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”.

Entrance to Michael Cooper’s Shop

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.

Just 4 of Mike’s drill presses

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.

Mike made this giant carving duplicator

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.

Femi Bandsaw. One of Mike’s favorite bandsaws\

Mike swears by this little bandsaw.  But, wow, is it expensive!

Collection of grinders and sanders

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.

36″ Bandsaw

Holy smokes, look at that bandsaw!  36″ throat and up to a 14″ cut depth.

Michael’s Vertical Mill

The vertical mill in Mike’s machine shop.

You can never have too many clamps!


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.

Friction Drive Drill Press

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.

Mike’s metal lathe

Actually, this is now Mike’s only lathe and he uses it for everything.  Aluminum, steel, stainless steel, plastic, and wood.

Old reciprocating metal cutting saw!

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.

This was an amazing trip, I met and interviewed some of the most talented woodworkers in the country!  The interviews and the videos will be fantastic, but I the best part for me personally is that I made so many new friends.

I was on the road for 7-1/2 weeks, I drove through 11 states and I put 6800 miles on my car. Another unfortunate statistic is that I gained 7 pounds while I was gone, a pound a week! It is a good thing I got home when I did because I would really be in trouble if I stayed out much longer!

I interviewed a total of 11 different woodworkers: The Wood Whisperer – Marc Spagnuolo, David Marks, Peter Brown, Matthew Morris, Andrew Klein, Ray Mowder of Tab Left Workshop, Braxton Wirthlin, Zac Higgins of NV Woodworks, Michael Cooper, Chad Schimmel and Chris Kerschner of Adventures in DIY.

During the trip I met a total of 14 different woodworkers and filmed at least 22 separate videos.  Over the next several months I will post all of them to myYouTube channel and put them on my blog.

During the last leg of my trip I met woodworkers in Phoenix and Denver. The Wood Whisperer, Chad Schimmel, and Ty Moser live in the Phoenix area. I then met with Andy Klein in Denver.

I will post more details about all of the interviews as I complete the editing and get them up on YouTube! Unfortunately, my computer is having trouble handling the huge video files and editing is taking a lot longer than I thought it would. The computer problems is just a bump in the road. I am sure I will work through it and start posting those interviews very soon!

Charlie with The Wood Whisperer, Marc Spagnuolo at his shop outside of Phoenix, Arizona

Chad Schimmel in the pen making section of his woodshop in Chandler, Arizona.

Charlie with Andy Klein in his Denver woodshop.

Charlie with Ty Moser in Phoenix

I also got to meet Ty Moser while I was in Phoenix. I didn’t even know that he lived there, but through the magic of social media we connected. Ty is a great guy!. He and I met for lunch and I liked him very much. In fact, I would like to do some kind of collaboration with him, but I have NO IDEA what that might look like!

It was a wonderful trip, but I am very happy to be back in my shop. The travel and the interviews were an experience that I will never forget, but am a woodworker and I want to get started on my next project!

Until next time –

Charlie from Jack Bench Woodworking!