Bernie and the lathe

My name is Bernie Weishapl and I live in Goodland, Kansas. I was born and raised about 60 miles from here in Atwood, Kansas. I am retired now for 2 years now and have time now to do some things I have always wanted to do but didn’t have time during my working years. I got my start in woodworking as a kid when my grandfather gave me a pocket knife. I started carving. He taught me how to sharpen the knife so I could shave with it. As farm boy couldn’t get a job in town to earn money so did a lot of carving to make Christmas/Birthday presents.  My mom and grandmother are gone now but I still have the letter openers I carved for them about 52 years ago out of ash as a Christmas present. I started making furniture in high school shop. Mom loved it as she got new furniture for free. We had our own sawmill at school so the wood was free. Mostly ash, hackberry, walnut, a little cherry and locust. After graduating from high school it was off to National Electronics Institute where I got my Associates in Electronics. Then it was the army for 5 years and I got married to the love of my life of 44 years.

After being release from the army we came home and I started my 43 year career in Electronics with 30 years working at the Federal Aviation Administration. In 1980 I apprenticed for 7 years under an old gentleman that taught me clock repair. I have been repairing clocks for 30 years now. So this is where turning came into my life after 40 years or so doing flatwork. I had a grandfather clock come into the shop about 10 yrs ago that was missing two pillars. I thought to myself how hard could they be to make. So I bought a Delta LA 200 with bed extension used for $150 and a set of tools from Penn State Industries. After 5 tries I finally had one that looked pretty good. 3 tries later I had a second one. For 4 or 5 years I made several little turnings such as finials, etc for different clock cases.

One day about 6 years ago while on vacation I saw a bowl at a gallery we visited and decided I had the lathe so I thought I would like to try one. So I got Mike Mahoney’s video on bowl turning and Keith Rowley’s book. I studied, watched the video and read the book at least 3 times over the next year. I am pretty much a self-taught turner. A friend of mine gave me a piece of cherry and the rest as they say is history. I absolutely fell in love with turning. I still have that cherry bowl. I sold my big table saw, planer, jointer, and miter saw. After selling those and turning for about 1 ½ years I took the money from the sale of my other equipment and bought a Nova DVR XP. I sold the Delta lathe to a kid and bought a Jet 1220 VS.

I enjoy doing most any type of turning from pens, bowls, hollow forms, plates, platters, ornaments, etc. I enjoy doing all different turnings because each present a challenge and I think it is also the instant gratification of the finished product that makes it fun. I do not like repetitive jobs or big commissions because once it becomes work it isn’t fun anymore. I have also ventured into pyrography after watching Molly Winton demo and have been experimenting with dyes. 

I sell most of the items above to help supplement my turning tools or toys as the wife calls them. My turnings are in two local galleries, which is where most of my sales occur. I have been turning steady now for 6 years. I still have each turned piece that was a first for me. It is amazing how far I have come from when I started. I can say that I love working with my hands, love working with wood and love woodturning. I am not sure where I am going or what will become my signature turnings but I do like utility items. To me there is something about using an item that you have made. It has been a great journey so far. 

I am a member of AAW and have been to two symposiums. I would like to thank my wife for her understanding of my hobby and thanks to a lot of turners who have helped me through the years.  




Acorn Birdhouse

4 1/2" h X 2 1/2" d   Maple/dyed


Art Gallery Pen

Mesquite/Black Titanium w/plat Sierra kit


Cherry Bowl with Pyrography

9"d X 3 1/2"h


Cored Elm Bowls

12"d X 4"h, 9"d X 3"h, 6"d X 2 1/2"h


Elm Vase Red

7"h X 3 1/2"d


Finial Box

2 1/2"d X 4 1/2"h  Maple and Holly


Finial Star

6"d X 5 1/2"h   Pecan


Maple Bowl

8"d X 3 1/2"h


Maple Cheese and Cracker Plate

15"d X 1 1/2"h


Meadowlark Platter

12 1/2"d X 1 3/4"h  Maple


Natural Edge Oak

9 1/2"d X 3 1/2"h


Poplar Dyed Vase

9"d X 3 3/4"h