View Full Version : SMC Turner Interview - Ed Breen

Andy Hoyt
09-30-2006, 2:16 PM
Name: Edward (Ed) Breen

DOB: June 5, 1929

Physical description:
5’8” (was 5’10” for most of my life!) 170 pounds, head has grown through my hair, fair physical condition (considering the use its had), still have all my fingers and both hands.

Where is home?
We live rural, ten miles south of Muskogee, Oklahoma USA which is a typical town in most respects. Somewhat like our favorite song!! We’ve lived here for twenty-five years. This home is on five acres, and we have another home in Tahlequah (thirty-five miles away) which is on fifty wooded acres and just mile from the beautiful and scenic Illinois River. The mile is Corps of Engineers land – a kind of buffer zone ordinarily used for forage. Prior to returning to Oklahoma we lived in Chicago about ten blocks west of the Cubbies play house.

Family information:
The Love of my life is Betsy, we’ve been married for 37 years. Second marriage for each of us and we know what makes a happy union. Brian, oldest son is 55 years old and builds bridges in Nebraska. He has three daughters, all married but no progeny as yet. Next oldest is Jamie our 42 year old who has an apartment in Muskogee and works as a volunteer with meals on wheels. His sister Pam, 35 years old, lives in the house in Tahlequah with her hubby and two children. Betsy and I have two pugs, and one cat, while Pam has a large mastiff.

Do you have a website? If so, what’s the URL?
Not yet, have enough to do with the company website.

I currently run an agency serving about 150 developmentally disabled adults in six counties. We provide housing, staff, employment services and a production facility on a 24/7 basis. If you are a fisherman and buy a crappie light; or one of the 1 or 2 million candlepower lights, or a varmint light set-up in either Wal-Mart or Bass Pro Shop you have purchased a product which my folks have assembled and packaged. We are an outsource which allows the companies who employ us to keep up with the famous (or infamous) Wal-Mart requirements, both in unit price and delivery schedules.

Prior to coming back to Oklahoma I managed a rehabilitation company which was a wholly owned subsidiary of Kemper Corp. In that capacity I found myself in Liberia right after the original revolution, and in Japan’s Iwate Province working with the medical researchers at the university hospital.

Prior to that I spent eleven years teaching at three universities, and prior to that I was a special education teacher.

Shop Overview:

My shop is a freestanding 30 x 50 metal building about 50 feet behind the house. It is one of two identical buildings. The only tailed tool that I lack is a molding machine, for which I have no use. Over 77 years you do tend to pick up things. (I can’t resist an auction) and here it is.


SWMBO has the other one for her interests.


Craftsman 10" Table -- Grizzly 10" Cabinet Saw -- Craftsman 8"Table saw -- Duo Tech 8” Table Saw -- Craftsman 10"Radial Arm Saw -- Delta 10” Miter Saw – one General, one Craftsman, and one Atlas Drill Press, all floor models -- Delta/Rockwell 2 hp Shaper -- one Dewalt and one Parks/Craftsman Planer -- Craftsman 12"Bandsaw -- Dupli-Carver 24" Bandsaw -- Shop Fox Mortise Machine -- Grizzly Jointer 6" -- Delta 2HP Dust Collector -- One old & small lathe -- one Swedish light weight lathe – One Jet mini lathe – one Delta 1440 lathe

Folks – this list kept going and going. I had to cut it off here as SMC doesn’t has enough bandwidth!

My other woodworking interests are on the flat work side. When I got my first saw, a radial arm, I built a cradle for Pam in 1970. It has housed many infants since then, used by the management staff here at work, and for grandchildren. We are still using a small cabinet, which was my second piece. When you live in the country you end up doing most of the repairs yourself. (Something to do with rural self pride!) As an instance, we are adding a new living room and back porch and I’ve been informed that we need two benches to store boots etc. I’m also about to start sleeping with a respirator due to the dust from the mudding/sanding.

How many lathes do you own? Tell us about 'em. Even the ones you no longer have. Why did you choose these lathes?
I have four, as I don’t seem to be able to throw out or get rid of anything. I got the first one in 1972 to help turn some legs, the second one came in 1990 but I never tried anything because it was too light and I hadn’t yet seen the abyss. I picked up the little jet and then decided to go with the Delta. 1440, I wanted to be able to learn to do both pens and bigger round things.

47765 47764

How many turning tools do you have? Store bought, homemade, favorites?
I have several store-bought tools, and some found at fleas and auctions. After having looked at Jim King’s tools, I feel almost ready to start making a few of my own. I still like my skewchigouge the best, probably because I started with it!!

How long have you been turning, and what got you started in the first place?
Betsy and I were at Mountain View, Arkansas last year and another chap saw my SMC cap and asked if I turned. I pirouetted and he said that was not what he meant. He showed us his collection of pens and pencils and that’s when we began the slide into the abyss. Betsy doesn’t turn – she instigates and empowers me, her willing slave.

What's your favorite flavor of ice cream?
Like Will Rogers, I’ve never met an ice cream I didn’t like!!. My poor father was not so lucky, as a lad he worked for Louis Sherry Corp. in the ice cream division. He was told to eat all the product he wanted. For the rest of his life he never touched ice cream!! Overload!!

What do you enjoy most about turning?
I truly enjoy the process and challenge. The second part of it is the incredible beauty of the wood as it is exposed and seems to shimmer.

What was your first completed turned project?
A lowly weed pot, done on demand by SWMBO. It was wormy and spalted (although I didn’t know those terms at that time.) It still sits in the living room.

What’s your favorite individual piece that you have turned, and why?
My first pen, done in a class at Woodcraft. It allowed me to believe that I could turn, and also helped me to know that there were classes I could take to improve my skills.

