Larry Sorensen  |  Wood

I was born in the Chicago Suburbs and moved to Phoenix 35 years ago. My grandfather was a huge influence on my wood working aspirations. He was a cabinet maker and home builder. Before moving to Phoenix I had built 1100 homes. I have always been attracted to creating something where nothing existed.

After retiring from the manufactured housing business in 1999 I began more serious woodworking as a hobby. It didn’t take long before I was building furniture. Eventually my interest lead me to the old wood lathe that had been in my Grandfather's shop. It weighed about 20 lbs and rattled like a model T ford.  I soon moved up to what I thought would be a suitable lathe. It weighed about 150 lbs. and served me well as long as the bowls I was making were less than 8 inches round. What I hope is my final lathe weighs about 850 lbs. and can handle bowls up to 36 inches and doesn’t shake in the process. 

All the projects I undertake are made with locally harvested wood. I like to say we live in an urban forest. Trees die, blow down, or have to be removed to make way for progress. I have a number of tree surgeons that call when they are taking down a tree they think will interest me. Often I find trees cut up and waiting for the city to pick them up for a trip to the dump. It would seem to keep the cost of wood turning down, however it is very time consuming and hard, hot work with a chain saw to get the wood home.

Once I’ve turned the wood “green” or wet I have to wait about 6 months for the project to dry or cure. If there are no deal-killing cracks in the project I return to the lathe to remove to ills of warping and finish by sanding and oiling with a food safe product. I’ve now improved my skills to include making everything from pens to large hollow forms. But the learning process never quits. I belong to the national and local woodworking clubs and look forward to each meeting where other wood turners demonstrate their skills.