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Thread: SMC Turner Interview - Jonathon Spafford

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

    SMC Turner Interview - Jonathon Spafford

    Name: Jonathon Charles Spafford

    How young are you?
    165 lbs old (175 lbs on Thanksgiving or Christmas or any other occasion where a good appetite is in order). My calendar age is approximately 17 years, 2 months, 5 days, 10 hours, 2 minutes, and 18 seconds... or thereabouts! So, in other words, I'm one of the younger guys here on the Creek.

    Physical description:
    Blonde/brown hair (enjoying the hair while it lasts, as a lack of hair is prevalent in my family - leastwise, with the guys ), green eyes, around 6' tall (maybe a bit less), and again 165 lbs (I like eating).

    Where is home?

    Right now I am living in Washington State in the little town of Camas... the town is right outside of Vancouver, WA. Camas is a really nice little town that hasn't seemed to change a whole lot over the years. I have lived here for 14 years... my family moved here from California when I was three because my dad got a job transfer! Other than California, I haven't lived anywhere else. I have traveled a little bit in the U.S., but there aren't too many other states that I would enjoy living in. Washington is truly a beautiful state and I really enjoy living here!

    Family information (tell us about your spouse, kids, grandkids, dog, etc):

    Let's see here... don't have a wife, so I can't give you much information about her. Don't have kids so can't help there either. And I'm told that you can't have grandkids without having kids, so again no info... oh, and I don't have a dog! I do have, however, two great parents and, IIRC, like seven sisters and a little brother (I have a hard time counting that high). I also have a cute little girlfriend. She is kinda short and rather chubby and loves coffee... oh yeah, and she doubles as a little sister (see attached pictures).

    sputterball 01.jpg sputterball 02.jpg

    Do you have a website?
    No website... if I get into selling my turnings I might consider setting one up, but I don't really have a lot of time to run a website right now. Whenever I want to show off my work to friends, I send them over here to the Creek.

    Vocation (what do you do for a living, and what have you done previously; are you retired):

    I don't have a job right now... I am still working on finishing up with school! I would love to sell some of my pens and other turnings and I might try sometime, but I don't see that as a permanent job for the future. As for future vocational plans, I have thought about becoming a paramedic... but I can't stand injuries! I would love to do something with art and I am looking at possibilities there. Another thought is law enforcement (hey, someone’s gotta do them high speed chases )... I might enjoy being on state patrol, but I still need to talk to some folks and find out what it's like. In other words, I still haven't figured out what I want to be when I grow up.

    Hey, me neither!

    Shop Overview:
    Got a good size three car garage (have no idea how big it is). I have a third of that eaten up by a lathe, bandsaw, and loads of wood. Oh yes, I also have a nice size storage table (aka table saw) invading the space. It's my dad's, so I can't use the storage space as freely as I would like. My basic tools would be my lathe (of course), the actual turning tools and turning accessories, the bandsaw, and the bench grinder. My dad has a whole lot more tools, but I don't use them much. He has got a drill press, compound miter saw, jointer, planer, tablesaw, several routers, skill saw, jigsaw, a couple drills, loads of clamps, and probably some that I've forgotten about.

    As for other interests in woodworking, I've tried making longbows. Those are fun to make (not so fun when they break, though) and I made a couple, but haven't gone very far with that. I want to try it again sometime, though. I used to try carving when I was younger, but I didn't know how to sharpen my knives properly so I kinda gave that one up. An offshoot of that was carving golf balls (which is actually what got me into turning). Golf balls have a rubber core and I learned how to carve caricatures into the rubber. The trouble was that they were very hard to get open with a hacksaw, which is what I was using. So my dad bought me a lathe. After getting the lathe, I started turning wood and it wasn't until a couple months ago that I actually tried to cut a golf ball open. Other interests in the woodworking realm (which I haven't even tried yet) is rustic and period furniture. I don't like all the power tools and mass production techniques that go into all the furniture that we buy today... I like the handmade furniture. So if I ever got into this, I would prefer to use a limited amount of power tools.

    Other Interests: Got a lot of those. I love literature, but I don't read as much as I would like to. I primarily read Classic works, but I do enjoy others. I also do a bit of writing. I write both prose and poetry (yeah, don't laugh). With prose, I really enjoy writing stories, though I primarily write essays, reports, and research papers because they are more popular as school projects (oh, well!). With poetry, I am right now going through a Japanese haiku phase, so that is all that I have been writing. So far I have written around 60 or so of those. Other forms I've played with have been free verse, cinquains, and some miscellaneous poems with various rhyme schemes... I haven't written a sonnet yet, but I'm working towards that!

