Russ Braun

I am a retired General Contractor, many years of building Commercial projects throughout the USA. It was an exciting career with many daily challenges to solve. I started out being a self-taught finish carpenter who picked up a circular saw and practiced cutting straight lines. From there, I learned every chance I could from the “old guys” on the job, I got pretty good at doing what I was doing. It became clear that I would not want to do this into my old age so I started learning the art of GCing and worked my way to the top of our company by focusing on learning what I did not know.

Along the way, I got the confidence to use the statement “there is nothing I cannot make out of wood”. All the way to the end of my career, I would tackle the toughest problems and make things myself instead of looking for someone who could fabricate them. It made our company a commodity as solutions were as far away as Russ. I will always remember stepping up and cutting the $7500 entry door without any hesitation. That was the point my confidence was where it needed to be.

I’m now 37 years clean and sober. I have been cutting and gluing wood all the way back to my partying days. I would always make things for my wife, son and friends. I decided to buy a 12” Delta lathe with some disposable income about (egads) 20 yrs ago. Being self-taught about most everything, I started to destroy wood, tools and fingers on my way to learning how to turn; mind you, I did not even have a way to sharpen tools at the onset, haha. I was absolutely clueless!

My segmenting started like many of us, gluing a couple of blocks of wood together and turning it. I started making rings without having any idea as to how to do it right. Pieces came out flawed and terrible. This was way before the internet or I should say “my Internet days”. In 2010, I saw a segmented piece at the Orange County Fair and the fabricator told me to pick it up and check it out. It was a museum quality piece, super thin and absolutely gorgeous! I told him about my challenges and he told me to go over to the rack of books and buy the Dale Nish book on Ray Allen. Wow, what an eye opener! It was about one month after that when I found the Segmented Woodturner’s Website and the fabulous work of Malcolm Tibbetts and the rest of that group of turners. I swallowed the hook right then and there; I pushed back hard on the phobia to participate with that group of artists, posted my first piece and the rest is history!! That was one knee knocking experience. The welcome I received from my fellow segmenters was unexpectantly amazing.

I love big and crazy, lots of segments and different colors of hardwoods. I have always wanted to make my own pieces/ patterns. Like with many things since I matured (10 yrs ago), I like to put my all into things I do, why not!! I will try almost anything and if I like it, I will ride that horse til it drops!!

I started commenting on every picture I see at our site because I recall seeing a picture many years ago that garnered no comments. I thought that this must be disheartening to the maker that he took all the effort to make something and then navigated the nerves to post it on our site to the sounds of crickets! I said to myself, not on my watch. This started my crazy world of participation. People got to know me, my humor and got comfortable (or uncomfortable) with me enough to reciprocate on my own work. Robin Costelle has been instrumental in my growth as a Segmenter because he began to provide me invaluable critique on my pieces. Some of the stung but I quickly realized that Robin wanted to help my segmenting and I needed the help! This continues to this day and it opened my eyes to how beneficial constructive critique is. I want to offer the same benefit without the sting. That is my only goal in commenting on people’s great efforts. Believe me when I say, I know how much work goes into a segmented piece.

I owe so much to people I call my Brothers and Sisters now; I say pay that forward. Why not help others to be the best they can be. I love that! I will not mention names here but I always find the time to thank my mentors and the creators of the fabulous tools that have enriched our world!!

I have a shop full of tools. It is a garage that has never seen a car. I built a large work table around my tablesaw and that exists right in front of the garage door. I am set up exactly how I want it, I am blessed to live in SoCal where the weather is ideal and I do not need snow blowers or vehicle protection from the weather.

I have a PM 3520B lathe but am eagerly awaiting the arrival of my last lathe, the American Beauty from Robust. How my wife said yes to that purchase will never fully be understood by humanity; I will just keep my mouth shut and await what is eventually coming to balance things out (how many pairs of shoes can one woman own, lol). My door is always open for fellow segmenters!! I did a shop tour of my surroundings not too long ago so I will not post pictures of my shop (and yes, it could use a dusting, lol).

As far as my work is concerned, take a look at the website Gallery; I have pretty much posted a picture of everything I have made over the past 12 years. It is true, no chunk turning for that long or longer!!


November 2022