Meet Andy Keith, an expert wood worksman who makes unique products and wooden items to sell. The company, Burl and Badger, is located in Lynchburg Florida, and has become something of a local sensation.

Andy Keith’s Background:

Andy’s interest started with pens after seeing the movie “A Beautiful Mind” when he was in college. It was the scene where they give a pen a for high achievement that put Andy on a mission as a serious pen collector. His obsession ran so deep that he gave pens as gifts to his groomsmen at his 2008 wedding.

It was his new bride who bought him a lathe that got Andy into crafting his own pens out of wood. He has perfected fountain pens but can also make ball points if you ask. Turning his own pens, he realized that he could do so much more. He started turning shaving kits, brushes, and razors. The clean shaven Andy had no need to make extra containers to hold his beeswax-infused beard balm or beard trimmers, but we bet that if he decided to grow one he could craft some of these too.

As his skills grew so did the collection of wooden items. Seam rippers, honey dippers and even a homemade baseball bat filled his shelves. Anything can be made using his simple equipment so long as it is round and wooden.

wood

Keith sources old wood from all over the world including Burma, Honduras, South America and Israel. He is also nice enough to custom craft items out of wood that his customers bring in to him, although he prefers to use wood that has a highly textured grain.

The Burl and Badger has been in operation for a year and half now, with a high number of regular customers coming in from all over the area to see what he has new in store. But this is still just a hobby, Keith earns a living at the local college in the admissions division.

Making his crafts typically takes only a couple of hours, but to do it to absolute perfection is a never ending process. This is a great hobby for anybody to get involved in, especially if you have the time to come up with new and unique products.

Not everyone is going to have the same passion as Keith does, but he is a testament to how an idea, a block of wood and a lathe can make your dreams of wood crafting come true.

Homeowners all over the world are getting excited about portable infrared saunas. These nifty little houses give you better benefit than a steam sauna, but don’t require water and hot stones. After trying one out, I loved it so much that I decided to go ahead and customize one on my own, using turned wood of course.

The nice thing about building your own infrared sauna is that you can design it to fit into any space in your home. The only downfall is that with a portable infrared sauna, you can take it with you. Still, having a fixed outdoor sauna out on your back deck is certainly a good incentive to get healthy by soaking up some intense heat.

Choosing the Turned Wood

The challenge with projects this large and turned wood is finding pieces that are large enough to cover your needs. For this reason it is best to keep your infrared sauna on the small side, maybe roomy enough for two, but no more. The inside should be made using turned cedar to help repel moisture and get a nice scent. If you are lucky, you can find someone who is ripping down an old cedar deck or shed, and has no more use for the wood. If you treat those pieces properly you should be able to use them to line the inside of your infrared sauna.

For the outer walls you can get away with any type of wood, and then treat it and paint it to match your home décor. Pine makes a good outer layer, as it stands up well against the elements.

sauna

The only other important consideration when planning on building your infrared sauna is an electricity source. Infrared saunas don’t require water, but you will need to power them. It is recommended that you put the heater on its own breaker to avoid it interfering with the electricity for the rest of the home.

You can find the infrared heater sold in most hardware stores. Check its specifications to make sure it is sufficient for providing enough heat for the size of the structure that you are building. Connect it to a central locale inside of your hand built sauna to make sure that you get the full benefit no matter where you sit. Ensure that it is covered by a grate to protect against burns if someone accidentally butts up against it.

If this is too much work for you, check online for a pre-fabricated portable infrared sauna. Review sites can help you find the best one for the price range you are looking for. Either way, you are going to get a great place to relax, with incredible health benefits, no matter if you buy one or make it on your own.

When a homeowner constructs a wooden fence around their home, it is likely that the wood used is of high quality, such as cedar or even pine. These are durable and beautiful woods for sure, but over time they lose their color and appeal, no matter how hard you try and preserve them. Wood fences are exposed to rain, snow, direct sunlight and extreme cold, making them wear out over time. If you are lucky enough to have a wooden fence that has seen better days, it is time to take it down and turn it into a lovely decorative piece for your home.