    I also like art... I'm not very good, but I would love to take some classes to hone my skills. I have really only played around with pencils (standard and colored), but I would love to learn watercolors someday.

    I also really like photography and am very envious of those people that can take all those beautiful pictures of nature (like our own Shane Whitlock, who is also a very talented turner). I have played around with photography very little and as of yet don't know how to shoot manual, but I intend to learn.

    I enjoy music! I can play the piano and, get this, the penny whistle (that there's real rocket science for ya ). I have been taking piano for 9 years and I really enjoy playing, though I am not as talented as I could be... oh the humiliation of playing in a recital and seeing an eight-year-old play a song that you just played last week. I primarily play "classical" or rather music out of the four traditional time periods (Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and 20th Century). My favorite music though is Celtic... I just love the genre and I listen to a lot of it. I would love to learn to play the lute, mandolin, uilleann pipes, and the violin... but I got way too many hobbies right now, anyway.

    Another hobby of mine is rocks/minerals. I love collecting rocks and right now I have a great stash of them in the garage (and bedroom)... nothing in there like gold or platinum or diamonds, but I have fun with them! My dad, however, is starting to make me choose between my stash of rocks or stash of turning wood

    I like history... I love the history of civilizations and finding out how man lived throughout history... I also really like the history of warfare throughout civilizations. I have studied primitive living/primitive survival a bit and it is fascinating to study. I also enjoy learning about carpentry in different civilizations back when their tool selections and precision equipment seems so limited.

    Another thing I enjoy is cooking. I do a little bit of that when I can... but my biggest hobby would have to be eating I do that all the time

    How many lathes do you own?
    Got only one lathe right now... it is a Jet mini without the variable speed. I don't recommend VS, anyway, for a starter lathe as it only takes less then 30 seconds to change the speed manually; and when beginning, nobody's in a hurry! The Jet is a very stout lathe and a popular favorite. You may seem to be limited because of the diameter that you can mount, but in reality you really aren't limited very much. Yeah, you can't turn all the big stuff, but there is so much that you can turn! I have turned bowls, platters, weed vases, mushrooms, lamps, wands, necklace pendants, honey dippers, spoons, spatulas, pens, whistles, goblets, buttons, etc. I have seen countless other things turned by people on the little lathes... so they are really good starter lathes. The Jet is my first lathe and I didn't buy it - my dad got it for me. It really is an awesome workhorse. Maybe someday I'll save up and get a mustard (ok, ok, Mr. Hoyt - maybe a mayo ), but I'm perfectly content with this one right now and I'm working on perfecting the stuff that I can do on this size lathe before upgrading... just enjoying myself and taking it slowly!

    How many turning tools do you have? Store bought; home made; favorites?
    Off the top of my head I think I have 12. I have a Hamlet 1 1/2" roundnose scraper and a Hamlet 1/2" bowl gouge. I also have a set of Crown tools: a 1/2" skew, 3/8" spindle gouge, 3/16" parting tool, 1/2" roundnose scraper, and a 1 1/4" roughing gouge. I have a Christ Stott super-thin parting tool and some sort of spearnose scraper that I was given. I also another 3/8" spindle gouge made by Sorby, I think. I have a Sorby chatter tool and I have a Woodcut straight hollower.

    No home-mades yet, but I intend to try someday to make my own. My favorite would probably have to be between my bowl gouge and my skew chisel. I love the nice curlies that you can get off of the bowl gouge and you can hollow out pretty fast with it. I also like the skew chisel... after you learn to use it properly it is an awesome tool and it leaves an awesome finish on the wood.

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

    I think that I've been turning about three years or so. Like I mentioned before, I got started when I got into carving golf balls. A lathe was an easy way to get the balls open, so my dad bought me one. After I got it and set it up; I stuck a big square piece of oak on there; revved the speed up to max (over 3000 rpm); picked up a skew chisel; positioned my rest precisely three inches away from the wood; and jammed the skew chisel straight into the spinning wood; (*insert enormous "ker-bang" here)... I think we caught this event on video, somewhere!!

    Well get it up on YouTube, boy!

    After that bit, my dad got me Richard Raffan's book "Turning Wood" to get me started. I got into a local AAW chapter and started going to seminars by popular teachers (Jimmy Clewes, Bonnie Klein, Trent Bosch, Eli Avisera, Soren Berger, Ray Key, etc). I kept reading and watching movies from my club and kept making shavings... as they say, the rest is history. I'm not the best turner, but I do enjoy myself!

    What's your favorite flavor of ice cream?
    As long as it isn't anything exotic (like salmon or garlic or rosemary ice cream), you give it to me and I'll take it! If you really want a particular favorite, I might have to say Tillamook Mudslide or Baby Ruth, but that is a very hard decision!

