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Thread: SMC Turner Interview - Joe Fisher

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Benton Falls, Maine

    SMC Turner Interview - Joe Fisher

    Name: Joe Fisher

    How young are you? 31

    Physical description:
    About 5'9", 185lbs, black hair, brown eyes, Italian complexion. I like long walks on the beach, moonlit dinners...wait, what are we talking about again?

    Where is home?
    I currently live in Lake Hopatcong, NJ. I grew up on Staten Island, NY and moved to NJ when I was 26 to take my first "real" job. Up until then I had worked at my family business - an auto parts store called The Parts House. I was a manager/counterman. I really love working with people, and would still be working there if Intel hadn't offered me gobs of money to work for them. I still fill in at The Parts House from time to time. Itís always good to see the old salts from the neighborhood still coming in for parts.

    Family information:
    I have a beautiful wife, Liz, who understands and encourages my various hobbies/obsessions. When I came home with an 8" jointer in my truck a few weeks ago, she hardly batted an eyelash. I spoil her rotten, but she deserves it; I'm a lucky man.
    No kids yet, but we have a very needy cat, which is pretty close. She thinks she's a dog - greets us at the door when we come home, likes belly rubs, guards the house against intruders.

    JERK 01.jpg JERK 02.jpg JERK 03.jpg

    Do you have a website?
    Yup, sure do.

    Ever since I can remember, I worked at The Parts House with my dad. When I was 26, I had proposed to my now-wife Liz, gotten offered a job at Intel in Parsippany, and decided it was time to get out of the family business and off Staten Island. We move to a deluxe apartment in the sky - ok, it was a rented walk-up condo in Wharton, NJ - and I took the job at Intel in March, 2001. I have been working here as a computer programmer since. We just changed hands and are now known as Dialogic.

    Shop Overview:
    Ah, the shop. After our landlord sold our condo, we went house shopping. We looked at this little raised ranch in Lake Hopatcong. It was nice in front, on a narrow 40' wide lot. Walk in the front door, check out the house. Not bad, about 900 square feet, full basement, good enough for the two of us. Then we went out the back door and I saw it.

    There, shining at me in all its galvanized glory, was the Holy Grail of male house hunting: the giant garage. I gaped, slack-jawed, at the 35x33' steel building with a gigantic 20' door. When I opened the door, it seemed to whisper, "You're home." It's got more square footage than the house and dominates the back yard. "We'll take it."

    JERK 04.jpg JERK 05.jpg

    After having my tools rolling around in that giant open space for a while, I divided the garage in half and built myself a proper workshop. This basically doubled the amount of storage I had for that half of the garage, since I could now put stuff on the ďroofĒ. It also kept me from getting sawdust all over the things the missus stores in the rest of the garage 

    The work area is 16í x 22', while the wood room is 16í x 8'. Yes, I have a whole separate room for wood. I'm considering moving much of that wood into overhead storage in the workshop and converting it into a dedicated finishing room.

    My workshop currently has the TS smack in the center of the shop with the DC line running along the floor to it. There's no room for my bandsaw or new jointer, I trip over the DC line, and my workbench/assembly table is against the wall, making clamp use an adventure. This weekend should be rearrange time.

    And now a word from our sponsor.
    Only the Blue Roads

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Benton Falls, Maine
    How do you take your Moxie? (Straight up? beer chaser? neat? with corn flakes?)
    In a glass, of course.
    Only the Blue Roads

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Benton Falls, Maine
    And you thought that would be another shameless plug for paint thinner! Sorry. Please continue, Joe. You were saying.

    I'm hoping to make it look something like this (thank you Grizzly workshop planner)

    JERK 06.jpg

    I got the idea for putting the tablesaw under the miter saw's infeed from the latest issue of Workbench. They have a great section on small shop layout.

    My woodworking interests are all over the map. Iíve learned to make wooden bows, which are tons of fun. Itís something that can be taught to young Ďuns as well, and they LOVE being able to fire it when theyíre done.

    I want to learn how to make nicer furniture items. I've made some very utilitarian stuff (see the website), but want to get into finer work. I'm currently working on a hickory jewelry box with a curved and laminated lid. Pictures coming soon!

    How many lathes do you own? Tell us about 'em. Even the ones you no longer have. Why did you choose these lathes? Is there anything new in the works?
    My first lathe was a 1953 ShopSmith ER10 that I purchased at a garage sale for $275. It also started a wonderful friendship with the daughter of the original owner, but that's another story. I just put it on Ebay a few weeks ago week (the ShopSmith, not the daughter) and it broke my heart.

    I upgraded to a General 25-650. My wife unwittingly gave me the go-ahead to start lathe shopping. I brought in a small bowl that I had made on the ShopSmith. ďItís nice honey, but canít you make a bigger one?Ē I think I left tire tracks on the way to the computer to start shopping.

