Doug Hall: Kathleen, congratulations on being awarded Second Place in our Scratch Awl Turning Contest. Obviously, all of our customers that voted for your entry were impressed. In fact, we had not even planned on having a second prize, but decided to award one after seeing the response to your work. How long have you been involved in woodworking?
Kathleen Kruse: I was fourteen, in junior high school, when I decided to take woodworking as my elective class. My involvement just grew from there.
DH: Do you recall what first attracted you to the craft and why you have continued to enjoy creating various pieces?
KK: My dad was always making things in the garage and I would be right there watching and helping out. My mom says I practically learned how to hammer before I learned how to walk. My dad made the workbench in the garage with drawers for all the screws, nails and other tools and supplies. Also he made picture frames, nut bowls and fancy wood pots to set plants in. I think seeing him take the time to get everything just right and with extreme detail is what drives me to make everything with the same care and detail.
DH: Where do you find the most enjoyment - in the materials you work with, the equipment, the final product or something else?
KK: I find working with wood is very relaxing. I enjoy projects that are new and challenging, and I also like working with different kinds of wood. Over the years I have purchased many tools that make projects go together more smoothly.
DH: Give us an idea of what your working environment is. Does your equipment situation and shop size dictate what projects you decide to approach?
KK: My garage is my workshop. If I need more room to build a project, I either move the saw out or just build in the driveway.
DH: For me personally, I was drawn to your choice of doing the scratch awl as a segmented handle. In fact, three of your four entries were segmented. Is segmented turning something that you do frequently?
KK: Not really, but I had seen other things made with segmented wood that looked great, so I thought that I would give it a try.
DH: Could you describe the process that you used to put together the segmented blanks and how you went about preparing the pieces for turning?
KK: I knew that I needed to have something to hold the pieces of wood in order to cut them on the table saw. I looked in the wood store for special glue or clamps but no luck. I remembered that my dad made some attachments, which he used on the table saw and router table and I used his ideas for holding the wood. So, wood glue and carefully clamping the wood with what I had at home worked.
DH: How do you approach finishing? Do you tend to take into consideration the type of object and follow that to make decisions on finishes?
KK: I think you should always consider the finished project and how it will be used when deciding on the finish. You want to bring the beauty of the wood to your project, so choosing the finish is as important as selecting the wood.
DH: Given that you also make cabinets, how do you decide what you are going to build/make? Is it frequently based on need?
KK: All of the cabinets I have built are custom made for use and the area that they are going into. I get requests from friends and family for various projects, so yes, my decisions are often based on need.
DH: Given your eclectic background in woodworking, what advice would you give someone that has an interest in woodworking but hasn’t actually started down the "path" yet?
KK: Start small and don’t rush. Use good equipment for the best results. It’s a great hobby to get into. I like it because if there is something I see at a store but isn’t just the right color or wood, I can make it myself just the way I want it.
DH: What has your personal experience been when it comes to support? Have you relied on clubs, individuals, classes or books? What has been effective for you?
KK: I have taken woodworking classes over the years, learning from others and continue learning things on my own, too. I do have some books and wood magazines, plus I watch woodworking shows on television. I also get tips and ideas from the seminars and demonstrations at woodworking shows I attend.
DH: Do you have any projects that you have not yet started but are looking forward to beginning?
KK: I have an area in the family room for a custom built-in cabinet with bookshelves. I’m also planning on building cabinets for the laundry area. As for woodturning, one thing that is new for me is threaded lid boxes. I am working on a jig for the lathe and have just purchased the cutter for the threads.
Kathleen Kruse resides in Covina, California.