Members’ Gallery: February 2013

Phil Hall || Wood Turnings

Wood Turnings by Phil Hall (MG: February 2013)

On display will be a number of pieces produced on a lathe – bowls, hollow vessels, vases, urns, goblets, plates, platters, etc. Most are fashioned from local timber felled by storms or arborists, you’ll see oak, maple, poplar, cherry, bradford pear elm, walnut, mulberry, red cedar, dogwood, and river birch. Another somewhat unusual source of wood was the old crib dam uncovered when the Embry Dam on the Rappahannock was dynamited by the Army corps of engineers in February 2004. That wooden crib dam (built in 1854) was submerged behind the concrete one (built in 1910) and its ancient yellow pine and white oak timbers have been retrieved. The beams came from trees 3 to

5 feet in diameter, probably cut and milled near Fredericksburg about the time of its construction. Some of the trees are thought to have been 250 to 300 years old when they were felled, dating back nearly to Columbus' arrival in the New World. Some of the retrieved wood went to Norm Abram of the New Yankee Workshop, but I and other local woodworkers got some too. Most of my pieces have a natural tung oil finish but some are dyed or gilded.

I have been turning wood for about five years now and am mostly self-taught. I acquired a wood shop when my wife , Barbara, and I built an addition on our house after I retired in 2004. Prior to my retirement I was a chemistry professor at Virginia Tech for 17 years and then dean of the faculty and vice president for academic affairs at Mary Washington College for 19 years. Wood turning is certainly very different from my earlier pursuits but I find it both challenging and relaxing to invest time and thought in an undertaking that has such an immediate and tangible outcome.