Woodturning and Woodworking: Woodshop Art is best learned by becoming a Student - or Apprentice - of a Master Craftsman

I had the good fortune to learn wood turning and fine woodworking in a woodshop by becoming a student of an industrial arts teacher who could do almost anything. He was not only a master at wood turning and wood working, but also carving, lapidary, pottery, and oil painting - to name a few. I credit Mr. Hamilton for his unwavering patience and confidence in helping me to develop my own wood working talents.

Cody Medlin became my apprentice in the woodshop at the age of 12. His first shop lesson was on March 08, 2005. I have known Cody since he was born to Mark and Chris Medlin in 1992. He has an older brother, Dusty, and a younger brother, Jacob. I knew, from having watched Cody grow, that youth, but not immaturity, would be a factor in how quickly he would progress.

His first day in the woodshop was spent learning about tools. Then, to teach him some of the basics, I had him draw a small What-Not Shelf and then build it. My approach was to develop his skills by telling him what we were going to build or turn, have him draw it, tell him how to go about doing it, and then guiding and supervising him - but not by doing it for him. He built the shelf and put the finish on it. Cody was "hands-on" from the first day.

Picture of small What-Not Shelf


At his next lesson, Cody began his first wood turning project. He turned his first bowl on a Sears Craftsman 12" wood lathe. I have since replaced it with a Jet JWL-1236 Woodworking Lathe.

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Picture of woodturning a small bowl


Next, I had Cody turn two candlesticks. The first one was fairly easy. His challenge in this project was to turn a matching candlestick from the glued up stock pictured. He learned about spindle woodturning and how to use calipers. He did a good turning job on this project. He said that he still has his What-Not Shelf on the wall and his two candlesticks on a shelf above his bed at home. (Spindle turning is the method used to turn candlesticks, bedposts, table legs, etc. - items that are long and slender.)

Picture of candlesticks - woodturning practice


Cody's next woodshop project was more complex. This time he built a Shaker Sewing Table (or Stand). According to John Kassey, author and retired industrial arts teacher, this type of furniture dates back to the Classic Period of Shaker furniture styles (early-to-mid 1800's).
Cody began with the walnut board you see below.

Picture of walnut board


In the next picture, you see the table that Cody built. He also turned the pedestal, and he cut out and shaped the feet and legs. Through this project he learned to use the radial-arm saw, planer, bandsaw, table saw (minimally), clamps, sander, router, drill, screwdrivers and other hand tools (April 2005).

Classic Shaker Sewing Table - unfinished


The picture below shows the table after Cody finished it. It is the one on the left. I built the table on the right in 1996. One of the interesting things about a Shaker Sewing Table (or Stand) is that the drawer pulls out from either side of the table.

A Shaker Sewing Table will be the woodturning/woodworking project on this site.

Picture of Shaker Sewing Tables (Stands)


For a change of pace in his student lessons, I introduced Cody to working in my Blacksmith Shop. I built the Blacksmith Shop and the bellows so that I could make drawer pulls, drawer handles, hinges, etc. for antique reproduction furniture. I also use it to make fireplace doors, fireplace cranes, pokers, farm gates, weather vanes, and other items that interest me. Cody found that the hammer was a little heavy for his arm and shoulder. He did like the ring of the hammer on the anvil, though.

Picture of blacksmith shop

Picture of Blacksmith

Picture of Tommy Walkers


When school ended in 2005, we took the summer off. Cody started back as a woodshop student in September. To get him back into the swing of things, I had him make a set of "Tommy Walkers" so he could enjoy one of the "toys" my generation played with when we were boys. It took a few tries before Cody got the hang of it. (I could have used Cody's help when I built the gazebo and ramp you see in the background.)

Cody Working on Gate

Picture of Cody working on gate

Picture of Grandma's Gate


Getting back to work, Cody's next student project was to build a gate for the entrance to the Memorial Garden for his Great Grandmother, Easter Ford Gatton, at Tabor Presbyterian Church. Of course, he had to draw it, and then build it. He also helped me make the hinges and the gate latch in the blacksmith shop. He finished this project in October 2005.


Cody's Next Project - Bedposts and Bed

Picture of wood turning bedposts


This was Cody's largest woodshop project for 2005. He had to turn two matching posts for the foot and then build the entire bed. As you can see, I did help him with the turning on this project. (Cody put duct tape on his thumb to feel less heat while he was turning. He doesn't need to do that anymore.) The next two pictures show the head and foot of the bed.

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Picture of Head of Bed

Picture of Head of Bed

Picture of Unfinished Foot of Bed

Foot of Bed


And So Ends 2005

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