View Full Version : Turner Interview: Stu in Tokyo

Mark Cothren
02-02-2006, 2:16 PM
Name: Stuart Ablett

May 11th 1964 41 years young

Physical description:
just about 6' tall, way to heavy but working on it. Brown hair cut short, blue eyes.

Tokyo Japan, for nearly 16 years, prior to that 5 years in Vancouver Canada at UBC, then the rest of my life in Kelowna BC, my hometown.

Family information:
I've been married over 12 year to my lovely wife Emiko, we have two daughters, Erika, who will be 12 soon, and Mizuki who will be 10 in July

Now we run my wife's family's liquor shop (www.masutoh.com (http://www.masutoh.com/)) previously I ran an English school here, and I've had too many other jobs to list, from weldor, to carpenter, to waiter.

Equipment Overview:
Always got to bring up my lathe thatís not here yet don't you guys..... ;) Goodness, 8" old Iron Jointer, Makita 13" planer, DeWalt BT744 TS, Compressor, Hitachi B601 re-saw bandsaw, BT drill press, Hobart Handler 175 MIG welder, Arc welder, Self built Pentz's design Cyclone, Hitachi CB8 SCMS, Self Built Router table, Various hand tools, and drills, etc. Kreg 2000 Pocket hole jig, Keller Dovetail jig....

How many lathes have (or do) you own? Tell us about 'em.
Got to keep bringing up this lathe thing......... Well I'll have an old Craftsman 12" tube bed lathe this or next week, it was a gift from a buddy in the US. It will be my first real lathe.

How many turning tools do you have?
I have 4

Tell us about your shop:
It is a Dungeon, no windows, no doors, a hatch to get into it, but it is the best I can do living down town in a city of 12 million people.

Website? If so, what's the url?
www.ablett.jp/workshop (http://www.ablett.jp/workshop)

How long turning?

Here we go again......this week or NEXT week..... I'll start....

What got you into turning?
I have a crappy little drill operated lathe, I used it to make a replacement stringer for a chair in our house, it was fun for sure.

What do you enjoy most about turning?
Certainly not doing "Interviews" ;)

Dunno yet, but I think transforming a block of wood into a thing of beauty (I hope)

What was your first completed turned project?
Chair Stringer

What is your favorite form that you turn?
The virtual form, as I don't have my lathe yet!!

What is your favorite form someone else turns/has turned?
Dunno, sorry

What is your favorite wood to work with and why?
I would think it will be Sakura, as I have a bunch

Have you met or hung out with any turnin' Creekers? Tell us about it. No, no, no no, I don't want to drag my rep down ;)

What is your favorite individual piece that you have turned, and why?
The chair stringer, as it is the ONLY piece I've turned....

What if your favorite piece someone else has turned, and why?
Too many to list

What do you not turn now that you want to - or plan to - in the future?
The sky is the limit as I'm new to all of this!

What brought you to SMC?
A high speed internet connection.... No, really, someone here, a guy named "Bob Borzelleri" Found my shop and link to it here, then someone on another WW forum I frequent said "Hey Stu, the Creekers have found you", so I checked this place out, and I have come to like it very much.

Got any nicknames? How'd you get it?
No, not really.

Now let's get a little deep... If you were a tree, what tree would you be and why?

Well certainly most would choose the mighty Oak, the most mythic tree there is, but for me, it would be the Maple tree, partly because I'm Canadian, eh, and also because we had a really big beautiful Maple in out back yard, it gave us lots of shade from the hot sun in the summer, and way too many leaves to rake up and then jump into the piles. We had a hammock under that tree, and I spent many a lazy summer day reading in that hammock, I first read Lord of the Rings there about 30 years ago. The Maple is a great tree, it has nice wood, and the symbol of the leaf is recognized all over the world as the symbol of Canada, my birthplace.

The only other tree I would think of would be the Palm, as it symbolizes the triumph of Christ's rising from the dead, and victory for Christianity.


Logging in Tokyo with the Tokyo Log Hog


John Miliunas
02-02-2006, 2:23 PM
Pleased to make your acquaintance, Stu! :D (I was thinking of throwing another turning question out there but, thought better of it!:eek: ) Hey, one question not listed is: How the heck did you end up in Japan, in the first place??? It's not like going over to the next town or even the next state!:) :cool:

Keith Burns
02-02-2006, 2:36 PM
Nice to get to know you better.:) Still waiting to see your truck:D

Andy Hoyt
02-02-2006, 3:14 PM
The Dungeonmaster!

So Stu - Which is it? Frodo, Sam-wise, or Gimli?

