Woodturning Goals

Recently, I met a personal woodturning goal that I had set for myself. Meeting that goal has caused me to reflect a little on the place for goals in our hobby.

Personally, for me, the idea of goals within a hobby seems a little counter-intuitive – is there really a place for having goals for an activity that is supposed to provide relaxation and a change to focus on something other than the daily grind? Many of us have formalized goals as part of the “career planning” part of our jobs and find those goals to be challenging enough without needing to add stress to the other parts of our lives.

However, there may occasionally be a place for goals in the area of woodturning. Properly applied, reaching a goal in the hobby can add fulfillment and a sense of accomplishment. There is even a metaphor for this which comes directly from the hobby itself. Many turners, even some fairly well known turners, say they “let the wood become what it wants to become.” In other words, they mount the piece on the lathe and begin turning it with no real idea or design for the piece. Other turners take time to consider what they want the piece to look like when it is completed. They may even take time to draw the piece out on graph paper, or to turn practice pieces before applying their final design to a special piece of wood. Which of these two types of thought do you think results in the most professional and artistic turnings?

My goal was simple – I wanted to turn a certain number of bowls for Empty Bowls. But the goal resulted in some changes in my woodturning. The bowls coming off the lathe as I neared the end of the goal were more consistently of better quality (as measured by wall thickness top to bottom) than those that were created early in the process. As the number of bowls increased, I made small and subtle changes to my process that will stay with me as long as I turn bowls for any purpose.

There are a number of ways to apply a goal within the hobby. Here are a few ideas that may inspire creative thinking on your part:

  • turn a minimum of 10 pens for Turn for Troops in 2023
  • sign up for and attend a class at Marc Adams school of Woodworking by the end of 2025
  • turn my first hollow form by the end of 2023
  • turn one bowl/pen/lidded box/hollow form every month in 2024
  • draw a design on graph paper and see how close I can come to my design on the lathe
  • turn my first natural edge bowl
  • bring my first item in to the monthly Show-N-Tell at the club

To be honest, meeting the goal is not the important thing. The reward is what you gain from moving toward the goal. Without a target an archer would not know where to aim the arrow. With a target, the arrow at least moves away from the archer and progress is achieved. Go make something.






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