Start of the project

After the necessary preparations, the Master-Apprentice Project officially started in January 2024. And perhaps the best place for such a start is at Midgaard in Almen (NL), home base of VersHout.

For 4 days, Martijn and Pieterjan delved into the basics of turning on a pole lathe. Since several professional greenwood workers were present at Midgaard that week, anyone who wanted to, could join. The first day started with a presentation by Martijn about the history of woodturning, after which not only we, but also a number of the other attendees started turning enthusiastically.

Although Pieterjan had already gained quite some turning experience, we started at the very beginning of the process. This allowed us to go through all the steps again and immediately add more refinement to the techniques used.

The wooden bowl might very well be the foundation of turning. At least in the way that it somewhat defines us as humans, who have learned to prepare food by cooking it. An almost essential product in your kitchen. And a bowl also offers a great opportunity to practice different techniques of both woodworking in general and turning more specifically.

First of all, a mandrel had to be turned, using a gouge and a chisel. This mandrel is attached to the piece of wood that is to become the bowl. You do this by drilling a hole in the wood, about 2 cm deep, and hammering the mandrel into it. By making the mandrel just a millimeter thicker than the diameter of the drill, it stays firmly in place.

The second day started with a presentation by business coach Ellen de Lange-Ros from Faxion. She supports gifted and creative independent entrepreneurs. She told us about professionalisation, working methods and how you deal with your customers. All from the perspective of people who generally do not fit the picture of a standard entrepreneur, but are mainly active from a creative angle and are mainly interested in what they do and less in making money (although of course you have to be able to make ends meet to keep your interesting activities!). All in all, it was right up our alley.

In the afternoon there was time to use the spindle from day 1 and turn a bowl.

On day three we took up a collaboration with Bob Krijnen. Both Martijn and Bob already had experience with turning a so-called ‘locking lidded box’, or a jar with a bayonet closure. Both had learned this from another teacher, so there were some minor differences in the approach. With Pieterjan as a student and critical listener, it was interesting to compare the different methods.

On day four, and also the last day of this first meeting in the forest, we went through the steps of turning a cup from end grain wood. The piece of wood Pieterjan started with turned out to have a knot in it. You don’t want this in the wall of your cup, because this greatly increases the chance of leakage. But luckily Pieterjan was creative and simply turned this part of the wood a little thinner, creating a cup on a foot. This of course made the cup a bit less deep, but now that it has actually become more of a wine cup, that may not be so bad.

The result was proudly shown to Sjors, who looked on approvingly. The core, containing the mandrel of course still had to be removed.

After this cup there was just enough time left to make an extra bowl. And with that it was really time to take down our tents, pack our things and travel back south again.