Red Oak Hollow

Woodturning, a joyful hobby making round things out of wood

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Architectural Woodturning

2005: Red Oak Hollow changes from the artistic to the architectural

The shop is located near our home out in the country south of Purcellville, VA
Artistic woodturning, the making of pens, bowls, and the like, has long been my focus. It has been great fun and the income from craft show sales and sales to individuals has pretty much paid for my hobby. However, as of early December 2005, I changed the focus of Red Oak Hollow from the artistic to the architectural. I purchased an architectural woodturning business from a fellow woodturner who wished to retire in order to move to Colorado. To better reflect the nature of the business, I also changed the name of my business to Red Oak Hollow Lathe Works. When my shop was ready, we moved his equipment from his place to mine on 3 Dec 2005. We were down about five days during the transition and then back in business.

A variety of sizes, but these balusters and newels are all the same pattern
It was all custom work and included balusters, newels, porch posts, finials, large porch posts, and such. With an Italian-made Centauro T-5 copy lathe, I was able to duplicate balusters, newels, table legs, and other woodturnings so that I could match pieces used in restoration or do multiples for new construction. But if it didn't fit on the Centauro, I hand-turned it on one of the other lathes in the shop.
This is the heart of the operation, allowing me to duplicate balusters, newels, table legs, and the like from a single pattern. It is much like a huge key-making machine with two cutting heads.

With the shop in the background, you can see four 12-foot porch posts leaning against a white oak tree in the yard
I want to show you some images of things which I have made for builders and architects. These long porch posts leaning against the tree in the picture to the right are twelve feet long and six inches square. I turned four of them for a restoration project in Florida. The wood is Western Red Cedar and the shop smelled great for days!

Support for a bistro-style granite counter top extension in a new Virginia home
This oak post was quite a job. First, it is solid red oak, eight inches in diameter, which required planing several 8/4 oak boards (which are rough cut to 2" thick and kiln-dried), then gluing and clamping them for several hours to dry before turning the post from the glued-up wood. I added a base and a cap of red oak and fluted the sides of the column with twenty 3/4" wide flutes. The piece is now being used to support a very attractive bistro-style counter extension from the granite kitchen counter in a new home in Northern Virginia. I am pretty confident that an 8" solid oak column will hold that granite counter top with ease.

My work from Dec 2005 to Jan 2013 was what you have seen -- balusters and newels, posts, finials, and more. I have produced some original architectural work but most of the designs have been taken from either actual pieces or from architectural drawings which were provided by my customers. Sometimes it was just an idea which I "turned" into reality, but mostly I used an existing piece which I then copied, making any changes as requested by the customer. Along the lines of original pieces, please take a look at the three articles on academic maces which I have made for three colleges around the country. Those are posted under News on my home page of this web site and I am still actively making academic maces.

This may look like a giant coaster, but it is a 42" diameter railing ring for a home.
This was particularly interesting to turn. My customer glued up sections of beech to make a full circle about 3" wide and 42" in diameter, then screwed it on a 44" round piece of MDF to back it. I attached a large faceplate to the MDF which then attached to the outboard end of my Oneway lathe. It took all afternoon to turn this piece of railing ring which was later segmented to fit into the installation. The builder had to install a railing along two sides of an open hallway above a living room so instead of having a square corner where the two railings meet, it is a curve. The builder used one quarter of this ring to join the two pieces of straight railing. I have done several pieces of similar ilk. I have also turned molding to curve around a window, bar rail to make the turn at the corner of a bar, and other similar pieces which are not readily available in a catalog. It has been unique turning to say the least.

One nearly completely deteriorated spire and three darn close to the original pattern -- $0
The caption under the picture on the left here tells the story. There wasn't much left of the original spire to guide me in designing the new ones of mahogany. A few clues, though, gave me just enough to be able to design and turn new spires in what I believe is the same pattern as the original. I could not tell what the original wood was without cutting into it, which I did not want to do, but these are of mahogany, a very weather-resistant wood suitable for outdoor applications.

These 18" balusters are made of Douglas fir. There are 250 of them and they are just under 4" square.
So you can see that my focus was very much on the architectural, but that has ended as I have finally retired for good and "turned" back to artistic woodturning. I have sold the business and we will move back to Manhattan, Kansas, where we were both born. If you wish to contact me, see the article under More Information on my home page about how to contact the woodturner. Thanks so much for taking the time to look through this web site. I have very much enjoyed being able to showcase my work here for you.

We have returned to Kansas, finding a home (and shop) between Manhattan and Wamego. I am doing a lot of hobby woodturning but occasionally do a paid job for someone who needs something round. I have also been teaching entry level classes occasionally for adults who are interested in learning more about the craft. Life is good.