New Ideas From Mistakes

A mistake turned good

A mistake turned good

One of the interesting things about turning is how many good ideas emerge from dealing with mistakes. As I mentioned in a previous post, we received a plethora of cottonwood limbs last fall. I had been wanting to try out an idea for what looks like a cross between a bowl and a plate. It is made from a limb section longer than wide and turned such that the ends curve up but the sides are scalloped down to the level of the bottom.

After turning a couple, I was having trouble getting this one to turn out the way I wanted it. So I took another cut, but alas I went too deep in the center and cut through the bottom. I liked the shape, but I didn’t like the hole through the center. I set it aside and worked on other things.

An idea for that hole in the center began intruding in my thoughts. I pushed it aside a couple of times before deciding I had nothing to lose except the time. So I used the sharp point of a skew chisel and cut the hole back to wood that was a little more than 1/8 inch thick. I turned a spindle from another cottonwood branch that had a shoulder larger than the hole while the diameter of the spindle provided a snug fit in the hole. I shaped the rest of the spindle as pictured, leaving a knob on the end to hold onto and glued it into place.

After giving the bowl and handle a walnut oil finish, I decided I liked the results. I then turned to the other bowls I had turned and gave them similar treatment, with one added dimension. I will post about that in a future post.

Ellis Hein

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
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2 Responses to New Ideas From Mistakes

  1. Charles says:

    I never thought of Cottonwood trees for cabinet wood, ect.
    At least you found another wood to work with, Several years ago you were making vases out of
    some wood that make them works of art.
    Keep up the good work!

    • Ellis Hein says:

      Thanks for the comment Charles, and it is good to see that you read these posts. At least some of them may be worth while, I hope. I am planning to do at least one more post on what I have done with cottonwood, so will see what kind of response that gets from readers.

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