Woodworking with Scott Beatty
Shore Bancshares Inc. CEO, Scott Beatty, takes us inside his workshop and gives some thoughts on the therapeutic nature of working with your hands.
In his wood shop, Scott Beatty shows the skill of a craftsman and the enthusiasm of a child. You see wood shavings, various stages of bowls, and you hear where logs have come from, and what you can unlock while turning wood. You wouldn’t guess you are talking to the president and CEO of Shore Bancshares Inc. But Beatty’s two worlds inform each other.
“Woodworking has always been therapeutic for me,” he said. “I fish a lot, I play golf, but I’ll come into the shop on a Saturday morning and put music on and I could stay here all day.”
Beatty started learning furniture-making techniques when he was 6 or 7 years old. It was a neighbor in Easton, Herb Bradley, who got him interested. Bradley had polio, braces on his legs, and would get around the shop on crutches, and his enthusiasm stuck with Beatty.
Furniture-making slowed down while he was in college, but when he and his wife Nancy got married, he set to work making things they needed — from benches, to tables, to boxes, and beds. The last piece of furniture he completed was six or seven years ago, when he made a gun box for his daughter.
And then came turning bowls.
“I turned bowls a little bit when I was younger, and then I hit a point where I said, ‘you know, I don’t need any more furniture,’” Beatty said. “And the furniture projects, they take a long time, too. So you get a little more instant gratification turning bowls than you do with furniture.”
He uses mostly hard woods, such as maple, cherry, or pecan. And he’s got friends who keep an eye out for interesting wood, including tree companies and loggers, who will bring by various logs or trees, and who might get a custom salad bowl out of the exchange.
Beatty doesn’t turn bowls to sell or show them, he mostly makes them for family and friends or donates them to charity auctions. One of his goals in turning a bowl or box is to create something with a purpose.
“I make bowls a little thicker than a lot of people do — I can make them really thin, but people are less inclined to use them,” he said. “I like to make things that people will use.”
When he gets wood in, Beatty often will turn it when it’s green, which then will change shape and elongate as time passes. He’ll let it sit for about a year, and then turn it again into the shape he wants.
In his shop, he points out a piece of pecan from Bay Street, where the offices of Beatty Satchell and Company once were (the certified public accounting firm he helped found and where he was a partner for 25 years). He pulls down a piece of maple that a friend brought over, and a piece of walnut that came from the estate where they filmed the movie “The Wedding Crashers.”
Beatty put his wood shop together in 1976. It’s changed over the years. At first, he didn’t have heat, and then he added a wood stove and later a wooden floor. He’s acquired tools and machines. Depending on his work schedule and what his grandchildren are up to, he spends at least eight hours a week turning bowls and working on different projects, especially looking forward to winter days in the now heated shop.
In the past six or seven years, Beatty has turned between 500 and 600 bowls. His primary tools to work with on the lathe are gouges and scrapers. And he has grinders that allow him to sharpen his tools in the shop, which is a skill unto itself.
One of the differences between furniture-making and turning bowls has a lot to do with the wood, which can speak to him.
“Every piece of wood is different when it comes to turning,” he said “If you are going to build a piece of furniture, typically you’d go buy some mahogany and get the wood you need and follow a plan and take time to build it. With turning, every time I dig into a piece of wood, it’s all different.”
Beatty recalls making a series of three boxes which were the same in terms of dimension and scale, and when they went for auction at a charity, one went for $500. He’s also given turning demonstrations in his shop for auction winners from Pickering Creek Audubon Center and Adkins Arboretum.
Beatty’s love of family comes through in his shop. He shows a bowl that one grandchild helped decorate and talks about turning a bowl out of canary wood — an exotic wood — for a new grandchild. And he is passing on a bit of what he knows.
“My oldest grandson, who turned 6, turned his first bowl about eight months ago,” he said. “As they get older, I can adjust the height on the lathe.”
Time in the shop doing what he loves is an end unto itself. It’s therapeutic and life affirming. But if he lets his mind ponder what he’s doing, there is gratitude and hope mixed in.
“It’s kind of cool to take something that would generally wind up in someone’s fireplace or in a landfill,” Beatty said. “And who knows, maybe 100 years from now, someone will still be using some of these.”