And Mark - Kudos to you bro. Great idea, keep it up.

Dick Parr
02-02-2006, 3:19 PM
Glad you joined us Stu, now when did you say that lathe will be in the dungeon? :D ;)

Cecil Arnold
02-02-2006, 5:14 PM
Stu, you got to get the lathe--working that is.

Bruce Shiverdecker
02-02-2006, 8:10 PM
Glad to make your acquaintence, Stu.

I know you'll fall under the spell of turning.


john mclane
02-02-2006, 8:22 PM
I'm not a turner but saw this as a new thread and couldn'T wait to read it since seeing some of the earlier pictures of your shop and some of the lumber you have been collecting. Sounds like an interesting life. always more fun.

Karl Laustrup
02-02-2006, 8:33 PM
Stu, it's good to hear your history.

I'm not sure that I'd have the fortitude to do woodworking given your circumstances in the "dungeon". I really enjoy your posts and look forward to seeing some round stuff SOON.

And Mark, thanks for doing this. I think it speaks volumns to the other thread running about using real names and the people who really care about SMC.


Travis Stinson
02-02-2006, 8:34 PM
Good to meet you Stu.
Imagine, all that work to fabricate the bar for your chainsaw will all be for naught, once the lathe takes control of your life!:eek: ;)

Ken Fitzgerald
02-02-2006, 9:35 PM
Glad to have the background on you Stu! I've always enjoyed your posts here! It's neat to hear the woodworking point of view from another country!

David Mueller
02-02-2006, 9:39 PM
Stu, great to get the skinny on your background. I'm always envious when I read about you and Japan. I've been there several times and enjoyed each trip. I always got sent to the far east for work because I was the only one who enjoyed the food. :D

Jim Becker
02-02-2006, 9:39 PM
Wow...a new turner with his own personal source of good wine! Kewel!! :) (Thanks for letting us know more about you, Stu!)

Ernie Nyvall
02-02-2006, 9:40 PM
Well howdy Stu. Nice to meet ya.


doug webb
02-03-2006, 12:56 AM
Hi Stu. I read all of your posts to see what is new in the dungeon. I like the way you overcome whatever to do what you want. While I don't envy you the dungeon, I do turn green at the sight of Big Blue. Speaking of turning........ Take care, doug

Sparky Paessler
02-03-2006, 8:10 AM
Stu. I have enjoyed reading about your woodworking adventures in Tokyo. I like hearing about the differences there are from here to there. Good luck with your turning and keep posting!

John Hart
02-03-2006, 8:22 AM
Pleasure to meet you sir!!! I envy the cultural environment that you get to experience and glad you interlace it with your posts. So....do you have a lathe yet? :D :p

Jim Dunn
02-03-2006, 8:33 AM
Stu how well do you speak Japanese? I've been lead to believe it is one of the hardest languages to learn. Also do you read it as well?? Multiiiiii taaaalented I guess.


Stu Ablett in Tokyo Japan
02-03-2006, 10:47 AM
Well guys, I'm sure overwhelmed at the interest in my interview, a big THANK YOU SIR to Mark for doing this.

OK to try to answer some questions....

Andy, Yes I played D&D, I have all the books, the dice and everything. My favorite character in LOTR would be Sam, as I can relate the most to him, his struggles, and his courageous friendship, as well as his desire to just go home, marry the girl of his dreams and have some kids.

Jim Dun, Yes I speak Japanese, fairly well, but I have no time to study, so I've picked it up as I went along, thus my grammar is not so good, but I can usually make myself understood. I am fond of saying that my Japanese is "Good enough to get myself in trouble, and most of the time to get myself out of trouble" :D Reading is a whole different level, as there are basically 3 alphabets, Hirigana, Katakana, and Kanji. The first two are easy, I've long since mastered them, but that last, the Kanji, that is the Chinese characters, and they are HARD to learn, it is all rote study, which, I don't have time for! I know around 400 or so, you need a few thousand to read a newspaper.

Jim Becker, come into my wine cellar, I have over 600 kinds of wine, and, at last count nearly 5,000 bottles, worth, retail, about $200,000 :D Well the L shop has that much wine ;) How about some Romanee Conti, which vintage would you like...? Some 1978 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve..? Shall I go on...? I really enjoy wine, but in a social setting, I don't drink alone.

David Mueller, I like a lot of the food (OK, I often like it too much) and Sushi tops the list, but I cannot stand Natto, when my darling daughters eat it, I leave the room. That is fermented Soya beans, and it is NASTY....:eek:

Travis, I'm headed to the woodlot on Tuesday, my weekend project will be to make a mini mill for my new to me electric chainsaw, so I can edge my boards (De-wain them?)

john mclane, thanks for dropping in, and risking a trip down the spiny way...!!

