We’re not sure whether this segment from the Woodworker’s Journal eZine (2001 archives) qualifies more as a woodworking tip or as a woodworking “oddity.” Whichever is the case, we have only two things to say: Thanks to our friends at the Woodworker’s Journal for continuing to explore the outer limits of woodworking, and if you try this, be careful!
Q. This woodworker wonders if anyone else has tried this. He is a woodturner and he’s set up a strobe light that flashes totally in sync with the turning of the lathe. He has discovered that this strobe effect actually helps him see the piece better and get better results because it makes the wood look like it’s standing still. Has anyone else ever heard of something like this?
(Michael Dresdner) “I first ran across strobe turning about fifteen years ago back in Pennsylvania. Michael Mode, an outstanding and somewhat reclusive turner, was doing it and brought me to his shop to demonstrate the technique.. He had connected the lathe to the strobe light so that it automatically was in sync with the lathe revolutions. It’s very bizarre seeing a piece stand still, yet have curls of wood come off it. His warning — be very careful with pieces that contain voids — it is tempting to think you can put a chisel in there. However, he found his turnings were best with strobe turning, as they let you see the inside of the vessel as you turned. Very cool…
(Rob Johnstone) “Let me get the full picture. Is there incense burning and Ravi Shankar music (or maybe Eric Clapton and Cream) playing as well? Does his lava lamp have a shop function too? The whole concept sounds frightening to me. But — and this may surprise you — I have actually not tried this specific technique, nor observed it On a more serious note, I would suggest that this is something that should be observed before it is tried, especially by turners with a little less experience.”
(Ian Kirby) “It’s a technique used in quite a number of industries to observe the behavior of materials or parts in motion. If it helps achieve an objective, use it. Just be aware of the perils and guard against them.”