View Full Version : SMC Turner Interview - Pete Jordan

Andy Hoyt
06-23-2007, 4:02 PM
Name: Pete Jordan

How young are you?
52. I was born in Saginaw Michigan, at least that’s what Lefty Frizzell (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hITaujI9Mm0) told me.

Physical description:
I am 5’8” with my inserts in and so hairy I don’t wear undershirts in the winter.

My first square bowl - yellowheart

Where is home?
I live in Mason, Michigan – which is 17 miles south of Lansing and is a small farming community that is rapidly urbanizing. The cornfield across the street is slated for 55 upscale homes. My friends tell me my property values will go up but I happen to like the value of corn. That might be due to installing a corn stove last year or just the peace and quiet. I have lived here for about 10 years.

My youth was spent in Saginaw and I enjoyed growing up there. After a couple of junior colleges, I ended up at Michigan State and finished my Art major. I did quite a bit of pottery back then and really enjoyed East Lansing. I graduated with a teaching degree but at that time, teachers with 8 years experience were being laid off. I decided to retire and moved to Traverse City. Having no money, I worked as a bartender and waiter at Sugar Loaf Mountain (http://www.geocities.com/chathammi/sugarloafmtn.html).

This allowed me to golf, ski, and play tennis year round. I quickly gave up skiing and took up cribbage. Not as “cardio” but more profitable. I worked at other bars and restaurants and maintained my retired lifestyle. After 8 years of fun, it was time to un-retire so I got my first teaching job and have remained there for the last 23 years.

I also did 9 months in Houston till I realized how hot it gets down there. The rest of my residences have been around Michigan.

Family information:
I am recently divorced and this has freed up much time for woodturning. I get my three sons every other week and make the most of every minute.


Now that summer is approaching, I plan on devoting the lion’s share of my time in the shop.

Do you have a website?
I have a family website devoted to my boys. I have not done enough turnings to make one for that. Here are the boys (http://homepage.mac.com/petejordan/PhotoAlbum66.html)

I am a 5th grade teacher in a tough neighborhood in downtown Lansing. This is my 23rd year and I still love it. It is one of the most rewarding (not monetarily) jobs you can do. There’s nothing better than the smile on a kid’s face.

Shop Overview:
I have a 2½ garage that my car will not fit in but hope to get it back in there before winter. I have the ceiling insulated and hope to do the walls this summer.
Ryobi Table Saw and router
Ryobi 10” band saw
Hitachi Compound Miter
Rikon 18”’ band saw
Dewalt planer
Hitachi floor drill press
3 sanders and many hand toolsHow many lathes do you own?
I have the Powermatic 3520B lathe and the General Maxi. I was all set to buy a Grizzly lathe as my first, but was dissuaded by this group. I fell into the Mustard vortex and love it.

Then I bought Maxi so I wouldn’t have to go to the garage in the winter and also allow me to keep a better eye on my sons. I moved it out to the garage a (while Andy was posting this thread :p:(:cool: ) so the boys and I can work together. I am putting it on a lower workbench that fits their size better.

How many turning tools do you have? Store bought; home made; favorites?
I have 32 turning tools and I use the Ellsworth PM most of the time. I was recently given this old scraper. I think it is low speed steel.

Oneway hollowing system
Gast vacuum pump with Oneway vacuum chucks
Stronghold and Talon chucks
Oneway coring system
Husky 340 chainsawI like to learn from videos.
Woodturning videos:
Elegant Finials --------------------------- Cindy Drozada
Turning Wood ---------------------------- Richard Raffan
Bowl Turning ----------------------------- Dell Stubbs
Turning Boxes ---------------------------- Richard Raffin
Turning Projects -------------------------- Richard Raffin
Hollow Forms ----------------------------- Lyle Jamison
Turn It Up Vol. I II III --------------------- Jimmy Clewes
Making The Native American Style Flute ---- Bill Hughes
Turned Bowls Made Easy ------------------ Bill Grumbine
Beyond the Basic Bowl --------------------- Bill Grumbine
Finishing Secrets Vol. I II III --------------- Russ FairfieldPurchased from the Alabama Woodturners Site:
Cloverleaf Box ----------------------------- Pat Johnson
Hollow Turning and Christmas Ornaments ---- Larry Hasiak
Christmas Ornaments ----------------------- Will Pate
Fancy Turnings ----------------------------- Larry Thomas
Tops --------------------------------------- Jim Caldwell
Sharpening Your Tools Properly -------------- Pat Johnson
Beautiful Small Bowls ------------------------ Tom FortenberyWhy do you have two shops?
Sorta. I have my main workplace in my 2½ garage and a smaller area in my basement for when it gets too cold.

