View Full Version : SMC Turner Interview - Mark Cothren

Andy Hoyt
11-29-2006, 7:28 PM
Name: Mark Cothren

How young are you?
Born 1965 in Batesville, Arkansas - home of Mark Martin for any NASCAR fans.

Physical description:
6'-4", two hundred and too many pounds - redheaded (what ain't gray or gone).

Where’s home?
Born and raised in Arkansas. I've lived in Conway now for about 23 years - longer than anywhere else, so we call it home.

Family information:
Married to the most beautiful young woman in the world - Ms. Renell. We have two great kids - a 23-year old daughter and a 16-year old son. Daughter has been married two + years and just gave birth about a week and a half ago to my very first, most beautiful, grandbaby girl (who is CRAYZEE about her PaPaw). I couldn't ask for a better son-in-law. My small, fragile, son is a great young man. He's 6'-2" and about 215. Strong as an ox, but is a well mannered, well behaved, good-looking' boy who takes after his mom and loves to stay in the woods hunting. My son has also been called into the ministry and is preparing himself to minister and preach the Gospel. “Thousand Oaks Dixie Belle” is our black lab of about 10 years of age. She has a kennel between the house and shop and she pretty much hangs out in the shop with me whenever I’m in there. Awesome family, eh?


Do you have a website?
I co-op a website with some good friends and we all share links off the main page at this site (http://www.flyingcurls.com/). Hey! You can also check out the pics of my new grandbaby girl thru a link off my page there!

I'm a preacher. I've been a youth pastor, a pastor, and I’m now working with the pastor of a relatively new church focused on assisting young couples. To provide for my family I work at Acxiom Corporation (http://www.acxiom.com) as a Systems Programmer. I've been there almost 20 years now.

Shop Overview:
I had a 10 x 12 portable building I was setting up as a shop and decided it wasn't quite big enough. So I put on an addition to that building - a 24 x 30 addition, that is. A good carpenter friend of mine let me, Joe Meazle, Dennis Peacock, my son and son-in-law (along with a few other guys) help him build it. We got it done relatively quick and with only a few hiccups. It sits 37 feet from the corner of my house.


I have a pretty basic set of flatworking tools (that rarely get used): contractor saw, CMS, DP, jointer, planer, bandsaw (that was gifted to me by my great friends!), and some hand tools.

How many lathes do you own? Why did you choose these lathes? Is there anything new in the works?
My first and only lathe is a PM3520A. Dennis got me started turning and I learned how on his PM. So I knew I wouldn’t be satisfied with anything less. Plus Jim K. and Travis S. both gave it high ratings and highly recommended it. I bought it before the shop got finished so it patiently waited for me by sitting over in Dennis’ shop. I haven’t one time regretted starting out on this machine. The only plan I have for an additional lathe is a VS mini at some point in time.

How many turning tools do you have?
Guessing about 25-30, w/o going out to the shop and counting. Only one or two home made and the rest were either purchased or gifted. I’m a fan of P&N gouges and have four of them. I also have a Benjamin’s Best 5/8 gouge that I bought to try out and put a slightly different grind on. I still prefer my P & Ns. My hollowing setup is home made except for the bars. Travis built a D-handle for me and I used Dennis’ backrest as a pattern to build mine. The laser rig is definitely jury rigged, but it works.

How long have you been turning, and what got you started in the first place?
A little less than two years ago I was looking for somebody to build me a small, wooden box, as I had never built anything from wood to speak of. I saw an ad on our bulletin board at work for someone selling a jointer. After I googled it and saw it was a woodworking tool, I contacted this guy who had it for sale – it was Dennis Peacock! He said he’d either build the box for $10 or he’d let me do it with his help for free. Can’t beat a deal like that. He showed me some woodworking sites and I became fascinated with turned wood. Then when I visited his shop and watched some wood spin on the lathe I was blessedly hooked.

What's your favorite flavor of ice cream?
There is only one flavor of ice cream - Vanilla. All others are pretenders. How do you make chocolate ice cream? Take some VANILLA and add chocolate. How do you make Rocky Road? Take some VANILLA and add some trash to it. I rest my case. Vanilla rules. Yarnell’s home style vanilla and every once in a while a little Breyer’s vanilla.

What do you enjoy most about turning?
I’m not really sure, to be honest. Like I said before, watching a finished turning take form on the lathe just has a hypnotic flavor to it. I love the creative process. I’m still learning a lot about turning, but right now the biggest fun I have is trying to see the finished product from a chunk of wood before it is cut and chucked and then making it happen.

