Turning wood into art

Pure Nebraska
Published: Dec. 2, 2022 at 12:06 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Local woodturner and artist Elmer Miller enjoys working with all sorts of wood, and he transforms it into beautiful bowls, vases, and even hats.

We caught up with Miller near his workshop near the community of Murdock.

“I first got into woodturning in high school,” Miller said. “We had a coach who was also the shop teacher. He had a lathe in his shop, and he tried to teach all of us about it. I was the one who got interested, and it was one-on-one for a while. So, again, it was high school that I got started. After I retired, I wanted to keep my hands busy doing something. I decided to do more woodturning.”

There are several woodturners in the state.

“I belong to two woodturning clubs in Omaha and in Lincoln,” Miller said. “The Omaha membership is probably around 60, and the Lincoln one is around 40.”

Miller makes all sorts of art pieces from a raw piece of wood.

“I like to use different kinds of wood,” Miller said. “I use local wood, and I purchase wood from other places. The primary wood that I like now is a burl. A burl is the deformed part of a tree that you’ll see on the side of a trunk. Burls are also grown in the root. I like to make as many of my products as I can out of burls. The kinds of wood I use include maple, cherry, walnut, ash, hackberry and cottonwood. It varies. Some woods are harder, some are softer. Therefore it turns differently, and that’s also kind of fun to decide how to work with that piece of wood.”

“I have a lot of wood in storage, that I’m already thinking about what I’m going to use it for,” Miller said. “However, a lot of times at the lathe you will find the wood is speaking to you so to speak. It says, ‘you better make this out of me’, or ‘maybe you better quit and take a look, and study me a little more.’ That’s what’s fun about woodturning is you never know how it’s going to come out.”

Miller’s business is called As The Windmill Turns. He has an open house from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3. For more information on the open house, call 402-525-2785.