by Stephen Lazarus



In my shop I have 14 pieces of equipment that allow me to mill lathe-ready turning blanks. I have around 200 species of wood to choose from.
Some of my bowls are turned directly from a dried block of wood. I can turn a piece like this from start to finish. If the wood is wet (freshly cut) or moist (partially air-dried), the bowl must be rough-turned to about ¾” thick, then set aside for 3-12 months to dry. During this drying process, the wood will warp and change its configuration. Once dried, it is trued up on the lathe and finished. Oftentimes, I will glue together several contrasting species of wood to create striking geometric and visual interest. These blanks can be turned and finished once the glue has dried (24hrs).
My bowls are turned on a Oneway 1640 lathe. Most turning is done with 3/8” and ½” bowl gouges, although many specialty tools make their way into the box score. When using woodturning tools, the right and left hands have entirely different functions. The right hand is used to push & pull, twist, swing (left & right), and lift or drop the cutting edge. The left hand is used to add weight to the tool, initially position the cutting edge, prevent skid, and brake the advancement of the cutting edge by squeezing the tool towards the rear-positioned right hand.
One interesting feature of woodturning is that the final result is not guaranteed. One small misstep of the tool’s cutting edge can cause a catch in the wood and shatter your evolving masterpiece off the lathe.
The proportion, balance, and rhythm of my turnings are guided by 2 old design principles: The Golden Triangle (based on a 5-sided polygon …pentagon…that provides guidelines to well-proportioned, well-balanced forms) & the Golden Rectangle (developed by the ancient Greeks for determining proportion…. best ratio of height to width). These principles are not written in stone. Oftentimes, while actively turning, I make discoveries that make me depart from my original design to allow a piece that I feel is more pleasing to the eye.
I often embellish my work with inlay, bolection rings, and lids with finials. One must be very careful when doing this. Bells and whistles can easily detract from or ruin a piece. First and foremost, the flow of good form and the beauty of the wood grain should never be compromised.
Before final finishing. all pieces are signed (on the bottom) with a woodburning pen. My bowls are finished with coats of lacquer or are buffed to a brilliant gloss using red rouge polish, then white diamond compound, and finally carnauba wax. Then off to the gallery.

Stephen Lazarus with rough cut of wood which is to become the bottle stopper
Detail of rough cut wood, layered out of different colored slices of wood
Turning the rough cut into a bottle stopper on teh lathe
Detail of cutting on the lathe
The finished product