View Full Version : Turner Interview: Jim King

Mark Cothren
07-06-2006, 3:14 PM
Name Jim King Iquitos, Peru

DOB 1945

Physical description
Old and a bit fat 5 foot 11 inches. 230 pounds.

My wife and I have lived in the Amazon for over 20 years and before that 8 years in West Africa. We were both raised on farms in a small town in Northern Wisconsin.

(Editor's note: The Amazon? I don't think that is in Arkansas, is it? :D )

Family information
Married 40 years to the same one. One son lives on our farm in Northern Wisconsin and we have one Grandaughter entering medical school. As for dogs we have about 40 and in total usually about 80 to 100 animals. My wife accepts any animal that is dying or abandoned domestic or wild and we release in a resort as many of the wild animals as we can so they can readjust to life in the jungle.

We have spent more time living outside of the States in strange places than living in the States. Spent several years selling turnkey factories for whatever product a customer wanted to make anywhere in the world and then by accident got into the exotic wood business about 25 years ago. It is difficult to call what I do work, it is fun just about every day.

www.exoticwoodworld.com (http://www.exoticwoodworld.com)

Equipment Overview
Everything I use for turning is home made. As we are hundreds of miles from the nearest road and only have ship service once every six weeks it is easier to make things when possible than import. Just the thought of importing and going thru Peruvian Customs can make a person very creative. Iquitos, where we live is 2500 miles from the ocean up the Amazon and a seaport. Largest city in the world that has no road going to it.

How many lathes - Tell us about 'em.
Just one and you can see it on the web site under our turning process. Scrap iron from an oil drilling company, some bearings, a used motor, no idea how many rpms. Total cost $280.

How many turning tools
The turning tools also can be seen with the lathe. A bunch of old files, car springs, a machete for a parting tool etc. In order to replace all the tools it would be difficult to spend $25.

Tell us about your shop
As you can imagine the shop is very simple (but well used and dirty) as you will see on the web site.

How long turning?
Off and on for 20 plus years.

What got you into turning?
I started turning the last time in order to take photos of our woods for advertising as we sell unique and unknown species for the most part the customers needed to see what their purchase and work would turn into. The first time was to show my employees that Gringos could do anything.

What do you enjoy most about turning?
Every piece of wood is a surprise and you forget the world exists.

What was your first completed turned project?
An end table base of mahogany- really ugly.

What is your favorite form that you turn?
Covered bowls. Most of my turnings are good sized as we don’t have any sophisticated tools to do small items. Car springs and old rasps do not lend themselves to miniature works. I like to turn things that can be used for something.

What is your favorite form someone else turns/has turned?
To many to mention.

What is your favorite wood to work with and why?
As we live in the wood candy store there are to many to mention and we are continuously finding new species. This is actually what I enjoy the most is the constant search for new species and identifying them. We now have our own lab and work daily with the University of South Carolina plant research dept. who in turn work with the USDA Tropical Lab in Wisconsin. It is always exiting to find an unknown species but the one or two years of research to determine if it has been discovered before and then finally the naming is exiting but a lot of patience is required. I am still looking for the elusive blue wood.

Have you met or hung out with any turnin' Creekers? Tell us about it.
Have never met anyone but everyone is sure welcome to come on down to wood heaven. It would be a very interesting vacation if a group got together and came down. The beer is cold and an endless supply of rum. We even have in town a Texas bar and restaurant that serves wonderful old fashioned fried foods, mashed potatoes etc.

What is your favorite individual piece that you have turned, and why?
A spalted blood wood vase about 20 inches tall and like an idiot I sold it.

What is your favorite piece someone else has turned, and why?
With the quality and variety of works showing up on the turning forums there are so many incredible works who could make a choice. I would not want to be a judge at a turning show.

What do you not turn now that you want to - or plan to - in the future?
Larger pieces , but we have to build a heavier lathe. Right now we are limited to 24 inches dia..

What brought you to SMC?
Found it on Google

Got any nicknames? How'd you get it?
Been called lot of things but none stuck.

Now let's get a little deep... If you were a tree, what tree would you be and why?
Wouldn’t everyone like to be iron wood instead of being a humble human that deteriorates with time and doesn’t even spalt?

If you want a photo this is myself and my wife in the center - the old ones. The others are shop and office employees at Christmas.



Tom Sherman
07-06-2006, 3:30 PM
Great interview Jim nice to learn more about the man in the candy store job. You and your wife are nothing like I would have imagined, and the staff you have looks like a family. Thanks for your time to fill out the interview and share a bit of your life with us.

Lloyd Frisbee
07-06-2006, 3:37 PM
Jim, You say you have no road to where you live but you have the internet. I love it!

Keith Burns
07-06-2006, 4:17 PM
Great interview Jim. Interesting how this internet thing can make the world so much smaller. Always look forward to seeing the interesting pieces you produce.

Andy Hoyt
07-06-2006, 4:38 PM
Living life like it's meant to. I'm envious.

Henry C. Gernhardt, III
07-06-2006, 4:54 PM
Nice to know more about you, Jim. I especially appreciate the animal rescue work you do.