How long have you been turning, and what got you started in the first place?
I guess about a year and a half but there were droughts mixed in there.

What's your favorite flavor of ice cream?
Chocolate almond. It brings back fond childhood memories.

What do you enjoy most about turning?
Roughing out shapes. I do a lot of roughing. This might be because my finishing shapes are not where I want them to be. It is also because I had so much trouble with my vacuum chuck set up before the problem was ironed out. I have a bunch of bowls that need the bottoms finished.

What do you enjoy the least about turning?
Inclusions. I found out the definition when a 10” cherry bowl split in half and the next thing I knew I was staring at the ceiling. I am a strong proponent of face shields!

What was your first completed turned project? You get bonus points for a picture of it.
I think it was a box that Steve Ash glued up for me.

Yup – here ‘tis (http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?t=34762)

What’s your favorite individual piece that you have turned, and why?
My first hollow form (http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?t=49173) which was spalted maple. I “found” the wood near an old train station that was remodeled into a restaurant. After dulling a chain saw blade and ruining a band saw blade from nails, it turned out pretty well and has warped nicely.

What’s your favorite form that you turn?
Right now it is simple bowls. That might be due to my fledgling ability but I enjoy simple things and as Steve Schlumpf said, “let the wood do the talking.”

What do you not turn now that you want to - or plan to - in the future?
My future in woodturning is a family business. I have a carport that I have enclosed where I would like to set up a store where the boys and would sell our wares.

66802 66803

I would like to give the guys the opportunity to learn something wonderful while giving them a job to make spending money. I would rather have them with me than working odd jobs like I did. Since I have no experience with my own business, I will gladly accept any advice given. Please PM me with any ideas you may have! My skills must improve exponentially but I am in no hurry.

Time for a commercial break

Andy Hoyt
06-23-2007, 4:04 PM
How do you take your Moxie? (Straight up? beer chaser? neat? with corn flakes?)
I prefer 12-year-old single malt moxie Neet (cuts down on shaving my legs)

Now back to our regularly scheduled humiliation :D

Andy Hoyt
06-23-2007, 4:04 PM
What’s your favorite form someone else turns?
I like the boxes by Mike Stafford. He does a wonderful job!

Yup, sure does (http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?t=36753)

When will you be offering turning classes at your school?
I have actually talked to the principal at my school and she agreed to buy a mini late and pen supplies but I chickened out due to liability. I am afraid of a kid getting hurt.


What’s your favorite individual piece someone else has turned, and why?
Anything by the usual suspects but I think the recent box elder burl pen (http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?t=59087) by Jim Shaver is outstanding.

What’s your favorite wood to work with and why?
Believe it or not, it is becoming oak. I know it is a pain but I really like the grain designs. I remember turning an oak bowl out of end grain before I learned what end grain was. I think I lost 3 pounds due too all the shaking. That was also when I thought tools came pre-sharpened. The bowl was very heavy and I was so proud till the bottom cracked out.

What brought you to SMC?
I was looking for info and this place has plenty. What has kept me here is the wonderful people that you don’t find many places.

What was your first post about? Or don’t you remember?
I do not remember.

I do. (http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?p=310908&highlight=ToolNut#post310908)

Do you recall the first thread you started?
Don’t remember that either

Yer brain cells need more Moxie, Pete. (http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?t=32068)

What’s your favorite old thread on SMC?
I like reading about the southern guys (http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?t=34495) and their turning barbecues. (http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?t=56150)

Have you met or hung out with any fellow Creekers? Tell us about it.
Steve Ash came over to visit and turn a little. He is a great guy and did a wonderful job restoring an Oliver. Haven’t heard from him in a while nor seen him posting.

Yeah! Where is that bum?

Got any nicknames? How'd you get them?
Some of my friends call me Uncle Pete. I got that name when I was trying to get free golf at Grand Traverse Resort in Traverse City. Since it was $125 at the time, I was looking for a deal. The guy I was with was a friend of the golf pro. When it came time for introductions, that moniker slipped out and it stuck.


Now let's get a little deep... If you were a tree, what tree would you be and why?
I would be an apple tree, fruitful and prone to cracking. That is also the type of tree I had in back yard growing up.

If you won the Irish Sweepstakes what part of your life would change?
I would probably Burl Ives all the people in the Turning Creek. That means: give them all burls, not cigarettes from the cigarette tree. Then I would travel to watch and learn from other turners. Maybe even buy a Robust cuz they look so cool.

