September Demonstrator – Vern Tator

I was born in Connecticut and grew up racing sailboats on Long Island Sound and skiing in Connecticut and Vermont. I had my first turning experience in high school during the early 60’s. After graduating from the University of Denver with a degree in Marketing, I moved to Vail Colorado and taught skiing and worked as a carpenter. I built my first cabinet for hire in the summer of 1971. I bought a Sears lathe and a set of turning tools in 1973. My dad, who still lived in Connecticut, and I both bought Dale Nish’s first woodturning book in 1975. We would practice and then phone each other once a month to see how we were doing.

I moved from Vail to Henry Island, in the San Juan Islands, in 1980. The lathe came with me. In 1989 I decided to take a long sailing trip, perhaps around the world, so I sold most of my tools. I bought a 45’ yawl in Newport Rhode Island and started sailing south. After six months I decided that while I loved the boat, outfitting and upgrading it for a long offshore voyage was more money that I was willing to invest, so I had it trucked back to Washington. I lived on the boat in Friday Harbor for four years and restarted my cabinet shop. I turned a little during this time on borrowed lathes. I joined the Northwest Corner Woodworkers, which meets in Mt. Vernon, in about 2002. That was the start of a slippery slope. Many members of the group belonged to the Northwest Washington Woodturners. I soon joined that group and bought a used Jet mini lathe. After a year or so I had the urge to turn bigger bowls, so I bought a Vicmarc VL300 shortbed. Today I have a 450 sq ft shop in the Maple Leaf neighborhood of Seattle.

I am an active member of the American Association of Woodturners, Northwest Washington Woodturners, and the Seattle Woodturners.

Most of the wood used in my creations comes from downed trees. With the exception of some peppermill and hollow form woods all of the wood is locally sourced. I have a following of people that call when they see a tree being cut. They know if I make a bowl out of it, they will also get a bowl.