Keith Burns, which truck...? :confused:

John Miliunas..... boy you would ask the mother of all questions.....

OK a nutshell, I was done at UBC, after 5 years there, I was looking for something to do, as the job market was lousy in Canada in 1989/90, I was training in a martial art called Aikido, my teacher there is Japanese, and he is the head dude for all of Canada (Shihan) he suggested that I get myself a working holiday visa, and head to Japan, work part time and train Aikido, a the source, for 6 months to a year and then look for a REAL job. He did not mean for me to stay in Japan and look for a real job, but that is what happened. I worked and trained for about 4 years, then I met Emiko, my lovely bride, and the rest is history.

I'm blessed with a great wife, and two lovely daughters, (neither one is a teenager yet, so I can still say that!).

here is a pic of my daughters in the summer wearing their Yukatas ( a comfy summer Kimono).....

Erika on the left, Mizuki on the right

And a pic of my wife Emiko, she is hard to get a pic of, as she never seems to sit still.


Mark Cothren
02-03-2006, 1:32 PM
Excellent. Just excellent. Great family, Stu!

John Miliunas
02-03-2006, 1:48 PM
Very neat, Stu! Sounds like it's been an interesting but pleasant "trip"! However, how exactly you managed to learn the language is still mind boggling for this Cheesehead! I learned two languages fluently as I was growing up but, to try and learn something from scratch later in live and being able to do it fluently, particularly something as difficult as Japanese is amazing!!! Thanks for the added insight and, BTW, that there is a wonderful looking family you have!!! :) Good job!!! :) :cool:

Michael Stafford
02-03-2006, 2:44 PM
Stu, it is said that where you are is the sum of all the forks in the road of life you take. It appears to me that you have mostly taken the right forks. Your love of life is apparent and you seem to attack each day with gusto. Your family is wonderful. You have the best of all worlds and and are enjoying yourself to the hilt. I congratulate you and wish you well.

Things will only improve in the dungeon when you get that lathe a spinnin'. Of course Emiko may wonder where the money went......

And of course anybody that likes Samwise Gangy is a good guy!;)

Jim Dunn
02-03-2006, 4:43 PM
Stu, thanks for posting pics of your wonderful family. Just about the two sweetest girls I've ever seen. Diffenately take after their mother:)

Mike Ramsey
02-03-2006, 5:05 PM
Great interview Stu! Lovely familily. I've enjoyed reading about
your adventures! I thought I had it bad with the nearest turning
supply store more than 200 miles round trip, but I can usually
just go online and have it here in a couple of days but reading about
how hard & expensive it is for you to track down what most of us
take for granted is mind blowing at the least! My hats off to you!

Bernie Weishapl
02-03-2006, 7:06 PM
Glad to meet you Stu. Thanks for the pictures and history.

Curt Fuller
02-03-2006, 7:16 PM
Nice to meet you Stu!

Stu Ablett in Tokyo Japan
02-03-2006, 7:57 PM
Stu, thanks for posting pics of your wonderful family. Just about the two sweetest girls I've ever seen. Diffenately take after their mother:)

Well one can hope that they do, my youngest, certainly does, but my eldest has some of my traits, so she is in for a tought one ;) :D Just kidding, I too think they are good looking kids, and blame it mostly on their mother!

Thanks all for the "How Dos" and greetings, you guys sure make a newbie feel welcome!


Dale Thompson
02-06-2006, 8:54 PM
This interview thing is REALLY super! We should do MORE of it! :)

I'm with Spring on the two language thing. However, I can't imagine a Cheesehead from Wisconsin being "fluent" in ANYTHING! :) On the other hand, if it comes from Spring, it's GOT to be true. ;) Personally, I gave up on English a long time ago. For the last few years, I have been working on fluency with "Lumberjack Norwegian". The Dictionary is only one paragraph long and no word has more than a single syllable. :o :) I think that I am FINALLY starting to catch on! :cool:

Seriously, though, Stu, you have a beautiful family and a VERY interesting personal story. :) It is a REAL pleasure to see your posts on SMC and for you to allow us to share your "special" and unique life. :) Thank you! :)

Dale T.

Paul Douglass
02-15-2006, 11:07 AM
Nice to meet you Stu. Went ot visit Japan last April. My son is a Navy pilot station there. We loved Japan. What a gracious respectful people. Wish we could go back. My wife plans on a trip back this spring traveling with a Japanese friend we have living here.

Beautiful family, Stu.

