Categories: General turning
About Malcolm and his work
My original vocational short-list was steam locomotive driver, Canadian Mountie or scientist. In the event, science lost, and 32 exciting years ensued of study, academic research (in a team working on cancer biochemistry) and industrial development. (Incidentally, the word exciting refers more to those colleagues forced to share my laboratory!)
In 1981, a world-wide price collapse in synthetic fibres prompted ICI to offer me an early retirement package, which included training for running a small business, a short course with Peter Child, and some money. Having seen what is called “the writing on the wall”, preparations had already been set in motion for a second manifestation as a woodturner. Surprising, because, until I bought an ML8 in 1976, I had no memory of seeing a woodturner at work, or even having been close to a woodturning lathe.
At that time, we were living in Harrogate, and many a wet Saturday was spent in the antique furniture shops of that town sketching classical furniture parts, and trying to understand the “grammar” of how various turned elements can be brought together in a pleasing manner.
So 1982 saw Margaret and me, free from direct responsibility of our children, searching for a property with workshop space and near to steam locomotives. After a year, we found a small country house with workshop (including 3 phase) near to Carnforth Steam Town, which meant that I could woodturn all week and mend, and occasionally act as fireman, on steam locomotives at the weekend. Paradise? You bet!!
Over 20 years, most of the turning work has been commissioned by other professionals, who supplied the timber blanks for staircase and furniture parts. In addition, some really odd jobs have come my way, such as an imitation brandy barrel, with tap, for a photogenic St Bernard. Or the full scale wooden prototype fire extinguishers (don’t ask!). Or a presentation Met. pattern truncheon for a retiring Hong Kong Police inspector. Or a set of 17th century virginal legs (for a harpsichord maker). Or etc etc.
Steam Town, as a place to play trains, closed about 5 years ago. But the wood spinning continues, such as for a deluxe kitchen with 147 turned components!