View Full Version : SMC Turner Interview - Don Baer

Andy Hoyt
09-16-2006, 7:44 PM
Name: Don Baer

DOB: before most of you (8/12/47)

Physical description (G-rated, please):
Portly but Iím working on it, Iím 5í10Ē and a svelte 220. Iíve lost 50 pounds in the last six months.

So just where does the Don Baer story begin?
When I was in the Navy I was assigned to the gold crew of the Nathan Hale SSBN 623 Ė an FBM (Fleet Ballistic Missile) Submarine. We would spend three month on patrol and then three months in Hawaii doing "training". During one of my early off-crew cycles I got involved with a group of submariners and civilians who were bidding on a large sailboat that was up for public auction. She was a gaff-rigged ketch, 117 feet long and carried 6000 square feet of sail. She was an all-wooden ship, built in Essex, MA back in 1926 and originally named the "Faith". She was later renamed the "Araner". We won the auction and proceeded to spend our off-crew time making her seaworthy. Now keep in mind that none of us knew the first thing about sailing a ship of this size. Nonetheless, we sailed her throughout the Hawaiian Islands and had fantasies of sailing the South Pacific Islands ala Donavanís Reef. When I got discharged from the Navy we set out to take the ship to do just that and live out our dreams. We sailed from Hawaii to Kingmanís Reef, Palmira; and finally to American Samoa. When we made port there was an emergency message for me that my dad had suffered a heart attack, so I left the ship and flew home. The boat was eventually sold and my dream of sailing the South Pacific was gone because a few months later I met Sherrie.

Family information (tell us about your spouse, kids, grandkids, dog, etc):
Been Married to Sherrie, the LOML, for 33 years (guess Iíll keep her). Hereís an interesting fact about us. We met on Thanksgiving; I proposed to her that Christmas Eve; and we were married the following Easter. Not too bad, huh? I have two sons ages 31 and 29 and three grandchildren Ė Zachary, age 12 and Marisa, aged 10 are my oldest sonís kids and Alexandria (Alex), age 2 is my youngest sonís. My oldest son is a Second Class Navy Hospital Corpsman and was recently stationed at the Naval Hospital at Camp Lejeune, NC upon his return from Iraq; and my younger son is working and studying to be a teacher Ė he finally figured out what he wants to do in life.

Where is home? (How long have you been there? Where else have you lived?):
Sherrie and I recently moved from southern California and are temporarily living with my son in Queen Creek, Arizona as we gear up to build a new house about four miles from here. The building permits will be pulled any day now; and while having it done by Christmas would be great, I do not expect it. Before that I lived on the left coast for most of my life. I did spend 6 years in the Navy globe trotting at the taxpayerís expense.

Vocation (what do you do for a living, and what have you done previously; are you retired?):
I am a product manager involved in the environmental field dealing with high-end instrumentation for measuring environmental air quality. Previously I was involved in the variable speed motor controls industry. My degree is in physics so my education allows me to go in many directions. My preferences lean towards woodworking.

Shop Overview (size, relationship to house, list of basic tools, woodworking pursuits other than turning?):
Iím presently using my sonís small 20 x 20 garage but Iím sharing it with a lot of our other junk. At our new 3000 SF single story house that weíre building Iíll have a 900 SF attached garage which I will use as shop, while also sharing it with my wifeís Suburban. The new house sits on a ľ acre and I plan on building a dedicated 24 x 24 shop, which will be detached from the house.

How many lathes do you own? Tell us about 'em. Even the ones you no longer have. Why did you choose these lathes?
I had done some metal turning in the past and actually used to own a metal lathe, which I used to at least get my feet wet in turning. I sold to buy my present lathe Ė a Rikon 12 x 18 mini, which I am abusing to its limits.

How many turning tools do you have? Store bought, home made favorites?
I have the basic HF set and a couple of bowl gouges. I need to get a hollowing rig set up and thatíll probably be my next tool purchase.

How long have you been turning, and what got you started in the first place?
I have always been intrigued with turning. My dad had done some limited turning but nothing spectacular - mostly some spindle work. Then in May 2005, I looked at the metal lathe and wondered how it would perform at woodturning; so I decided to give it a try After some successful turning and many more launches, I moved up to a real wood lathe Ė the Rikon.

What's your favorite flavor of ice cream?
Rocky Road

What do you enjoy most about turning?
Watching something take shape right before your eyes. There is no feeling like chucking up a blank and seeing whatís inside the wood. Itís the only type of woodworking where you can get nearly instant gratification.

What was your first completed turned project? You get bonus points for a picture of it.
It was a piece of Dunnowood from Rocklerís that I spun on the metal lathe

47009 47010

What is your favorite individual piece that you have turned, and why?
The last one I turned (http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?t=42176) - because it stayed in one piece.

What is your favorite form that you turn?
Anything that stays in one piece

What do you not turn now that you want to - or plan to - in the future?
Hollow forms and segmented turnings.

