I visited Michael Cooper in January of 2016. Michael is an unbelievably creative and talented guy. His body of work is so impressive that you will have to see it to believe it. He and his wife, Gayle, are as friendly, nice, and down to earth as Michael is talented. If I had to sum them up in one word it would be “Wonderful”.
Michael has a 2000 sq. foot shop in northern California. The setting is gorgeous. Six rolling acres boarded by a creek on one side and wooded hills on the other. Michael has another large building just a few feet away from his shop that he built to store some of his sculptures. He called it a storage building, but it looked more like a gallery to me. One side of that building is sectioned off for a weaving studio for Gayle.
His shop is split into two rooms, a small room serves as a machine shop and everything else is in the remaining space. The shop has adequate natural lighting, very high ceilings, and an extra set of doors that are big enough to drive a forklift through.
Mike has an unbelievable collection of old, heavy, cast iron machinery. Sanders, jointer, planer, etc. He also has a 42″ wide belt sander, 7 drill presses, a 36″ bandsaw, a horizontal mill, and a selection of huge heavy duty sheet metal tools.
This are just four of Mike’s drill presses! This is for efficiency so he doesn’t have to change the set up for repeated operations.
It is hard to see in this picture, but that is a giant duplicator. Mike built it for duplicating large sculptures. It took him 6 months to make it. It is easier to see this in the video.
Mike swears by this little bandsaw. But, wow, is it expensive!
You can never have too many grinders! Actually, this is the same reasoning as the multiple drill presses. He can keep working and not have to keep changing cutters.
Holy smokes, look at that bandsaw! 36″ throat and up to a 14″ cut depth.
The vertical mill in Mike’s machine shop.
A 30″ disk sander, a 24″ disk sander, and an old spindle sander. Notice the poster above the spindle sander of Mike’s “Chopper” sculpture.
This is a very special drill press. It has a domed shape friction drive for continuously variable speed. Mike did a nice demonstration of this in the video.
Actually, this is now Mike’s only lathe and he uses it for everything. Aluminum, steel, stainless steel, plastic, and wood.
This is a first for me. I have never seen a reciprocating metal cutting saw!
I will also have at least two blog posts on Mike’s sculptures. Subscribe to my blog and get notified as soon as these are posted.