Capturing Your Creativity – One Powerful Secret

This week I wanted to share a method I use to solve problems and come up with solutions to problems drawing from other experiences in my life; or, seemingly not connected to the current dilemma in front of me. I sometimes refer to this as connecting the dots.

Let me use my Turner’s Laser Guide as the first example. The guide is a device I invented for the express purpose of letting a turner know where the cutting edge of a hollowing tool actually is when one cannot actually see the cutting edge. When we are hollowing something with a relatively small opening, the cutting edge is not visible while actually cutting. It could be blocked by shavings or, what will become the shoulder of the vessel if the opening is small. The hope here is that turners will be able to achieve consistent wall thicknesses efficiently without coming through the side wall of the object. Traditional methods use stop and see, stop and measure, get the caliper out and hope for the best methods to check wall thickness. While these methods work, they are tedious and can be less than reliable.

Systems referred to as “Captive Hollowing Systems” which are used when hollowing large or deep vessels, outside the capabilities of hand-held tools all offer a laser pointer option. It is very easy to accidentally pierce the side of a vessel 10” or 12” away from where you can see your work. One day I found myself hollowing yet another Christmas Ornament globe. This one was something I had invested lots of time in preparing the material and I was getting concerned that I might be very close to piercing the side of my project. The thought popped into my head that if I were using a larger captive hollowing system I would be able to rely on the laser to guide me to the desired wall thickness.

 All I had to do was figure out how to mount a laser pointer onto a hand-held hollowing tool without negatively affecting its usability. I went to work exploring various mounting options and finally decided to design a mount that would attach to the ferrule, the bar, or the handle and point directly at the cutter’s edge from above. And the rest is history as they say. (See the production version here)



I took a class some 15 years ago on how to make segmented vases and bowls. Although it was a wonderful class and I learned a lot, my personality doesn’t allow me to focus on one project for long periods of time. I needed something smaller which I could complete in 1 day rather than 1 month. I took the methods I had learned from constructing highly decorative feature rings in segmented vase construction and applied them to something smaller, Christmas Ornaments.

In the beginning, going was slow and tedious, but rapidly progressed to the point I could make them quickly enough to turn a profit and I sold around 250 before moving on to other items. I used methods I had learned from other woodworking disciplines, scroll saw, drill press and table saw.

Today, I am able to make kits available to the general woodturning community because I use a laser cutter-engraver instead of my scroll saw to cut intricate patterns with precisely fitting inserts. I am able to mass produce items which previously were beyond my physical ability and offer them at affordable prices.

Most of us have many varied experiences accumulated over a lifetime. Draw from something you learned previously and merge it with what you are trying to do now. I started a scroll saw club and became a skilled scroll sawyer. You can see the influence in these ornaments. (think stack cutting).

Here is the secret:

Take time to ask how you might solve a similar problem if you were in a different discipline. You have a problem on the lathe. What if you were a woodcarver? A blacksmith? A machinist? An auto mechanic? A boat builder? A heavy equipment operator? A doctor, baker, candlestick maker? How would someone with those skills attack and solve the problem you are facing?


Weather you call it connecting the dots or thinking outside the box, or cross pollination, it works. The rest is up to you, because wherever you go there you are.


Here is my inspiration for this week’s message and some of my favorite promises:

KJV Prov. 8:12 I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions.

KJV Exod. 35:31 And he hath filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship;



I have received many calls and emails asking when the Laser Cut Kits will be back on the web site for sale along with the Universal Setting Jig and Quad Jig. I can't say thank you enough for the warm reception these items have received. I appreciate your enthusiasm and willingness to order my new stuff. We will repost them on or around April 15th when our woodworking show season is over and we will be around to make more. Except for the little inventory I have committed to the wood show booth, I'm out. I am struggling to keep up with the demand. I will send an announcement to let you know when they have been reposted. It has been a very long and tiring season this year so Sweet Janice and I are looking forward to staying home for a while and catching up on little things, like laundry and sleep!


Travel Log:

Back from Tampa, Florida and a very successful show. Horrible drive back to Atlanta, Ga Sunday due to road construction delays and heavy weekend traffic. It made for a very very long late night drive after a particularly hard show day. I’m glad to report that we made it safely and expect to make a full recovery. We have an off week because of Easter and will get to make it to church for the first time in 3 months. The next show is in Atlanta April 1-3 so the drive will be much shorter than usual. The final show will be the following week in Kansas City so hope to see you there if you are close.



I have temporarily suspended some items we manufacture in-house because it is impossible to meet your expectations for shipment and delivery with our current travel schedule. The last show of this season is in Kansas City, Mo April 8-10th. We will re-list everything after that. Keep the emails and prayers coming.






In case you didn't already know, I have posted tons of "Free Download" stuff on my web site.

"Free Downloads HERE"

Including Bottle Stopper Designs - 50 Plus classic designs. Free PDF


This Week's Sale

Everything Texturing Master Package.



Package Includes:

  1. Knurling tool 3/8" x 12 tpi
  2. Knurling tool 3/8" x 16 tpi
  3. Knurling tool 1/4" x 12 tpi
  4. Knurling tool 1/4" x 16 tpi
  5. Rotary Texturing tool kit includes 3 HSS special burrs and brass brush
  6. Chatter Tool Kit with 4 Blades for different affects
  7. Micro Detailer Tool for very fine lines with no tear-out
  8. DVD - Texturing for Turners made easy with Ron Brown run time 77 min

The retail value if purchased individually is $279.93

Sale price $219.00 plus $5.99 shipping USA Only. Save $60.93 or 22% over regular price.


Starter Texturing Package

Package Includes:

  1. Knurling tool 3/8" x 12 tpi
  2. Rotary Texturing tool kit includes 3 HSS special burrs and brass brush
  3. Chatter Tool Kit with 4 Blades for different affects
  4. Micro Detailer Tool for very fine lines with no tear-out
  5. DVD - Texturing for Turners made easy with Ron Brown run time 77 min

The retail value if purchased individually is $159.94

Sale price $129.94 plus $5.99 shipping USA Only. Save $30 or 19% over regular price.