Woodturning at Safe Harbor

Three members of the Turning Arts Group and members from the Northeast Florida Woodturners Association just spent three days with the boys at Jacksonville’s Safe Harbor Boys Home teaching them the basics of woodturning.

Beth Ireland’s Turning Around America

This effort was prompted by the visit of Beth Ireland, a well known, national woodturner who was visiting Florida as part of her Turning Around America project. Here in Beth’s words, is her purpose for such an endeavor:

“The main goal of this project is to empower people through the simple act of making an object in wood. This project consists of a seven-month journey around the country teaching hand skills through woodturning and woodworking to as many groups and individuals as I can come in contact with.”

The Outreach Coordinator from the Northeast Florida Woodturners, Kay Seivert, contacted Safe Harbor when she heard that Beth would be at the Florida Woodturning Symposium and scheduled this visit. We all thought this was a great idea and wanted to help.

Beth is totally self contained, making the entire trip in her van which has woodturning capabilities in the back and living quarters in the front. At Safe Harbor it was easiest to just drive her van into the shop, where the boys helped her set up.

© 2011 Ed Malesky - Beth pulls her van right inside the workshop and boys help set up

The Turning Arts Group and the Northeast Florida Woodturners also brought mini-lathes and all the needed tools for the seven resident boys to work on.

© 2011 Ed Malesky - The boys getting their first turn at the lathes

Beth started them out with the basics of spindle turning, but kept the program moving on at a quick pace. Just as soon as they could began to feel a bit comfortable with our tools, she had them turn handle and then make their own tools from some steel she had brought.

© 2011 Ed Malesky - Baxter gives Jeremy a hand

Some of the boys really added their own touch of creativity adding fancy beads, color and burning decorative lines to help make the tool their own.

© 2011 Ed Malesky - Tyler turns another bead

Once they had tools made they had a choice of projects to choose from; pens, whistles, boxes and more. However, it was clear that a number of the boys had a creative flare and went off on their own projects.

© 2011 Ed Malesky - Michael makes his handle

Beth world do some demonstrations to show what was possible for them to try and then would work with each boy to see how they were progressing and give them some additional tips.

© 2011 Ed Malesky - Beth does a demo for the boys

© 2011 Ed Malesky - A little hands-on

After three days we had chess pieces, turned, bandsawn and filed figures, miniature baseball bats and a whole assortment of objec d’art.

The boys were proud of their work and their smiles certainly made it a worthwhile three days for us.

© 2011 Ed Malesky - Dave finishes his homemade tool

© 2011 Ed Malesky – Josh is proud of his figures

© 2011 Ed Malesky - Adam was tops with the whistles

We’re now trying to put together a sustaining program where woodturning will be one of the regular programs at Safe Harbor. Based on their comments, I think the boys are all in favor of this.

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