How do you take your Moxie? (Straight up? beer chaser? neat? with corn flakes?)
With lots of beer chasers to get the taste out of my mouth.

What is your favorite form someone else turns/has turned?
Oh Jeez, there are so many talented turners out there itís almost impossible to tell.

What is your favorite individual piece someone else has turned, and why?
Oh Jeez, there are so many talented turners out there itís almost impossible to tell (gee, must be echo in here I think I heard that before.

What is your favorite wood to work with and why?
Any wood that stays in one piece long enough for me to complete my turning.

Have you met or hung out with any fellow Creekers? Tell us about it.
Well lets see, I met Mark Singer and his son Ryan as well as Lee DeRaud, Andrew Ault, and John Scarpa at a workshop at Sam Maloofís place. From left to right in this picture are Andrew, Ryan, Mark, Sam, John, and myself. Iím pretty sure that the fellow in the background is a Creeker too. I think heís from the East Coast, and sadly, I donít recall his name. Lee DeRaud was there that day too, but had to leave before this shot was taken.


I also hooked up with George Conklin during the Howell/Chaffee Abysseration when we executed our handoff for the Great West Coast Misdirection.

What brought you to SMC?
When I wanted to try turning and was seeking information about using my metal lathe to turn wood; the very first post I made (http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?t=20230) was right here on the turning forum. The folks were friendly and gave me some good answers. So I decided to hang out at SMC.

Got any nicknames? How'd you get it?
One very obvious one, Bear with several iterations, my favorite is the one my grandkids use and thatís Papa Bear.

Now let's get a little deep... If you were a tree, what tree would you be and why?
A Eucalyptus - they are used in the west as windbreaks to protect the groves from storms. They grow straight and tall and live long useful lives and when they do come down, they can be turned into beautiful pieces of art.

If you won the Irish Sweepstakes what part of your life would change?
Well Iíd certainly buy a shop full of tools and my retirement would come earlier then is presently planned, so my shop time would be greatly increased. Other than that not very much would change. Maybe travel a little more and get to see my other two grandkids more often. The lives of my kids and grandkids would certainly change a lot.

Andy Hoyt
09-16-2006, 7:47 PM
Some more pics

47012 47013 47015

47014 47016

Dennis Peacock
09-16-2006, 8:08 PM
Excellent interview Don....uh...Papa Bear. ;)

Nice to know more about you. Keep us posted on your new shop...errrrr....house progress. :D

Mark Cothren
09-16-2006, 8:14 PM
Nice interview, Don! Loved the story about the ship...

Corey Hallagan
09-16-2006, 8:18 PM
Great interview Don! I have enjoyed sharing newbie world with you. At least you have turned a bowl :)


Glenn Clabo
09-16-2006, 9:16 PM
Always nice to know another submariner...Old Boomers count too.:D

Scott Donley
09-16-2006, 9:37 PM
Nice to know you a bit better Don, Great story "bout the boat and I do think you pushed the Rikon to the limit :D Hope you enjoy AZ.

Ken Fitzgerald
09-16-2006, 10:34 PM
Nice interview Don! It's nice to know more about you! I won't hold it against you that you're a former bubblehead!:D

Ernie Nyvall
09-16-2006, 10:45 PM
Nice to get to know more about you Don. You must be okay since Rocky Road is your favorite ice cream. It's the best.:D

Bernie Weishapl
09-17-2006, 12:26 AM
Great interview Papa Bear. It is good to know you better.

Cecil Arnold
09-17-2006, 12:48 AM
Nice interview Don, good to know more about you.

Barry Stratton
09-17-2006, 3:29 AM
Great read Don, thanks for sharing. A submariner eh? That helps explain a few things....

Vaughn McMillan
09-17-2006, 5:09 AM
Nice to know you better, Don. Great interview. Definitely a rich combination of experiences so far, huh?

Mark Pruitt
09-17-2006, 11:31 AM
Great to learn more about you, Don. Enjoyed reading your interview!


George Conklin
09-17-2006, 11:40 AM
Great interview, Don.

Stop by sometime:) .

Keith Burns
09-17-2006, 11:53 AM
Great interview Don ! Nice to know more about you. :) :) :) :)

tod evans
09-17-2006, 12:06 PM
don, you`re one of the "ol-timers" i listen to! thanks, tod

Jim Dunn
09-18-2006, 4:58 PM
Don it is an honor and a pleasure to count you a someone I listen to/read on this forum. Nice interview Papa.

Don Baer
09-19-2006, 5:55 PM
Thanks for taking to time to read about me. It is a pleasure to be able to hang out with so many talented turners.

Don Orr
09-21-2006, 11:04 AM
from Don:D . Very nice interview. Good to have you around the creek.

Mike Ramsey
09-25-2006, 11:07 AM
Glad to meet you Don. Great interview!!