There’s Never Enough Money

Welcome to this blog, centered on woodturning, but from the perspective of having little or no money.
It is all too common nowadays to see social media platforms awash with people pontificating about the biggest and best tools on the market, and how you are doing yourself an injustice by not selling your first-born to pay for what may be dipping your toe in a potential new hobby.
There is no need for bankruptcy to kit yourself out. It is very possible to get set up in this fascinating hobby with little or no money at all.


I began turning in early 2011. I had some exposure to lathe work at school. I am lucky enough to be that old, that we were actually taught technical subjects at school in fully kitted workshops.
I have wanted a lathe of my own since then, but only recently was able to realise this ambition.
I had nowhere to work, first and foremost. I managed to inherit a very old wooden garage, free of charge, back in 2010. It was in a frightful state of disrepair, with the frame well rotted and holes in the roof. Never one to be discouraged by hard work, I repaired it, made it wind and watertight, and started to use it as a workshop. I had no permanent power, and had to run an extension cable out when I was working. This cable has to pass over communal/public ground so cannot be left in-situ. This means unrolling, then re-rolling over 60m of flexible cable before I even switch on a light.
The roof full of holes
Outside view
Bottom corner
After one weekend

This old shed has since been replaced by a steel container, which was originally kitted out as a site canteen. Power is still provided via the same extension cable though.
I did have to spend a small amount of money to buy this container and have it transported to site. Even I can’t expect to have something like this FoC. I would recommend this way of working to anyone who needs a temporary structure due to planning etc. It is extremely secure, and should your circumstances change, it is reasonably easy to have it removed to another location.
2015-10-22 14.21.14
The container being picked up from the previous owners. As you can see, it is in need of a coat of paint. Structurally however, it is perfectly sound.

First Lathe and Tools

My first lathe was a Myford ML8. This lathe came to me via my local Freecycle network. Seriously. I posted a “wanted” ad and withing a few days a lovely lady contacted me offering this lathe which had belonged to her Father. It was the perfect lathe for my initial inept fumblings.
When I set it up in the shed, I had no turning tools, so started off practicing with some wood chisels I had in my toolkit.
I would caution! This is not a safe thing to do, and I would not recommend it. It did serve to whet my appetite however, and I immediately went on to Ebay and ordered a set of cheap turning tools.
Cheapo Tools
These were around £15GB and although they got me started, I would recommend steering well clear of these. The steel is extremely soft, and does not hold an edge very well. I managed to bend two of them, and snapped one. This was mainly due to my lack of experience, but the quality played a huge part also.
I don’t believe you need to spend huge amounts of money to get started in woodturning, but sometimes the cheapest option is a no-go area.

Danger Will Robinson!

Turning is an inherently dangerous procedure, and should be approached with extreme caution. The world is full of gung-ho idiots like me who throw themselves into things feet first with no thought of consequences. (I know a fellow who bought a hang-glider from Exchange & Mart and threw himself off a hillside with it {He lived to tell the tale})
If anyone reading this has a notion to start turning, but has a small budget, please pay attention to your personal safety. People have died doing this.
At the very least, invest in a full face safety visor, and a dust mask.
As a very wise man once said,
Norm Billboard

Stay With Me

Thank you for taking the time to read my mutterings and ravings thus far. Please look back occasionally, even if you don’t decide to follow this blog.


Quaichs Ahoy!

I marked the release of the new £1 coin by turning a quaich from very old oak. This oak was milled at Blairdrummond sawmill over 30 years ago. The quaich was turned, cut on the bandsaw, then sanded by hand until I was happy with the shape.
Oaken Quaich #13
The coin was set in clear resin, then the quaich was finished with clear polyurethane.
This one will be a gift, but I decided I wanted one for myself.
I was gifted a whole load of oak stair parts. I was surprised to find the oak newels are laminated, rather than solid timber.
I think the laminations add some character.
2nd Quaich #1
Once again, the coin is set in clear resin then sprayed with clear polyurethane.
Not such a good photo, but it looks really good up close.