It comes from the wood itself as we experience it coming alive on the lathe by cutting away the unwanted parts to find the desired heart of the piece, much as a sculptor would use chisel and mallet to fashion his contours.
Some imitate Native American weavings, others come from Allen’s wife’s quilt design wall; in some spalted woods we see Smoky Mountain sunsets in ever-changing light. We often sketch a new design after a visit to an art museum. A drawing of the solar system suggested one of the blocks that uses planet-like circles. Patterns are constantly swimming around in our heads.
Yes. The turnings pictured in our website Showroom are unique and may already be sold. However we keep good records and can often replicate a piece very much like the one pictured.
We use a numeric system to track our product catalog, including a sketch of a bowl’s silhouette, its dimensions, and all the woods we used in its production. This allows us to make a very close reproduction. Your bowl would never be exactly the same. You may like the bowl’s overall design, but would like us to use the woods of your choice. We do a lot of custom work. (See below and our Terms of Service)
Producing a segmented bowl is a very long process. We first turn a bottom section (sometimes laminated from many pieces). Then we begin constructing a middle section: We build each block in the design individually. We build the section by gluing precision cuts of these blocks into a 360 degree ring, held together by a giant rubber band. We set it aside to dry. We pre-assemble many of these rings in different designs and stock them away, ready to attach to a previously-turned bottom. When a middle section is glued securely to the bottom section and completely dry, we turn this new assembly on the lathe. To this we glue a new previously-assembled multi-block ring to serve as a rim, and allow it to dry completely. Next we place the entire assembly back on the lathe for final turning and finishing. So, we have a number of bowls in process at a time, usually 8-10. If we”re at the point of the final finishing step, we can sometimes finish 8-10 bowls in one day. So, it’s almost impossible to say how long just one bowl takes.
All of our work is food-safe and functional. We employ sanding sealer to fill the cells of the wood and stabilize the piece. We use NO stains or dyes at all; all colors you see in our work are natural wood colors. Our signature low-gloss finish is a combination of beeswax and oil. The final application of 4 light coats of Waterlox ®, a tung oil derivative, makes the piece waterproof and food-safe.
Simply wash by hand with mild dish detergent and water and dry thoroughly. Don’t let liquids stand for a long time. Occasionally you may want to refresh the finish with a coat of light food-grade mineral oil, easily found in a pharmacy or grocery. (Do not use vegetable oil to refresh the finish. It’s OK for salad dressing, but not to condition your bowl or platter.) NEVER put a bowl or platter in a dishwasher! NEVER put a bowl or platter in a microwave oven. With good care, following these easy instructions, your bowl or platter will last indefinitely to become a family heirloom to be passed down through generations.
Black Walnut, Cherry, Maple, Poplar, Oak, Hickory, we harvest from our own 10 acres bordering Winchester Creek, in Haywood County, NC. We buy some native woods and exotics, like Purpleheart, Yellowheart, and Osage Orange. Much of our stock comes from the waste bins of other woodworkers–like Brazilian Cherry, Spanish Cedar, Bloodwood, Pink Ivory, Ambrosia Maple, Wenge and Iroko. We”re always looking for Burls of any species, for their amazing grain and patterning. Because we can make good use of small leftovers, we often get pieces of hard-to-find exotics like Asian Palm, Snakewood, Ebony, Marblewood, or Zebrawood from other turners.
One of our customers delivered her own Oak to the shop. It was harvested from her family’s home place where her many family generations had lived. She ordered bowls and platters for each of her 4 grown children, as forever keepsakes, symbolizing their heritage. She hoped they would pass them along to their own children eventually. It was very enjoyable crafting this very special order, especially after seeing how much they like the results.
We teach woodturning, including segmented turning, in our shop in Waynesville, North Carolina. We also sell pen blanks, wood cuts, pre-assembled segmented rings and blocks. Just call 828-421-2693 to discuss your interests and supply needs. We often trade segmented turning lessons for shop-time the students invest, working for us, cutting and assembling parts.
A customer might like the shape of a bowl, but want it done in different woods, or alternately, like the contrasting woods used, but want a different bowl style. Some love a bowl’s design but want it much larger to serve more guests. Our platters can be made larger than those seen in the Showroom, or of different wood species. We often sell a special gift bowl, like a wedding gift salad bowl, then later our customer returns to order individual smaller serving bowls for a special 1st anniversary gift. That happens frequently.
Our Lazy Susans can be custom-ordered up to 36″ in diameter and fitted with special heavy-duty hardware, if needed, for larger dining tables or buffets. A favorite special order came from a restaurant chef in Asheville, NC. He admired the 2″-thick, natural-edge Cherry Burl Cutting Boards, but wanted a very large one. He ordered the largest we could find in the next 6 months, willing to wait. It seems he caters many special holiday events-Thanksgiving, Christmas, Holiday Parties- wanted to feature it as a “seasonally-decorative” centerpiece for his spread of breads and cheeses. To his delight, we were happy to provide one about 35″ in length and hand-delivered it. A great deal of satisfaction as owners and craftsmen of Winchester Woodworks comes from that sort of customer response.
Mention was made of the nostalgic customer who provided her own Oak to create special-order heirlooms for her family. That was one our my best custom orders ever. Just know that we are very open to any special needs you made have, and are willing to work with you, if at all possible.
All custom orders require at least partial pre-payment before we begin.
The prices you see do include shipping, handling, or insurance charges (OVER $100). Otherwise, the charges will be added when your order ships. Prices for our products are subject to change without notice.