Cookie Barker is an incredible woodturner in the Forest 2 Home woodworking community. Forest 2 Home asked Cookie to share her woodworking and woodturning journey with us and this is what she shared:
When and why did you start woodworking?
I grew up on a dairy farm and was very much a "tomboy". I always enjoyed doing stuff with my hands. My first experience with woodworking began in 7th grade when I pleaded with the guidance counselor in school to let me take "shop class" (industrial arts) with the boys. At that time (mid 70's) all girls took home economics and boys took shop. So I, evidently, was persuasive enough to be allowed to take shop and was placed in a class of 9th grade boys taking woodworking. It was in this class where I fell in love with woodturning. There I turned my first lathe piece, a lamp that I still have in my shop today.
Did you immediately start woodturning or was that an interest you developed overtime?
Woodturning has always been my primary interest in the woodworking area. I bought my first lathe right after I started my science teaching career. And for nearly 30 years woodturning was a hobby that I played with on the weekends. I started making bowls from some of the larger firewood pieces we had. Later I did some spindle work making custom fly rod handles for a rod builder that lived in the area. After I retired last year, I've had more time to "play" on the lathe and I started turning segmented bowls.
How and where did you learn about woodturning?
Other than one class in 7th grade and a one-day seminar as an adult, I am entirely self-taught. I used to read magazine articles to get ideas of what tools to use and how to do certain things - now I just watch YouTube videos.
What tools do you recommend to someone just starting woodturning?
I've found that the roughing gouge, the bowl gouge, a parting tool, and a scraper (carbide tip) are practically the only tools I use now. So, I guess that's a good place to start. I have quite a collection of tools I thought I needed - and they just collect dust now.
What is your woodturning favorite project you have created?
My favorite project is always the last project I have created. Each piece speaks to me, and I love everything about it. When I work with firewood pieces, I am amazed at what can be found hiding inside the block. Turning a segmented bowl has really allowed me to be creative; I crave the opportunity to create. Now that I have added a scroll saw to my shop, I am incorporating inlays into my bowls - this is my latest technique and what excites me the most. I see a wide-open avenue to explore.
Cookie's most recent project of an inlay bowl featuring Forest 2 Home Cherry wood, Hard Maple wood and Walnut Wood
Where do you learn new woodturning techniques?
I get a few from YouTube videos. But mostly I allow new techniques to grow from my own vision of what I'd like a bowl to be like. It's very much a trial-and-error kind of process for me. I'm not afraid to explore and try new things. I'm just always careful to make sure my techniques use tools safely.
What is your favorite Forest 2 Home hardwood to work with?
Tough question. I love different aspects of each that I use. Hard Maple wood, for example, is my go to to brighten up a piece. I use Walnut wood to bring warmth in; White Oak wood to create ribbon-like lines; Red Oak for hologram-like features (Curly Maple and Birdseye Maple are used for this too); and Cherry wood brings a home comfort to the bowl. From this response I think you can see that I do not have a formal education in woodworking - I create from the vision I see.
What is the biggest workshop mistake a woodworker can make?
Make sure you know the proper use of each tool in your shop and how to use it safely.
What is your best piece of advice for anyone interested in woodworking or woodturning?
Go for it! Watch some YouTube videos and enjoy the craft. Most importantly, be safe.
Not only has Cookie produced various #BuiltWithF2H projects, but she has previously provided a woodturning tutorial that you can access here. More of Cookie’s work can be found on her Facebook page, As The Lathe Turns. To learn more about woodturning, head to our recent blog, Woodworking 101: Everything You Need to Know About Woodturning!
If Cookie has inspired you to start your own woodturning journey, be sure to let her know in the comments below! Share your woodturning and woodworking projects with Forest 2 Home by using hashtag #BuiltWithF2H on Facebook and Instagram and tagging us on Instagram with @shopf2h. We can’t wait to see and share your work! Happy Woodworking and Happy Woodturning!