I started using a metal lathe at age ten, it was a monster. It was during the summer in 1975 and I was handed a piece of aluminum rod stock and told “don't screw around”. I was in seventh heaven. The big old South Bend lathes chuck was bigger than my head, and I had to stand on a block of Koa wood just to see my turning stock. I started out making basic shapes that Mr. Woodward drew out for me. It eventually got more elaborate when he wanted me to make a working canon out of bar stock aluminum. A great first turning project for a ten year old that involves fire power! Needless to say I was hooked and my skills aquired are still used to this day. I learned a lot of things at Punahou which included catching 15 pound koi in our pond, drawing nude models as a minor, making bottle rockets, casting bronze, glass blowing, jumping out of a banyan tree with a rope around my waist thinking I could fly. My all time favorite activity... using a metal lathe. The banyan tree rope jumping actually worked, I still claim to be the first bungee jumper.
When using a lathe; wood, cork, and various nickel alloys are the primary mediums that one needs to master to create a truly custom fly rod from start to finish
In today's overly paranoid and liability ridden world developing such skills for youngsters is very difficult. I feel truly blessed that I had this opportunity at such a young age. I strongly feel that more kids need to be exposed to many different tools and mediums at a very young age. To this day I'm convinced that God gave us opposable thumbs primarily to be able to make and operate tools. When using these tools I feel as though I am simply exercising my beliefs and rituals on a deeper level. In the end it really does bring meaning and purpose to my existence and I know many other craftsman that feel same.