View Full Version : Turner Interview: Bruce Shiverdecker

Mark Cothren
02-22-2006, 11:26 AM
Name: Bruce Shiverdecker

DOB/Age: June 16, 1942 (OLD COOT) 63

Physical description (G-rated, please):
6’-3’’, Overweight. When I was born, they gave me 5’8” hair, so I’ve grown right through the top of it.

Location (for how long, previous locations, etc):
Born in Kansas City Kansas, brought to Dayton, Ohio by adoptive parents. BTW, I REALLY thank my birth mother wherever she is for NOT aborting me. Just look at all I would have missed! Got transferred in 1974 to Davenport, Iowa……….Actually lived on PARK AVENUE, in PARKVIEW, IA about 20 minutes West of Davenport. Not a bad place to live, except you had to drive past Pork Producers all the time. PEEEEEEEEUUUUUU! In 1976 I transferred to Peoria, Illinois and currently live in a bedroom community of about 3500 called Marquette Heights.

Family information (brag on your spouse, kids, grandkids, dog, etc):
Wow, Lets’ see! The love of my live, Barbara, has put up with my flights of fancy for 38 years. That included lean time, fat times and crazy times. She is now three-year survivor of cancer and has several other physical problems, but is quite a trooper. Just keeps going, like the energizer bunny. This past year, she has been involved with the Linis Program. For those who might not know what they do, they get together and make 4’ X 5’ quilts (security blanket) that are given to children who have gone through trauma, such as Cancer.

I am lucky to have a son to be proud of, too. It took Eric a little while to find his calling, which is anything to do with Computers. At age 7, while I was gone on a trip, He took my Apple computer and a Tandy programming manual and wrote a Pong program. At age 30 he came back to computers and opened a sales and service store. He will build you a custom computer, or sell you a used one off lease, His reputation for diagnostic ability and integrity are well known. He also writes software and installs and sets up networks. He is married to a wonderful girl named Sandi and they are trying to adopt their first child. That’s why I’m making the cradle.

Don’t currently have any animals. The neighbors on both sides have three dogs each. That’s enough of a warning system. For 16 years, we had a Schnauzer/Poodle mix. She was a wonderful companion and indicator for Barb. I didn’t mention it before, but, as a child Barb lost most of her hearing, so if she thought she heard something, she looked at BG to see if anything was wrong. (BG stands for beautiful girl)

Vocation (what do you do for a living, and what have you done previously):
When I got out of high school, my parents said, “You ARE going to college!” Well, after blowing off a year in college, I went to work for Graybar Electric, Company, inc. Spent almost 15 years with them with a stint in the Navy, 1964 – 1968. Became an independent agent, representing on average 15 different manufacturers of electrical supplies. That lasted 5 years, till Harvey Hubbell approached me to represent them as a field sales engineer. After 15 years with them, medical reasons made me leave the road and 54,000 miles annual travel. Went back to electrical distribution with Kirby Risk Electrical Supply until 2003, when Barbara contracted Cancer. It was a real Wake Up Call. You stop and say to yourself, “What’s really important?” The answer was clear to me. I intended to spend whatever time we would have together doing what we enjoyed. I took early retirement and don’t regret it for one minute. BTW, it was one week later that she asked me to go with her to the Civic Center, where she worked part time. It seems that 24/7 together was not in HER plans. I was hired on the spot and we are ushers for concerts, the symphony, civic chorale, and I do some security work. I also work two days a week at Woodcraft. Helps keep my costs in line. When I told Barb that I was going to work there, she said that I could bring home Stuff in lieu of a paycheck, but NO IOU’s. Maybe she thinks I buy too much? Starting this summer, I am offering to teach Basic Woodturning through the Peoria Park District.

Tell us about your shop:
Equipment Overview (lathe, tools, etc):
My shop is “The Crypt!” The production area is 9’ X 10’. It houses:
1. A 10” Chop Saw
2. A 10” Firestorm T/S with Incra 5000 miter system
3. 48” base holding my Rikon Lathe
4. Jet DC1000 Collector
5. Combination Belt, Disk sander
6. 34” Craftsman Radial Drill Press
7. 9” craftsman tabletop Band saw
8. 4” Craftsman Jointer
9. Utility Table used for:
Jet 12” planer and heaven forbid, when I can’t find another way to do it, a tabletop Router table. It also holds a lot of junk and finishing stuff most of the time.

Last year, when Barb got tired of having my wood, etc all over the basement, said that I could build a wall across to the other side. This gave my and additional 9’ X 18’ for finishing and storage. I can hardly move in there. In the 1 car garage, I store a Ryobi BT3000 TS and Grizzly G0550 Band saw with riser blocks. When weather permits, I move them to the driveway and make sawdust. Across the back (opposite the door) there is a storage room. It is shelved. Over half of the space has turning blanks drying on the shelves. Also, on the floor is a 4’ X 2’ X 2’ container full of blanks. A year ago, last spring, I decided that the lawn mower, snow blower, hose carrier were taking up too much room in the garage, so I talked you know who into an 8’ X 10’ shed. Of course the first things that went into it were saw horses and plywood, so I could store turning blanks in there, too. It got full and last year, I bought three plastic lidded containers 18” X 36” X 48” tall. These, too, are full of chunks of wood. I don’t know why, but Barb thinks I’m a pack rat. HMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM?.

