Tom Kuzia

My woodturning experience started quite by accident. One of my grandsons (Mike) wanted to build a fishing rod so I did some research on the subject and bought the necessary parts, supplies and equipment and off we went. A problem arose when it came to the handle as we didn’t have any way to  “form” it and make it true. I did some internet shopping and found an old/used Delta  46-250 Midi Lathe  and a few old lathe tools that would serve our purposes. When we finished the fishing rod I still owned a wood lathe so why not give it a go on a small log? One log led to more and bigger logs and off I went turning small weed pots and a few bowls.

Fast forward to 2019 when a friend I used to work with asked me to make her an ice bucket. I didn’t have a log that was dry enough to make something this big so I thought about staves. As I was searching the web for stave construction I accidently came across a beautiful vase made of segmented wood! Why not give this a try I asked myself? Considering that I was 76 years old at that time, and wood had always been my nemesis, this was quite a venture I was about to undertake. I bought a Delta 10” job site tablesaw and my brother-in-law gave me an old/used/rusty 10” Craftsman tablesaw. After making a few sleds I found Jerry Bennetts Wedgie Sled and the Wedgies. This was a huge improvement as I didn’t have to make half rings anymore and it also built a lot of confidence in me.

My real problems started when I tried to make feature rings,,,and it still is. My thought was that if I could make feature rings in miniature it would be a breeze to make them for full size pieces. I began to make segmented bottle stoppers and they came out pretty good.

One problem I’ve had all my life is that once I get good at something I get bored with it and move onto something completely new to me. I’ve tumble polished rocks to a point where I had 11 rock tumblers and took  2nd place (twice) in The Worldwide Rock Tumbling Competition. I then started buying semi-precious stones and cut my own stones for another venture,,,jewelry making out of sterling silver. When I got bored with that I sold off all my stones, tools and equipment and started making metal art out of steel, brass, copper, stainless steel and just about anything I could get my hands on. I guess the favorite is the Penny Farthing bikes I make. I should say that there are not real full size bikes but the most liked has an 8” front wheel. The biggest one I’ve made has a 24” copper front wheel.

So, segmented pieces are no different to me then anything else I’ve done. Once I’ve done it I want to do something that more difficult and challenging for me.

My latest challenge is putting points into my segments. I’ve been at this for almost a month now and recently a forum member asked if I was having fun! I guess some people just love to be tortured! LOL

The most important thing that’s come out of my turning is that my pulmonary doctor was deeply inspired out of my turnings and has started to turn a few pieces. He offered to pay me by the hour to teach him but I refused his offer and took him as a friend who needs a little help. In the past 2 years we’ve become very good friends and he has been more the generous toward me in buying me a lot of exotic wood and even some great equipment! He keeps me going because I have to learn things in order to help him.

The only piece (wood, jewelry, metal art) I’ve made that I got paid for was an ice bucket. I didn’t want anything for it but my friend insisted I take $50.00 so I did. I love to give and my payment is to see the look in someone’s eyes when I make something for them and I only ask for a simple Thank You!

Tom Kuzia

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July 2024