What do you enjoy the least about turning?
Sanding dust. Thank God for the Trend Airshield.

What was your first completed turned project? You get bonus points for a picture of it.
A handle for my first P&N gouge. Dennis gave me a stick of Lacewood to make a handle and if I had that chunk now, I’d turn some boxes from it. My first bowl (http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?t=17999) was from a chunk of Pecan that came from my grandparent’s yard. I gave it (and the second bowl I turned) to my grandmother and she still has them.

What’s your favorite individual piece that you have turned, and why?
I haven’t turned my favorite piece yet, but I’m not hard to please. Most recently my favorites are the Buckeye Burl HF (http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?t=46259) and one of the Black Walnut NEs (http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?t=46424) I just turned.

What’s your favorite form that you turn?
I like natural edge bowls and also hollow forms.

What do you not turn now that you want to - or plan to - in the future?
Would like to go outboard on my PM and do some really big honking NEs and platters.

What’s your favorite form someone else turns?
Too many to name but I love Glenn Hodge's natural edge bowls (http://www.ghodgeswoodturner.com/) in particular.

What’s your favorite individual piece someone else has turned, and why?
Many of them, but if I gotta pick one it would be this Manzanita burl (http://www.flyingcurls.com/images/TS246_Medium_.JPG) that Travis turned a while back

What’s your favorite wood to work with and why?
If you had asked me a week ago I’d have said Black Cherry. But now Black Walnut is probably one of my favorites, even though I don’t enjoy the smell and I hate the mess that it makes. I love the smell of Black Cherry especially when it’s green/wet.

How do you take your Moxie? (Straight up? beer chaser? neat? with corn flakes?)
I actually took a drink of that fabulous nectar of the gods one time. And I lived to tell about it, which I kinda surprised me.

What brought you to SMC?
Kinda already talked about this, but Dennis Peacock invited me here almost two years ago.

What was your first post about? Or don’t you remember?
No idea w/o going back and looking.

I looked. And it was a real thread killer (http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?t=16483).

Do you recall the first thread you started?
Nope, I’m a Grandpa now and it’s a stretch to recall what I did yesterday.

Relax gramps, wouldn’t want you to strain yourself (http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?t=16555).

What’s your favorite old thread on SMC?
No question - the Mustard vs. Mayo thread (http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?t=37745). Basically any thread that pokes fun at that Hoyt guy.
Have you met or hung out with any fellow Creekers? Tell us about it.
Dennis Peacock, Joe Meazle, Zahid Naqvi, Terry Hatfield, Tod Evans, and Rusty Smith are all Arkys that I have met and/or hang out with. I also met Steve Clardy and a few other guys at Terry Hatfield’s BBQ last year.


In addition, I am friends with and have “gathered” with Joe Tonich, Dick Parr, Keith Burns, Jim Ketron, Travis Stinson, Rob Bourgeois, Mike Stafford and Andy Hoyt. Joe T actually came and visited me while I was building my shop. Meeting his family is still one of my career highlights.

51238 51239

Got any nicknames? How'd you get them?
“Dad” is my favorite. “Papaw” is soon to be my second new favorite.

Now let's get a little deep... If you were a tree, what tree would you be and why?
Redwood. Tall, fat and “red”.

Odd facts known by few: I played college basketball against Scottie Pippen (Univ. of Central Arkansas and Chicago Bulls fame). I even worked with him one summer at a plant welding up school desks and chairs. One night I was welding and he was my setup man. After about an hour I turned around to weld on the second jig and it was empty and he was gone. About six hours later they found him asleep in a big ol’ box in the shipping area. Hard to believe, but he didn’t work there very long after that!

If you won the Arky Sweepstakes what part of your life would change?
Hard to say since I don’t know nuthin’ about no sweepstakes. But if it involves money, I’d buy the Moxie factory and expand it into a global operation. It would be my everlasting gift to humanity.

Glad you finally agreed to fall victim to the interview thing, Mark. I count you as a true friend, and trust the notion is reciprocal.

Steve Schlumpf
11-29-2006, 8:02 PM
Mark, what a great interview! Thanks for taking the time! Isn't it amazing how this internet thing and SMC can bring people together to share not only their interests but their lives. Looking forward to seeing more of your work soon as I do have your walnut natural edge bowls and the black cherry vase saved in my favorites as examples of turnings that I hope - in time - to be able to achieve.

Curt Fuller
11-29-2006, 8:35 PM
Great interview Mark! I just learned a lot of nice things about a guy whose work I've always admired. Nice to know more about you.

