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Bluegrass Bowls

Woodworker, Craftsman and Reclaiming Wood : The Full Story

A 2004 visit to the wood shop of a family friend sparked a lifelong interest in wood turning for 16-year old John B. Lander. “It was my first exposure to a lathe,” remembers Lander, now 31 years old. “I knew immediately that wood turning was something I could really become interested in.” Soon afterwards Lander bought a small tabletop Jet lathe, and began turning tops, small bowls, lidded boxes and natural edge goblets that he sold at local farmer’s markets.Fifteen years, and three lathes later, Lander looks back on the process of learning about wood turning with a sense of pride in accomplishment. “I’m self-taught. I taught myself how to turn by reading books and watching videos on YouTube.” Through the years he developed his own style and technique, and has created a wide variety of food safe and artisan bowls and platters, mostly from maple, cherry and other native hardwoods. In 2017 when Lander started Bluegrass Bowls he chose the slogan “Reclaiming Nature’s Beauty” because his philosophy has always been to reclaim old-growth trees that would otherwise be burned, cut up for firewood or dumped in a landfill. “I’ve never cut a live tree,” said Lander, who grew up on a wooded farm in rural Henry County, Kentucky. Throughout the learning process and now as a small businessman, his goal has always been to salvage and recycle quality hardwoods. “I remember some of the first wood I ever turned was from an ash tree that had been damaged in a storm. It was beside the road near Shelbyville, Kentucky. We got permission from the landowner and my father and I cut it up with our chainsaw.” Today, Lander works on a big Powermatic 3520B lathe that enables him to turn bowls and platters up to 28 inches in diameter, but his enjoyment of miniature turnings has not passed. “The first thing I ever turned was a small spinning top,” he remembers with a smile. “Small is fun, too.”

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