One Man's Woodcraft: Musings on Coordination

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Some examples of wood turning

Musings on Coordination

Ponder upon sports and games – golf for instance.

Shoes firmly on the ground – the soles are the only bits of you that aren't moving.

Toes, ankles, knees, hips.

The spine, multiple joints connecting that upward fork to the downward fork.
Shoulders, elbows, wrists, knuckles.

All are in flux while swinging that long, thin flexible shaft with a heavy end.

Oh, and don't forget that pendulous weight sticking out from the meeting of the upward and downward sections - your head, that's wobbling about doing its best to put all the rest of you out of kilter.

All of those bits and pieces want to do their own thing but must be under control in order to make a decent shot.

Perfect shot? Need perfect control (a touch unlikely, eh?).

Golf is an extreme case of course, but any physical activity requires coordination.

Ponder upon crafts – woodturning for instance (surprise, surprise). Perhaps not such an extreme case as golf but not trivial, either.

The differences are that one's movements are not so great, that they're not swinging but swaying and that here there are two fixed positions. Nevertheless, the required precision needs to be held for a rather longer time, especially during finishing cuts.

The turner must sway smoothly in the direction of the current cut, along and/or across the workpiece, controlling everything between toes and fingers in order to keep the tool at the same horizontal and vertical angles, with its cutting edge just there, where it's wanted.

Feet fixed, hand on the toolrest (the other fixed position) holding tool while sliding along it, the other hand controlling the the tool handle.

Not forgetting the Turner's Shuffle, to save oneself from falling over part way through the cut when you run out of sway - and without moving the tool point, not one fraction (honest).

Wonderful things our bodies and our brains - and the mechanism that connects brain to body and allows such precision.

Isn't it useful that we can train ourselves into habits, so that we don't have to think through every tiny motion?

And, isn't it sad that some of us have things that have gone awry?

But then again, all complexities considered, isn't it amazing that so few of us are so afflicted?

Articles by Rod


22.11.10 Front Page

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