhill and I got ready to tape two episodes for the next season of PBS’s “The Woodwright’s Shop.” As the sun started to set over Pittsboro, N.C., we realized that we needed to turn down a spindle so we could thread it on camera.

No problem. Roy’s school has nice Barnes treadle lathes. Plenty of wood. And Roy.

“Hmmm. Now where are my turning tools?” Roy asked.

It turns out that his lathe tools were at home. Without skipping a beat, Roy picked up some bench chisels and started turning down the spindle.

This, of course, attracted onlookers who were wandering by the school.

Now all we have to do is rehearse. Roy’s show is taped live. No do-overs. Ugh. Time for a beer.

— Christopher Schwarz

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10 Responses to Where Are My Turning Tools?

  1. Ed Lebetkin says:

    There are plenty of turning tools in the store upstairs.

  2. rob campbell says:

    One of my favorite bluegrass songs you have chosen!

  3. gchpaco says:

    I’ve had to do that before–in fact I had to do that before on that very lathe, when I was rehandling a chisel during a class there and Roy couldn’t find any of his skews. It’s awkward, and makes the tool rest hard to use well, but when you gotta do it, you gotta do it.

    Interesting that it still pedals backwards. I can turn on powered lathes, I can turn on springpole lathes, but pedalling backwards while turning was really weird.

  4. Tom says:

    I’m surprised that Roy didn’t go out back and forge a turning tool out of a Model T Ford leaf spring. That’s what he was doing in the first episode of Woodwright’s Shop that I saw. Well, it was a bench chisel, but hey.

  5. Turnus says:

    Hey, a skew is a skew, right? Well, it is in skilled hands, from the looks of it.

    • Graham Hughes says:

      Doing it with a skew is a lot easier than doing it with a straight chisel, let me tell you. Very educational but I’d never want to do it on a fast lathe.

  6. Shannon says:

    I have worked extensively over the last few summers at a Barnes lathe as we have one at the museum where I volunteer. I would use one of them any day over a modern electrical lathe. It is truly a pleasure to site down and pedal away and you are surprised by how fast you can get the piece turning with so little effort. The mighty cast iron wheel has so much mass and being able to sit and turn is such a treat.

  7. lorenzo says:

    like the toolchest and all those bow saws on the desk there. i have learned alot from watchin the woodwrights show. i viewed not too long ago the video on sawing with schwarz and underhill. maybe i will see a how with the bowsaw being made.

  8. larry says:

    Did you get your roubo holdfast while at Roy’s school??

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