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Rod Surber's Profile

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I am a self-taught wood turner participating in a modern renaissance of using very old hand-turning techniques and modern, electrically powered lathes in which all the machine does is spin the wood; the tools are held and presented to the wood by hand, which means that each piece (even in a matched set), is entirely unique. I make many of the cutting tools I use myself as well, using very old (and somewhat primitive), blacksmithing techniques.

In keeping with long and dearly held environmental ethics, all of the wood I turn is salvaged, which simply means that it was not commercially harvested. Most of my processes start with green logs destined for the rubbish-heap or the firewood pile. My sources include construction sites, storm-damage, city corporation yards, green waste recycling centers, and a growing circle of citizens who are familiar with my work and call me when they prune or remove a tree from…

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  • Male
  • Born on November 14
  • Joined March 25, 2011

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About

I am a self-taught wood turner participating in a modern renaissance of using very old hand-turning techniques and modern, electrically powered lathes in which all the machine does is spin the wood; the tools are held and presented to the wood by hand, which means that each piece (even in a matched set), is entirely unique. I make many of the cutting tools I use myself as well, using very old (and somewhat primitive), blacksmithing techniques.

In keeping with long and dearly held environmental ethics, all of the wood I turn is salvaged, which simply means that it was not commercially harvested. Most of my processes start with green logs destined for the rubbish-heap or the firewood pile. My sources include construction sites, storm-damage, city corporation yards, green waste recycling centers, and a growing circle of citizens who are familiar with my work and call me when they prune or remove a tree from their property.

The finishes I use on my turnings are completely nontoxic, food-safe (exceeding all FDA standards for contact with food), produced by environmentally safe techniques from sustainable ingredients, and contain no petroleum distillates (solvents), or heavy-metal driers. Most of them are adapted from 18th century recipes based on food-grade linseed oil (from the flax plant, which is also the source for linen cloth). The only other ingredients I occasionally use are beeswax, ester of rosin (modified tree-sap, which is also nontoxic and food-safe), and shellac (on smaller items like mushrooms and twig-pots), which is also petroleum-free and safe for contact with food or use by children. On most of my traditionally-shaped (round) food vessels I use either vegetable oil or food-grade mineral oil (butcher block oil).

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