John Drost
Turning Round Bottoms & the Calabash Form

John will demonstrate turning round bottoms and the Calabash form.


John Drost started woodturning in 1987 when a good friend gave me a 1950’s Atlas lathe and some old gouges and chisels.  I was rehabbing from a very serious injury and needed something other than pain and the rehab process to focus on.  After some work, we got the lathe running smoothly and rigged it so I could sit while turning.  I was a machinist for the Navy at the time and a hobby woodworker, mostly kitchen cabinets and simple furniture, so woodturning came natural to me.  I didn’t realize it at the time but that machine gave me a reason to not take painkillers and got me using my brain again.  That machine changed my life… forever.

As a woodturner living in Hawaii I became fascinated with the sensuous shape and feel of the Calabash form, and grew to have a deep reverence for their meaning in both the ancient and modern Hawaiian culture.  I enjoy the challenge of keeping it looking like a simple organic form whilst mastering the subtle nuances of balance, proportion, scale and flowing curves that make this form unique.  It is my favorite form to turn, and each piece is made as a tribute to the form and the ancient craftsmen that made them.

Fast forward to today, most of the artistic pieces I make have their origins in the Calabash form, with rounded bottoms and organic shapes.  I keep each piece simple with clean lines, no embellishments, and strive to let the attributes of the wood and the form speak for itself.  I use basic tools and equipment that should be in every turner’s arsenal regardless of skill level, and have learned to get the most out of them by refining the work processes, procedures and techniques to achieve the desired results.  My philosophy on woodturning and life in general is to keep it simple.

I was a founding member of the Honolulu Woodturners and a juried member of the Pacific Handcrafters Guild.  I am currently an active member of the Seacoast Woodturners and Granite State Woodturners Clubs, and a juried member of the League of NH Craftsmen.