General News » Headline News » News

Tottenham based wood turner shares his love for the craft

June 18, 2020   ·   0 Comments

Individuals who found themselves locked indoors with extra time on their hands because of the pandemic have had no better opportunity to pick up a new hobby or learn a new skill.

YouTube tutorials have allowed anyone with internet to become proficient in any field, from cooking cheesecake stuffed peppers to building computers.

About four years ago, Rob McFarlane of Tottenham used his internet connection to learn about the wonders of woodturning.

“I watched a couple of videos and then I jumped right in,” he said. “You get a bit better as you go.”

“The first half a dozen pens were wobbly,” McFarlane laughed.

He bought a lathe as well as a few blanks of wood and what started out as a home-based hobby to enjoy over the wintertime quickly evolved into a passion-fuelled craft.

“My favourite part about turning wood is seeing the final results,” McFarlane said with enthusiasm. “As I usually work with exotic woods and/or burls, the end results can be a surprise.

“A plain looking blank can often give stunning results – you never know what is inside the wood until it is turned.

“Mother nature can hide beauty in the smallest pieces of wood”

Apart from handcrafted wood pens, McFarlane also makes pepper grinders, key chains and shaving sets out of turned wood, which are on display at the FortyOne Local Art Market in Alliston through the South Simcoe Arts Council (SSAC).

He’s been a member of the SSAC for two years which has helped him to increase exposure within the arts community.

Generally, McFarlane sells his wares at the local markets and craft shows, which have been greatly impeded by COVID-19.

He told The Times he’s hopeful that winter events will be allowed to move forward so he can connect with potential customers and art collectors in the community.

McFarlane sells his wooden art through his Facebook page as well, but he said nothing beats in-person sales.

“I prefer to go face to face and meet people and have that personal connection and tell them a little bit about the wood [product],” he noted.

Although, McFarlane does have an inventory of nearly 300 pens at home, so he welcomes any potential buyers.

He said the pens generally get a lot of positive feedback at craft markets and art shows.

“Lots of people enjoy a good pen. You’d be surprised how many times you use a pen over the course of the day,” he said.

“They never go out of style; even with all of the computers and smartphones, a pen and paper is still a viable alternative.”

McFarlane said most buyers of his art gravitate towards Canadian species of wood or pieces that have insect damage, knots, burls, growth defects, or some other physical tree damage that has been healed.

“It gives you all sorts of different swirls and patterns and things like that in it,” he explained. “It adds a lot of character to a small piece of wood,”

More exotic trees from Brazil or Australia have more patterns, while Bethlehem Olive Wood from Israel has a smoother finish and fantastic smell, according to McFarlane.

He said his hand-crafted pens are very unique – no two pens are the same.

“I have done pens with woods from different regions that hold a special place in people’s hearts,” he noted. “I recently completed a pen for a friend of mine whose brother is an airline pilot. I found a piece of wood in England that came from the propeller of a WWII Spitfire – that went over really well with him.”

McFarlane said while some people do purchase his pens for themselves, they’re generally bought as gifts for other people.

Individuals interested in commissioning custom pens with a specific type of wood and design can contact McFarlane at

By Sam Odrowski
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Readers Comments (0)

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Page Reader Press Enter to Read Page Content Out Loud Press Enter to Pause or Restart Reading Page Content Out Loud Press Enter to Stop Reading Page Content Out Loud Screen Reader Support