Snow Dog Woodworks and Quiltworks

Pursuing the tradition of creating finely handcrafted items in wood and fabric

Longarm Quilting Services ~ Londonderry, NH

About Brian


I've been working with wood since childhood and started out building furniture to furnish our home along with numerous home repairs and remodeling projects. In July, 1996, I bought my first wood lathe and embarked on the journey of teaching myself the art of woodturning. I was immediately captivated with turning wood due to its simplicity and technical challenge, combined with the fact that you can turn almost any piece of wood whether it came from a lumber yard or the backyard. Woodturning is simple in that you need only a lathe and a few basic tools to create unique items, while at the same time it requires a high degree of skill to use the most basic tools to produce clean cuts with crisp details in the wood. When I started in 1996, resources were limited and the internet was just becoming a reality and therefore it was difficult to learn about woodturning. I spent years learning from books and trying new things to develop my techniques. After turning over 100 bowls, I now have the confidence and technical ability to attempt the projects that I have dreamed about without fear of destroying the project due to a catch on the lathe.

I enjoy turning a wide variety of items from bowls to cooking utensils and ornaments. Over the years, I have collected numerous turning tools including upgrading to a Oneway 1640 lathe - a top quality lathe that is capable of turning a 16" diameter piece of wood between centers and 24" outboard. This gives me a wide variety of options while at the same time offering complete control and stability with little vibration. I have also experimented with various chucking devices that allow me to hold the wood on the lathe in different ways, including a scroll chuck, adjustable bowl jaws and most recently vacuum chucking which holds the piece on the lathe via vacuum drawn from a commercial duty vacuum pump.

I have also practiced techniques for harvesting blanks for bowls and other items from timber harvested locally. Although not unique, it has taken several years of practice to develop techniques that work well for me while minimizing losses due to cracked bowls as a result of drying too quickly. I typically start with a freshly cut log and proceed to split the log in half (usually with a chain saw for a clean and controlled cut). Then I proceed to roughly shape the log halves into a spherical shape that will become the outside of a bowl. From there, the blank gets mounted on the lathe where I'll smooth out the outside shape of the bowl. Then I use a Oneway coring system that allows me to cut out consecutively smaller bowl blanks from the center of this blank. With this system, I usually end up with two to three reasonably sized rough bowls from a 16"-18" diameter log half. So from a 16"-18" diameter log that is 16"-18" long, I can typically obtain four to six rough turned bowls that are typically 1"-1.5" thick. I like to rough out my bowls in the summer months when the outdoor weather is warm and humid. I'll typically coat these rough turned bowls with Anchorseal, a wax-like coating that allows the wood to dry more slowly than left untreated. From there, I'll stack the rough turned bowls in an outdoor shed where they will dry for a minimum 9-12 months at which time they are usually ready to finish turn. By roughing the bowls in the summer months and allowing them to dry in an outdoor shed over the winter, this minimizes the extreme humidity change and typically allows the roughed out bowls to dry with minimal cracking and loss.

I make my living as a software engineer in the southern NH and Boston area. I specialized in graphical user interfaces during graduate school and earned a Master of Science degree in Computer Science from the University of Tennessee. I have worked on a variety of applications ranging from retail applications to large-scale enterprise applications. While I have spent many years specializing in user interfaces, I have also achieved success with a variety of back-end server features as well.

Brian McKearney

About Tracy