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Woodturning News: General News

TENNESSEAN: Greenbrier craftsman turns hobby into full-time job (12/06/2017)

Thursday, December 7, 2017   (0 Comments)
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Wood Craftsman Francis Orsbon uses an air compressor to rid himself of the sawdust and woodshavings covering the faded overalls he wears when he uses chainsaw and operates his wood turning lathe.

The Greenbrier resident began making wooden bowls, plates, goblets and vases from single selections of wood about 15 years ago as a hobby, but now that he’s retired, it’s become a full-time job.

“I enjoy this so much,” he said, standing in his workshop on afternoon. “I enjoy talking to people and explaining what I do. People are amazed by what I do, but it’s nothing to me. I just, it’s fun. I enjoy it.”

When he begins a new piece, Orsbon starts out with a chainsaw, first cutting the right piece of wood from a log to begin his process. His next step, he said, is where his piece really begins to take shape.

Using a woodworking lathe, a tool that rotates a piece of wood about an axis of rotation, Orsbon “turns” each piece and begins to shape it into whatever item he happens to be creating at the time.

After the piece has been shaped to his specifications, Orsbon puts it away.

“Green wood has to be put up so it can season out,” he explains. “And that takes probably eight or nine months.

“Then I put it back on after it dries out, and I true it up because it’s gonna be egg-shaped and warped. And then I sand it.”

By the end of the process, Orsbon has spent about ten hours getting each piece just right, he said. And when you’re dealing with a single piece of wood, he said, you have to be very careful.

A single mis-step can ruin a piece.

Each year, he tries to recoup his investment in time and labor by taking his finished products to at least “half a dozen” festivals in Tennessee.

“Everything (you see) is from a solid piece of wood straight out of a tree,” Orsbon said.

View source and photos.

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