Today I have been making quaichs, the traditional vessel for drinking whisky. I have often wondered how many cuts on the lathe it takes to turn a bowl, today I know, 696 cuts on the lathe. Each depression of the treadle spins the quaich 3 revolutions and I make a spiral cut with the tool. Then the quaich spins back. By my calculation the rim has traveled 3,824 feet or 3/4 of a mile. Added to the turning are 113 cuts with the axe roughing the blank out, 189 cuts with the axe after turning roughly shaping the handles, 305 cuts with a knife refining the handle shape, 70 cuts with the hook knife smoothing the inside where the centre point snapped out. That is a grand total of 1373 individual cuts to make a quaich like this.
David Pye used to describe this kind of work as “the workmanship of risk” that means that at the point of making the cut it could go wrong and it is only the skill of the maker and their knowledge of the tools and materials that ensures success. That then is 1373 opportunities to go wrong but thankfully every one worked out just fine. Some of them will be fitted to silver rims like this
I packaged these ones up today to go to a couple in Scotland who are getting married on Saturday, the silver rimmed quaich is a rather special one in bur maple and the three plain quaichs are in cherry for the groomsmen.