Some overlook the benefits of wood turning and wooden fences, mainly because the planks are not thick, the way ideal pieces of old wood are. But with a bit of imagination you can find many uses for those thin planks and boards.

Candlestick Holders – That’s right, you can make gorgeous wooden candlesticks by wood turning an old fence. These are a perfect accessory for a hand made wooden dining room table or on top of a mantel piece over the fire place. Just make sure that you apply a heavy layer of fire resistant shellac if you plan on making these functional candle stick holders.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWooden Cutlery – Forks, spoons and knives can all be crafted from old wooden fence pieces if you have that level of skill with wood turning. Some find the intricacy difficult to master, but once you do you can add unique designs that make your wooden utensils handsome conversation pieces.

Desk Top Pencil Holder – This wood turning 101 project is the perfect project for beginners working with old fence pieces. Basically just a block of wood, turned with holes added can be further customized with fancy designs or even your name. These make pretty gifts to give out for birthdays and the holidays as well.

So What Do You Do Now That You Have No Fence?

You can go ahead and erect a new one, but know that it too will one day become a series of candle stick holders or cute knick knacks. We like the idea of a wireless K9 containment fence that protects your dog from running free, but is not visible from your property. This allows you to show off your beautiful larger wood turning sculptures that you have decorating your gardens. Check out the review sites for wireless pet containment systems and see how much benefit other home owners are getting from them. Even if you need to put a bit of work in to use a wired version, you need to have a look.

Fences are not the only wooden structures on your property that can be turned into works of art. Old decking, gazebos and sheds are all great sources of prime wood that makes a great base for your projects.

You don’t need to spend hundreds on wood in order to make beautiful furniture and crafts. There is plenty of wood lying around just waiting for you to scoop it up for free. Now we don’t advocate cutting down your own trees, we do think that large limbs make perfect chair legs.

Your own yard is a good place to start looking for fallen limbs that can be seasoned for projects later on. If you have a large tree with branches that are threatening your home, ask a professional to cut them down for you. These can then be seasoned and left to dry to make beautiful projects from wood turning.

In order to dry the limbs you will need to remove the outer bark and then cut the limbs into workable pieces of uniform cylinders. Store them in a cool, dry place remembering to check on them often for cracks or signs of mold. If large cracks do appear you will have to turn them down. Also think outside of the pine tree, cedar box. If you have something like white thorn on your property and trim it down, you’ll find that after seasoning the result is beautiful wood that is easy to work with.

WoodAnother place that you will find large limbs on the ground is in a forest setting. Grab your family tent and sleeping bag, and spend a few days camping in the woods, gathering wood for turning. Make sure that it is okay with the campsite first of course, but so long as the limbs are on the ground, most don’t care. In fact, you are doing them a service by cleaning up the forest for them.

You’ll need to have your pick-up truck close by to your campsite, and plenty of rope to help you haul it. Some people have been known to pick up the family tent a few times and move to other spots, just to get closer to a better supply of limbs. What makes this even more fun is that you get to have a small camping trip with your friends or family while working on your wood turning hobby.

If you have a preference, ask the campsite manager where you will find the most of that type of tree in order to save you time looking. Then you can pitch your family tent as close to that site as possible.

If you don’t mind looking and then waiting for the wood to dry, using what you find yourself for wood turning is very satisfying. It’s one thing to make something beautiful from scratch, but it’s even better when you found the wood to make it yourself.

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Woodturning5” by OttreOwn work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

When you watch someone else do a wood turning, the process can be both inspiring and intimidating. While it looks like a lot of fun, and the end results are beautiful, it looks like a hard skill to master and you feel like you will never get the hang of it. However with some basic instructions and some time, you can learn all of the tools that you’ll need in order to turn wood. Once you learn to do this, you’ll be able to create things like bowls, spindles, or other things from a simple block of wood. Below are the basics of wood turning, which we hope will help you to get started in the process.

