Mike Mahoney. I had never seen him in person before, although I had seen him present via a DVD that I purchased from his arch-nemesis Stuart Batty. The two of them made a great team in the video. His presentation was on making family heirlooms. He turned a beautiful platter for the demo out of dried cottonwood. Actually, it was shaped more like an offering plate, and he intended to pass it around at the end of the session!
The first thing that he talked about was wood selection. He suggests using a ‘soft hardwood’ for items that you want to stand the test of time. Poplar and maple make good utility pieces. Wood with figuring will make a beautiful piece. Most of what Mahoney makes are to be ‘for use’ instead of ‘for show’. For this reason he chooses woods that can stand up to everyday use.
Dimensions are more important on a utility piece than on an art piece. You can’t expect a bowl to stand upright with too small of a base. For a bowl, he suggests a base diameter of about 1/3 of the total diameter of the opening. For platters, this increases to 50%-60%. Having a base this size or bigger will help keep the piece from wobbling during use.