SPSW Member Profile – Bill Wood

bill woodUpon graduation from Boeing, it only took 40 years to achieve graduation, I took up a life of golf and marshalling at our golf course. After a couple of years of this, golf became a not totally fulfilling life experience and being a course marshal reminded me too much of being a manager at Boeing, too many people conflicts. I really don’t need that anymore. I did some research on the internet, I am really good at researching on the internet, and then I saw a demonstration of the RBI Hawk at the Puyallup Fair. This looked like fun, so I headed down to Sumner Woodworker and talked to John about buying a scroll saw. John said, “Bill you are a retired Boeing manager and I don’t think you really have the patience to do scroll work. What you really need is a lathe.” Now I knew absolutely nothing about lathes. I decided to take a class from Michael Dresdner on bowl turning. I was hooked. I went back to Sumner and bought a Jet Mini and a couple of tools. This wasn’t too bad, only about $300. Six months later and another $500 and I realized that John was a much better businessman than I was. Scroll saw initial outlay about $300 and then $6 for blades every once in awhile. Lathe initial outlay about $300 and then get out your Master Card. My Jet Mini has turned into a Oneway 10″, a Jet 16″, two or three grinders, a drill press, a captured hollowing system, Oneway chucks, a Nova chuck, Sweazey gouges, Schweitzer tools, and various other tools and jigs. These would have bought several lifetimes of scroll saw blades.

Let’s not forget learning to turn. Instruction is the best thing out there. I was fortunate enough to learn from two of the best. I used to accompany Bob Sweazey on his trips to Dave Schweitzer’s to discuss making bowl gouges. Dave would set me up with a piece of wood and set me off to turning. (I really think this was to keep me out of his and Bob’s hair.) From across the room I would hear, “You’re off the bevel again.” Pretty soon he would get tired of yelling at me and come over and make a minute adjustment to my hand and say, “This is the way it is supposed to sound.” It is unbelievable how small a change it takes to go from chips to long curls. My other instructor was Eric Lofstrom. Eric taught me that, with a little practice, even I could make very thin turnings. All of you should take advantage of the excellent turners we have in our club. No matter what kind of turning you’re interested in there is someone available to help and guide you.

That pretty much sums up my turning experience. I now dabble in a little bit of every type of turning with the exception of segmented, that is yet to come. Oh yes, I finally got a part-time job at Sumner Woodworker Store to help offset my costs.