Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Mike Mahoney on Woodturning and Craftsmanship

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A lot of times people say "oh you're such an artist" and sorts of things. For me, I

know I'd rather be known as a craftsperson. What I think craft is

basically a repetitive function against a resistant material that's what I would

consider craft and I don't think there's a right or a wrong way to do any craft

but woodturning is definitely a technical craft and I appreciate it for

that and you can mix art in with it but I don't want to do that I think we

talked about it before - you'd rather make something that somebody appreciates

in their home and doesn't have to interpret what you make I mean what

makes me fulfilled as a craftsperson is the actual fact that people use my stuff

I'm right again

I recently visited my friend Mike Mahoney and the beautiful Shenandoah

Valley of California where he and his wife Jenni have a farm. Mike is a

woodturner, primarily a bowl turner, and one of the most prolific Bowl Turners

in the industry he's also a farmer winemaker tree hunter and birder when I

started 10 years ago Mike was somebody I idolized in the field and hoped that one

day I might get to meet he's well-respected all over the world not

only for the quality of his work but also for his teaching and demonstrating

abilities this was an exciting day for me to visit his home in studio and share

a bit of his story with you and I got to learn something

Mike was showing me thread chasing a way to turn wooden threads by hand on the

way to wooden threads are something most people wouldn't expect to see in a

turning so they can be a great way to step up the quality of the piece usually

a turned wooden box or an urn while there are jigs that can be used

for threading I'm a big proponent of doing as much as possible by hand it's

more rewarding for me as a maker and I think adds value to the final piece the

first time I saw thread chasing was an Allen batty demonstration at the North

Carolina woodturning civilians in 2009 it's something I've been wanting to

learn for quite a while and I couldn't think of a better place to learn or a

better person to learn it from

well I had to say pulling up to this place the landscape is incredible that's

pretty me absolutely gorgeous yeah when we first came here I saw these big

walnut trees and I was very impressed and that was salt me on the property

sure how old do you think this is you know it wouldn't be as old as you think

it's probably I'm gonna say probably a hundred and forty years old that's about

when the first white man showed up in this valley so I figured they planted

this so one thing that I know that you do as a hobby is you hunt Jase yeah

matter of fact the biggest Claro walnut tree is about ten miles up the road

that's a national champ so I look for national champion tree this is probably

about this would be about the fifth largest one that I know of yeah so tell

us a little bit about how you decided to live in this particular area well you

know I grew up about 40 miles west of here in a small town and there was a

river that ran into that town called the Kissimmee River and I live right on that

river now and I always when I was a young kid I wanted to live in the

foothills because I think it's a beautiful area these are kind of Golden

Hills right now but in wintertime it's as green as Ireland yeah and in the

summer it turns brown and where I live there's an abundance of nature I have

you wouldn't believe the amount of birds that I have here and we have bears and

mountain lions and unfortunately a lot of rattlesnakes too but we know how to

handle those and birding I know is another yeah Birds

a hobby I'm a bird nerd too they're still pretty young so there they won't

really produce tell her about a dozen years old that these trees will live

hundreds of hundreds of years I think they're originally from Persia

maybe Afghanistan area but these are I planted these trees when they were a

quarter-inch and maybe eighteen inches tall six years is what I've got and a

lot of these trees like this is a this is a female pistachio and you need a

male to create this the nut here and the male I got a male over there but what

I'm doing now is I'm combining the tree so I'll be cutting off a piece here and

attaching a male branch there so it would have a pollinator right on

oh so the Kiwis are a fluke of evolution so they they don't use flying insects as

a pollinator that and where these are from

they rely on a crawling bug so a bug has to crawl in a male flower and then find

its way over to a female flower to Palm it but I don't do that I actually put my

finger in the males then I just rub all the flowers that's all i pollinate this

otherwise we would never get through yeah it's always a chore yeah we grow

most of the food we eat what's what's seasonal Jenny provides flowers for some

local wineries yep she makes flowers for wineries got pretty extensive flower

garden here and it's really not full yet but she'll have a lot more stuff here so

Mike and I have met up at a number of different places across the US over the

past several years of various woodturning symposium Zin events there

might be a brief moment to catch up and then it's off to the next place it's not

often that we have the chance to work on a piece together or to nerd out and

share some of the intricacies of our own processes with each other so this was

really fun a chance to break things down step by step to talk about the how and

why for each of us in bull making and in business and to just make something for

the fun of it

actually a mic bowl first first ever

oh so I get all the equipment for taste boy so here we are in Mike's workshop as

I mentioned earlier he is a winemaker so he's gonna tell us a bit about how he

got into that process and we're gonna try a little sample here well I've

always made wine isn't it even as a young adult I never made it good

probably because I lived in Utah for so long so it was hard to get good fruit

but now living here where grapes go everywhere I get a lot of neighbors just

let me go pick and then as you can see by I've got a couple barrels over here a

couple barrels over there and they're different vintages and I just play

around let me show you yeah so this right here this is a ganache which is my

second favorite grape my little turkey baster here let's taste it so Grenache

is of wine typically used here as a blending morning I love it as a varietal

display itself so it's very light in color it's a great lunch wine sort of

thing this one's young this one's about it's

only about seven eight months old

and you can taste that it's kind of really acid and that's there's really

high tannins and that typical of this type of varietal but I think that's

pretty good yeah yeah and I got 55 gallons of it and so that's 250 bottles

so plenty of wine around here

yeah can you get it off come on right there it says Stu's theory

40 degrees times rpm / diameter an infinity simple infinity symbol there

all this stuff and Mike's 31 plus 2 plus 80 grit good enough

well most people know me as a bowl maker and that's true but in reality I've made

an income by selling roughed out bowls and roughed out pieces to other winters

for a long long time and I actually make a better hourly wage by making those

pieces as you can see every table has something underneath it

this has a grade scale for a which is the best quality and then a star means

I'm gonna keep it I don't let the ones with the stars go away and I'll make it

but I sell these other woodturners so about how many about how many roughed

out pieces are you selling in here about 400 bowls and then I'll have about I did

about 480 of these this year ever use it oh this is this is good I'm like the

best oh look at that so many people who just happen to you you've made them a

bowl and they they put it on a shelf somewhere and they look at it and I go

don't do that use it in your everyday life that way I'll be part of your life

right you know you know all of us Glen Richard raff and all my friends I have

their bowls and I use them and I think about them all the time because I'm

gonna constantly using their work and that's that's that's the best stuff okay

you left nothing there's nothing to take the 14 all the way down


perseverance is everything for me I treated my shot or my business as a

business and I was and unfortunately as a self-employed when I work seven days a

week for ten years and it's only when you're self-employed you're almost

always working but again if if it's what you love you don't mind working because

then it's cool I mean what I do is it's incredibly fortunate dude and you got to

know that too because I've got other siblings that are craftspeople as well

and I don't think they appreciate what they do sometimes as much as they should

because you know just to be self-employed it's pretty cool I

couldn't agree more to be able to make a living making things working with my

hands is a privilege part of being a crafts person for me is how it ties you

to the rest of the world whether it's wood turning farming winemaking cooking

or anything else not only does it tie you to the physical world but also all

the other generations of craftspeople who have developed their trade and have

shared what they learned whose hard work and knowledge have laid the foundations

that are here today Mike is one of those people who I am honored to know and call

a friend his work continues to have such a huge impact in the woodturning

community and yet he is one of the most genuine warm-hearted people I've ever

met someone who I think epitomizes what it means to live as a craftsperson

thank you so much for watching if you like what you see here please hit

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The Description of Mike Mahoney on Woodturning and Craftsmanship