    JERK 07.jpg

    I chose it because I like bowls, and the ShopSmith just wasn't beefy enough. I considered the Vega 2600 bowl lathe, but I decided I wanted the flexibility to do spindles. I also chose it because I have a local General dealer, and I like keeping as much of my money locally as I can. It really is a nice tool. I only have two gripes: I wish it were heavier, and I wish I had waited a few months to buy it, because they changed the headstock to make locking the spindle easier.

    I recently purchased a Jet 1014VS. What a nice little tool! I was asked to do some travelling demos, so I figured I'd better have a travellin' lathe. Amazon had a super-deal on the VS so I jumped on it.

    How many turning tools do you have? Store bought; home made; favorites?
    I'd guess I have a total of 20 that I've acquired over the last year or so. Most of those came as part of sets I got with something else...When I bought the ShopSmith I swung by Home Depot and picked up a set of 4 Buck Brothers chisels for $30. The lady I bought the ShopSmith from later found a full set of ShopSmith chisels in her garage and gave them to me. I got a set of Craftsman chisels with a different used tool buy. So most of the time they just seem to reproduce on their own.

    I use two tools 75% of the time: a Crown Pro PM 1/2" bowl gouge with a swept-back grind on it, and a P&N 3/8" detail gouge with a long fingernail grind and relieved bevel. Other favorites include a Crown 3/4" skew and my mega-beefy P&N 1 1/4" roughing gouge. No tang breakage worries with this monster!

    I've started trying to learn to use my Crown thread chasers. I tried making my own from an old scraper, but decided it was worth a few bucks to get it right.

    How long have you been turning, and what got you started in the first place?

    I guess I'm in the range of about 2 years now. My dad was always a woodworker and got me interested early. I have very fond memories of being in the shop with him as a young lad. I had never tried turning, and when I saw the ShopSmith at a garage sale it spoke to me.

    What was your first completed turned project? You get bonus points for a picture of it.
    A mock-up chanter for a set of Great Highland bagpipes. I do have a picture at home. Yes, you read that correctly. And one of them actually worked!

    What's your favorite flavor of ice cream?
    Mint chocolate chip.

    Yup, me too! Growing up this flavor was nonexistent except that my maternal grandmother in Cold Spring Harbor, NY somehow always had it on hand whenever we visited. Mmmm, good. Oops, sorry, Joe. Ya sparked a memory.

    What do you enjoy most about turning?
    Freedom. There are no rules, no measuring, no "wrong." I can go out in the garage, grab a random piece of wood, and make something nice out of it. I don't need a plan, don't need a cut list. Aaaaahhhh. Flatwork can be frustrating at times, but turning is usually relaxing. Itís fun to share, too. Children are especially good candidates because they don't have any preconceived notions about what they can and can't do.

    Whatís your favorite individual piece that you have turned, and why?
    Wow. Very hard to answer. I love many of my pieces for many different reasons. If I had to pick one bowl, I think it would be this amber maple one I roughed out at Bill Grumbine's. It's just so elegant in its simplicity and beauty, and I think I really nailed the form.

    As for visual interest, this would have to be my pick. It just jumps out of the picture and makes you want to touch it.

    Then of course in the natural-edged category, I really love my red elm and seen in these two pics. There's so much going on in there you could stare at it all day and still find more to look at.

    Whatís your favorite form that you turn?
    It's a toss-up between natural-edged bowls and boxes. I love turning wet NE bowls because I like to see what nature's given me. I love to see what the wood does as it dries and what interesting shapes will come out of the edge. For me, thatís a big part of the ďmagicĒ of the whole process. I have a platter that I made from some wet, spalted maple. It warped seven ways from Sunday, and I grin every time I pick it up to look at it. The engineer in me likes the boxes. I sit on my couch and fit the lid on and off for hours after turning one. This is why I want to start doing the screw tops.

    What do you not turn now that you want to - or plan to - in the future?
    Screw-top boxes are on my to-do list. I'd like to play with some offset turnings, as well as larger cross-grain lidded bowls. Oh, and captive rings. Hollow ornaments? Yeah, those too.

    Whatís your favorite form someone else turns?
    I've seen so much that I love. I'm a big fan of Bill G's winged turnings. His eye for form is incredible. Most of his pieces evoke emotion when I look at pictures of them. I want to touch them, or turn them to see them from different angles. Sascha Gast's work is also beautiful, and his photography is wonderful. His NIP bowls are spectacular, but the forms don't appeal to me. His winged bowls, OTOH, are awesome. Curtis Seebeckís cactus pens are some of the most innovative I've seen in a long time.

    Whatís your favorite individual piece someone else has turned, and why?
    I find it very hard to have a favorite anything when it comes to turning. Everything hits me in a different way. Usually I prefer simple open forms that let the woodís beauty do the talking. This is why Iím drawn to so many of Billís pieces.

