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Third Turns a Charm with Ron Thompson

Segmented bowl turnings are Ron Thompson’s favorite choice of woodworking these days. A woodworker for 35 years now, Ron began with mostly flat work including shelves and end grain cutting boards. This one below is made from Exotic Brazilian Cherry and Domestic Cherry Wood.

 (Bowl creation #41, “The Tornado” is made from walnut, maple, cherry, beech, sycamore and sassafras, pictured above right)

Ron is currently a regular at Turning Tuesday’s Codger Lodge in Lubeck, West Virginia where he first learned to create these artistic featured bowls from Jimmy Morrison (Ron with Jim – left to right) holding Jim’s purple heart segmented bowl).

Not the Jim Morrison, legendary singer/song writer and once leader of The Doors band, but the just as talented at woodworking (and living legend!) leader and teacher of some of the finest woodworking that sings it’s own tunes from the results seen by many of the turners in this area. Jim shares his patience and years of experience with everyone.

Segmented bowls are made of individual glued and pressed pieces of wood into a ring shape, stacked for layers on to one another and then turned for some truly beautiful works of art. (See one of our previous blogs on making a segmented press.)

“I ended up reattaching the bowl with the same 4″ x 4″ x 3/4″ red oak spigot without the paper in between, and it worked just fine. Third turns a charm!”…Ron Thompson

For the past 2 years, Ron has been doing a lot of turning, learning from the hands of Jim, creating segmented bowls, rolling pins, paper towel holders, wooden utencils and pens.

Ron keeps getting better with each segmented turning along with his finishing techniques. His very first turning was a poplar and walnut segmented bowl (shown below).

I was the fortunate winner of Ron’s #35 segmented bowl creation at a Charleston dance earlier this year. This is made of beech and black walnut.

Ron is well on his way, making his 46th, walnut, curly maple and maple combination, 12-1/2″ diameter bowl (right), taking the better of 40 hours in segmented piece design, glue up, pressing, lathe setup, turning and finishing.

Initially Ron said, “I used a 2″ diameter poplar spigot, which was too small of a block for this size bowl and  the bowl came flying off the lathe. The second time, I took the advice of a co-turner and tried a 4″ diameter red oak spigot with paper in between the glue seal for easier later removal, but it came off earlier rather than later and took a spin across the shop too!”

We asked Ron, “This was still in the roughing stage right?”  He exclaimed, “NOOOOO! It was in the final finishing stages and I had to go a bit deeper fixing a few gouges left in the “frisbee” bowl!”

Ron continued, “I ended up reattaching the bowl with the same 4″ x 4″ x 3/4″ red oak spigot without the paper in between, and it worked just fine. Third turns a charm!”

Above Ron uses the WoodRiver New Wave 3″ Sanding Disc, Woodcraft Item #152802 and Micro-Mesh Sanding Disc, 1200 Grit in between coats of Watco Wipe-On Polyurethane Gloss and Mineral Spirits finish to attain the luster on the walnut/maple bowl.

Ron tells us about his finishing process in this video,

Ron said, “Although the feature rings are more complicated and assembly tedious, I love segmented turning because of the challenge and gratification or self-accomplishment when the feature inlay is done correctly, and the final result is a different and great looking piece.”  His next attempt is to include an aesthetic feature ring similar to this black walnut, cherry and maple “Thunderbird” design, created by Tom Vensel, shown below. Ron also stated, “I like the “Zig-Zag” feature rings and how they develop into the final shape.”

If you would like Ron to create a special turning for you, please contact him at ronetsr@hotmail.com.

Ron has donated a great amount of his work to the Ravenswood West Virginia Octoberfest fund raiser, also the Senior Citizen’s Christmas Dance in Charleston, as well as to many friends and family members. Great stuff Ron, keep forging ahead with new designs, perhaps we’ll see you in the American Association of Woodturners (AAW) Show some day!

We’ll have an upcoming blog on how to make segmented turnings, so stay linked!

auf Wiedersehen…Frank!

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Comments (9)

  1. avatar
    John Morris, September 26, 2012
    Great stuff guys. I look forward to the segmented turnings blog to Frank. What always amazes me is how some of these guys are turning out beautiful work within two years of beginning turning. Congrats Jim Morrison and way to go Ron!!!! Reply
  2. avatar
    Cindy McGuire, September 29, 2012
    Awesome!!! I've seen some of your work and you do a beautiful job, Uncle Ron! Reply
  3. avatar
    wood1014, October 3, 2012
    I see your bowls (great job). I have been making similar bowls for about a year now and your finishing is amazing. Reply
  4. avatar
    Raymond Russell, October 5, 2012
    Very nice, actually they are beautiful! Keep up the great work. Reply
  5. avatar
    Jerry, October 5, 2012
    Beautiful. Wish I had your skills. Reply
  6. avatar
    Fran Zetts, October 8, 2012
    I used to turn walnut wood (cherry) on machine lathe before school, during lunch, after school ,some evenings,and Sat. I have made many turnings and with a machine lathe, faster and easier. I used to teach school. Have a great deal of walnut wood as we took down 19 trees-Arimsh cut logs the way I wanted-thickness and lengths. Moved here to be with only child I raised myself but she recently passed away due to cancer. I need to get back to my hobby. I went into administration-Asst. Principal, so havent touch my lathe(bench model machine) since 1984. Would like to show you som e of my turning. Used bandsaw, table saw, router for molding of familyroom. Would like to expand ---do turning and other wood projects--as I have plenty of wood and need something to help me get involved in hobby for minds sake. Thank you, Fran Reply
    • avatar
      frank, October 8, 2012
      We would love to see your work, please share on our Facebook page or Blog Gallery. Get back in the shop and do what you like to do! We look forward to seeing your stuff! Reply
  7. avatar
    Kevin Leland, August 9, 2013
    Great post! It took a little time for the photos to load, but man when they did...It was total eye-candy! I've done a segmented vase. Fun! I haven't tried a segmented bowl yet. I need to retry a bowl turned from green wood first. I got a lathe for my sixteenth birthday. Which to me was better than a car. I didn’t even have my license at the time. I was the rare sort of kid who wasn’t in a rush to start driving. I tried turning a bowl once, from a piece of red oak, that was still green. It came out nice, but then as it dried, it cracked into two pieces. :-( I want to try again, 30 years later, on that same old lathe -that I still have. This time, I got some instructions from a master bowl turner, Felisha Wild. Here thy are: Reply
  8. avatar
    Tahir BORAK, December 2, 2013
    Sizinle tanışmak ve bu işi öğrenmek istiyorum selamlar iyi çalışmalar Reply

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