I have turning on the brain – because after my bathroom is done, I’m out of excuses to not turn my attention back to the front staircase and entryway. When I bought the house, the entryway was split alongside the stairs, with the stairs enclosed by a wall up to the second-floor apartment.
When I tore out that 1950s wall, I had high hopes that the original spindles and handrail would be hidden behind the wall board. My hopes were dashed. So I put the bottom landing back like it once was, slapped together two temporary steps at the bottom, and turned my attention to other things.
For almost two years, I’ve been running up and down those stairs, hoping to not trip and fall over the side (and OK…using the back stairs most of the time – because the front stairs have become a staging area and storage facility for the second-floor work). Having those open has made it a lot easier to get large items upstairs (I have a piece of 1/2″ plywood that fits over the stained glass window to protect it during such times).
I have two large items to build still to be carried up: a linen cupboard for the hallway and a sink base for my bathroom. But once those are done, I have to turn between 34 and 48 spindles, depending on what I decide to do at the bottom landing – and I’m a novice turner.
That made me think of “Elementary Turning,” an out-of-copyright book I scanned for my former job – and I did that at home during off hours on my personal equipment. The print version we’d offered, for which I’d scanned it, is no longer available. This PDF, and the work that went into it, belongs to me.
I’m giving it to you.
“Elementary Turning,” by Frank Henry Selden, was published in 1907 as a textbook for shop class teachers. It offers 62 short lessons that walk you through the basics and more, from mounting the work in the lathe, to cutting basic shapes, to making curved mouldings.
You can download it below (you’ll need Adobe Acrobat Reader v8 or newer to read it – if you don’t have Reader, download it free at this link).
I’ve read the Selden book and other turning tomes, and I’ve turned a few pieces (plus I got a lesson from Alf Sharp on turning the exact spindles I need). So it’s not like I don’t know how; I just prefer flat work. But I expect to be done by the end of the summer with the two aforementioned builds. So I guess that gives me about five months to come up with a new excuse.