Article: John Jordan Demonstrates For CMW September 22, 2012

October 11, 2012 21:45, submitted by Nettie Turpin (author: Norm Lantz, photos by Tina Collison)

Carolina Mountain Woodturners Demonstration by John Jordan

September 22, 2012

Another very large group of woodturners, and those just interested in the craft, witnessed an outstanding presentation at the September meeting of the Carolina Mountain Woodturners club. John Jordan is world-renowned for his woodturning skills. He has the ability to interpret things around him as inspiration for true artistic form.

John has his work featured in more than twenty-five museums including the Smithsonian Institution, Victoria & Albert Museum in London, LA County Museum, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. His work is in many of the best private and corporate collections.

John is a founding member of the American Association of Woodturners and an honorary life member of the Carolina Mountain Woodturners as well as the American Association of Woodturners.

John has a great sense of humor which was evident in many of his comments. One of his best “laugh-getters” was his comparison of Ambrosia and Red Maple as “If you ordered it from a catalog and paid $50.00 for one piece of it, it’s Ambrosia … but if you got a truck load of it for $50.00, it’s Red Maple!”

John started the day with a slide show on much of his work. As he quickly moved through the slides he casually remarked on the current location of numerous pieces, mostly in museums. Most impressive!

The first order of the day was an excellent bit on lathe maintenance. John uses WD-40 extensively to clean and lubricate. He cleaned the bed of the lathe, wiped it with paper towels then took the tool rest banjo off, cleaning and lubricating the bottom. Next was a compressed air cleaning of the chuck and all its parts, then a liberal coat of lubricant. John stressed the need for daily maintenance saying “It will make you turn better!”

Turning for the day started with a good sized piece of Bradford Pear, which was soaking wet because he cut it quite recently. John stressed that he never turns anything except green wood. Sometimes it is very wet and fresh but never dried wood. He touched briefly on the problems we all encounter with wet wood and gave us his preferred solutions. He also mentioned that he often turns pieces with the pith in the center with great success. Most of us have been told for years that you shouldn’t do that, but John makes it work.

After John turned the Pear log round between centers, he decided which was the bottom of the piece and formed a tenon. He rough shaped the outside of the piece into a vase and then mounted it in a four-jawed chuck.

Following lunch, John began hollowing the piece. He constantly reminded us of the importance of sharp tools. He also introduced us to his line of tools. He is a metal worker as well as a woodturner and fashions tools and accessories to suit his needs. One can see his items at his web site, His tools quickly removed waste wood and soon his calipers showed an even wall thickness to the bottom of the piece.

One really neat trick John shared with us was a unique way to remove "free" water from a very wet piece. He inserted the end of an air hose into the piece, covered the opening with his hand and blew out excess water through the exterior surface. It was amazing to see so much water bubbling out of a piece of wood. Yes, there were actually bubbles forming on the outside!

After hollowing and final shaping of the bottom of the vase using a jam chuck, John moved to an in depth discussion and demonstration on carving and embellishment.

He freely shared with us his opinion of the many different tools and options available to us through myriads of catalogs, on-line companies, and supply stores. He often referred to his web site as a source of additional information. Take time to visit this site! You will find many articles written by John for inclusion in top rated woodturning magazines. He freely shares his methods and techniques. There are numerous articles and “hands-on-how-to-do-it” items of such diverse interest you’re sure to find something of value. Go ahead and visit. You’ll be so glad you did!

Thanks, John for a gracious, inspiring, challenging demo.

The Carolina Mountain Woodturners

Submitted by Norm Lantz