On a final note: there is a thread, something to the effect of “You know you are a turner when…” (http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?t=30066) My revelation came the other night. I went to sleep thinking about an old girlfriend and woke up dreaming about Bill Grumbine. In the dream, I was at a weeklong session learning to turn. After I woke up, I did not feel cheated at all. I learned a bunch and think of the gas I will save not going to PA. (I did re-watch his video earlier that evening)

That was no dream Pete. Most folks would call that a nightmare! Must ve caused by that wicked case of dish pan hands!


Thanks, Buddy!

Dennis Peacock
06-23-2007, 4:54 PM
Excellent interview Pete!!!! It's great to know you better. Turning without a shirt on eh?! Wow...I'd scare most everyone in Faulkner County, AR if I did such a thing. ;)

Mark Cothren
06-23-2007, 4:55 PM
What an interview....:D Great read - thanks Pete and Andy.

Nancy Laird
06-23-2007, 5:10 PM
Nice interview, Pete. Your boys are quite handsome - must take after their mom!!:D


Steve Schlumpf
06-23-2007, 8:29 PM
Great interview Pete!! Always nice to get the chance to know someone just a little better. Always look forward to your comments! Great looking boys!! What are you going to call the family business?? Best of luck with that!

Jim Becker
06-23-2007, 9:01 PM
My revelation came the other night. I went to sleep thinking about an old girlfriend and woke up dreaming about Bill Grumbine.

Don't tell the old girlfriend... ;)


Great interview, Pete!

Keith Burns
06-23-2007, 9:13 PM
Pete, thanks for sharing, great interview. Nice to know you better!

Bernie Weishapl
06-23-2007, 9:38 PM
Pete great interview. It is nice to get to know you better. Nice looking boys you got there Pete. Enjoy every minute you can with them cause they grow up fast. Just ask me.

Barry Stratton
06-24-2007, 12:03 AM
Great interview Pete! Nice looking mustard monster and a trio of fine lads as well.

Curt Fuller
06-24-2007, 12:16 AM
That was a great interview Pete. I'm still laughing about your "dream". And your words about teaching 5th grade hit home with me too. My old 5th grade teacher, Mr Hanni, was my favorite teacher of all time. It's good to know there are still some good teachers out there. Thanks for sharing your story, it's a good one.

Ed Scolforo
06-24-2007, 6:18 AM
Thanks, Pete, that was a cool interview !!

Karl Laustrup
06-24-2007, 7:51 AM
Great interview Pete.

Keep on turning. I've been looking at the Robust also. It looks like a sweet machine.


Tom Sherman
06-24-2007, 3:01 PM
Nice interview Pete, sounds like an interesting life so far. Folks I can tell you first hand that Pete has better skills than he gives himself credit for. Remember the St Judes Auction I have a Pete Jordan original here's what I got


Jeff Moffett
06-24-2007, 4:43 PM
I went to sleep thinking about an old girlfriend and woke up dreaming about Bill Grumbine.
Pete, I enjoyed your interview, but your dream had me laughing all afternoon! :) :D :) :D Thankfully, I usually don't remember my dreams.

Travis Stinson
06-24-2007, 10:51 PM
Great interview Pete! But, I really would've left out the part about dreaming about Bill.........:eek:

Mark Pruitt
06-25-2007, 4:53 PM
Great interview Pete! Those are three fine young men too; I can tell how proud you are of them and rightly so!

If Bill ever does a third DVD, I wonder what effect that will have on your dreams....:eek: :p :D

06-25-2007, 5:23 PM
Dreams about Bill........ goes under the catagory of thins that make you go huhmmmmhhhhhhthhhh. (sorry Bill, had to, voices made me write it:D )

Jim Podsedly
06-27-2007, 2:12 PM
Great interview Pete.

I am right up the road from you in Holt.

Give me a PM sometime - would like to discuss any woodturning organizations you are aware of in our area. I am just starting out and would appreciate all the help i can get!


Jeffrey Fusaro
06-27-2007, 11:08 PM
great interview, pete.

the pics are really enjoyable, too!

thanks for posting.

Don Orr
06-28-2007, 1:45 PM
Real nice interview. Good to get to know you better. My wife is a 5th grade teacher-it can be a tough age and a lot of fun at the same time. Nice shop too!

Pete Jordan
06-29-2007, 5:38 PM
Great interview Pete!! Always nice to get the chance to know someone just a little better. Always look forward to your comments! Great looking boys!! What are you going to call the family business?? Best of luck with that!

The business will be called The Jordan Boys.

Thanks everyone for the nice comments and taking the time to read about my family. A special thank you to Andy for noticing my dishwasher and editing my nonsense.



Ken Fitzgerald
06-29-2007, 6:15 PM
Nice to know more about you Pete! Thanks for teaching....it's a profession often underpaid and over worked! Takes a lot of dedication....Thanks again!