View Full Version : Turner Interview: Sparky Paessler

Mark Cothren
02-08-2006, 4:15 PM
Name: Sparky Paessler

DOB/Age: 8/13/58 47

Physical description (G-rated, please):
5' 11" light brown hair (at least what has not fallen out or turned gray!) Green eyes that are very nearsighted. Way too heavy which puts me in the company of some great turners (not that I am one) .

Location (for how long, previous locations, etc)
Johnson City TN up in the beautiful mountains of East Tennessee. Live here for 24 years and would not want to live anywhere else. Grew up in Memphis right behind Elvis's house. (Graceland subdivison.)

Family information (brag on your spouse, kids, grandkids, dog, etc)
Married 22 years to my wife Debbie. 16 years ago we adopted our son Matthew. Debbie is an interior Designer and gets me a lot of work. Matthew (16) is an actor and has stared in several local plays.

Vocation (what do you do for a living, and what have you done previously)
Associate Degree in Electronic Engineering. Worked 5 years in Computer Field service for DEC. Have worked the last 22 years in Test Engineering for an Electronic board manufacturer (TI, Siemens, EPIC same place but the name keeps changing).

Equipment Overview (lathe, tools, etc)
5hp Cyclone from Kit, 12" J.A. Fay and Egan jointer. Jet 1236 Lathe, Delta unisaw, Delta 3hp shaper, Powermatic 15 planer, Homemade mortise and Tendon machine, Delta 16 drill press, old Rockwell 24 scroll saw, Woodcraft slow speed grinder, 26 year old Homelite 20 chainsaw. Lots of hand power tools and hand tools.

How many lathes have (or do) you own? Tell us about 'em.
I started out on my grandfathers old 9" Sears Craftsman lathe (King Sealey). Got a great deal on the 1236 Jet from Amazon and upgraded to it.

How many turning tools do you have?
I have 13 or 14 turning tools. Some are old Craftsman tools that came with my first lathe. I use a Crown PM bowl gouge for most work. I also have a couple Henry Taylor scrapers, a heavy Crown scraper and a crown PM 1 skew. For hollowing I have a Jamieson hollowing tool with a home made laser pointer and secondary rest.

Tell us about your shop:
I have a full cabinet shop of equipment in a basement workshop. Recent additions include a 5hp Cyclone and 12" jointer. I also just dug out by hand 300sf more space making the shop about 600 sf. My lathe is a Jet 1236 which is a good lathe to start with. Of course I would like to own a larger lathe. If I could pick a dream lathe it would be a Stubby. (If SMC members want to buy me one I won't complain!:rolleyes: ) I am thinking about building my own bowl lathe and have picked up a Mig welder and I am learning to weld. The shop is a work in progress. I still have a lot of work to do building shelves, cabinets, downdraft outfeed/sanding table ..

Website? If so, what's the url?
No website for now.

How long turning?
I have had a lathe for 25 years. Most of that time it sat in a corner of the shop and was never used. I turned a few shaker pegs and a wand or two on it was all. I got interested in turning when I was a member of Badger Pond and saw all the things that the turners were doing. I started turning bowls and pens about 3 years ago. One thing I like about turning compared to flatwork is that it is more artistic also I can go into the shop in the evening after work and rough out some bowls in just an hour or so. I just love seeing what comes out of the wood. I have really enjoyed giving away pens, bowls and HF as gifts. It is great to be able to make something for someone that is unique and they always seem to love them.

What was your first completed turned project?
The first thing was a shaker peg. Then some wands. I got a nova chuck and did some bowls and then turned some pens.

What is your favorite form that you turn?
I like to try different forms. Im still trying to find a favorite. I have probably turned more of what I call a doughnut form than any other.

What is your favorite form someone else turns/has turned?
I like the southwest shapes and the taller hollow forms. The boxes that Big Mike turns are great also.

What is your favorite wood to work with and why?
I have not turned a lot of different woods but out of the ones I have I like maple because of all the different grain patterns that it can have. For pens I love curly Koa.

Have you met or hung out with any turning' Creekers?
Tell us about it. I see Jim Ketron at least one a month at club meetings. Dick Parr and Bill Chapman came up from Knoxville for a visit with Jim and I a while back. It was an enjoyable visit but my shop was a disaster at the time.

What is your favorite individual piece that you have turned, and why?
I turned a large cherry southwest Hollow form for my 21 year old nephew as a requested present once and I think I enjoyed it because he was so excited about getting it. It was nice for someone that age and from the next generation of my family to want one of my turnings and appreciate it so much.

What is your favorite piece someone else has turned, and why?
I love the hollow form that Travis turned for Mike out of Masur Birch. The wood is so unusual and beautiful and Travis did such a good job with it.

What do you not turn now that you want to - or plan to - in the future?
I want to turn taller hollow forms and bowls and I am making a steady rest now to help do that.

What brought you to SMC?
When Badger Pond closed most members went to SMC or Woodcentral. I liked the atmosphere of SMC so that is where I post most of the time although I am not a frequent poster.

Got any nicknames? How'd you get it?
Sparky - Even though I work in electronics I am not called Sparky for that. I got the name playing baseball in High school. Im left handed and was pitching so they started calling me Sparky Lyle and then it shortened to just Sparky.

Now let's get a little deep... If you were a tree, what tree would you be and why?
Maybe a Koa tree! Then I would live in a beautiful place (Hawaii) and be made of beautiful wood.


