View Full Version : SMC Turner Interview - Bob Hamilton

Andy Hoyt
02-03-2008, 2:34 PM
Name: Bob Hamilton


How young are you? 53 years

Physical description: Height 6’, Weight 220 lbs., Brown hair, mostly grey.

Where's home?
Forest, Ontario, Canada. 25 years. Born & raised in Grand Bend, Ontario.

Family information:
I am married and we celebrated out 31st wedding anniversary a couple of months ago. We have two children, a boy and a girl. They both graduated from university the same week and are now out on their own.

Do you have a website?
Yup. Sure do (http://bobhamswwing.com/my_woodworking.htm).

I started out with a Homestead website that I was just using as a place to store picture files so I could post them in some of the forums I participated in. Then I started writing a few how-to articles and putting them on my website. The Homestead site only allowed me 10 pages, so I had to pretty much do the articles as a grid of captioned photos to keep everything on one page. I got tired of that pretty quick so I started this new site. I had intended to let the Homestead site lapse the same year I started this one, but I kept forgetting to cancel the automatic renewal until this past year. :rolleyes:

Hey! Nice website, Bob. And those articles are fabulous. Thanks

I am a process operator in a petrochemical plant, working 12-hour shifts for the last 28 years. I have worked general residential construction as well as working in a plant that made windows and another that made house trailers.

Hmmm. I thought you were a Realtor. :eek:

Shop Overview:
My shop is very tiny, about 16’ x 12’. It is a detached building a few steps from the house. It is insulated so I keep it warm in the winter with one of those little cube electric construction heaters wired to a thermostat. I have a table saw that is older than I am and was originally my father’s; a 14” band saw with riser block; 6” jointer, portable planer; benchtop drill press; belt/disk sander; router table; 2 hp. dust collector; and the usual assortment of electric hand tools. I also have a fair number of hand planes and other Neanderthal tools, including a very nice 6’ cabinetmaker’s bench. And yes, you’re right, that doesn’t leave much room to walk.

How many lathes do you own?
I only own the one lathe, a Nova DVR. I have had it for a little over three years now and still think it is one of the best purchases I have ever made. At the time I was looking around at lathes it was really the only one that had the features I wanted at a price I could (barely) afford. I made up my mind that this was the lathe I was buying and started saving my pennies. :) It was about a year later that I finally made my order and got the new lathe, and in the meantime both Delta and Jet had come out with new offerings that were in the same ball park in price and had comparable features, but I stuck to my decision and so far have not regretted it.

My previous lathe was a Delta 46-700, the swivel head Reeves drive one. It got me started turning and served me fairly well for the 12 years I had it, but the drive mechanism was really poorly designed. I had to rebuild the drive end of the Reeves drive about every three years while I had it; and the parts to rebuild it had tripled in price between the first rebuild and the last one.

How many turning tools do you have? Store bought; home made; favorites?
Oh my, that’s a toughie. I would hazard a guess that it would be in the neighbourhood of 35 to 40 assorted gouges, skews, scrapers and parting tools. I don’t have any tools for turning hollow forms, unless you count a Oneway Termite or the small Sorby multi-tip scraper. Most of them are store bought except for a couple of small skews made from keystock and a little light duty extra thin parting tool made from a piece of steel about the size and shape of a tongue depressor.

My favourite bowl gouge is a little ¼” Henry Taylor that is down to about ½” of flute and the one I bought to replace it has a different flute shape that I don’t like as well. My most recent gouges are some Doug (http://www.sawmillcreek.org/member.php?u=7910) Thompson (http://www.thompsonlathetools.com/) gouges (1/2” detail, 3/8” U flute bowl & 3/8” V flute bowl) and I have been very impressed with them.

I have three chucks – a Oneway basic that I bought when I first started turning and a Oneway Talon that I bought when I got the DVR because the Super Nova II chuck that was supposed to come with the lathe got missed when they were shipping it out and I couldn't get an adaptor for my Oneway basic to fit the new lathe right away. The SN2 did arrive a week or two later.