Jim Becker
07-06-2006, 5:06 PM
Thanks for the detailed introduction, Jim!!

Jeff Moffett
07-06-2006, 5:24 PM
Facinating interview, Jim. It sounds like you have found happiness among the simple things in life.

Bernie Weishapl
07-06-2006, 5:51 PM
Jim what a fantastic interview. Living and loving as it should be. What a deal.

Don Baer
07-06-2006, 6:19 PM
Greta interview Jim. Nice to learn more about you.

Ed Breen
07-06-2006, 7:30 PM
Great hearing more about you and SWMBO than in your website. I will also add that the three chunks of wood I've gotten from your shop have been splendid!!
Ed;) ;)

Dick Parr
07-06-2006, 7:46 PM
Great interview Jim, glad to get to know you better. Love the wood you play with.:D

Cecil Arnold
07-06-2006, 8:03 PM
Hi, Jim, nice interview, only wish the candy store was closer.

Dennis Peacock
07-06-2006, 9:17 PM
Hi Jim......Very nice to know more about you and thanks for a wonderful interview.

Barry Stratton
07-07-2006, 12:20 AM
Good interview Jim and thanks for sharing all the pictures from "candy land". Your local wood is some amazing stuff!

Something tells me you have room for Andy if he decides to come visit.......

Corey Hallagan
07-07-2006, 12:35 AM
Awesome interview Jim. Great to learn more about your life and business in Peru. I always look forward to your posts! I find it amazing what you make with your home made lathe and tools!


Ken Fitzgerald
07-07-2006, 12:41 AM
Great interview Jim! Nice to know more about you! Nice to know how folks live in other parts of the world too!

Bruce Shiverdecker
07-07-2006, 2:30 AM
Wonderful interview, Jim. Boy am I envious of you...............all that wood and so little time!

I can't really complain. I currently have more wood than I can probably turn, if I live to be 100 and in good health (Which I Ain't)

Your work shows that talent is more necessary than expensive tools! As the kids say:You Rock! (I think they still say that.)


Vaughn McMillan
07-07-2006, 3:17 PM
Great interview, Jim. You are definitely the "Keeper of the Candy Store" when it comes to exotic woods. It must take a strong affinity for adventure to do your work, but the rewards are phenomenal. Kudos to your wife, too, for her animal rescue work.

- Vaughn

Ernie Nyvall
07-07-2006, 8:23 PM
Nice to meet you Jim. It would be a fun trip to make down there.


Wally Lloyd
07-07-2006, 8:29 PM
When ever you get time "Come on Down", we will look after you and severely dent your credit card wih excess baggage!!!!

Don Orr
07-07-2006, 9:41 PM
Hi Jim, very nice interview. Nice to get to know you a little better. I've been watching your work on other forums and am very impressed with you and your crew and equipment. The wood speaks for itself. You all do amazing work with wonderfully basic tools. I really enjoy your "if you need it, make it out of what you have" attitude.

Keep up the beautiful work, and keep showing us that gorgeous wood.

Happy and Safe Turning,

Glenn Hodges
07-08-2006, 9:27 AM
Jim, I am sorry I did not get to know you when you were in Nashville, GA, but this interview helps. I always look forward to seeing pictures of your work of that beautiful wood you find down there. Nice to get to knowyou better.

Jim King
07-08-2006, 12:43 PM
I just noticed last night that the interview was posted. I am traveling right now and havent been near a computor so sorry for the delay in responding. Just came from Wisconsin and now in Mpls and leaving today for Guyana to talk about setting up a company to look for new species that we do not have in Peru. Thankyou to everyone for all the nice comments and again all of you would certainly enjoy a visit to the Amazon. The doors are open to all.

Curt Fuller
07-09-2006, 12:03 AM
Nice to get to know you a little better Jim. You really seem like someone that is living their dream. I've seen your beautiful work posted on various woodturning sites and always admired it.

John Miliunas
07-09-2006, 12:54 PM
Jim, it's certainly been a great pleasure to get to know more about you BUT, at the same time, I'm just a little PO'd!!! :mad: You have roots in Wisconsin and have just made a visit and I knew nothing of it until now!!! Man, that's just not right!!! :mad: I would've considered it an honor to meet you in person, even if I would've had to "go the distance" and drive to where you were!!! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!!!!!!! :mad: At least tell me you're a Packer fan!!!! :D Having missed the opportunity to meet you on "home territory", it's still great to have a bit more insight to the McGyver of turning tools! Your work is magnificent and inspiring and causes one to dream of having such a wonderful source of beautiful woods! Thanks! :) :cool:

Jim King
07-11-2006, 4:29 PM
John: Next trip I will give you a call , what would you think if Menards carried the turning blanks and lumber ? I would love to get some feedback from you guys in the Midwest. The plane goes both ways you know. Get a group together and come on down. I am in Georgetown, Guyana today and be home in Peru in a couple of days. I just came from looking at about 1000 bf of snake wood in small logs. I was drooling like a St. Bernard. Havent seen an American football game in years.