Barbara Dill's mulit-axis turning article in the fall 2007 issue of American Woodturner was inspired by a class she took from Mark Sfirri. You've probably seen his odd baseball bats. So I dd a web search - using to avoid all the Google commercial clutter - on "Mark Sfirri". Found that he does a lot more with multi-axis turning than just odd baseball bats - a LOT more. His turnings of human forms got stored in my One Of These Days I'm Gonna Try - Human Forms folder of turning methods to explore some day.

That day has arrived.

The turning club I joined has a President's Challenge - for each monthly meeting turn a piece that has the first letter of that month somehow associated with the piece. Because the December club meeting is to be a Christmas dinner, for November, I need an "N" piece and a "D" piece. And that's where Sfirri's human forms idea came in. I'd turn at least two Nude Dudes - with fig leaves of course.

You can turn standing "human forms" using just two axis - one for the legs and hips and one for the waste, chest, neck and head - "blending the two at the waste/hips. You can add a third axis if you want to tilt the head. Here's the idea - using a Chris Stott example because it shows the centers on one end.

Basic between centers sprindle turning stuff - fairly simple and straightforeward right?

Well yes - and no. There's that Turning In Shadows thing and the Looking Two Moves Ahead thing inherent in multi-axis turning. Some of the shape you turned in Step 1 is going to be taken off when turning Step 2 and the area where Step 1 and Step 2 "blend" can get tricky since you have to turn off the lathe to see where you're at. Then there's the "Looks OK From The Side - BUT - From The Front . . ." problem.

I'm fairly good with simple CAD drawing and I can come up with a method of turning a human form. But going from theory to reality takes some experimentation and theory revision. It's easy enough to turn a stylized human form. Turning a specific stylized human form requires some trial and error / evolution in order to get proportions worked out and techniques developed.

What I wanted to do is turn a set of human forms representing a human male at various ages, the body height, outline and posture varying over time. - a set of Nude Dudes.

Here are the first sketches for the series - 5 representing Youngest , 1 and 3 shuold be swapped, 3 represeting Oldest. Need to refine the proportions - lanky for the youngest, then filled out more and a more erect and confident figure, and then gravity's affect on center of gravity, posture and height over time. Will take some more sketching before I get the What and Why down sufficiently to make the set I'm after.

If there's time I may take this male form idea in a different direction. A friend suggested doing a set of figures in different colors of wood to look at the idea of "race" - a figure in maple or some other "white" wood, another in blackwood or black walnut (ebony is just too precious and expensive to experiment with), and a few more - in either canary wood or yellow heart, - some reddish wood, maybe redwood, padouk or even bloodwood - and one in mahogany, - then a figure done from a laminate of the other woods used to suggest that we're all made up of several, if not all, of "the colors", something that will no doubt be the future humans in the not so distant future..

more to come