Rick Sammons has spent the last four decades shifting (mostly) seamlessly and skillfully between a motley of pursuits and vocations: Electronic equipment repairman. U.S. Army paratrooper. Rock climber. Coder. Arduino enthusiast. Yarnspinner. Software developer. Aspiring sailor. Bookworm. Chili master. Bass player. IT director.
His passion for woodworking is relatively new. Sure, he made his share of napkin and mail holders back in high school woodshop class. But it wasn’t until a friend, Tim Tucker, made Rick and his wife, Christine, an artistic bowl for their 10th anniversary in 2020 that got him into the wood-crafting groove.
An intellectually curious “maker,” Rick is part of that culture of people who want to learn how something works and then go out and make it themselves. So that’s what Rick did. He immersed himself in how-to videos and online forums and picked the brains of his woodturning friends. Then he bought a lathe and bowl gouge, gathered and dried some local wood, and converted his garage into a woodshop.
Of course, there were a couple of painful missteps along with the way - like the time a bowl flew up and hit him in the head. (Life lesson: A flimsy mask doesn’t protect against airborne wood chunks.) But it wasn’t long before Rick was spinning bowls and surrounded by sawdust (aka man glitter). He kept the first piece he made - a small cracked cedar bowl from a fallen tree in his backyard - as a reminder to keep pushing his craft and see how far he can go.
As with most of his interests, Rick is in a constant state of “learning and learning and learning and learning.” He’s also discovered his experience with coding and programming (which, he said, is much more creative than people give it credit for) gives him insight into woodworking techniques and efficiencies and how processes flow together. It’s no surprise his woodworking style leans more toward functional than artistic. Rick’s practical side thinks, “If I’m going to make a bowl, I should be able to use it for food.”
Just as he’s done with his other hobbies, Rick is eager to next-level his woodturning game by experimenting with epoxy and piecing and gluing together different colored woods. He also wouldn’t mind getting his hands on a thick piece of walnut or some decades-old wood once infested with worms. Eventually, he wants to break out of his mold of thinking of everything as a bowl and create a lamp that combines wood and Arduino.
It’s anyone’s guess how far Rick and his wood can go, but for now, he’s content making bowls for friends and family. Admittedly though, he’s only happy with his work for “about five minutes” before he’s thinking about what he can improve upon with the next one.
So get yourself a piece of Rick’s beautiful wood because - unlike the stickler wood maker - you will be happy with it forever. Plus, you’ll be feeding and funding his wood habit so he can continue making even more cool stuff.
Want to learn even more about the woodmaker? Read From Tech to Timber: Woodcrafting Chops Unearthed During Lockdown by Kristine Goodyear of Keeva Communications.