If you’re looking for a way to shake the winter doldrums, this is a great season to dust off your lathe and hone those woodturning skills. Need some expert advice in that department? Then here’s an excellent opportunity you won’t want to miss: You can learn from one of the best turners in the business when Jeff Farris comes to a Rockler store near you. He’s the U.S. sales manager of Robert Sorby Tools of England, and he’ll be conducting free demos at select Rockler stores beginning Jan. 31 and running through March 13.
“Jeff has over 25 years of turning and teaching experience,” says Scott Baumeister, Rockler’s category manager for turning. “His best attribute as a teacher is his down-to-earth approach that’s appreciated by both beginners and experienced turners.”
Rockler and Sorby began to partner on these woodturning tours nearly a decade ago, Baumeister says. Since then, they’ve become an annual event at stores on the tour circuit.
Farris will demonstrate a variety of turning techniques using the latest Sorby tools, but his presentations won’t be limited to just that. If you have specific questions about how to use one of your Sorby tools, bring it with you to the store and Jeff can provide the advice and help you need. While his demos will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Rockler and Farris are keeping the day’s agenda decidedly unscheduled to encourage a “come when you can” atmosphere.
“We used to have specific demonstrations at specific times and learned that if our customers have other commitments, they are not able to attend. So, we’ve opened this up to an all-day event with less structure to encourage more participation,” Baumeister explains.
If you’re fairly new to turning, you’ll be in good company at the Farris demos. About a third of Rockler customers who are turners have only been turning for about a year, Baumeister reports. Over 50 percent have been turning for less than five years. And the popularity of woodturning continues to grow. Woodworkers and non-woodworkers alike are becoming less apprehensive about getting into woodturning, because the quick results are appealing.
“Turning a small project can take less than an hour, rather than the days or weeks it takes to make a typical woodworking project.”
One of the steeper learning curves of woodturning is sharpening, but sharp tools are essential to effective technique. Baumeister says sharpening is an important part of Farris’s presentations. During his store appearance, he’ll focus on sharpening methods using Sorby’s ProEdge Sharpening System. The power sharpener uses abrasive belts instead of wheels to cut tool steel cooler. It creates flat bevels on turning tools rather than hollow grinds and delivers a variety of surface finishes.
“(ProEdge) has a unique angle indexing system that makes sure turners get the right angle and can repeat that angle over and over again,” Baumeister adds.
Maybe you’re an experienced turner already. Farris will offer techniques and advice that you’ll find useful, too. Fundamentals of tool handling and sharpening are, Baumeister says, only part of the show. “Jeff shares advanced techniques as well. There’s something for every turner.”
The Sorby Winter Tour kicks off Sunday, Jan. 31, at Rockler’s Phoenix, Arizona, store. From there, Farris will visit the Denver, Colorado, Rockler store and four stores in California, then travel north to Rockler’s Seattle, Washington, location, and Beaverton, Oregon. In late February, he’ll head east to Rockler’s Buffalo, New York, and Portland, Maine, stores and stop in Indianapolis before visiting Rockler’s Maplewood and Burnsville, Minnesota, stores in early March. The store in Sandy Springs, Georgia, is on the circuit for mid March, and the Tour concludes in Altamonte Springs, Florida, on March 13, at Rockler’s newest store that opened last fall.
Turning presentations of Farris’s caliber would be worth the price of admission, but Rockler is offering them at no charge in order to encourage as many turners as possible to attend. Another benefit is that Sorby tools will be discounted 20 percent on demo day at the store. It’s the only time Rockler offers savings this big on Sorby products, Baumeister says.
So, if a Rockler store near you is on the Sorby Winter Tour circuit, be sure to check the schedule and add the date to your calendar.
“Whether you’re just getting started or have years of experience,” Baumeister says, “Jeff’s presentation will have something for you … If you’re looking to buy tools or just want to learn more about using the ones you already have, you’ll go home better informed and inspired to get to work on your lathe.”
For more details about the upcoming Sorby Tour, visit Rockler’s website by clicking here.