    What do you enjoy most about turning?
    I really like watching the shape evolve from a piece of wood into something beautiful... I really like taking an ugly gnarly piece of wood (one that any other form of woodworking wood reject) and seeing the beautiful/unique wood emerge from beneath... it's like opening Christmas presents I also like the challenge of trying new things and new forms!!!

    What do you enjoy the least about turning?
    Catches, tearout, and blow-ups... need I say more?

    What was your first completed turned project? You get bonus points for a picture of it.

    A bonker, of course... actually the first thing (on the right) more resembled a baluster spindle with different shapes in it (does that still qualify as a Bonker)... the second thing I turned (on the left) was undoubtedly a Bonker! I do still have my first bowl, but I don't show it to anyone

    sputterball 03.jpg

    Where do you get your digital photographs developed?
    Same place where I get our DVDs rewound

    Hang on... gotta turn the page
    Only the Blue Roads

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Benton Falls, Maine
    What’s your favorite individual piece that you have turned, and why?
    I like this little black cherry platter that I made... it turned out much better than I expected and I like the burned rim! Another favorite piece is this burl lamp. It also really turned out nice, IMVHO, and it has some good figure in it! Ok, I also attached some pictures of some of the latest stuff I've turned... I have been rather busy and haven't turned much, but I had to turn a bunch of pens to prepare for a demo that I had to give in May. Thought I would attach them since I already posted the pictures of the platter and the burl lamp!

    sputterball 04.jpg sputterball 05.jpg sputterball 06.jpg

    What's the airspeed velocity of a South African thrush?
    Well, I would enlighten you guys there, but I had a big time problem trying to convert MPHs to RPMs, so you all could understand it. And of course, the velocity all depends on what speed you were turning him at when the catch occurred

    What’s your favorite form that you turn?
    I like lots of them... it is hard to pinpoint one! I am still trying experimenting with different stuff and part of the fun is the different forms that I have experimented with!

    What do you not turn now that you want to - or plan to - in the future?
    Without a doubt, I want to try hollow forms. There are some amazing ones that I have seen around here and I am very envious of all those folks that turn these beautiful forms! I intend to give one a shot, but just haven't gotten around to it yet!

    How do you take your Moxie? (Straight up? beer chaser? neat? with corn flakes?)

    Moxie... is that the stuff they use in Molotov cocktails??? I am usually adventurous, but based on the reviews by other SMC members I would probably take it as far away from my shop as I possibly could... I never have liked spontaneous combustion! Hey, with this moxie stuff, no wonder there is so much pollution in the world!

    Harumppff. No soup for you.

    What’s your favorite form someone else turns?
    Again, that would have to be hollow forms - the form is so versatile and there are so many beautiful variations on the classic form that I've seen.

    What’s your favorite individual piece someone else has turned, and why?
    I like pieces by Jim Ketron, Travis Stinson, Keith Burns, Mark Cothren, etc, etc... (there are a lot others who's pieces I really like). Two pieces that just amaze me (and have to be some of my favorites) are these two hollow forms by Travis Stinson and Mark Cothren:

    sputterball 07.jpg sputterball 08.jpg

    But it truly is hard to choose a favorite out of all the thousands of forms that I've seen!

    What’s your favorite wood to work with and why?
    I really like black cherry! It has beautiful grain and it has a really warm coloring... and it turns great! But walnut, apple, maple burl, and ipe are other favorites.

    What brought you to SMC?

    I think, IIRC, my dad found it... he does a little woodworking too and I think he probably found it while on a woodworking site! Anyway, I love this site and all the great people on here; I'm very glad I got here... however it was!

    Do you recall the first thread you started?
    I think, IIRC, that in my first thread I introduced myself and showed some of my wands that I had turned!

    Right ya are laddy

    All right, wise guy - What was your fifth post about?
    Not a clue.

    Hah, gotcha!

    What’s your favorite old thread on SMC?
    That would probably have to be the auction that we did this last Christmas. That was such a great thread/auction and I loved participating in it! (Hope we have another charity auction soon... even before next Christmas -- hint hint)

    Have you met or hung out with any fellow Creekers?
    No... I would love to meet some of the folks from around here, but I haven't yet! I am going to the AAW Symposium in Portland next week, so I might meet be able to meet some of the Creekers there!

    Postscript: Jonathon says he was there, and sadly never bumped into any Creekers. And the lack of pics lends credence to this news. Oh well, Jonathon; there’s always next year.