How many lathes have (or do) you own? Tell us about 'em.
Since, as you can see, I don’t have much room, I own two lathes. One in the shop and the other one for traveling.

The Shop lathe is a Rikon 70-100 that replaced my Jet Mini, which I sold to make room. I brought it home between Christmas and New Year. Overall I love it. However, there are several things I believe they could do better. Both the drive and live centers have removable points. A good thing, but they don’t tell you and when you use the knockout bar on the tailstock, it only drives out the point. You have to use something else to wedge the live center from the tailstock. The point in the drive center stuck to a turning when I was swapping ends. I didn’t see it and the next thing I knew, the DC ate it. Also, I didn’t have to bolt the Jet down, due to the size restrictions of blanks on it. Make sure you bolt the Rikon down. Bigger, heavier pieces cause it to walk.

The traveling lathe is a Wilton VS. I got it because it was too much trouble to take the extension off the Jet, and lug 64 lbs around. The Wilton is about 42 lbs. I mostly turn small things (Pens, Kaleidoscopes, coffee scoops, bottle stoppers) at demonstrations, so the Wilton is more than enough lathe to do the job. I don’t like the handles; too weak, but the VS is nice to have.

How many turning tools do you have?
8 piece HF $30.00 HSS set.
3-piece Woodcraft mini set
5-piece Shopsmith set (Carbon steel)
Sorby Hollowing tool
45 degree Crown HF Tool
1” Crown Roughing Gouge
½” Pinacle Detail gouge
3-tip Pinacle scraper

Not too bad for 3 years!

Website? If so, what's the URL?
Working on a page. Hope, one of these days, Eric will have time to help set it up.

How long turning?
A little over three years.

What got you into turning?
Peoria Area Woodworkers got me hooked, but specifically Richard Coers. He did a demonstration at a meeting and gave me a piece of mulberry to try. I let it set for probably two months, then set it up on the Shopsmith I had at the time. Hated the Shopsmith as a lathe, but got hooked anyway.

What do you enjoy most about turning?
When I’m turning, I relax. I usually let the wood tell me what to do, so there’s little effort on my part, except to try and see what’s there.

What was your first completed turned project?
My FIRST turning, I still have. I was in 8th grade and in woodshop; I made my Dad a slanted bookrack. There was a turning used to raise the one end. I took a 3”x 3” square and proceeded to chew it up till I finally had an almost round and even end to end 1” diameter pin 5” long. My father used it for over 30 years and when he died, it came back home. One day, I will send it forward to my son and his children.

What is your favorite form that you turn?
This is hard. For pure zoned out relaxation, it would be pens, but for a feeling of accomplishment and a chance to expand my ability, it would have to be bowls. While people seem to be in awe of hollow forms, they seem to get more pleasure from bowls, even if they don’t hold soup.

What is your favorite form someone else turns/has turned?
I see so much wonderful stuff here and at other sites that it is hard to choose. To have the patience and ability to do segmented turnings, is awesome, but I believe that work like what Sasha does is my favorite. To take a single piece of wood and sculpt it into the beautiful pieces he does takes my breath away.

What is your favorite wood to work with and why?
It would have to be Cocobolo. The grain pattern and figure make everything look beautiful and it turns great.

Have you met or hung out with any turnin' Creekers? Tell us about it.
Bill Stevener was kind enough to drop by at the hands on demonstrations we had at Woodcraft. While I couldn’t spend the time I would have liked to, we did get to talk while I took a lunch break. He is interesting and innovative. We talked about minis and materials and tools. He also discussed the minis with other customers and impressed them with his ability. Hope we get together with more time to talk.

What is your favorite individual piece that you have turned, and why?
My favorite piece so far is actually 32 Chess pieces. It was a project for my son, which turned out well and will be handed down through our future family.

What is your favorite piece someone else has turned, and why?
I can’t say that I have JUST ONE. I have seem so much beautiful work that it is impossible to choose just one.

What do you not turn now that you want to - or plan to - in the future?
At this point, all I am trying to do is improve my techniques, so that the end result is better than my last piece. (I don’t always succeed, but it’s the effort that counts.)

What brought you to SMC?
The Freedom Pen Program. It seemed to be one of those “The Right Thing To Do” things.

Got any nicknames? How'd you get it?
Through the years I’ve had several. Picked up “Dolphin” in Mexico n 1959 because I liked diving and popping up from the dive. In the service it was “Ski”……………… NO I’m not Polish, just have a loooooooooooong last name.

I picked up Travlr from Traveling Man for averaging 54,000 miles a year driving for business.

Now let's get a little deep... If you were a tree, what tree would you be and why?
HMM! I guess it would be the Willow. It has the strength to withstand enormous winds, yet has a quiet side when a light breeze blows through the branches and it casts a large protective shadow where you can relax away from summer heat.

Bernie Weishapl
02-22-2006, 11:42 AM
Bruce very nice interview. I am pleased to meet you.

