Sunday, April 15, 2012

Woodturning in Bahama Palm Shores

Steve Knowles
One of our neighbors down the road, Steve Knowles,has a hobby of woodturning in native Bahamian wood.  Beautiful bowls and other artifacts that he turns are then sold at local art fairs.  His workshop has become a popular stopping place for Abaco Nature Tours to visit when they bring bird watchers to Bahama Palm Shores to observe the Abaco parrots  and other birds. 

I often stop by to see what Steve is making.  Our out of town guests ask whether they might visit Steve's workshop and see what he is turning out.  They like to take Bahamian arts and crafts home with them.

Steve works with wood from a number of native trees including mahogany (Swietenia mahogany), mahoe (Hibiscus tiliaceus L. Malvaceae), tamerind (Tamarindus indica), red cedar (Juniperus bermudiana) and poison wood (Metopium toxiferum), among others.

Wood stock
Light is focused on the bowl Steve is turning.

Toy top

His workshop is filled with all kinds of equipment and tools for turning wood. Wood shavings are piled in the corners and logs are on the floor. It is a very productive and active place.
Lantern bases

There are examples of wood that he has turned into bowls, lanterns, trivets,  and tops for children, among other things.
Street signs
Lately, Steve has been making up road signs to help people figure out where they are on the way to Hole in the Wall and other places nearby, where signs are scarce. He asked whether we saw some of the signs he had put up when we went down on our tour to Hole in the Wall last week, and I told him we had seen them along the way.  It helped us to know where we were in the national forest.

He has a whole set of billy clubs that he has prepared for use by local fishermen, that are made out of a variety of woods. Of course, we always joke around about the many uses that we might find for such an item.

Then he showed us the trivets he was working on. We have  trivets that Steve made hanging in our kitchen.  They are also pretty to see on a decorated table, and are great for placing hot bowls of food.

Many of the trivets that he makes are shaped like various kinds of fish.  Sometimes he adds color to their eyes to jazz them up a bit.  Some trivets are beautifully plain and show off the grain of wood that he has used to make them.

The trivets can also be used as cutting boards and are very functional and look good when placed around the kitchen workspace.

We looked at a number of bowls that he made.  They are all so beautiful that it is difficult to decide which one is our favorite.  Here are some recent examples of his work.
Madeira Wood 2008

Fig wood 2012
Tamarind Wood 2012
Mahoe wood 2009

Fig Wood 2012
Some bowls were still poised to be turned and completed. 

Steve is also a conservationist who is concerned about native trees and protecting the local environment.  When we talk, he encourages us to be knowledgeable of and to respect native trees.  He emphasizes that the wood he gets is from trees that were felled by storms or branches that have fallen. Steve encourages the planting of native trees so that others will have the pleasure in the future of viewing them in the forests of Abaco and in our yards.

Steve Knowles is one of the many talented and interesting people living in the Bahama Palm Shores community, which makes it a very nice place to live as well as visit.


  1. You know, fish shaped cutting boards would probably sell quite nicely up here in Northern Michigan since we are a fishing area snuggled up again the biggest body or fresh water lakes.

  2. Yes, they would! And they are very pretty on picnic tables where one can hold down the table cloth on a windy day.