Sure, we all know a bit about Mike Cruz from his online posts. He’s the guy with the ridiculous supply of gorgeous wood that always seems to fall into his lap. He’s the guy who’s not afraid to call it as he sees it. If you’ve really been paying attention, you also might even know that he has a really cool custom built lathe and runs a small horse farm. Well, it’s time we all learned a bit more about the man behind the lathe and find out what makes him tick.

Mike was born in Maryland in 19­­­68. “I grew up in Burtonsville, MD, a small town between Washington DC and Baltimore. I still live in MD though my wife and I vacated the imminent sprawl between DC and Baltimore and, after several moves, ended up a little over an hour northwest of DC out in the country. My wife, an attorney, has been a horse rider since her teen years. By the time we moved out here, we had three horses. We have since acquired 3 more and currently have a total of 6. I take care of the farm, and in my spare time, I turn.”

01 Farm thumb
02 Horses thumb 02a Dogs thumb


Like many of us, Mike’s first experience with the lathe was in high school woodshop. “It didn’t do anything for me. I turned the legs and main upright for a lamp which, in all honesty, was less than stellar. My dad, though, loved it, and kept it by his reading chair ‘til his last days. Gotta love dads…” Mike did, however, go on to get some formal woodworking training. “Back in the late 1990’s, I got the opportunity (thanks to my wife for being the stable bread winner that she was/is) to work for a master woodworker. We had commissioned him to make us a dining room table and chairs about 4 years prior. Every 6 months or so, I called him up and asked if he needed help in his shop. One day, out of the blue, he called me and told me that he was getting behind, and could use someone to help. That was a Wednesday, I started the next Monday”

03 Chairs thumb 04 Table Legs thumb


“At that job, I was again introduced to the lathe. He needed some legs done for some project. He gave me a sample leg to copy, gave me some basic instruction and let me loose. I was on my 3rd or 4th leg when he came by, looked over my shoulder, and simply said, “Okay, you’re hired.”, then walked away. Now, he was a great boss, mentor, and person. But he didn’t throw around compliments like they were free so that stuck with me. Then again, I HAD been working for him for about 3 years…so, maybe that spoke volumes about my flatwork and how he never made that comment earlier…”

Fast forward to 2010: “I got an order for some trophies to celebrate the 25th annual Great Escapon Golf Tournament that I’d been playing in for about 15 years with my father and brother. I came up with a design that included two large golf tees. Well, what do you need to make large golf tees?...  a lathe, of course. So, I got one. A Delta 1460 (I think that’s what it was… basically, a 1950’s lathe). It did what I needed it to do. And I got the trophies done.”

05 Golf Trophies thumb


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Saturday the 20th. Thanks for visiting Woodturners Unlimited.