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Lou Pignolet Bowls

Artistic and useful lathe-turned wooden bowls.

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This web site is no longer being maintained so please go to my new web site by clicking above. Thanks, Lou

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My bowl business is young but has been very successful.  I have managed to sell nearly every bowl I turn, except of course for gifts.  My profits have paid for my equipment and tools, and partly for a new wood shop that has just been completed.  I am already turning in the new shop.  There were two main motivations to build this beautiful space (see the photos below).  First and foremost was that I met a young builder, Peter Jansen, whose love of timber frame construction got me motivated to consider the project.  His enthusiasm, obvious skill, and willingness to undertake the project at a reasonable cost was all I needed.  I also had started teaching a class on Turning Bark Edged Bowls for the North House Folk School and I needed a better space.  I now have three variable speed lathes (two on loan from friends for my teaching) so my class has expanded and will be a much better experience for the students.  The shop also has a small show room for my bowls.  I have installed a good dust collection system which will also help in the sanding process.

The following photos and brief descriptions show this wonderful space and some of the construction fun.  The building has  a partial timber frame design with structural insulated panels (SIPs) to give great insulation.  The largest expense was the in-floor (off peak) heat system, which required an enormous sand/concrete thermal storage mass and a lot of excavation. The in-floor heat is wonderful.  My previous work space was a corner of a garage with a nearby wood stove. The floor was freezing and the air hot, and the space was shared with vehicles. I want to thank my neighbors and friends for helping with this project.  You will see many of them in the photos. More photos of this building project can be found on my Facebook page as a photo album.

The finished building and some of its contents are shown first.  It is 20'x26' with a small utility room attached to the back.
                                                                                                                       view from door                                            Vega 2400 bowl lathe

              my original Powermatic 3520B lathe                                                                                   Craftsman variable speed lathe

The building process was complicated.  The excavation was major due to the required large thermal storage mass.  Lots of rain flooded the site and delayed things.  The SIPs arrived before we were ready so they had to be stored in our garage for over a month.  The semi could not get into our property so we had to unload the SIP's near the road and carry them a long way to our garage.  This involved help from many friends and two skid steer loaders.  It was hard work but a party atmosphere.  You will see photos below of this plus the installation of the SIP's, timber frame posts, beam, and rafters.  Thanks to Clarence Kemp for help with the crane and excavation for the extensive water drainage system.  The rest is more or less normal construction.  The trim is tamarack wood from trees we took down to make room for the building.  The trim has a natural bark edge, just like my bowls, which is a nice touch.  The following photos are in chronological order.
                                  the first digging                                                                                     4 inches of sand line the hole

the containment box for sand and concrete, 2 feet deep                                                     a lot of concrete had to be hauled by hand

                two truck loads of concrete (cost a lot of bowls)                                                           considered a tennis court at this point

         excavating for a large drainage culvert across our road                                              Peter Jansen and Clarence Kemp checking the depth

                 the culvert is in place and connects near to two 4" fabric covered drainage tiles that surround the building, back filling by hand

           the pad looks nice but hides a lot of work and cost beneath                                         

        the SIPs arrive by semi and are unloaded near the highway

                 SIPs are nicely stacked along the highway and then hauled about 500 yards to the building site for storage and eventual installation

                                   we had a SIP hauling party                                                                                    the first wall SIPs are in place

              the walls went up fast, the beauty of using SIPs                                                    preparing the main support beam and center post

                    ready for erecting the main post and ridge beam                                                      hoping it all fits together, not the easiest part

                         it fit and the rafters went up quickly                                                      tongue and groove pine for the ceiling and a bed for the roof SIPs

                        placing the roof SIPs, tricky but fast                                                                                            nearing completion

The tamarack trim with its natural bark edge is a great finishing touch. 

   Some final thoughts on the building.  The cost of the excavation and  thermal storage system was much higher than expected.  I was amazed how much excavation, hauling sand, gravel, dirt, and concrete costs had risen in the past few years.  This was way above what I budgeted.  The costs of building materials have also gone way up.  I suspect most of this is the result of transportation (diesel fuel) cost increases, but still a surprise in this terrible economy.  Fortunately the costs that builders charge (carpenters) have not risen (but is that fair).  Overall the building cost about 25% more than I expected.  Never the less, the building is fantastic.  The in-floor heat is wonderful, and the off-peak electricity cost is a good deal, only 1/3 of the normal rate per kwh.  I feel I am working in a palace.  It is great to have a shop that was designed for my exact needs. The SIPs are also a great way to build.  The insulation value is super and the building goes up much quicker.  Down side is that electrical installation is more complicated and needs to be planned way in advance.  Fortunately I used surface mounted conduits in the shop so this was not a problem, but it would have been in a large home. 

Addendum 1:  It is now mid January 2012 and I am gaining experience with the in-floor heat system and learning the costs of maintaining the shop between 55 and 58 degrees. So far, the electricity use is about 600 kilowatthours per month, of around $30 per month at today's off-peak price.  This is not bad, in fact it is great.  The temperatures have been above normal, but I don't note much difference when it is +30 deg or -20 deg.  The building is very well insulated and sealed.  Heat loss is minimal.  The main problem I have had is humidity, mainly due to the damp wood and curing of the concrete.  I have had to run a dehumidifier nearly continuously for a month. Now I only run the dehumidifier after turning a wet piece of wood, and only over night.  Humidity is finally below 50% and not too much condensation on the windows.  The shop is working out exactly how I hoped it would.  It is a joy to turn wood in this great space.

Addendum 2: It is July 2012 and the shop has worked well all summer.  We have had several of big rain storms (greater that 4" in a day) and the drainage system worked well. The shop has functioned nicely and teaching my classes has worked well.  Heat from having all the lights on during classes has been the main problem.  This summer has been warm (even hot sometimes) and I have installed a fan in a window to help with ventilation and helping by moving air around.  I will probably install some small fans mounted on the wall aimed at the lathes. Lighting is also always an issue for lathe work.  I have plenty of wall mounted lights but movable floor lamps are crucial to get the light exactly where it is needed. I am completely happy with the shop and use it nearly every day. People stop by just to see the shop, and usually buy a bowl. 


Click on the following links to go directly to the pages showing details of my Bowls for sale:
Burl BowlsBark Edged BowlsFlat Rimmed Bowls