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"The plotting of details - the strategy and accurate cutting of angles - is a challenge I find almost as exciting as rendering the finished product." - Alex Wallace

Alex at the lathe Tool cabinet

Woodturning: The art or process of shaping wood into forms on a lathe.

Stickware parquetry

Stickware is a type of pattern work made famous by woodworkers from Tunbridge Wells, England in the nineteenth century. Most commonly it creates patterns by joining contrasting colors, rods of wood (sticks) in geometric arrangements. The resulting star-like or snowflake designs can be sliced like sausage to be employed in boxes or vases. Since the pattern goes all of the way through, it is referred to as parquetry, as in a parquet floor, rather then inlay "marquetry" which is inset into a surface.

Brick lay vs. Stave construction

A bowl, box, or vase might be turned from a solid block of wood. This is very time consuming and wasteful of wood. In order to alleviate this, most turners utilize one of two techniques:

Segmented turning with brick laid construction
Segments of wood are cut in short mitered pieces, glued up as rings, and assembled in stacks.
Stave construction
Segments are assembled vertically like the stave of a barrel.

I elect to utilize stave construction which permits the wood grain pattern to be emphasized. However, the stave joinery requires the use of compound angles in its construction and considerably more complex geometry.

It's thought that the ancient Egyptians introduced lathe turning, perhaps as much as 4,000 years ago.

Alex works with over 175 different species of wood. A one-way lathe, Robelund sliding table saw, Perfomax thickness sander, Hamlet turning tools, and numerous other tools are used to make each piece.

I select multi-hued woods from plantation trees, often creating geometric designs in a technique called parquetry. I choose woods of the natural colors I desire for the design rather than using dyes. Finding and trying new woods also adds to the continued excitement of the projects. I collect woods whenever I travel away from my studio.

Each piece begins with a hand-drawn plan. Prototypes are developed. Adjustments are made. Then the magic begins.

Click the thumbnails below for details on some of the steps in the making of a piece.

The result:

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