I Wanted to Turn a Snowman - Confessions of a First Time Woodturner

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When I came to work at the Woodcraft Corporate office late last year, I knew little about woodworking. I spent years working in a very different type of business and it was all new to me. Before my life became so busy with running kids every which way, I was a DIY junkie. I loved to do crafty things, but other than restoring a dining room table and painting a chest of drawers, I hadn’t done many of those kinds of projects in recent years. 


Confession: I had the guys in my freshman woodshop class do all my projects.

Whew, that’s been bottled up for a while, but yep, I just didn’t really care about the projects and the guys seemed good at it, so why not? It’s been a few years since then (ahem, ok, way too far back for me to remember details) but I just remember being super intimidated by the equipment and losing a digit for a class just didn’t seem worth the trouble.

Confession: It has taken time to figure out what all this equipment does.

As a digital merchandiser on Woodcraft.com, I’ve learned a lot about woodworking equipment since I began and have found the idea of wood turning a very interesting concept. So, a piece of equipment spins wood around and you create something out of it? Wow, that’s pretty cool.

While going through items on the website last year I found the Columbus store’s classes on turning a snowman and I thought they were adorable. Ok, now I wanted to turn a snowman. So, when the opportunity for a digital team class came up, I decided that’s what I was going to do and others decided to as well.

So, snowman turning we did!                                       

We chose maple for the bottom of our snowmen  and walnut for the top and cut to the walnut to 6 inches.

Karen, a part of Woodcraft’s drop ship team, teaches pen turning classes and thankfully was willing to assist us.


Confession: Losing a digit was still a concern.

To people just starting to work with wood, the equipment is a little intimidating.. Of course, we took proper precautions and wore safety equipment, but I was still concerned I’d screw something up.

The beginning was the most difficult for me. This big piece of wood is square and I have to make it round? Ok. So, I set off with a rougher and started. It was a bit clunky at first and took some time to figure out how to stand and how to hold the handle.


Confession: I had visions of the turning tool hitting me in the face.

Luckily, this did not occur, but I’m not a completely graceful person, especially when I’m feeling intimidated by something. With Karen’s help, I slowly got it into a round shape. But, it took some time to get comfortable with the turning tool and realizing that each tool has a specific purpose and how to get it to do what you wanted it to do. I did find that after a while I got more comfortable with the tools and slowly started getting into a rhythm.


Confession: I was totally unprepared for the amount of sawdust.

I knew there’d be some sawdust, but wow! Now I understand why air filtration and dust collection is so important while working with wood. I can say I had it everywhere. In my hair, down my shirt and stuck to my shoes.

It took almost three hours to turn and sand our snowmen. That was a decent amount of time for that kind of work, but they were a pretty big and ambitious project for some of us first time turners.

We all decided carefully how we wanted to decorate, and being very particular ladies, we took our time to make sure our snowmen would be perfect. Because we went with a folksy hat, we wanted to dress and paint our snowmen to the match the style. Over the next few days we put General Finishes Arm R Seal Top Coat (easily wipes on) and Black Dog Salvage Guard Dog Finish on them and glued the top to the body supported by a dowel. I found some rhinestone pieces in my craft bag so I decided to give him a little ‘bling’ and we took clay and made some little carrot noses. Sticks from the backyard made him complete by providing his cute arms. They are all unique and different.


The snowmen were all unique, with their own personalities. 

Confession: I totally get why people like woodturning.

While intimidating at first, it was a lot of fun. I can understand why veterans groups use woodworking as a way to treat PTSD and help disabled veterans. It was calming, but mostly it gives a sense of accomplishment. It gives you a break from a busy life. I love my snowman and am very proud of it!  He will sit on my mantle for years to come and hopefully someday be handed down to my kids and their future children. And who knows, maybe I will eventually make a snowman family. 

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  • DR from clermont
    This is a great project for any new wood turner and this great group of ladies did an excellent job on their snowmen. Perhaps it's me, but if the lathe height was lowered several inches it would be much better. Don in Georgia

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