Woodworking has always been a part of my life, since early childhood to the present the sight of a board or log is still a thrill and the question goes through my head… what could I make from it. I learned from my dad early in life that planning is the key to any project and even the most difficult challenge can be worked through if you take it one step at a time. This single lesson has carried me through every project I have done.
Since my first woodworking project at age 10 to the present I’ve always enjoyed a challenge. My first project was a gun stock for a BB gun made from a redwood 2 x 4 and a rasp but it had a cheek rest! Later in life I would buy a book and carve a rocking horse and a toy box was covered with veneer, the list goes on. The first trip to a mill yielded a curly maple kitchen island complete with dove tail slides and then went on to making Maloof style rocking chairs.
Project after project had to present a new challenge until the day I saw the ultimate challenge. One day while surfing the internet I came across www.woodhat.com … no way could someone turn a hat! The only problem was I didn’t know how to turn, sure I turned my first bowl in high school and a few after that. Legs had to be turned now and then but a scraper that is sharpened once every couple years won’t take you far.
I bought a big lathe and it sat for months, every attempt make something ended in disappointment… also the fact it was painted yellow so you couldn’t ignore this huge piece of steel sitting in the shop. Enough is enough so I called Johannes Michelsen, told him the fact I couldn’t turn and asked (sorta begged) to take the class… he reluctantly said yes. Now the challenge, could you learn how to turn and make a hat from a video tape in a month and a half… yes you can… how… one step at a time. I wore a hat into the first day of class, it wasn’t pretty but I wasn’t embarrassed either. The next three days was filled with amazement how much skill a professional has, what you learn in three days could fill a book and last a lifetime.
In the beginning I tried many different tools, I found one but they wanted 2 times as much as the highest priced tool on the market. As a machine repairman by trade and a good machinist the only thing to do was to make the best tools on the market, this was very easy to do. What started with a single design would grow with the help and support of woodturners across the country.