Turning with David Ellsworth

We have been really looking forward with out weekend with David Ellsworth for over half a year. I had taken a course with David a couple of years ago at Arrowmont and knew how good a teacher he was. He’s probably the most well known and respected turner working today. He helped found the American Association of Woodturners (AAW) and nearly single handedly started the concept of thin walled hollowforms.


© 2011 Ed Malesky – David Ellsworth

David doesn’t make very often to Florida to do demonstrations, but as soon as we heard he had an interest in a trip to Florida, Nancy O’Donnell, wife of  TAG member Gene O’Donnell and National Program Coordinator for the Northeast Florida Woodturners Association got busy and booked David for a day of demonstrations and two days of Hands-On workshops.

We had quite a crowd show up for the demo and David got right to work. Fortunately, our friend Don Geiger had offered to bring up his Robust lathe for David to use. After some preliminary discussions he got right to it.

He had three projects for the demo:

  1. A cut rim bowl
  2. A natural edge bowl
  3. A small hollowform

David just used his Signature gouge to turn the entire piece, explaining clearly every step of the process and all the cuts he uses to get his great finish, even without using any sandpaper. The shop was full of people, so it seemed that David had a little fun spraying the first few rows of seats with shavings.


© 2011 Bob Hunt - Shavings are a'flying


He completed the natural edge bowl with the same thorough explanation of each step of the process. When he was done he asked how close we were to lunch. We had twenty minutes to go, so he put another piece of wood on the lathe and proceeded to turn another natural edge bowl from beginning to end before our scheduled lunch. It was amazing how quickly he could complete the piece when he didn’t stop and explain every step.


© 2011 Bob Hunt - Tghree bowls, no finish no sanding, right off the lathe


The afternoon was devoted to teaching us how to sharpen our tools and creating a hollowform. Keeping our tools sharp is always a critical part of the process and this is really true when you take as aggressive cuts as David.nce again for the hollowform, he explained every step of the process. He also made a larger entry hole that is typical of his work to speed up the rather boring process of watching him hollow the piece. There were a lot more shavings this time from the hollowing process.

© 2011 Bob Hunt - Working on a small hollowform

He wrapped up and finished right on time and we even managed to get a group shot before we called it  day.

© 2011 Bob Hunt - David and the gang

Today it was the first of the Hands-On sessions. Six turners that wanted to get some additional training worked closely with David to produce both bowls and hollowforms. It’s great to see what some one on one coaching can do and pretty soon all six had shavings a flying.

© 2011 Ed Malesky – "Bones" Jones gets some hands-on instruction


© 2011 Ed Malesky – Bob Hunt enjoying his time with David

© 2011 Ed Malesky – Nancy O'Donnell gets some timely tips


We learned a lot from a great teacher and we’re all happy that we were finally able to get David to make a trip to Florida.

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