Mark Pruitt
11-29-2006, 9:18 PM
Glad to see you finally interviewed! You are blessed indeed! Good to know more about you.

Bill Boehme
11-29-2006, 9:18 PM
Great interview! I enjoyed reading your interview and learning about you and your basketball near fame. Born in '65 and already a grandpa -- I was in college in '65 -- almost makes me feel like a great-grandpa. Wish that I had staerted out on a mustard monster. Also, I am very very impressed with your turning skill.


Jim Becker
11-29-2006, 9:29 PM
Kewel interview, Mark!

John Hart
11-29-2006, 9:30 PM
Great interview Mark!!! Nicely done. Can't wait for the big honkin' platter. I gots the same itch.;) :)

Mark Cothren
11-29-2006, 9:35 PM
Thanks guys... Andy did really good leaving my comments alone... all the way up to my name... after that it appears he had been on a Moxie binge...:rolleyes:

Mark Cothren
11-29-2006, 9:42 PM
Y'all should ask Andy to post the REAL, UNEDITED, UNMOXIFIED interview...

Ken Fitzgerald
11-29-2006, 9:45 PM
Nice to know more about you Mark! Great interview!

John Hart
11-29-2006, 9:52 PM
Y'all should ask Andy to post the REAL, UNEDITED, UNMOXIFIED interview...

What are you saying Mark? Did Andy exercise some artistic license?:eek:

Bill Boehme
11-29-2006, 10:39 PM
Y'all should ask Andy to post the REAL, UNEDITED, UNMOXIFIED interview...

Sounds to me like a politician saying that he was misquoted.


Mark Cothren
11-30-2006, 2:29 AM
That's closer now, Andy... but you forgot one paragraph...:D

If you won the Arky Sweepstakes what part of your life would change?
Hard to say since I don’t know nuthin’ about no sweepstakes. But if it involves money, I’d buy the Moxie factory and expand it into a global operation. It would be my everlasting gift to humanity.

Actually, a second paragraph was not changed back to original... I wouldn't take another drink of Moxie if my mouth was on fire.

How do you take your Moxie? (Straight up? beer chaser? neat? with corn flakes?)
I actually took a drink of that fabulous nectar of the gods one time. And I lived to tell about it, which I kinda surprised me.

Dennis Peacock
11-30-2006, 7:44 AM
Excellent interview Mark.....but we don't give that "Hoyt guy" enough grief. Maybe we need to pick up the pace just a tad. :rolleyes: :p :p :D

Kurt Rosenzweig
11-30-2006, 7:49 AM
Cool interview Mark! Great to know more about you. You anywhere near Hot Springs?

Mark Cothren
11-30-2006, 8:22 AM
Cool interview Mark! Great to know more about you. You anywhere near Hot Springs?

Hot Springs is about an hour and a half away (south). Conway is ~25 miles north of Little Rock.

Glenn Hodges
11-30-2006, 9:27 AM
Mark it is nice to know more about such a guy with such great taste. Enjoyed meeting your family.

Sparky Paessler
11-30-2006, 10:23 AM
Hey Mark! Great interview. I also just started turning black walnut and it does make a mess!

Don Orr
11-30-2006, 11:00 AM
Very nice interview. Thanks for sharing some info about you and your family. I also admire your turned work and aspire to that level myself someday.

Congrats on the Grandchild!

Ed Scolforo
11-30-2006, 4:31 PM
Mark, I enjoyed getting to know you better. I must say, your black walnut NE's are among the best I've ever seen! Thanks for sharing.

Bob Noles
12-01-2006, 12:57 PM

I always admired you for some reason and after reading your interview I now know why :)

Thanks for the opportunity of allowing us to get to know you a little better.

Bernie Weishapl
12-01-2006, 10:26 PM
Great interview Mark. It is nice to get to know you better.

Tom Sherman
12-02-2006, 9:18 AM
Mark I enjoyed reading your interview, always good to have knowledge of what makes a man tick. Wonderful family you have grandkids are the best. Looking forward to many more examples of your work they are always inspiring.

Rusty Smith
12-04-2006, 4:06 PM
Great interview Mark. I'm honored to be mentioned as one of your friends. Busy times this time of year, but we have GOT to get together and do some bowls and/or confetti lamps.

God bless,

Mark Cothren
12-05-2006, 10:07 PM
Any time Rusty - just gimme a holler...:D

Barry Stratton
12-13-2006, 1:51 AM
How'd I miss this??????

Great interview Marque. Always a pleasure reading your posts and viewing your most recent piece of art! Thanks for all the help as well.

Gonna have to swing thru Arky someday and listen to one of your sermons.:D