Thursday, December 13, 2012


No this is not about shavehorses, that's too silly to even argue.
I had Ken St. Onge from Fine Woodworking in the shop the other day shooting photos for the second installment of turning articles that we are doing. I'm happy to say that they've added a third.

Some of you may have noticed that I am decidedly left handed, which for most activities isn't so difficult to translate for instruction, but Ken was convinced that for the publication, we should shoot me turning right handed.

Now I've heard it said that if you are first learning to turn that you should practice with both hands, and it sounds great, after all, you are awkward no matter what you do, so that would be the time to become ambi capable.
I didn't.

Granted, for lots of the turning, such as the first ten beads, I simply knocked em out lefty, but for the photos, I had to turn right handed, in slow motion, stopping about four times per detail for pictures.

A while back, I read an interesting experiment that focused on "The Curse of Knowledge". This is when you forget, or can't imagine that someone can't understand or perform something that you know. In the experiment, one person tapped a tabletop with the rhythm of a song that was in their head and the other person had to guess the song. Almost no one guessed the song, to the amazement of the tapper, who assumed it was obvious.

When teaching, I always try to keep this in mind, hoping that I can both empathize with the student not knowing and going through the stress of learning and also to help come up with the best way to bring them along in understanding and doing. While turning right handed, I was thrown from a place of comfortable knowledge, back into white knuckle terror.

As I rolled a bead with the skew, stopping for photos, I tried to take my own advice and apply the motion that I've described to students so many times. To my amazement, it worked. Not the prettiest beads, but there were no major catastrophes.

So, when you see the photos, or watch the videos that Ken shot (at the end of the day!) take a closer look, and know that I've had a refresher course in what it is to learn to turn. Maybe they can photoshop some blood back into my fingers.