Mark Cothren
02-08-2006, 4:20 PM
Some more pics Sparky sent...


Jim Ketron
02-08-2006, 4:33 PM
I will Have to Say Sparky is one of the nicest people you will ever meet! Always enjoy visiting and talking with him.

Mark Cothren
02-08-2006, 4:50 PM
I actually own two "Sparky" originals...:D Given to me as gifts for an exchange on another forum. First class work, for sure!


Keith Burns
02-08-2006, 4:58 PM
Sparky, it's nice to meet you up close and personal for sure. We now know who really has the cats:D

John Hart
02-08-2006, 5:52 PM
Nice to meet you Sparky!! A very nice interview. I enjoyed it very much.:)

Michael Stafford
02-08-2006, 6:13 PM
I have never met Sparky but I have had the pleasure of chatting with him and seeing his work on this and other forums. He is fine woodturner and an all around great guy. Enjoyed learning some more about him!!!:D

Stu Ablett in Tokyo Japan
02-08-2006, 6:35 PM
NIce to meet you Sparky, great interview!!

Love the work, very nice, and love the pic of the lathe, looks like it gets used!


Bernie Weishapl
02-08-2006, 6:51 PM
Great interview Sparky. I am glad to meet you.

Travis Stinson
02-08-2006, 7:04 PM
Nice to get to know you a little better Sparky. Wish you would post more often, you do some wonderful work!:cool:

Karl Laustrup
02-08-2006, 7:18 PM
Great interview. Really like your work Sparky. Yeah, you need to show us some more. :)

Again, thanks for doing this Mark. Was just beginning to wonder when the next "interviewee" would check in.


Cecil Arnold
02-08-2006, 9:55 PM
Thanks Mark and Sparky. It's good to meet nice people wherever and however you can.

John Miliunas
02-08-2006, 10:40 PM
Pleased to meet you, Sparky! :) Sounds like your life is very well rounded (pun intended:D )! I have always enjoyed your posts and now they come with a bit more meaning. Keep up the great work!:) :cool:

Mike Ramsey
02-08-2006, 10:41 PM
Good looking family there Sparky! Enjoyed reading your interview!

Andy Hoyt
02-09-2006, 12:38 AM
Hey Sparky! Was fun to read the skinny on you.

Always enjoy your turnings, so post early and post often.

Dick Parr
02-09-2006, 1:50 AM
I hope to see you again this year Sparky and it was a pleasure the last time.;)

Sparky Paessler
02-09-2006, 8:35 AM
Nice to get to know you a little better Sparky. Wish you would post more often, you do some wonderful work!:cool:

Travis, I haven't had anything to post lately. I'm tied up most evenings finishing out a basement for a friend. Hopefully after that is finished I will get back to turning! I'm also going to Mexico the 18 for a week to build a Cafeteria at a childerns home. I will post pictures of that when I get back.

Sparky Paessler
02-09-2006, 8:40 AM
NIce to meet you Sparky, great interview!!

Love the work, very nice, and love the pic of the lathe, looks like it gets used!

Hi Stu, that was my grandfather's lathe that I started out on. It's a good little lathe very sturdy. Hard to change speed on though. I now turn on a jet 1236.

Sparky Paessler
02-09-2006, 8:42 AM
Would love to visit with you again Dick! I hope to make it down to Knoxville in the spring sometime if I ever get caught up. Come on up to JC anytime.

doug webb
02-10-2006, 7:45 AM
Thanks for sharing, would love to see more of your work. Wish you and your family the best. Great interview. Keep them coming, Mark and thanks.

Tyler Howell
02-10-2006, 9:10 AM
Hey Sparks,
Glad to meet you. I followed your basement expansion project closely. Too cool!

Jim Dunn
02-10-2006, 9:18 AM
Sparky nice to meet you hear. Wish I could get to TN and meet ya in person!

Ken Fitzgerald
02-10-2006, 9:25 AM
Sparky.....It' sounds like you've got you life in control and know what's important! I followed you basement expansion thread with great interest!

Sparky Paessler
02-10-2006, 11:38 AM
Ken and Tyler, I need to post some new shop tour pictures. I haven't finished by any means but it is at least functional at this point and I have the duct work up for the cyclone.

Jim, You are welcome in Tennessee anytime!

Ernie Nyvall
02-11-2006, 8:10 PM
Nice to meet you Sparky. Nice looking family.


Pat Jeddy
02-13-2006, 1:49 AM
You have a beautiful family (including your Cat), and turn some wonderful pieces. BTW, 1958 was a vintage year for babies, so no wonder your ROCK!!!

Sparky Paessler
02-13-2006, 8:44 AM
Thanks Ernie and Pat. 1958 was a good year! Bob the cat thinks that he is the King of the yard and shop. I also have two others that live in the house.

Don Baer
02-13-2006, 5:02 PM
great to hear about you Sparky. your Birthday is the day after mine. just 11 years later...lol

Paul Douglass
02-15-2006, 11:01 AM
Nice to meet you Sparky. How did you get the name Sparky? or did I miss that in the interview? Nice looking family.

Bob Noles
02-21-2006, 5:45 PM

Sorry I'm late in getting around to replying. I enjoyed your interview and it is nice getting to know more about the friends we make on SMC. I look forward to rubbing elbows and experiences with you as time goes.

Thanks for sharing your personal side.