Keith Burns
02-22-2006, 11:51 AM
Wow Bruce great interview ! Nice to get to know you a little better. The main thing I picked up on from your interview that I really admire in someone is your character. You certainly have an abundance of it.:) :)

Glenn Clabo
02-22-2006, 1:00 PM
Wonderful story...through all the ups and downs of a life you have kept what it's all about in perspective. Nice to know ya.

Cecil Arnold
02-22-2006, 1:35 PM
Hi Bruce, nice to get to know you a little better, and it's also nice to find someone older than me )Oct. '42) around here. Keep on burning and turning.

Andy Hoyt
02-22-2006, 1:39 PM
Weeeeeeeeellllllllllllllllll Heeeeeeeeeeeyyyyyyyyy TTTTTTTTTTThhhhhhhhheeeerrrrrrrrreeeeeee Bruuuuuuuuuuuuce

Like your style, and your enthusiasm. Glad to know you a bit better.

Glenn Hodges
02-22-2006, 1:51 PM
Glad to get to know you better Bruce.

John Hart
02-22-2006, 1:53 PM
I closed the door to my office and just thoroughly enjoyed your interview Bruce. Pleased to meet you sir!:)

Bob Noles
02-22-2006, 2:36 PM
Wow Bruce......

A fantastic and extremely interesting interview. It has been enjoyable reading what you have been so kind to share with us and I am glad to know you better.


Ed Scolforo
02-22-2006, 4:03 PM
Bruce: Great getting to know you a little better! I enjoyed your interview as well. Keep em turning!

Michael Stafford
02-22-2006, 4:43 PM
Bruce, I am glad to see you defending the honor of the old coot section of the Turner's Forum. These young whippersnappers ain't seen nothing yet have they? Enjoyed the interview. You are da man!:D

Jim Dunn
02-22-2006, 5:49 PM
Bruce, the pleasure is all mine. So nice you could come back from Florida in time to lasso Andy. You'll make a great grandfather, that I can tell.


Bruce Shiverdecker
02-22-2006, 7:51 PM
Thanks for all the kind comments.............................. I KNEW there was a reason I hung out here!:D :cool:


Harry Pye
02-22-2006, 8:06 PM
Sounds like you have had a good life and it seems it is only getting better. Nice to have some facts to go with that picture.

Dale Thompson
02-22-2006, 8:58 PM
Thanks for the time you spent on the interview! :) I really liked your candid approach to life. :D I have a bit of experience with the "travelin' life". It's not as glamorous as a lot of people think! :(

My VERY best to you and your wonderful wife, Barb! :)

Your interview reminded me of a question that I have asked myself MANY times over the years. "What is REALLY important in life?" ;) I truly hope that ALL of us can get a grip on that question before it is too late. :)

Thanks again, Bruce. :D

Dale T.

Corey Hallagan
02-22-2006, 9:00 PM
Great and interesting interview. I have a son named Eric as well :) I wish both of you continued good health and your a great asset to SMC Bruce.


Jim Ketron
02-22-2006, 10:08 PM
Nice to know ya better Bruce.
Great interview!

Paul Douglass
02-22-2006, 11:23 PM
Great interview and pleased to meet you, Bruce. Now throw in some family pictures and all is complete.

My prayers for your wife, sounds like she is an very strong person. Sets an example for the rest.

Curt Fuller
02-22-2006, 11:26 PM
Nice to get to know a little about you Bruce.

Dennis Peacock
02-22-2006, 11:27 PM

Very nice interview. Great to get to know you better. Hug your wife for me and tell her that there are strangers praying for her and her recoveries.

Chris Barton
02-22-2006, 11:50 PM

What a great interview! Best of luck to you, your wife and family!

Pat Salter
02-23-2006, 12:11 AM
I'm not sure what's more fun about this site, learning more about woodturning or more about the folk that hang here.

I'm really enjoying these interviews.

John Hart
02-23-2006, 6:44 AM
I'm not sure what's more fun about this site, learning more about woodturning or more about the folk that hang here.....

You sure nailed that one Pat.;) :)

Travis Stinson
02-23-2006, 7:08 AM
Nice to get to know you a little better Bruce. Great interview.

Stu Ablett in Tokyo Japan
02-23-2006, 7:46 AM
Hey Bruce, let me add to the list saying "Nice to know you a little better".

I really appreciate your thoughtful answers and the time you took to do this, I know, I've done it, and once you sit down to answer the questions, I kind of stepped back and really thought about my answers, it seems like you did as well.

Boy this is a great idea!


doug webb
02-23-2006, 9:39 AM
Great interview. It is really nice to know more about the great people on Smc. An avatar tells you nothing about the real you. Wish you and your family all the best. Thanks, doug

Mike Ramsey
02-23-2006, 9:07 PM
Pleased to meet you Mr. Shiverdecker! I really enjoyed reading about you
and your family.

John Miliunas
02-24-2006, 2:38 PM
Bruce, you got yourself one heckuva' interesting bio there! :) I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know you a tad better. BTW, you don't look quite that tall in your avatar! :D :cool:

Ernie Nyvall
02-24-2006, 10:03 PM
Bruce, really good interview. Nice to know you a little better.