What’s your favorite form that you turn?
Years ago in graduate school I told a professor that “I was eclectic.” His response to me was that “You don’t know enough to be eclectic.” I am a true beginner at all this. I have not found my place in this grand scheme. I have turned one bowl of bloodwood that I dropped on the floor and broke. It sits in the china cabinet and I love the texture and the form.

What do you not turn now that you want to - or plan to - in the future?
Bowls, miniatures and segmented pens.

How do you take your Moxie? (Straight up? beer chaser? neat? with corn flakes?)
I drink my moxie with a 107 chaser. I have an off balance taste when it comes to Moxieish concoctions. Once upon a time, in a third world country I ordered a martini before dinner. It tasted strange and I questioned the waiter who brought the barman to my table. He was using an old bar recipe book that called for both sweet and dry vermouth with the gin. I have drunk it that way ever since. (Purists may choke!!!) You might call it a “perfect martini.”

What’s your favorite form someone else turns/has turned?
I have seen so much while perusing the member’s sites and their threads. I truly enjoy Mark and Dennis’ site flyingcurls.com. Their stuff is tremendous and gives me a goal.

What’s your favorite wood to work with and why?
I like working with walnut for several reasons. One, I’ve got walnut at the Tahlequah house; and two, I’ve got five walnut trees waiting at the sawmill to be cut and kiln dried. Three, I just enjoy the wood itself, it works well and has a great patina.

Have you met or hung out with any fellow Creekers? Tell us about it.
Last summer I journeyed to Springdale, Arkansas for a weekend at Terry Hatfield’s (http://www.beautifulwood.net/html/cs_bbq_2005.html). Dennis, Mark, Zahid, T.J., Dale, Steve, and several others who I could mention if I were not experiencing a “Senior Moment.” It was a great weekend with a lot of interaction, cutting dovetails, learning about making small, and very unique, boxes. Just listening, watching and growing.

What’s your favorite piece someone else has turned, and why?
I truly enjoy and admire the bowls that Jim King shows us.

What brought you to SMC?
Serendipity, Google, and rare good fortune!!!

Got any nicknames? How'd you get it?
Dirty Eddie, coming back from the rifle range a looong time ago. I have always been a dirt magnet. It happened before dirty harry!

Now let's get a little deep... If you were a tree, what tree would you be and why?
I’d be a black walnut. Last to leaf out in the spring, deep taproot, splendid fruit and remembering that when I was a kid we used the juice of the walnut for all sorts of things

If you won the Irish Sweepstakes what part of your life would change?
You know, we were talking about that the other day, a group of us do the lottery each week. If I won the Irish, I’d go over to collect my winnings, tour the ould sod, especially the area around Rathkeale in Limerick county to get a sense of ancestry! Aside from that I’d make no changes. I like my work, I like my home, I like my life and I’d not change a thing.

Thanks, Ed. I'm pleased to have met you. And having once spent a summer in Muskogee myself many moons ago, I too will attest to the fact that it's a great place to live. It really is Muskogee, Oklahoma, USA (http://www.cowboylyrics.com/lyrics/haggard-merle/okie-from-muskogee-497.html)

Vaughn McMillan
09-30-2006, 3:20 PM
Great interview, Ed. Pleased to meet you.

Mark Pruitt
09-30-2006, 3:23 PM
Good to meet you, Ed. Thanks for interviewing!

Glenn Clabo
09-30-2006, 5:12 PM
Nice to meet ya sir...

Karl Laustrup
09-30-2006, 5:18 PM
Glad to know you better Ed.


Cecil Arnold
09-30-2006, 5:23 PM
Nice to meet you Ed. I had a friend once from Muskogee, really nice folks there.

Don Baer
09-30-2006, 5:35 PM
Greta to get to know ya better Ed.

Dennis Peacock
09-30-2006, 9:44 PM
Wow Ed....you've been around to a lot of places over time, eh? ;)
Nice to know more about you and it was great meeting you in person at Terry's place. If you are ever around Conway....look me up. :D

Bruce Shiverdecker
09-30-2006, 9:51 PM
Thanks for sharing, ED.


Corey Hallagan
10-01-2006, 12:47 AM
Thanks for the interview Ed, nice to know more about you. You got some cool machines in your shop as well!!


Barry Stratton
10-01-2006, 1:13 AM
GREAT interview, Ed!!! Sounds like a rich and rewarding life.

And I'm happy to know I'm using one of your spotlights to try and put a dent in the Alaska varmint populations!!!

Mark Cothren
10-01-2006, 9:18 PM
Great read, Ed! Glad to know more about ya...

Keith Burns
10-01-2006, 9:59 PM
Great interview Ed, nice to know more about you. I pass through Muskogee once or twice every year but have never stopped, always in a hurry:) :)

Bernie Weishapl
10-02-2006, 12:09 AM
Nice to meet you Sir. Nice interview and glad to get to know you better.

Tom Sherman
10-02-2006, 6:02 PM
Nice interview Ed, good reading I admire your profession working with folks less fortunate than others takes a special person thanks for the interview.

Ernie Nyvall
10-04-2006, 9:07 AM
Thanks for the very inspiring interview Ed. Nice to get to know you better.

Don Orr
10-04-2006, 9:29 AM
Very nice interview Ed. Very good attitude as well. Great to get to know more about you. You sound real down-to-earth, I like that.

Frank Kobilsek
10-04-2006, 2:53 PM
Thanks for sharing. I am about to become the board president of an organization much like where you work. The persons served are just the happiest kindest people I know. I think when God gives you a big disadvantage of somekind he also gives you some bigger offsetting advantage and if you accept that advantage, life can be wonderful. I see this in our people on every visit.
PS: Wood turners wives are the second kindest (and most generous) people in the world.