Randy Vaccaro, 63, creates functional wood products and specializes in lathe turning.
He and his wife, Jan, can be found selling their goods at local art fairs under the name Vaccaro Family Custom Woodworks. Some of their larger projects include furniture, wine racks and children’s toys. The smaller items they sell at shows include pens, ornaments, wine bottle stoppers and spinning tops.
Q. When did you start woodworking?
A. We’ve been hobbyists for a long time, but we started back up again (as a business) for the last seven years or so. Not a huge volume, but keeping it manageable.
Q. How long have you been woodturning?
A. Maybe a little longer than running the business. Years ago, when we first got married, we didn’t do any turning. It was more stuff on the bandsaw, more simple items. It’s been seven or eight years with the woodturning.
Q. What kinds of things do you plan to make in the future?
A. Bowls we would like to get more into. I want to do segmented bowls. It’s where you cut tiny pieces and glue them up in the ring — different types of wood instead of using a block of wood. You might have six different types of wood (in one bowl).
Q. What’s one of the biggest challenges with woodturning?
A. You look at a piece of wood and it looks fine, you start turning it and all of a sudden you hear, “chi-chi-chi-chi-chi.” You stop the machine and realize it’s cracked. Now what do you do? It’s good for nothing. It’s firewood.
Q. What are your favorite things to make?
A. The top is one of my favorites. The top brings back memories for me from when I was a kid. It’s manually operated, no batteries. It’s kind of nice to go back to years-gone-by, so to speak.
Q. What type of items sell the best?
A. It depends on the show. Sometimes Jannie’s ornaments will go, other shows they won’t. You never know from one show to the next. We try to have four tops at every show, and we usually sell all four.
Q. How many pieces do you bring to a show?
A. Just the pens alone we probably have seven dozen at least. The ornaments, we have three or four dozen ornaments. Total, we probably bring a couple hundred pieces. The bigger stuff, we’ll have pictures, but we don’t want to transport something big.
Q. How often do you work in your shop?
A. There are days where we’ll spend five or six hours. There’s really no set time. When we’re gearing up for the shows, we’re out there every day. A little in the morning, a little in the afternoon, a little after supper.
Q. Why do you woodturn and sell at shows?
A. It’s enjoyable. When you talk to other crafters that do the same kind of work, you end up learning things.
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