My name is Don Roden, and I have been working with wood since I was 4 years old. My dad gave me some scrap wood and let me loose on the Bandsaw - and the rest they say - is history! And, yes! I still have all ten digits.
I started "turning wood round" when I was about 8 years old when I asked my dad about the Lathe that was sitting off in a corner of his shop in our basement. He gave me some files with round edges on them and some scrap 2 x 2 wood. After I mounted it up and started working with it, the love of "turning wood round" was in my blood - from that day to this.
In my professional life, I served 22 years in the Air Force. I worked in Aircraft Maintenance (not much woodworking there) for 18 years and a staff position for 4 years. After I retired and moved back to my hometown, I bought the house that my dad built before he and my mom were married. The real reason I bought it was because it was easier to buy a house than to clean out my Dad's shop! The lathe that I started on was still there and working, so I reactivated my joy of turning and began to expand my woodworking and woodturning skills.
I joined the Minnesota Woodturners Association in 2000 and soon joined the Board, regularly attending meetings and presentations by professional turners. After the meetings, I would go home and practice what was demonstrated, working to reproduce what each demonstrator had shown me.
It's been a busy 22 years since I retired from the Air Force and have included woodworking into all of my life. I have learned a lot of skills over the years and continue to try new things. I also enjoy teaching the skills that I have learned to new people just wanting to get started working with wood.
Before moving from Minnesota to Ohio 2016, I went to a screening of Project 22, a documentary on Veterans' suicide. While watching the film I saw that there was someone who did pottery and would invite veterans into his shop, sharing his love of pottery. Veterans were engaged in trying something new. I discovered that what was important was not about making the pottery; it was about the conversations that happened while making something with other veterans. That gave me the idea of doing something similar, only working with wood. Just like when veterans turn pottery, it is not all about the turning of the wood, instead it is about the connection with fellow veterans. And this is how the name Veterans Woodworking Workshop came to be.
I enjoy sharing my love of woodturning and woodworking with anyone that wants to learn. As a Veteran, have a special place for fellow Veterans that may be struggling, like many of us do, and who may want to share a creative outlet. Maybe out of time in the shop, a veteran will be inspired to go find their artistic outlet, whatever that may be.
I made the Cover of Wood Magazine Last year. You will not find this one in print though, the picture was taken at Weekend with Wood in Des Monies, Iowa, where I was representing McFeely's, the company I work for. Anyone could have their picture taken for a cover shot, for fun. Guess who took the opportunity?! It was a fun time meeting a lot of fellow woodworkers!
My dad passed away in 1993 and not a day in the shop goes by that I don't think about him. I have moved from Minnesota to Ohio to New Mexico, and while I was not able to keep all the tools that he had, I still have many of them - including that Bandsaw! The lathe died a few years after I retired from the Air Force and had just started turning again. The head bearings gave out after 60 years; they just don't make them like they used to. Thanks Dad for all the lessons in woodworking and for the joy that it brings me.
Teaching my son, Ryan on the Lathe in the Home Shop. I started my son Ryan in the shop at an early age as well, just like my dad did with me. Its been fun sharing with him the joys of woodworking and continuing my dad's legacy.