Wood turning at Sabbathday Lake

The last active Shaker community is 15 miles from our house in Casco. In the summer they have a series of demonstrations and workshops in traditional crafts.

We went over this afternoon for a demonstration of wood turning, which was presented by (just so you know, this is a Tripod link) Peter Asselyn of Durham, ME.

Well! It was just a demonstration, but I couldn’t have hoped to learn more from a workshop (except for getting hands-on time myself, I guess). We were the only people talking to and watching Mr. Asselyn turn half of a bowl, so it was almost a one-on-one lesson. When we got there, he had the base of the bowl in a chuck and was sanding the inside. While we watched, he put a padded disk in the chuck, fit the bowl between the tailstock and the pad, and did some finishing cuts on the outside; cut off the foot which had been in the chuck when we got there; took the remaining nub off with a chisel, with the bowl off the lathe in his lap (and the chisel pointing toward himself! I want a really heavy shop apron before I try that!) and rubbed the bowl with walnut oil (straight from the supermarket) to finish it.

All this time I was asking questions and he was explaining what he was doing, showing me the subtleties of sharpening the bowl gouge and using both sides of the bevel on the blade for cutting and polishing the bowl, telling me about what tools are needed, recommending that I look up the American Association of Woodturners and discussing lathes in general.
And then, he gave the bowl to us!

Published by deanb

male born 1944 mathematician by training, software engineer by profession; retired since Labor Day 2013 birder, cyclist, unicyclist, eraser carver, knitter when possible

3 replies on “Wood turning at Sabbathday Lake”

  1. So are there any more living Shakers at Sabbathday Lake? last I knew there were a couple of very oooollllddd ladies and one young guy who had joined up.
    They still had a seed business for herbs and such for a while, but by the time I knew they were just old and overpublicized. I got the distinct impression they wanted to be left alone.

  2. The woman who guided our tour said there were four Shakers now, two very old women, a middle-aged man (I think 50s) and a younger man (30s? 40s?).

    They have a big series of events over the summer, something pretty much every weekend, and there’s an organization “Friends of the Shakers” that helps support & maintain the place. They welcome people to Sunday morning religious services (Shaker meeting). Arlene asked what was appropriate dress for that so maybe she wants to go see sometime. It doesn’t seem to me as if they’re really trying to be left alone, but maybe the “Friends” have prevailed on them to be more welcoming than they’d really like.

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