Is Wood Turning A Dying Art Form? Not According to Jake!

Article - March 14, 2015

Every few weeks, the idea that woodworking is a dying art form is discussed in a blog post, podcast, or forum. I think most people would disagree with that statement today, and I would tend to as well. But what about woodturning? Although it may not be as popular as general woodworking, turning appears to be growing in popularity and seems to be more appealing to a younger generation.

Jake Guy Wood Turning on the LatheI recently met a young wood turner, Jake Guy, who is producing and selling absolutely stunning work made by hand on a lathe.  When I found out he is 14, I was absolutely blown away! I wanted to learn more about how he got his start in wood turning, so I decided to interview him.

Motivation and support are two key ingredients to success, and when you add talent and dedication it’s obvious why Jake has become a very proficient wood turner in only 2 years. Jake covers the motivation, talent, and dedication parts himself, and his parents provide the necessary support to allow him to excel. Jake’s parents, Theresa and David, have helped pave the way by supporting his interests and passing on a little business knowledge as well, and Jake’s determination and craftsmanship fuel the fire.

This interview is proof positive that age has nothing to do with being passionate about your craft, or the ability to give great tips and advice!I hope you enjoy learning more about Jake and his his work, I think you’ll find this interview to be very interesting and insightful.  His interview skills are excellent! 

Enjoy the interview…

How and when did you get started in woodworking/turning?

I have been doing this exciting hobby since I was 12. I found that I was interested when I was at a book sale. I picked up a book titled Turning Pens by Barry Gross. I pondered a moment, wondering if I could actually make something like this. I came home to research all was involved, expenses, etc. I was so fascinated that I asked my dad about getting a lathe. He eventually said yes, and I saved my money and bought one.

What do you enjoy most about woodturning?

Jake Guy Redwood Lace Bowl Inlaid With TurquoiseI enjoy being able to take an unpretentious block of wood, turn it on my lathe, finish it with patience, and admire the color and grain of the finished product. It’s nice when other people can see the artistry and uniqueness represented in the piece and appreciate it as well!

What types of projects do you like to to make the most?

Jake Guy Captain America Bolt Action PenI primarily like turning pens, single-barreled pens, to be precise. But I also enjoy making the occasional bowl.

What tips would you give beginners who are just starting out?

Making mistakes is one of the biggest parts to turning when you’re just starting. As one of my woodturning friends, Richard Pulaski, said, “If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not doing much”. Finding a local woodturning group can be extremely helpful. I wouldn’t have been able to do what I am doing today if it wasn’t for them.

What part of turning do you find the most challenging?

Jake Guy Signed Walnut Bowl BottomOn larger projects such as bowls, I find sanding to be the most difficult. On smaller projects like pens, it is preparing the blank, cutting, drilling, and glueing, because I find it the most time-consuming part of the process. And because I am really anxious to get it on the lathe and turn it.

Where do you get inspiration or design ideas for your work?

I get most of my inspiration from an amazing friend Dennis Ford. He has taught me a lot about woodturning. He has inspired me to try all sorts of shapes on a bowl such as a hollow form bowl, which I just turned a week ago. I also enjoy seeing what woodturners all over the world are creating through their photos on social media.

How long have you been selling your work, and how did you get started selling your work?

A year ago I started selling pens to friends and family that wanted to support my new venture. After I became more proficient, I started selling online. This past fall and during the holidays, I began selling my work at a local festival and a couple of different craft shows.

Do you have any tips for people who are thinking about selling their work?

Jake Guy Oak Root GobletFocus on making the best product possible, and keep investing until you have the money to upgrade your equipment to make better products.

If you want to sell online, good photography is a very crucial part. Most people will judge the product by how it looks in a well-lit and composed photo.

Also, having a well-designed website is another huge part of online sales. Having a clean, easy-to-navigate site goes a long way to getting the sales you desire. Advertising online can sometimes be difficult, and that’s where social media really plays a starring role. Having a Facebook page for your business is a great idea.

I really enjoyed getting to know Jake through this interview, and I hope you did too. This is the next generation of woodturning, and it would appear that the craft is alive and well!  I personally believe that as long as we all share the passion we have for our craft, it will never die out. In fact, it will only improve!

If you would like to learn more about Jake and see more of his excellent work, head on over to his website or find him on Facebook. I want to thank Jake, Theresa and David for taking the time to do this interview with me.