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In this guest blog post, Jim King takes on a tour, so to speak, of his turning shop down in Peruvian Amazon.  I hope you enjoy his humor and enlightening pictures from a fairly primitive set up.

– Mark Stephens

Typical of the woods and turnings

Typical of the woods and turnings

My tools are made of car springs, old files, wrench handles, a broken off machete...

My tools are made of car springs, old files, wrench handles, a broken off machete ....

Wood turning is one of the oldest crafts in the world and has been done with very primitive but creative tools.   Most of the world does not have the big boys’ toy stores for woodworkers as in North America, but woodworking still goes on all over the world.

A typical Amazonian turning shop is a little rough around the edges.  The electricity comes and goes and materials and tools may or may not be found.   One thing is very noticeable, and that’s no one complains.

I will show how wood turning gets done with tools that would be banned in many parts of the world.  The carpenter shop shown and described here was mine in the Upper Amazon of Peru.  Coming from a woodworking background where I had a sander for each problem and tools of any and all types I had to reinvent myself in the Amazon.   When you are in desperate need of a tool or machine to do a job and have a good bottle of rum to make the mind move, solutions just appear.

Here is a photo of my lathe and some of the tools.  The lathe was made of some pipe and iron from an oil company and cost almost $300 complete.  It works well but the head stock and tail stock are about ¼ inch from being aligned.  Amazing but that creates very little problem.   I don’t know how many RPMs it turns; the plate on the motor was missing as it was probably stolen somewhere along the line.  I would guess it to be about a five horse and it does go fast.

Enjoy the pictures and commentary.


Vice President of Operations – Woodworkers Source
We’re a family-owned lumber & woodworking supply retailer with 3 delightful stores in Arizona, and 35 friendly employees.
Mark oversees the company and creates tutorials on wood finishing and woodworking tips for hardwood lumber.

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