Book Review: Woodturning, A Foundation Course – Keith Rowley

First published in 1990, but reprinted and updated many times, this is the defacto bible on Woodturning, especially in Europe, but popular throughout the world. If there is only one book on your shelf, this is the one to have.  The latest version of the book has an accompanying DVD. I’m not sure if DVD’s had even been invented when I bought my copy!

The book covers almost every aspect of turning, but looked at from the aspect of a new turner.  From lathe choice, through tools and chucks to wood selection. From your first trip to the lathe to producing your first pieces, EVERYTHING is covered.  However, the most important information I took on board from the book, when I was a novice, was Keith Rowley’s six ‘Laws of Woodturning’ which I reproduce here.  In the book they are covered in greater detail.

  1. The speed of the lathe must be compatible with the size, weight and length of wood to be turned.
  2. The tool must be on the rest before the whirling timber is engaged, and must remain so whenever the tool is in contact with the wood.
  3. The bevel (grinding angle) of the cutting tools must rub the wood behind the cut.
  4. The only part of the tool that should be in contact with the wood is that part of the tool that is receiving direct support from the toolrest.
  5. Always cut ‘downhill’ or with the grain.
  6. Scrapers must be kept perfectly flat (in section) on the toolrest and presented in the ‘trailing mode’, i.e. with the tool handle higher than the tool edge.

These six simple laws should keep all turners safe and in control.  They certainly worked for me.

The book consists of 177 pages and is split into 11 main chapters:

  1. Trees and Wood
  2. The Woodturning Lathe and Accessories
  3. Tools of  the Trade
  4. On Sharpening
  5. Laws of Woodturning
  6. Turning Between Centres
  7. Faceplate Turning
  8. Copy-Turning
  9. Sanding and Finishing
  10. Boring and Routing on the Lathe
  11. Safety, Design, Courses…


Amazon LogoKeith Rowley - A foundation Course

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