    Whatís your favorite wood to work with and why?
    Anything wet, really. Wet wood turns like a dream. My favorite to work wet is probably pear. Itís very, very forgiving. If I had to pick an overall favorite, itíd probably be walnut. Turns like a dream, and is always beautiful.

    What brought you to SMC?
    The Internet, duh! Iím always looking for new ways to broaden my skill set, and a big part of that is meeting my peers and talking shop. I am a regular on WoodNet and decided Iíd branch out for some new scenery.

    Have you met or hung out with any fellow Creekers? Tell us about it.
    I got to meet Mark Pruitt at Bill Grumbineís annual 5 Barns picnic. I helped Mark out with some bowl turning and managed to talk his wife into trying my Jet Mini. By the time I left she was complaining about me taking ďherĒ lathe home with me! Mark and his wife are both wonderful people, and Iím glad I got to meet them. Markís turning has also come along very quickly.

    What was your first post about? Or donít you remember?
    I offered my method of putting a homemade handle on a P&N gouge. Man, I love those things.

    Yeah Ė and you contradicted me! Whatís up with that? No Moxie for you!

    Do you recall the first thread you started?
    I believe it was my introduction. After Iíd dipped my toes in to feel the water, I decided to go for a cannonball and introduce myself. I posted up a little bio and some pictures of my recent work, including the amber maple bowl noted above.

    Nope: It was this generous offering three days earlier.

    Whatís your favorite old thread on SMC?
    Why - the one about me, of course! The Au Natural challenge was a lot of fun. It was great to see some of the wonderful work put out by everyone.

    Got any nicknames? How'd you get them?
    My wife calls me ďjerkĒ a lot, does that count?

    Now, let's get a little deep... If you were a tree, what tree would you be and why?
    Iíd be the old oak tree in the back yard with a tire swing on it. The one the kids climb in and build their tree forts in.

    If you won the Irish Sweepstakes what part of your life would change?
    If thatís the one where I win lots of Guinness, Iíd probably get a lot less done. If it were money, Iíd do a lot more turning and a lot less working!

    A few last pics

    JERK 08.jpg JERK 09.jpg JERK 10.jpg

    Hmm - I guess that I'd have to say "yes". It does make you look fat! Thanks, Jerk. It's been fun getting to know you better.
    Last edited by Andy Hoyt; 11-19-2006 at 11:00 AM.
    Only the Blue Roads

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Mooreland, Indiana

    Having met at Bill's at the 5 Barnes, It is really good to see the pictures of your Lovely Wife and your shop. Gives me a little more insite on someone that I really had a good time with. Great interview.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Nice to know the details, Joe!!

    Oh, and Dialogic isn't a horrible place to be these days with speech applications driving business interaction big-time!!

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Bedford County, Virginia

    Thumbs up you da man!

    Great interview Joe! It was a real pleasure to meet you at Bill's place back in July. Susan and I were very appreciative of the time you spent working with us. You're an excellent teacher as well as an excellent turner. Nice to get to know you better.

  7. #7
    Thanks for the interview, Andy It was a lot of fun - I feel like such a celebrity!

    Quote Originally Posted by Andy Hoyt
    Hmm - I guess that I'd have to say "yes". It does make you look fat!
    No fair posting that without the picture


  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Randy Privett

    Having met at Bill's at the 5 Barnes, It is really good to see the pictures of your Lovely Wife and your shop. Gives me a little more insite on someone that I really had a good time with. Great interview.

    Thanks, Randy! Good to meet you, too. I was just thinking about you today - I had two of your rests in action at the same time


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Benton Falls, Maine
    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Fisher
    ...... No fair posting that without the picture Joe
    Ahh, but I did!
    Only the Blue Roads

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Andy Hoyt
    Ahh, but I did!
    HA! I missed it the first two times


  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Goodland, Kansas
    Joe that was a nice interview. Nice to get to know you better.

    Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.

    To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funnybone.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Baltimore, Md
    Awesome interview Joe ! Glad to know you better.
    "The element of competition has never worried me, because from the start, I suppose I realized wood contains so much inspiration and beauty and rhythm that if used properly it would result in an individual and unique object." - James Krenov

    What you do speaks so loud, I cannot hear what you say. -R. W. Emerson

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Pruitt
    Great interview Joe! It was a real pleasure to meet you at Bill's place back in July. Susan and I were very appreciative of the time you spent working with us. You're an excellent teacher as well as an excellent turner. Nice to get to know you better.
    Thanks, Mark. I was excited to see your interview recently, too! I've been really impressed with how quickly your turning has ramped up.

    I'm looking forward to another get together!


  14. Nice interview - enjoyed readin' it. Really like that Maple bowl...

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Buse Township, MN
    Good interview Joe!!! Thanks for sharing!!
    Officially Retired!!!!!!!! Woo-Hoo!!!

    1,036 miles NW of Keith Burns

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