View Full Version : SMC Turner Interview - Cecil Arnold

Andy Hoyt
10-15-2006, 12:34 PM
Name: Cecil Arnold

DOB: Older than dirt, October 9, 1942

Physical description:
Iím 6í and about 205 lbs. Blond hair, what of it there is, and green eyes, if you can see them through the glasses. I went to a class reunion about five years ago and all anyone could talk about was how big I had gotten. The last time some of my former chums saw me I weighed all of 120 lbs.

Where is home?
Iíve been in Houston most of my adult life. Grew up in a small Central Texas town called Cameron (pop. 5200) which was mostly an oil town. We didnít have oil wells, but seemed to thrive on gas stations on every corner and I worked at a number of them. Unfortunately I still remember gas wars where regular sold for $.15 a gallon. We tried to move to California in 1990, but it didnít take for a number of reasons so we came back to hot, humid Houston.


Family information:
After 24 years, wife number 2 (or "The Current Mrs. Arnold" as I occasionally introduce her) is still the best thing to ever happen to me. Taylor is an exceptionally outstanding cook, having participated in the Pillsbury cook off twice, been a semi-finalist in the (Paul) Newmanís Own contest, and brought home some cash in a Pilgrimís Pride contest. Before she came to Texas, where I managed to latch on to her she, she had an opportunity as third female lead in a low budget movie (1972) called Runaway (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0067692/), in which the ďbigĒ name was William Smithówho Iím sure most people have never heard of, and no, it wasnít that kind of movie. While Iím more of an obsessive/compulsive anti social type, Taylor sees to it that we have some fun, and stop to smell the roses. She spent 35 years in social work and maybe Iím her biggest challenge.

Do you have a website? Nope.

I think I may have retired for the second time, but I canít be sure, since I still donít know what I want to be when I grow up. The main things Iíve done to pay the bills, are spending 20 years, 5 months, and one day (but who was counting) with the Houston Fire Department where I retired as a Senior Fire Inspector. That was followed by finally finishing college. I always had problems with doing things in order. After a year or so doing freelance Tech Writing, I managed to land a position with a community college as Director of Fire Protection Technology, which is a fancy name for teaching a bunch of youngsters to become firefighters. Since I was playing in academia I went back to grad school for a Masters. I found both grad school and teaching to be a kick and I had started to miss the brotherhood. After ten years there I decided to retire again. Of course, some of you may know that all firefighters have second jobs, some of mine were: charter pilot; arson investigator/peace officer; aspiring novelist/screenwriter (I did get one screenplay sent to a production company before I parted ways with an agent); and home building.

Shop Overview:
When we bought our current house - which I was opposed to - the carrot my wife used was to find one with an expanded garage in which I could have a shop. What we finally ended up with is a two-car garage with a 10í extension on the rear. I had to wall the extension off, which wound up being 11í by about 22 Ĺ Ď wide. When I built the wall I included a double door for access. Unfortunately I have managed to fill up that small space with too many tools to the point that I really canít get much work done. Iím currently in the process of re-arraigning the garage so I can locate the DC (have a Clear Vue on order) jointer, planer, Performax 16-32, and air compressor on the 4í section leading to the shop proper. In the shop I will have my CS (Jet) BS (MM-16) modified Norm router table, and a humongous drill/mill, a 2X6 workbench, miter saw, and the Magic Mustard Machine. I still enjoy flat work occasionally, but it just takes too long. Hereís an old thread about that (http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?t=12067).

Tell us about your lathes.
I started down the slippery slope with a Jet 1442, thinking it would be adequate for some time to come. Boy was I wrong. While I liked the little imitation Mayo thing, it wasnít long before the Magic Mustard Machine (http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?t=12184) ďgot in my eye.Ē I havenít found anything yet that the PM 3520 canít do well Ė itís much better than the loose nut behind the gouge.


How do you cope with your Mayo envy?
Iíve turned on a Wrongway Ö I mean Oneway, and while it was more than adequate, I found I could get the Mustard and have $1000+ to do other things with, which really made sense to me, but thatís why they make Fords and Chevrolets, isnít it?

Tell us about the turning tools you have? Store bought; home made; favorites?
Iíve got way too many turning tools, I would guess 20 or more; and find I use about 6 regularly. My favorite is the 5/8Ē PM bowl gouge followed by a ĹĒ, then a couple of scrapers.

How long have you been turning, and what got you started in the first place?
You wouldnít know it from my turnings, but Iíve been beating wood round for about three years now. I started woodworking too many years ago to count, but that was a mostly utility thing using 2X-construction lumber. About 10 years ago I started to get into casework, followed by tables. Flat work just took too long and even though I watched others do turnings it took a while before I got on the slope.

What's your favorite flavor of ice cream?
Something regional called Marble Slab Sweet Cream I think, followed by almost anything from Blue Bell.

What do you enjoy most about turning?
Finding whatís hiding in the wood and how fast you can go from a blob to something (sometimes) nice.

What was your first completed turned project? You get bonus points for a picture of it.
If I had a picture it would be a pile of shavings. My first piece was in a class at The Cutting Edge, a local woodworking retailer, and was a spindle that we practiced doing coves and beads on. Everyone took their work home and I continued to practice on it until there was nothing left.

Whatís your favorite individual piece that you have turned, and why?
I recently finished a walnut hollow form that was my first completed one. I got the chunk form Ernie Nyvall on a swap and I managed to do a birdís eye maple collar for it. Except for not getting the shape quite right everything just seemed to come together.

Whatís your favorite form that you turn?
So far I donít have a favorite. Iíve done enough bowls that they are becoming easier, but if whatever Iím turning holds together it becomes my current favorite.