Chris Whitehair
02-15-2006, 8:58 PM
I have been pretty scarce around here the past year. I started my own Architectural design studio and I have been pretty busy. I checked this site for the first time in a long time, and got quite the kick out of your interview.

For those of you traveling to Japan you have to make a stop to visit Stu. I went a couple of years ago when my wife was on a business trip. I went up to Tokyo and did a day of rock climbgin with an internet pal, and spent a day with Stuart. He is quite the gracious host, picking me up at my hotel and taking me out to the Joyful Honda. Quite a place, just immense. Little did I know that Stuart only brought me because he needed about 8 people to carry all the stuff he was buying!! Afterwords he took my back to check out the store and his apartment and shop. Only shop I have ever seen where the owner has to move his motor cycle to access the panel in the floor to get down to the shop. Overall a great use of space in a city with no space.

As an aside, last year Toto finally came out with a toilet for the US, and we installed one a couple of weeks ago as part of the bathroom remodel. I now have the super deluxe automatic toilet like the one you showed me. My wife loved that about her two trips to Japan. It is country that skipped a couple of hundred year of toilet evolution. It is either a hole in the floor, squat toilet, or the high tech wash/dry automatic open and close toto's. I still remember your advise regarding the air dry temp and so far have had no problems!!

Good to see you still around and working wood. Just finished 3 houses going at the same time, and looking to relaxing and getting some time back in my shop.

Thanks again for your hospitalilty!

Stu Ablett in Tokyo Japan
02-15-2006, 11:22 PM

So nice to hear from you again!!

Glad to hear that things are going well, if busy, for you!

Have you seen what else I've been up to...?:D

Check out my "Logging in Tokyo" thread....

Any chance you will come to Japan again?


Chris Whitehair
02-16-2006, 7:06 AM
Any chance you will come to Japan again?


Most definetely coming back. The 2 times my wife went everything was work related so we want to go back just as tourists. I also want to get back to Osaka because I found the allyway where all the tools are! I am pretty sure I can find it again, can't believe that I stumbled on it the first time. I got a great set of chisels, but I want some planes on the return trip.

I will let you know, hopefully by next year I will have enough airmiles for the round trip business class adventure!


Stu Ablett in Tokyo Japan
02-16-2006, 7:23 AM

You know how to get hold of me! :D


Allen Grimes
02-20-2006, 9:41 PM

Great interview.


First of all, I noticed a mini review of Negra Modelo on your site, was it you who wrote it? That is one of my favorite beers, I cant get enough of the stuff, but like you I dont drink alone.

Also, I have been very interested in Japan for a long time and my wife and I are even thinking about moving there for a year or 2, some time in the future. How is life there for a non-Japanese guy? Also in case you dont know, you are living in the motherland for video games, do you play, by any chance?

Bart Leetch
02-21-2006, 1:34 AM
[QUOTE=Dale Thompson]Mark,
"Lumberjack Norwegian". The Dictionary is only one paragraph long and no word has more than a single syllable. :o :) I think that I am FINALLY starting to catch on! :cool:

Ja sure ya betchya.....:eek: :D

The above is half the paragraph.

Bob Noles
02-21-2006, 5:40 PM
Well Stu.... I am late coming in on reading the interview section. I remember when our paths first crossed on the Router forum and I started following your adventures on your web site and still do to this day.

You are about the most fascinating and creative person I have come across. You have kept me entertained and inspired for over a year now.

Thanks for sharing even more of yourself with us.

Corey Hallagan
02-21-2006, 9:07 PM
Stu, I have often wondered how you ended up in Japan. Beautiful family you have. Thanks for sharing your story!


John D Watson
02-22-2006, 3:44 PM
Pleasure to meet ya Stu. I think your interview was a little on the rigged side, too many _urning guestions. Your site is great and does the interview no justice (no offence intended).You put new meaning in the word adapt, your an inspiration to us all. Thanks and keep it up. I look forward to the updates. Oh and I hope the SNAFU is rectified quickly.

Dale Thompson
02-22-2006, 8:34 PM
[QUOTE=Bart Leetch
Ja sure ya betchya.....:eek:

The above is half the paragraph.[/QUOTE]

I already have THAT half of the paragraph mastered. :cool: What I need is help with the SECOND half! ;) :) I didn't see any so I assume that you are just making fun of me? :(

Where are our Moderators and my AARP assassins when they are REALLY needed? :confused: :)

Stu would NEVER put up with this! He has seven Samurai to protect HIM! All I've got to protect ME is a fifteen month-old granddaughter! :) Her brother is a year older but he is a "chicken" - like me! ;) :D

Dale T.