I grew up in a suburb of Wichita, Kansas, got a degree in biochemistry, and worked in developmental biology research for ten years. I was effectively blindsided by wood in my early 30s. Prior to that I had no experience or even interest in woodworking, and I can recall hating every minute of the required woodshop class in middle school where we were graded on how identical our project was to the teacher’s example.
I bought my house in Kansas City at age 30 and started heating with logs from the city’s refuse stream. I was amazed at the colors, textures, odors, and grain character of all the hardwood species I encountered. I found myself setting certain logs aside with the idea that I might make something out of them one day. Around that same time I began acquiring and refurbishing a lot of antique tools, and learning how to use them to make simple, practical gifts out of my firewood stash. At the urging of friends and family, I began selling my work at a local farmer’s market. From there word must have gotten out, and I began receiving invitations to teach tool restoration, power carving, and small scale wood processing. These days my time is split fairly equally between teaching and making.
The TURBOPlane allowed Tracey to stop working for the man and go pro with power carving.
Check-out that texture...
The perfect line-up of spoons.
How did you get into woodworking?
I began woodworking almost by accident. I was heating with wood from urban tree removals to reduce my carbon footprint and just kind of got romanced by it, especially it’s strength and tactile properties, but also its beauty, of course. Growing up I never had any interest in woodworking since all I had been exposed to was making straight lines and perfect circles.
What inspires your creations?
I like to riff on what the wood already seems to be doing. I look at the log or raw lumber and try to build my projects around the curves, lines or other features already present in the grain. Almost everything I make is one-of-a-kind for this reason. Also, I most enjoy making functional things that will be touched and used.
What made you decide to add power carving to your repertoire?
At first I used mostly hand tools like axes, drawknives, and spokeshaves, but I’m no purist and soon sought out methods for speeding up my work and expanding my capabilities.
What is your favorite power carving tool and why?
Hands down, the TURBOPlane is my favorite and most used power carving tool. It not only drastically cuts the time and effort it takes to hollow out bowls and spoons, but allows me to work with wood that is too hard, knotty, or figured to even approach by other means, and do all kinds of concave and convex contouring. I also use it to do all sorts of stock prep and cleanup tasks like removing bark, bug tracks, or areas of rot – and even some actual planing now and then! It’s safer, cuts faster and cleaner, and makes way less fine dust than any comparable carving bit.
What impact has power carving had on your art/passion/livelihood?
I’ve said many times since I got my first TUROPlane in 2015, this singular tool was the difference between going pro as an artisan woodworker, and having to keep a day job. Since then, I’ve acquired many other power carving tools, including the entire Arbortech lineup – most of which has become indispensable to my work. Power carving is also always highly requested as one of my teaching topics and has afforded me many opportunities to travel and share my craft.
What advice would you give to people who are thinking of getting into power carving?
For me, discovering power carving was like acquiring superpowers! The realm of possibilities for things that can be done with wood, not to mention the speed and ease, is amazing. Power carving is also relatively inexpensive and can be done in a limited space or outdoors, and you can use irregularly shaped starting material.
Meet Tracey of Bastionhead Woodworks.
Power carving in action!
A woodworkers dream...
Who else's yard looks like this?
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