What do you not turn now that you want to - or plan to - in the future?
I want to try a vase and maybe some lamps.

How do you take your Moxie? (Straight up? beer chaser? neat? with corn flakes?)
Moxie is illegal in Texas, just driving through the state with it in your possession is a felony. I canít believe anyone would touch that nasty stuff.

Whatís your favorite form someone else turns?
Almost any form that the Flying Curls Gang (http://www.flyingcurls.com/) turns out would qualify as a favorite.

Whatís your favorite individual piece someone else has turned, and why?
I marvel at anything Travis or Big Mike show. I donít comment on their work anymore, since I feel like saying something like, ďOh, just another perfect piece from _____Ē

Whatís your favorite wood to work with and why?
Iíve only had the opportunity to turn one piece of maple and found it to be a real kick. It was like the curls were attacking me coming off the gouge.

What brought you to SMC?
I was looking to upgrade my band saw and in reading some of the web sites found John Shukís e-mail address. I sent him a message asking about his experience and in his reply he mentioned that I might be interested in SMC, so itís all Johnís fault.

Have you met or hung out with any fellow Creekers? Tell us about it.
Iím fortunate in there are so many creekers in the Houston area. Each one I have met has turned out to be a class act. I got together with Tom Hamilton a couple of times, and Tom Jones once. Met Ernie Nyvall and David Duke for a trip to the last WW show (http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?t=34046). I think David got frightened that we would make a turner out of him, as I havenít seen him post lately. And Ernie, being about the best wood bird dog Iíve seen, found some pecan that he, Chris Hartley and I worked on one weekend. Oh yes, I almost forgot, Brad Schmidt and Lloyd Stahl, who I see occasionally at First Monday, which is an event sponsored by The Cutting Edge for GCWA where turners can come in and use the lathes and swap information and lies once a month. Lloyd is a creeker, but I think he lurks most of the time. Hereís a thread (http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?t=30809) about the Cutting Edge.

What was your first post about? Or donít you remember?
First post and thread, I think, was a gloat (http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?t=10147)on receiving my MM 16.

What's your favorite old thread on SMC?
I think of all the threads, my favorite is bombing Ken.

Got any nicknames? How'd you get them?
Everyone in the fire service gets a nickname, so the one I had dropped off the radar some years ago. Because I was barely heavy enough to get in the fire department (skinny) I got stuck with Pike Pole for a long timeóuntil I outgrew it.

Now let's get a little deep... If you were a tree, what tree would you be and why?
Thatís an easy one. I would have to be a mesquite. Mesquites are kind of brusque and thorny, but nice inside.

If you won the Irish Sweepstakes what part of your life would change? I might buy a combo machine, but donít think I would get to use it much as LOML would insist on buying a place in the South of France.

48529 48530

Glad to know you a bit better now, Cecil. Thanks for doing this for us.

Don Baer
10-15-2006, 1:07 PM
Good to get to know you better Cicel. Great interview.

Travis Stinson
10-15-2006, 6:48 PM
Great interview Cecil. My pleasure to know you better. I appreciate the compliments. You need to hitch a ride to Mississippi with Ernie next April.;)

Jim Becker
10-15-2006, 9:33 PM
Excellent interview, Cecil!

Mark Cothren
10-15-2006, 9:37 PM
Great interview, Cecil! Hope you can make it with Ernie... would love to meet ya...

Bernie Weishapl
10-15-2006, 9:56 PM
Great interview Cecil. It is nice to know you better.

Dennis Peacock
10-15-2006, 11:02 PM
Nice to know more about ya Cecil. Texas eh? We'll have to meet one of these days. Of course, if you are ever up I-40 in the Conway area, holler at me.

Ernie Nyvall
10-16-2006, 4:24 PM
Nice to know more about you Cecil.

Yep, Cecil gave me a nice huge piece of elm and I got a little heavy handed on it. It died in a crack up.:o

Hey yea Cecil, I looked it up and it's only 352 miles from here to the BBQ. I thought it would be further.

Glenn Clabo
10-16-2006, 6:20 PM
Oh man Cecil...nice to know ya better. Everytime I go to the shop...I see a big chunk of "Cecilwood" and wonder when I'll be able to show you something.

Cecil Arnold
10-17-2006, 12:02 AM
Thanks all for the "Howdys."

Travis I would love to catch a ride with Ernie, but unfortunately LOML already has plans for a long vacation starting next April (how's that for advanced planning).

Ernie, I still have some of that Elm left if you want to take another try at it.

Glenn I though you would have that Mesquite either turned or used for BBQ by now.

Keith Burns
10-18-2006, 6:26 PM
Cecil, its nice to know you better. Great interview !! You just need to be careful around that Ernie guy, I hear he is dangerous:D :D

Ken Fitzgerald
10-18-2006, 9:00 PM
Nice to know more about you Cecil! Great interview!

Curt Fuller
10-18-2006, 11:43 PM
Great interview Cecil! 15 cent gas, man you must be older than dirt. I only go back to the 20 cent days.;)

Mark Pruitt
10-19-2006, 9:04 AM
Enjoyed the interview, Cecil. Thanks for sharing.


Jerry White
10-19-2006, 10:50 AM
A great interview, Cecil. Good to know you a bit better. By the way, I admit to remembering 15 cent gas....


Don Orr
10-20-2006, 11:52 AM
Cecil, real nice interview. I'm only old enough to remember 23 cent gas:) .

Take care,

Frank Fusco
10-20-2006, 2:00 PM
Nice to know you.