How long have you been turning, and what got you started in the first place?
I have been turning for about 15 years. My father in law had cobbled together a lathe for himself on the farm that was strictly a spindle turning lathe. I was building a bathroom cabinet for my brother in law that I wanted to add a decorative turned towel bar across the bottom. I used my father in law’s lathe to turn the spindle and liked it.

What's your favourite flavour of ice cream?

MMMMmmmmm, Good!

What do you enjoy most about turning?
The freedom to shape the wood freehand to match (or not) the picture in my head of what this piece should look like.

What do you enjoy the least about turning?
Cleaning up and trying to find a good way to dispose of the shavings.

Do you belong to a turning club?
No. The nearest club that I know of is about 50 miles away.

What was your first completed turned project?
Other than that towel bar, the first that I can remember was a fair sized bowl. It was turned from a piece of white ash from a tree that had grown in my parents’ back yard. The tree had died and they cut it off about 12’ up because my mother’s clothes line was attached to it. It stood for another 10 or 15 years and then fell over because the roots had rotted off. There is some spalting and insect damage. It was turned on a faceplate with the gouges that came with my first lathe, which were all forged shallow flute spindle gouges, but I didn’t know any better. It has been sitting on a shelf in the cellarway for nearly 15 years.

What’s your favourite individual piece that you have turned, and why?
I have a small bowl turned from granadillo that remains my favorite, even though it is not all that good from a technical perspective. I had bought a 6” square of 8/4 granadillo and it had a little triangle of creamy sapwood running along both corners of one face. I wanted to preserve the sapwood stripes for contrast with the deep reddish brown heartwood, so I turned my first square topped bowl.


What’s your favorite form that you turn?
I would have to say pieces that retain some of their original shape, like bowls or plates with square or octagonal rims.


What do you not turn now that you want to - or plan to - in the future?
I have not explored hollow forms or done much in the way of segmented work. I don't know if I have the patience for all the prep work required for segmenting, but I have seen some exquisite hollow form work in the last couple of years that has me leaning towards giving it a try.

How do you take your Moxie? (Straight up? beer chaser? neat? with corn flakes?)
I don't think I had ever heard of Moxie until I started reading this forum.

Fitz! You’re fired. I need a new Marketing Director!

What’s your favorite form someone else turns?
I really like some of the stemmed and lidded finial topped hollow forms I have seen lately.

What’s your favorite individual piece someone else has turned, and why?
I think Neal Addy nailed the proportions just right on this one (http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?t=54235) and the wood selection and execution of the stem and finial are outstanding.

What’s your favorite wood to work with and why?
That is another tough one; but I would say black walnut. It turns and finishes well on its own or provides a very nice contrast when combined with maple or ash, another two of my favorites.

What brought you to SMC?
I believe I followed a link from another forum, although I am not positive. Then I started checking in and just reading the posts for a week or two.

What was your first post about? Or don’t you remember?
Oh, it wasn't that long ago. :) I was reading a post where someone was looking for directions for making a dovetail bowl and someone else posted the URL to my website that contained a syntax error so I had to step in and correct it. ;)

Yup. Yer memory’s pretty good (http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?p=489358#post489358)!

Do you recall the first thread you started?
Yup. (http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?t=52526)

Dang! Your memory’s really good

What’s your favorite old thread on SMC?
It just makes my day when someone gets some use out of the articles (http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?t=56745) on my website.

Have you met or hung out with any fellow Creekers?
Not yet... :)

Now let's get a little deep... If you were a turning tool, what tool would you be and why?
Probably a roughing gouge because I tend towards the rude and crude while turning and especially sanding and have a great deal of difficulty with retaining fine details. I once saw a piece at a wood show that was a small walnut hollow form with an opening about an inch in diameter. The opening was detailed with a tiny, perfectly formed bead no more than 1/16” wide standing proud of the top surface of the vessel. I know I would never have been able to retain that bead through the sanding process. :)

How does it feel to be the first Canadian resident interviewed here? Eh?
Wow, I didn't know. I am not worthy... :)

If you won the Irish Sweepstakes what part of your life would change?
I would definitely have more time for turning. :D

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Back up at the top of this thread, Bob indicated that he was a “process operator” (whatever that is); but there was something in the way he said it that caused me to question the veracity of the assertion. So I did some checking.

