Turning Something Old into Something New

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The services pieces Trinity uses during Lent have a long and unique history. Sam McDowell tells the story in this Topics article from April 2014.

It has been twenty years since I made my first woodturnings. It all started with a casual conversation with the Rev. Doug Dailey in late 1993 when he was thinking of doing something different for Lent. He was thinking earthen ware or glass for the Communion services. He mentioned that Red Park was working on turning candle sticks out of wood and making a wooden cross, etc.

I was working on wood projects at home. I had done some simple woodturning in junior high in  D. Matt Thompson’s shop class. I had inherited a 1940s era Woodsmith multi-use woodshop saw drill-lathe from my father; as it turned out, Red was using the exact same model Woodsmith.

So I told Doug that I would take a stab at making a chalice. Things developed that Red and I would make the items out of walnut because of the connection to the original church on Walnut Street.

Not having a clue what I was doing, I gradually chewed a chalice out of walnut. It took about three days to make the first chalice. The final result was that Red made the candle sticks, book stand, acolyte torches and processional cross. I made the two chalices, two bread bowls, a paten, and flower vases. In later years I added two cruets for wine & water.

I have also updated the lids on the bread bowls so that they will stay on. The bread paten was so slick the wafers would slide off, so I refinished them with added saw dust for grip. This was the start to my ongoing love for woodturning. I added an intinction chalice later. It took me about an hour to make.

Doug found and bought a pew that someone at the old church had refinished and never claimed. He had it cut in half to fit his house. When Doug left, he gave me the wood from the cut-off part of the pew bench.  This is circa 1875 heart pine. I eventually used it to make the large collection plate you see now. The base is one piece and the rim is 12 segments glued together. One of the Alter Guild ladies pointed out that there are three nail holes on it. —Sam McDowell

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