Unplanned Intentions

Disguising your mistake is not a deception. It is just realizing what you had “intended” to do only you didn’t know it yet. Now wait a minute, isn’t that statement contradicting itself?

Yes it is, but for me some of my best discoveries have come about in this way. Something other than my cognitive ability seems to be dictating in those instances. But I am not getting into that debate here.

The Unfinished Vessel

I recently built a loft using 2 X 6, tongue and groove, pine flooring as the decking material. Some of my scraps were good enough to escape the firebox. I used these for an idea for a vessel featuring end grain.

Because of the construction of the turning blank, I created the likelihood I would pull grain while turning the exterior shape. I used some coarse sandpaper to abrade away those problem spots. This left scratches running across the grain. After trying everything I knew to do (except never start sanding with grit coarser than 180), I still had cross grain scratches. I had gotten rid of the spots of pulled grain only to create another problem.

After considering my options, I was hit with an idea. It may not have been rational. It may not have been intelligent. But it was an idea. “Polish the vessel using rottenstone and mineral oil,” I thought.

The Rottenstone Vessel

To my horror, I turned all the soft parts of the grain black; the hard parts were unaffected. I tried washing out the black with more mineral oil. I tried polishing with pumice and mineral oil. (Pumice is white.) The black was there to stay.

Then I noticed two things. First, the end grain of my vessel was now in the spotlight. Second, the black in the soft grain hid the scratches. That was when I realized this had been my “intent” ever since I had been grabbed by the idea to use rottenstone.

Ellis Hein, author of The Woodturner’s Project Book

About Ellis Hein

I am a woodturner and the author of The Woodturner's Project Book. I have a life-long interest in the gospel preached by George Fox and the early Quakers. You can see some of my material on that subject at http://nffquaker.org/profiles/blog/list?user=1zw2th7nj9p89.
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