Monday, May 21, 2018

Miniatures and other Small Stuff - Jim Talley

CS200909-101Jim Talley demonstrated turning a natural edge winged bowl and several small things for us during the September 8th meeting. Jim is a retired HS math teacher from Athens, Ga and a past president of CWT. Jim's small turnings included a top, a Tagua nut and a typical mushroom he cranks out in volume for selling as his low cost item at craft fairs.  He generally does not put finish on the mushrooms to be able to keep his selling point at $2. He once turned 170 in one day. Jim is an entertaining presenter who offered up some of the following tips:

Winged bowls

  • Put a pieces of tape on the edges of a winged bowl to give you advance warning of potential injury.
  • Use a backdrop to help see the "ghost" when turning items with a lot of air like natural edge bowls, burls or turnings with voids and turn at high speed.
  • Slow down the lathe to sand


  • Large items provide some WOW factor in your booth but do not sell nearly as well as smaller, less expensive items.


  • Make your bowl tenons small enough so your chuck jaws are almost closed to insure maximum jaw contact with the wood.


  • When turning a mushroom, loosen the jaws and move the piece ever so slightly for an off center turning on the stem.


  • Slow down your work when chattering starting at perhaps 1500 RPM
  • Color with felt tip pens holding them pointed down and using the edge of the tip
  • Yellow is a nice chattering highlight color
  • A top's height to diameter should generally be in a ratio of about 1:1 for a pleasing shape.

CS200909-Talley-pendantsTagua nuts (or vegetable ivory)

  • Glue the nut to a glue block (typically a scrap piece still in the chuck from a previous small turning) with yellow glue
Reported by Michael Peace, Photos by Jack Morse and Jim Talley

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