So what is wood turning? Wood turning is a for of woodworking, but with some slight differences. In wood turning, the tools remain in place (usually a lathe), while the piece of wood moves around it. By turning wood you can make many different intricate and stylish designs on pieces of wood.

To begin with wood turning, you are going to need a few basic tools. They are a guage, a lathe, a chisel, a parting tool, a hollowing tool, a scraper, an auger, some wire, and a chatter tool. You won’t need all of these tools for each individual project, but the more tools that you have, the wide variety of things that you can make. If you are unsure what type of tools that you should get, speak to someone at your local hardware store and they may be able to help you out. Each type of tool comes made from different materials, and the type of material it is made out of will impact the wood in different ways. Do your research before making a purchase so that you can ensure you are getting the right thing.

Another thing to think about before you begin wood turning is safety. You want to have all of the proper equipment nearby so that you can prevent an accident from occuring. Always wear safety glasses while you are wood turning, and gloves are not a bad idea either. Have a first aid kit nearby in case something happens, and make sure it is well stocked. Also be sure that your work area is clean and remove anything that might get in your way. You don’t want to be tripping over things as you are working with these power tools. Make sure that you follow any safety instructions that come with the tools your purchase, as they are there to prevent you from getting hurt.  Lastly, make sure any device is unplugged when you are not using it to ensure that you don’t accidentally switch it on.

One you have everything you need all set up, you can begin experimenting with wood turning. Find some examples and simple how-tos online to instruct yourself. Being a good wood turner takes practice, so don’t be afraid to make some mistakes. Play around a little bit and see what you can come up with. Before long you will get the hang of it and you will be turning out some beautiful pieces.

"Wooden chair" by Bhaskaranaidu - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Wooden chair” by BhaskaranaiduOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

There isn’t much that can give you a better sense of satisfaction than building something useful on your own. Instead of going out and buying furniture for your home or apartment, why not build some? You may think that you don’t have the necessary skills, but with a little bit of education and time, there are some simple furniture pieces that you can build before long. If you are interested in making your own furniture out of wood, below are some of the easiest things that you can get started with. Of course the design and size of the items will play a part in how difficult it is to make, but for the most part these types of things shouldn’t be too difficult.

End Tables – The first thing you can try to make is an end table. If you go very basic with it, all you need is a top and some even legs. You can shape it how you want, and put on any type of wood finish to make it look the way you’d like. The hardest part about making any kind of table is making sure the legs are even and sturdy, but if you can do that, you should have a great table in no time.

Bookcases – Need a place to keep all of your books? Why not build yourself a bookcase. Since bookcases are normally very square or rectangular, they are easy to assemble. By making it yourself you can ensure that it will be big enough to hold all of your books, and that is has enough shelves. Make sure you use sturdy wood for this project, as the books are going to be very heavy and you don’t want it to break.

Shelves – Similar to bookcases, you can easily make your own shelves out of some spare wood. You don’t need a large piece in order to make a decent shelf, and they can be installed in just a few minutes. If you want to make your shelves look more unique, you can add designs to them or cut them into different shapes (as long as the back of it is flat against the wall).

Coffee Tables – These are similar to end tables, but with a coffee table, you probably want something that looks a little nicer. Still, they are just tables after all, so putting one together won’t be too tough. The hardest thing will be coming up with a great looking design and implementing it. This piece is going to be front and center in your room, so you want it to look as great as possible. If this is your first woodworking project, we suggest trying out something smaller before moving onto this.

Chairs – Lastly, you can make yourself a chair. The main thing you need to keep in mind with a chair is that it needs to be strong enough to hold someone’s weight, and it can’t wobble. Getting this just right can take time, but before long you should master how to do it. Building a chair with a lot of different designs may be difficult, but a simple chair should be easy enough to start out with.