Fred Bearman (Port Huron, Michigan)
FaceBook works great for me keeping up with kids and grandkids, and friends scattered around the world, but I find it hard to believe that it could be as useful as this forum is - this forum is easily searched, but more importantly, Ellis has fostered a group and atmosphere that is much like gathering around the wood stove in an old general store - folks that you know who will be there, willing to share their thoughts and knowledge, who will help you solve a problem, and even share some of their success. Over the years that I have been here, I have been primarily a lurker, a reader, an absorber of wisdom. But this has also been where I come when I need encouragement.
Five or six years ago, due to some misdiagnosis, I was told to get my things in order, and figure out spending my last days. As part of that, we thought about moving to be near friends, and I began lessening that which we would need to move, which meant that I would be selling my tools. My lathe, turning tools, and wood stash all went quickly (and way too cheaply, as we felt a time crunch). About this time, we sought another opinion - and with that, my treatment totally changed - and sha-zam, I'm still here. LOL
Last spring (spring of 2016) my daughter announced that she would be getting married in the fall. I knew that she had always hoped that I would make her cake knife, and the like, as I had done for her best friend previously. But all I had now was my Shopsmith, and no turning tools at all. And no wood, dry or otherwise. I turned to this forum, just for the old familiarity and comfort, and to see if any confidence would rub off on me. With minimal budget, but a need for tools, I turned to John Lucas' videos on the Hunter tools, and decided that I could do what I needed to do with these, with a minimal investment. I also knew that my daughter, being of Scottish descent, was intent on using a quaich in her ceremony, and always tending to bite off more than I can chew, knew that traditionally these are turned from wood, and by golly, I'm traditional if nothing else.
Without this forum, and the hints that I was able to search and find here, and the videos that brought back knowledge, I would never have been able to accomplish what I did - using kiln-dried cherry, I turned a quaich (actually two, of different designs), handles for a cake knife and cake lifter, a pen for the guest book and a base for that pen, and a ring stand with pen (the pen functioned as the central "peg" to hold the rings, and was the pen for signing the license at the end) - and the daughter was surprised and thrilled - she thought that she would be borrowing the cake knife I made for her friend, and our pewter quaich.
I never would have attempted this without this forum being here, and the people that compose this congregation - even without posting, I found encouragement and knowledge here, as well as the comfort of knowing that there were people that would know answers when I needed them. So, thank you Ellis for this meeting place, and the friends who have gathered here. If there is interest, I do have pictures of what you all, unknowingly, helped me accomplish.