Turning Wood with Richard Raffan, 3rd Edition

Excellent presentaton by a Master Turner


Turning Wood with Richard Raffan, 3rd Edition

While there are a lot of talented woodturners, few perhaps, are as well known as Richard Raffan. He's been a fixture on the turning scene for almost 30 years, and is highly sought after as an instructor. He's also written several classic books on woodturning, including this updated and revised edition of 'Turning Wood with Richard Raffan'. To accompany the 3rd edition of this book he's also released a DVD, 'The New Turning Wood with Richard Raffan'.
Principles and practice; two keys that form the foundation for learning how to do just about anything. As Raffan says "No matter what you want to turn on a lathe, you need to have a good set of technical skills if the work is to be enjoyable and fluent." You can begin to acquire those technical skills through courses, books, or videos. You'll save yourself lots of grief, time and money by learning what to do, and what not to do, from someone who's been through the learning process before you. And once you understand what to do, then it's just a matter of practice; a few thousand bowls or spindles and you'll be turning just like a pro.

Raffan's book is quite comprehensive, and covers everything that a novice or intermediate skilled turner will need to know. Depending on your skill level, you can delve into the book at various sections. Obviously, if you're new to the craft, start at the very beginning, where Raffan describes how a lathe works, and provides a lot of good advice on what to look for when choosing a lathe. He follows this with a section on what you need to mount stock to a lathe - drives, faceplates and chucks - and then, how to mount the stock. While most lathes do come with a few basic mounting devices, as you gain experience you'll likely end up purchasing additional mounting devices.
Chisels are to turning what blades are to table saws. You can't operate one without the other. Raffan covers basic tools in all four categories of turning chisels, along with how to sharpen them. I would have liked to see a 'here's what I recommend' chart after each discussion. Nonetheless, his overall advice is to buy a few basic top quality tools for the type of turning you'll be doing (bowl or spindle) and then add to your tool collection as the need arises. Unlike bench chisels, which you might sharpen every week or two, turning chisels dull quickly, and need to be kept constantly sharp. This is one area that I find a lot of novice turners neglect. If you don't have a good sharpening system take a look at the Tormek system, which will sharpen just about any tool know to man.

The rest of this book covers the topics of lathe and tool safety, measuring techniques, spindle and bowl turning (or what Raffan calls centerwork and facework), along with a new section on hollow turning, which is more suited to turners with intermediate or advanced skills. You'll also find interesting information on wood finishing, which is a bit different than finishing other kinds of wood projects. The section on choosing and storing wood is too sparse to be of much use. There is also a rather slim, one page treatment on how to resolve some of the more common turning problems.
There are lots of helpful illustrations in the book, along with numerous photos of Raffan's work. All in all, this is an excellent book that I highly recommend to anyone who is contemplating woodturning, as well as for novice turners.
The 'The New Turning Wood with Richard Raffan' DVD was both satisfying, and disappointing. The content is superb. Raffan is quite comfortable in front of a camera, likely a benefit of all the courses he's given over the past few decades. In the DVD he covers most of the techniques he talks about in the book. For this reason I think it's best to view the DVD in tandem with reading the book. Read a section, then watch Raffan show the technique. Works for me. What I found disappointing is the camera work; I felt seasick after the first five minutes. When the camera is focused on something, and not moving about, all is well, but the minute the camera begins to pan about, things become a bit unsettled. I attribute this to the skill of the camera person, as other DVDs that I have viewed from the Taunton Press are considerably better. Still, the DVD is the next best thing to being in a workshop with Raffan.

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  • Introduction
  • The Lathe
  • Fixings: Drives, faceplates, Chucks & Adhesives
  • Cutting Tools: Selecting & Sharpening
  • Safety, Tool Handling & Cutting
  • Measuring
  • Centerwork
  • Facework
  • Hollow Vessels
  • Finishing
  • Troubleshooting
  • Selecting & Seasoning Wood
  • Afterword
  • Index
  • Introduction
  • The Lathe & Chucks
  • Tools- Shaping & Sharpening
  • Centerwork: Gouges
  • Centerwork: Skews
  • Tool Handle
  • Table Leg
  • Drawer Knob
  • Egg
  • Pencil Pot
  • Scoop
  • Facework
  • Tray
  • Standard Bowl
PUBLISHER:Taunton Press
AVAILABLE FROM:Your local bookseller or online
RETAIL PRICE:$16.62 Book
$19.95 DVD
FORMAT:Softcover, 218 pages
DVD: 120 minutes
AUTHOR:Richard Raffan
Carl Duguay
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