Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Getting used to posting on a regular basis isn't a habit that I've developed yet. Well, last fall, one of my turning clubs brought in JoHannes Michelsen, a woodturner from Vermont, to demonstrate how to turn one of his signature wooden hats. These are turned from a single block of wood, very green, and made to fit. On Saturday, Hannes turned a full-sized hat, and on Sunday, a few of us spent the day learning to turn a 'mini hat'. The full-sized hat turned on Saturday was raffled off during the lunch break...and guess who won the raffle? Yup. So that hat was turned to fit me.

A couple months later, in November, I traveled to Manchester, Vermont and spent three days in Hannes' studio, where I learned how to turn a wooden hat. Above is a photo of the pair; the hat on the right is mine, which was turned by Hannes, and the hat on the left was turned by me in Hannes' studio. It is made to fit Dave, and yes, he can and does wear it.

Turning a hat from a single block of wood requires some specialized equipment; the grind of the tools is different than anything I've done, but can now recreate that grind easily. Holding the 'hat blank' on the lathe required a special chuck, that allows light to pass through it...that's how thin the hat is. In the beginning, the block of wood weighs more than 50 pounds, and finished, the hat weighs a few ounces. So as I am turning it, I can tell how thin the walls get by the amount of light that I can see as I'm turning. Dave and another woodturning friend (Mike Green) made one of these chucks, and Mike also made the curved tool rests needed to access the inside top of the crown. So, I'm all set to try another one....hope I didn't forget everything I learned last November!

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