November’s member spotlight shines on Jim Rowland, who spends much of his time using the Roswell Firelabs Makerspace’s lathes for turning projects. He creates bowls, wine stoppers, rolling pins, and more. Just last Saturday, he was working on a lidded box of purple heart, maple, and walnut that would become a gift for his grandson. Those who have seen his work will agree; he creates some truly incredible works. Few would guess that he’s only been turning about a year, after joining the Roswell Firelabs.
Jim’s first ever turning project was making a bowl for a class at Highland Woodcraft. Though he wasn’t able to finish the bowl in the class, he took it home to finish on his own time and it inspired a deep fascination and enjoyment of the art. Jim’s biggest piece of advice for those wanting to learn turning with lathes is to just jump right in and play with the tool and different materials to see what they will do - which is exactly how he expanded his knowledge. He took another turning class, this time at Woodcraft, and got together with others at the Firelabs who were familiar with turning, and learned more and more.
For those wanting to learn turning, Jim recommends starting by making simple spindles and beads, just to get a feel for the process. “Start with a piece of scrap,” he advised with a grin when we spoke, “because you’re going to make scrap the first time, no matter what.” And Jim knows a thing or two about working with scrap. One of his favorite things to do for a project is to find wood on the side of the road, dry it, and make it into something amazing. He was able to show me pictures side by side of a tree he had chopped up and the projects that he made from it.
Aside from an enthusiasm for creating, though, Jim has an open willingness to share that knowledge - which is good when you consider that using the lathes at the Roswell Firelabs requires being trained on them. In fact, Jim recently bought a brand new lathe, a Legun Revo 1216, and brought it to the space so that others could use it as well. This particular lathe allows the space for larger projects that the makerspace’s lathes could not accommodate.
If you’re interested in turning, stay tuned to our blog posts this month. Each week, we’ll focus on various aspects of turning - from the basics of what materials work best and how it works to using epoxy to bring a real wow factor to your project. And, of course, you can always request training through the form on our website.
Have you heard? The Roswell Firelabs Makerspace is hosting classes again! To see what we have on the books, visit our class calendar. Make sure you never miss an update by following us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram or joining us on Slack if you are a member.