    Got any nicknames? How'd you get them?
    I used to be called butterball when I was little. Now where would a skinny guy like me get a name like that?? Thank goodness I am not called that anymore. Also, a family tradition has been to come up with a nickname beginning with "Sp" (the first letters of our last name)... I ended up with Sport. Don't get called that much either, though! Oh, also my sisters call me Bub... with this one I get called it more frequently then my real name!

    Now let's get a little deep, here Sputterball... If you were a turning tool, what tool would you be and why?
    WOW! That's deep Let's see here... I would probably like to be a skew chisel. I would like to be versatile, capable of making beautiful cuts and curves, but at the same time be respected and kinda be a tool for the more adventuresome... you know keep everybody on their toes a bit!

    If you won the Irish Sweepstakes what part of your life would change?
    Don't know anything about it, but if you have to have an answer I might buy a Porsche or a Lamborghini.... hey, you gotta haul wood around in style!

    Anyway, thanks for the honor of the interview! These interviews are a great way to get to know everyone better!

    The honor is ours, Jonathon. Thanks.

    Here’s some stuff about young Sputterball that he forgot to include:
    Thomas Chittenden, Vermont's first governor, began his public life as a Justice of the Peace in Salisbury, Connecticut, before joining his neighbor Jonathon Spafford in the purchase of a tract of land along the Onion River, in Williston, Vermont. In later years, Spafford and Chittenden found themselves on different sides of a controversial appointment of one Daniel Stannard, of Jericho, as Justice of the Peace. Spafford prevailed, Stannard was appointed, and Spafford was not above needling Chittenden about how the right decision had been made.

    "Well, well," replied the Governor, "I don't know but you have -- he is a strange creature. I really believe he will make a better Justice of the Peace than I think he will."

    Adapted from Daniel Chipman, L.L.D., A Memoir of Thomas Chittenden, 1849.
    He’s also an editor. Check this out!
    Last edited by Andy Hoyt; 07-14-2007 at 8:36 PM.
    Only the Blue Roads

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Harvey, Michigan
    Jonathon - thanks for taking the time for the interview! It's always great to get to know a fellow creeker just a little better! I wish you luck in figuring out what it is you want to be when you grow up - I'm still working on that one myself and I have a few years on you! Have fun turning and make sure you post more often with lots of pictures!

    “You never know what you got til it's gone!”
    Please don’t let that happen!
    Become a financial Contributor today!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Goodland, Kansas
    Jonathon that was great interview. Good luck and whatever you choose as your life's work. I am 60 yrs. young and still trying to figure out what I want to do when I grow up. It is great 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.

  5. #5
    Great interview Jonathon, I enjoyed reading it. I must say you did a lot better than I did, I envy your writing skills.

    Happy turning ... and if ya ever need any help with your photography just shoot me an email, I am more than happy to help.

    Shane Whitlock

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Nice to meet you in detail, Johnathon!! And I sure wish I was still 175 lbs young... . Sadly, I'm not.

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

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Buse Township, MN
    Terrific interview Jonathon, thanks for sharing!

    I enjoy your post and pictures, keep them coming.
    Officially Retired!!!!!!!! Woo-Hoo!!!

    1,036 miles NW of Keith Burns

  8. #8
    Terrific interview Bub! For some reason in all of your posts I'd never picked up on the fact that you were just a youngster. It's great to know more about you and good luck on all of your other endeavors.

  9. #9
    Same here Curt! I never would've guessed you to be only 17 Jonathon.
    Excellent interview! Very good to get to know you better. You have a very well rounded list of interests and you'll go far with whatever you decide to do. I wish you the best of luck with everything in the future!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Roanoke Virginia
    Blog Entries
    Great interview Johnathon, your diverse interests should give you an interesting journey. Watch out for those pounds they have a tendency to hitch-hike and when you get to be an OF they are hard to get rid of.

    Turning comes easy to some folks .... wish I was one of them

    and only 958 miles SE of Steve Schlumpf

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Lewiston, Idaho
    Great interview Jonathan! It's nice to know more about you! Take your time and investigate what you might want to do for a profession in the future. Find something that's interesting and challenging so it doesn't become boring! Like others here....I'd never had thought you were only age 17.

  12. Great interview, Jonathon. You have a cute "girlfriend" there...

  13. #13
    I'm another one who thought you were older after reading your posts for quite a while. You're a very articulate person for any age, and you turn out nice work.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    East of the Mississippi
    Great interview Johnathan !! You are a very articulate, intellegent young man, and your parents should be proud. Nice to know more about you. Now if you will stay away from the lathe, you might have a future
    941.44 miles South of Steve Schlumph


  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Bedford County, Virginia
    Great interview Jonathan! I didn't realize your age either, had you guesstimated as mid to late 20s or so. Keep up the good work!

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