My first woodworking project was a pair of speaker boxes shortly after I graduated from high school. I dabbled a bit for the next 6 years until I was married and owned by my first house. Then renovation after renovation followed for 20 years and numerous houses, mostly structural and installation work. Finally, all the renovations were done, and I started making furniture to furnish the house we currently live in (and have for 30 years). One day I was in Lee Valley Tools and saw they were holding a workshop to turn a pen. I thought that looked very interesting and signed up. That was my first introduction to a lathe. I loved it! So much that I went out and bought a small mini lathe (3” swing) the next day for $125.00. That was about 14 years ago.
For the next 3 years I made a lot of pens (a few segmented) and some stick vases. Along the way I was told about Black Forest Wood Company who introduced me to the Calgary Woodturners Guild (CWG). I joined, and was introduced to all the other wonderful stuff you can do on a lathe other than pens. New purchase was a midi General with a 6” swing, some chucks, better gouges, and started doing all kinds of different chunk turning. A couple of guys at CWG were doing a bit of segmented turning and I tried my hand at some simpler bowls, including one bowl from a board that looked more like an upside-down Asian coolie hat.
Wilf Talbot (a fellow segmented turning member) suggested that I check out the segmented woodturning site, and we decided to attend the symposium in St Louis. That was an eye-opening experience. I want to do this! I was a sponge in St Louis, soaking up as much knowledge as I could. I met Robin Costelle in St Louis and asked him if he would agree to mentor me in my segmented woodturning journey (thank you Robin for all the help you have provided). It was about this time that I also became active instead of just a lurker or ghost on the segmented woodturners site. Thank you everyone for answering most of my questions and teaching me a lot! I read every post and look at every gallery item. I may not respond to all, but do look at everything and have learned a tremendous amount. What a fantastic resource. I’m looking forward to the next symposium we can travel in person, until then, thank goodness for ZOOM.
In April 2019 I retired (as CFO of a $50 Million/year industrial fastener company) and purchased as a retirement gift a Vicmarc VL300. Now I had a lathe large enough to do pretty well anything I would be interested doing, and would have more time to do it. The learning journey continues. My days now consist largely being in the shop (while my wife of 39.85 years is in her shop doing segmented cloth projects, I think they call it quilting) interrupted by golf and travelling (which has not happened since Feb 2019). I prefer to be working on segmented wood turning, but keep getting interrupted by furniture projects (for various family members so its hard to say no) and building toys for my one 3 1/2-year-old grand daughter.
My shop is an oversized double car garage that the cars do come home and spend the night in. When the cars are away, the tools come out to play. When the cars are home, I still have room (just enough, not much extra) to cut segments and turn in front of the cars. All tools are on wheels (with the exception of the lathe and the work bench). A plus considering the winters we get in Canada. Upgrade this year was a new insulated garage door. That with the gas heater I had installed a few years ago keeps me warm enough to turn year-round. My table saw is raised up so the top is 41 inches from the floor. My back thanks Malcom Tibbetts for this idea.
Instead of churning out lots of segmented bowls, open vessels, or something that shows my individual style (maybe I just haven’t discovered my individual style yet) I’m more of a serial woodturner. I’ll watch a chunk demo and then do a piece like that to practice new skills or see if I can do it. Well, that’s done, on to something new!
I’m constantly trying new techniques, experimenting, different shapes, and challenging myself. Currently working on a 60 ring 2,880 piece, 30” tall vase (largest turning I’ve done to date). At the same time, I am working on a pedestal cookie jar (that will have a hidden compartment for chocolates). While glue is dying on both of those projects, I’ll be working on a wine cabinet for the family room (furniture project, not turned). I usually have two or 3 projects on the go at the same time. In the planning stages is a piece inspired by a huge Greek urn I saw in the Napoleon’s Bedchamber portion of the Louvre. I am planning on a fourth generation lamination (thanks Lloyd Johnson for the software) as part of the feature ring. Also planned is a wooden gear clock.