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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

National Woodworking Month Woodworker Spotlight: Mark Sfirri

 Todays choice in my month long homage to woodworkers is Mark Sfirri. I first read an article on Mark Sfirri several years ago in a woodworking magazine and was captivated by his novel approach to turning and furniture design. Sfirri incorporates multi-axis turning into his work, creating sculptural pieces that extend the limits and range of the lathe. In woodturning, there are generally two ways which person can turn wood, face plate turning, which creates bowls and vessels, and turning between centers. This definition in itself is very lacking and people seem to be pushing the limits in every way possible. As far as turning between centers is concerned, the basic idea is that a piece of wood is suspended between two centers, and one center is connected to a motor source which turns the wood.  A blade is then presented to the wood perpendicular to the piece producing shavings and turning the wood round. This is how table legs and bed posts are produced.

By turning a piece of wood and then resetting one of the centers so it is offset from the original axis, you can get interesting results. This practice, known as multi-axis turning, has been around for centuries and is used in producing oval handles for hammers and also what is known as a country Queen Anne  (or turned Queen Anne)leg. Mr. Sfirri uses this concept to create whimsical and often humorous turning and sculptures. Below you will find bats twisted in knots and a table that looks like it is ready to pounce. Every time I come across one of his turnings I am tempted to put down whatever I am doing and start turning!. For this reason, Mark Sfirri was one of the first people I thought of when I decided to honor woodworkers.

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