Andy Hoyt
02-03-2008, 2:35 PM
At first, I began to think he was a plumber (http://www.bobhamiltonplumbing.com/index.html); then a jazz pianist (http://www.bobhamiltonjazz.com/); which in turn led me to think he was a magician (http://www.magicweek.co.uk/magic_profiles/magicprofile_0009_bob_hamilton.htm).

Or perhaps a talking head (http://www.kmox.com/pages/7108.php?contentType=4&contentId=100705); possibly even a wildlife biologist (http://www.pbs.org/saf/1106/hotline/hhamilton.htm).

But then (http://www.bobhamiltonrealtor.com/)his deception (http://www.oldedartmouth.com/bob.html)completely (http://whistlerrealestate.ca/realtors/30)failed when (http://www.midcoast.com.au/%7Ebhamilton/)I hit paydirt (http://www.cbww.com/agent/AgentDetail.asp?CEQ_AgentCode=2351).

Thanks for being a good sport, Bob. And a talented turner, too.

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Steve Schlumpf
02-03-2008, 3:34 PM
Bob - thanks for taking the time to do the interview! Always great to get to know a fellow Creeker a little better! Checked out your web-site and it's a great source of inspiration! Keep up the good work!

Ken Fitzgerald
02-03-2008, 4:15 PM
Great interview Bob! Nice to know more about you and I"ll be spending sometime at your website.

Bernie Weishapl
02-03-2008, 8:27 PM
Great interview Bob. It is really great to get to know you better.

Tom Sherman
02-05-2008, 11:53 AM
Thanks for taking the time to do the interview Bob. Great to know more about you. You do produce some very nice work.

Don Orr
02-05-2008, 1:16 PM
Real nice interview, good to know more about you. Thanks for sharing. Great website too!

Ben Gastfriend
02-05-2008, 5:36 PM
Nice interview, and your website is great!

Andy, you are spending way too much time on Gooooooooooogle!

Dennis Peacock
02-05-2008, 6:37 PM
Nice interview Bob!!! Glad to meet and know more about you. :D

Jim Becker
02-05-2008, 7:39 PM
Good to know more about you, Bob!

Curt Fuller
02-05-2008, 10:09 PM
Hey Bob, nice to know you better. I can't begin to tell you how much inspiration I've gotten from your work and your website.

Rick Gibson
02-06-2008, 8:53 PM
Nice interview Bob and I like your site. You have met at least one creeker though ME. I really appreciate the help and ideas and inspiration you have given me.

Bob Hamilton
02-07-2008, 2:39 AM
Sorry, Rick, I didn't know you hung out here! :)


Rick Gibson
02-07-2008, 9:51 AM
That's ok Bob. Spend most of my time here reading and learning.

Ron McKinley
07-09-2008, 2:55 PM
Great website Bob. I'm going to use some of your articles. I just ordered some potpourri lids and will try your technique. Thanks........Ron

George Gibson
08-05-2020, 8:09 PM
Great interview Bob Hamilton (https://sawmillcreek.org/member.php?10778-Bob-Hamilton) !!!!

Frederick Skelly
08-05-2020, 8:19 PM
Great interview Bob Hamilton (https://sawmillcreek.org/member.php?10778-Bob-Hamilton) !!!!

Hey guys, I noticed this thread is 12 years old.

(Sadly, I also noticed in post #13 that Mr. Hamilton is marked as "in memoriam", which means he's passed away. RIP.)

Olivia Mayers
10-20-2020, 7:52 AM
Great interview, and so sad about Mr. Hamilton..

Bobby Fletcher
11-11-2020, 11:00 AM
I've just read this interview. Good interview Bob! I'll probably visit your website.