My latest journey has taken me not far from my hometown. I had the opportunity to speak with Kevin Clay of Oneway Mtg, which is located in Stratford, Ontario.
Oneway Mtg, which is owned by Kevin’s father, began as a contract machine shop. One day they received an order for a chuck. The order was canceled after the products were made and they were left with 50 chucks, which they then sold to other buyers. From there, the path led them to where they are today.
Vision for The Future
The goal for the future is to continue making products that are not being made anywhere else and to maintain the quality that is behind the Oneway name.
One of the newest developments is the “tilt bed” lathe. The “tilt bed” allows the wood turner to stand or sit while working, keeping everything in the same position as a turner is used to with a standard lathe.
One of the benefits of the tilt bed (besides making the art available to people in wheelchairs or who cannot stand for long periods of time) is that it provides flexibility to all woodworkers. Individuals who suffer from back or leg pain after standing for some time, no longer have to give up their love of woodturning. They can now flip from standing to sitting to standing again, while working on the same project. This gives the back and legs the required rest so that they can work for longer periods of time.
When asked what his favourite tool was, Kevin was quick to say the sharpening system. He said that you could take away any other tool and he could still work, but if he cannot get his tools sharp, then he is finished. (You can read about their Wolverine Sharpening System here .)
What Makes Their Company Unique
Although Kevin did not want to say that their company was unique, he did say that their strength lies in the fact that his father (the owner of the company) and himself design the products, oversee the product development, use the tools themselves, and, if a customer has a problem, they will get help from the designer of the tool.
The quality of the equipment also needs to be added to the list of what makes the company unique. Kevin mentioned that he heard of someone saying that after two years (with another brand) it was time to change the bearings. Kevin noted that he has Oneway lathes that are a lot older than 10 years and they still do not need the bearings replaced. The products are meant to last forever.
When asked whether they give lessons on their lathes, Kevin stated that they won’t give lessons because many of their customers do this and they do not want to affect their businesses.
Tips To The LumberJocks
Kevin had a few tips he wanted to share with woodworkers:
1) don’t panic about little wobbles when you are starting to turn something. Once you start working the wood, it will become balanced and the wobble will disappear.
2) Keep your tools sharp; not only is this important to achieve good results but it is also a safety factor
3) Take a lesson; spend some time to learn from those who are already bringing the tradition forward. Find someone who already knows the art and the skills and learn from them. The learning curve is much faster, leaving you more time to fine-tune your own skills and personal style. When Kevin began doing demonstrations in public he knew that he had to be able to create a beautiful bowl while talking and answering questions at the same time. This was new to him, so what did he do? He took some lessons. Get the basics from the “experts” and then add your own personalized techniques to your work.
Thank you to Kevin Clay for taking the time to speak with me and provide me with more knowledge about woodturning and lathes.
-- ~ Debbie, Canada (http://www.execulink.com/~yohan)