Featured Turner: Sam Angelo, In His Own Words
ABOUT SAM ANGELO (a.ka. The Wyoming Woodturner)
Full Name: Samuel Joseph Angelo
Year of Birth: 1950
Nationality: Italian. I grew up in a strong Catholic, Italian family. Until I travelled off to college, the family met each Sunday at my Grandmothers house. It was something we looked forward to and was no doubt a contributing factor in setting my values and strong bond with my family.
Place of Birth: Akron, Ohio
Where do you currently live? Worland, Wyoming
What is, or was your main job? In 1973 I began a career in education. My experience as a teacher began in a one-room schoolhouse in southeastern Montana. I taught grades 1-8 with 12 students in school. My school was 65 miles from any town. I lived in a teacherage with no running water. I continued in various settings which included a Catholic parochial school and the Montana state reform school for boys. Somewhere in that mix I served a term as Custer County Superintendent of School. In this position my duties included supervision of 17 rural, one-room schools in Custer County, Montana. In 1980 I accepted a position teaching history at Worland High School. For the better part of my 40 year career I coached various sports. For my remaining 25 years I served as a school guidance counsellor. I have been retired since 2010.
What would be your dream job? This is perhaps an oxymoron: dream-job. I worked with students of all ages and setting for 40 years. I never “went to work” in the morning. It was not a job but for the most part, it was a dream. Being a teacher or educator is a privilege and I was honored to work with kids for 40 years. But now? I turn every day in my shop: another dream. I have been blessed.
Other than woodturning, do you have any other notable hobbies? First, woodturning is not a hobby for me. It is who I am. It is my life. But years ago, I used to fish a lot…..
ABOUT YOUR TURNING
Are you a professional turner, hobby turner or something else? Since 1983 I have had a woodworking business which supplemented our household budget. I refinished furniture, built furniture, and eventfully turned to working on the lathe. All that I have done outside of education has financed my shop and all the machines. Yes, I consider myself a professional.
When did you begin turning, and why? I started turning in 1988. I borrowed a worn out Boice Crane wood lathe and started to teach myself how to turn. I can’t pinpoint why I started other than someone gave me an old worn out lathe. I literally never saw another person turn for maybe 4 or 5 years. We had no internet at the time. I eventually ran across a turning magazine and started to understand. My biggest regret is that in 1986 the American Association of Woodturners was founded. I simply did not know it was there. I do not want anyone to have that experience. I try to pass on what I know either by my YouTube channel or through teaching in my shop.
Are you a member of a turning club and if so which one? In 2007 I co-founded the Worland Wyoming Woodturners. In 2009 we became a sanctioned chapter of the AAW. It is the only chapter in Wyoming. We meet once each month in my shop. We have 6 to 8 faithful members who attend. Our main club fundraiser for the community is the Festival of Trees which brings in money for local charities and organizations. Last year our tree was auctioned off for $2200. We do receive about 25% of this amount which helps with our own activities. Our club includes turners of all levels as well as a painter, a gold leaf gilder and a very promising pyrographer.
Can you share contact details of the club (address, website etc)? We currently have no newsletter or website. My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions or comments.
Who (or what!) has had the greatest influence on your turning? Hands down it would be Richard Raffan. In the early 1990’s I discovered Richard’s work: VCR tapes (yes VCR) that still work and I still watch. I have all of his books which are classics and timeless. Richard taught me “long distance.” I turned scoops, spurtles, boxes and everything contained in his books. He was the mentor I never had. I was lucky to see him demonstrate at the Utah Woodturning symposium this past May.
Who are your favourite woodturners? Here is my list….. Jimmy Clewes for his teaching and demonstrating style, Cindy Drozda for her friendship and kind, supportive nature. I learned all I know about finials from Cindy. She is one of the most articulate and precise teachers in the world. Stuart Batty who I believe to be technically the best overall woodturner in the world. His videos on Vimeo are a must watch. He is also one of the best teachers of woodturning. Nick Agar who is so willing to share his knowledge. Alan Lacer who is also a great teacher. My first experience demonstrating was with Alan who helped direct me in ways he may never know. Finally, I must acknowledge David Nittmann who is missed by anyone he touched. His influence on us all was immense.
Do you have any formal training that helps your turning (e.g. Art, Design, Photography, Engineering etc)? No
Do you have any other similar or allied skills? I am 66 years old. I began working for framing contractors the summer before high school: age-15. I continued through college and after. I have worked with wood in one form or another ever since. I have built furniture and cabinets and turned replacement parts for chairs and tables which was my foundation for turning.
What is the most unusual thing that you have turned? I am not sure if I have turned much of anything that is so unusual. Maybe it would be chasing threads by hand which is out of the norm for most turners. (I do have a few very weird items I would never show on the internet).
What are your favourite pieces that you have turned? (Images of these are interspersed through the article)
What is your favourite ‘sphere’ of turning (e.g. Bowls, Platters, Boxes, Pens, Hollow forms etc)? I would have to say that chasing threads by hand is the most important aspect of my turning. I make items such as burial urns and lidded boxes so I can include a threaded fitment. I connected with John Berkeley author of the book All Screwed Up and the video series Screwples. Through several months and countless e-mails he mentored and taught me proper thread chasing. Any thread chasing skills I have, I owe to John. Below is a playlist of 26 thread chasing videos.
Are there any other woodturners (or artists / crafters etc) in your family? My brother Carl is a master at stained glass work: including Tiffany style lamp shades. My brother Mike restores late 1960’s cars. I have learned much from him about finishing and sanding.
What has been your biggest disaster? On February 6, 2015 I lost part of three fingers on my table saw. Since I had no inclination to stop or alter anything I was doing in my shop, I uploaded a video announcing my mishap and my intentions for the future.
“My Accident” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ThMHyEeG8BM
Is your workshop a dedicated space or shared with other activities (i.e. a garage shared with a car, art studio etc)? It is a free standing, 1800 square foot building totally dedicated to messing around with wood.
How many lathes do you own? I own four lathes currently: …..And I teach woodturning classes in beautiful Wyoming.
- Powermatic 3520
- Oneway 1224
- Jet JWL-1221VS
- Delta 16″ Steel Bed
What is the make and model of your main lathe? Powermatic 3520
Do you have a public YouTube channel that you would like to promote?
If you produce YouTube or similar videos, what are your three favourites?
Video ONE: Turning Two Burl Bowls
Video TWO: Resin and Maple Burl Lidded Box
Video THREE: Carver’s Mallet: Chasing the Threads (part 1) (Link to part II in video I).
Do you have any websites that you would like to promote?
I spend much of my time in my shop turning, making videos then editing videos. I must admit I should spend more time watching videos and visiting websites. I could list 20 YouTube channels and many websites. Here are a few that are my favorites:
Alan Stratton–As Wood Turns – https://www.youtube.com/user/AsWoodTurns
Mike Waldt – https://www.youtube.com/user/TheCymruBoy
Stuart Batty on Vimeo – https://vimeo.com/woodturning
RonBrownsBest – http://www.ronbrownsbest.com
I do watch or visit other sites.
What is your favourite drink and snack food whilst in the workshop? Black coffee, Peanut butter, it does not matter what I put it on.
Anything else you would like to say or be known about you and your turning life? Just keep in mind that YOU are a better and more experienced turner than someone else. That means you can pass on knowledge and skills needed by someone else. And finally a big THANKS to Tom for setting all this up and making it possible. I appreciate your support and friendship over the years. Sam Angelo