Wood Bowl Mill
Dave owns a wood bowl mill. He started in his grandfather's wooden shoe business and later took it over. Once he bought the bowl mill, he upgraded all the 100-year-old equipment. Now he's grooming his son to take over. Truly a specialized craft with skills passed down the generations.
How did you get into your craft?
"My grandfather made wooden shoes and built wooden shoe machinery. I worked for him as a kid. When I was old enough to drive he would send me to the family that made wooden bowls to pick up bowls to sell in his souvenir store, and over the years I became very good friends with them. After college I came back to work for my grandfather and took over after he passed.
"The family had started the bowl mill in 1906, and in 1984 contacted me about taking over. They had developed the nested bowl process with these big steel knives. Mills back in those days were steam-powered. They burned all their scrap wood and that fire powered the lathes. I knew at that time that the equipment was old, so we teamed up with a very talented engineer. We designed and built a big hydraulic lathe, converted our other two lathes to hydraulics, and built all new sanding equipment. We redesigned everything, otherwise we'd be dead in the water.
What is your favorite part of the work day?
- Hands-on work
- People you interact with
- The level of quality we produce
"I love hands-on work. I'm not an office guy. I'm out in the mill all the time doing all kinds of stuff. I'm very excited my son came on board a few years ago, and he'll take it over, keeping it in the family, keep it going. I love the people, so interacting with them coming through, talking to customers on the phone. Also the quality that we're making is enjoyable.
What would you say to a young person who wants to learn your craft?
"Things are always different. After 30 years I can tell you one thing, I'm not sick of it. I could retire, but I'm enjoying myself.
"We offer tours of our facility, and show to lots of school groups. They ask questions as part of the learning process. People absolutely love it. There's wood chips flying, there's the smell, and the turning of bowls ... a real Old World feel. We've been getting a lot of positive feedback.
By bowl type: