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Max Krimmel – Tool Hero Artist Extraordinary

Max Krimmel is fortunate to have learned from a young age what it was like to be a successful artist. At age 8, she won her first prize for a Kachina Halloween costume that included a spectacular headdress, leggings, and loafers. “At age 12, he won first, second, and third place in a 1960 Denver model car contest. His prized vehicle was a reproduction of a maroon wood surfer truck with velvet curtains and operational door handles ( still a family heirloom), and two similar scandalously named reproductions “. Says Max: “As an adult I have not been able to repeat that act of sweeping all the places in a competition.”

Max likes to do things, all kinds of things. Often their creation begins with a new hobby such as playing the guitar. Shortly after starting to play guitar, he wanted to build one. So Max signed up for a class called “Build Your Own Peach Box Guitar.” At the time, boxes of peaches were discarded from grocery stores after peaches were stocked, so there was a wealth of free material available for practicing guitar-making.

With his third guitar, Max had moved to higher quality woods and from 1965 to 1982, he built 167 guitars for such notable musicians as: Jerry Jeff Walker, Stephen Stills, David Bromberg, Bob Shane (of the Kingston Trio), Carla Sciaky, Mary Flower, Chuck Pyle and Bonnie Carol. Max claims that “he was doing the right thing, in the right place, at the right time.” You are being modest with that statement; If he didn’t have the incredible talent and skill that he has, no one would have paid attention to his guitars in the first place. Max made excellent quality acoustic guitars and the musicians bought them.

The next “right place at the right time” for Max Krimmel came after he started turning wood. “My early woodturns were an extension of my luthery work. The necks of my guitars were cut from a solid piece of Honduran mahogany, so each guitar neck cut created a nice wedge-shaped piece. Right, I saved all the wedges. The day I did the obvious and glued some of these wedges to a solid block. Around the same time, I became the caretaker of a classic 1950s Craftsman lathe. I didn’t know what I was going to do with this big mahogany cake, but lathe and turning came to mind. In the end, I scraped several plates off the wedge blocks. This was around 1973. It took about two years of guitar building to make enough wedges for a wedge plate. wedges available I didn’t do much with the lathe, except an occasional small piece of solid wood. “

Max’s next step in wood turning took place a few years later, inspired by his partner Bonnie Carol’s quilt making. His vast collection of interesting pieces of wood ended up in Mondrian-type bowls (photo). Max started alabaster turning in 1986 after watching Lee Carter do a quick demonstration of alabaster turning. Finally, he abandoned wood in favor of alabaster. “It’s hard to say exactly why, I liked the precision of the alabaster and the homogeneity of the material. I had also seen quite a bit of beautiful wood in my life and the stone was new. There are still wood shavings that I would like to make and if I live long enough probably Do it “. says Max. In 1988 he sent slides of his work to the International Exhibition of Turned Objects and had five pieces accepted in the exhibition, two of wood and three of alabaster. It was quite a prestigious show, “I didn’t know the pieces were that good,” says Max.

From June 1999 to July 2000, Max Krimmel exhibited one of his turned alabaster vessels at the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. The piece is now a permanent part of the Smithsonian collection. This was the second time he had the honor of having his artwork on display at the Smithsonian. The first was in 1979 when one of his handmade guitars was part of the Harmonious Craft: 20th Century Musical Instruments exhibit. Max’s work is also in art collections at the Hoyt Institute of Art in New Castle, PA, Boeing Aircraft, the Denver Art Museum, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

While exhibiting your work in such a prestigious gallery as the Smithsonian is an incredible honor, visitors don’t necessarily compare the exhibit to someone who is trying to make a living selling such pieces. The most challenging part of your job is marketing. Basically Max, like all of us, still needs to market his work and earn a living. Max’s pieces are available in fine art galleries across the country, as well as through his website at.

Max is a member of the Professional Turners Association and has taught at various symposia. He loves to create and he also loves to see how people react to what he creates. He writes tutorials and publishes them for free download on his website. Max embodies the artistic process of perfecting his creation and then moving on to the next plateau. He currently plays in a marimba band and builds marimbas as a result.

From his bass marimba building process: “The idea for this bass originally came to me at Zimfest ’99, while looking at the beautiful balafons made by Marimba One. These instruments, which have roots in traditional balafones, look like a deformed marimba, the ends are raised, the center is Los Balafones were a lot of fun to play, the mallets seemed to bounce off the bars and with just a bit of vector correction they landed on another note, great. I had been thinking of a bass for Chimanimani. Why not a bass balafon? “Ugh! What a mechanical nightmare, well maybe just a little bending, or maybe bending it on the horizontal plane instead of the vertical plane! Hmm, that would waste a lot of space, … unless you had to make the bars wedge shaped … would the wedge bars work? … the frame would be a big curve … And that would be a big problem. , I did some drawings, but I kept stuck in an easy way to make the frame. There are many ways to bend wood, they all see med as too much trouble. So I thought of an easy way to make a form and my fate was sealed. I had a two week window in October ’99, I thought that would be long enough. Okay, I’d build that bass. If it worked, great, we’d have a bass. If it didn’t work, it would have interesting and expensive firewood. Now months after that two week window, I am still adjusting the bass, other projects are either embarrassingly delayed or scrapped entirely. Aren’t there twelve-step programs for bass-building junkies? “

“So to save others trouble, or perhaps create more members for BBA (Bass Builders Anonymous), I offer the following information,” says Max:

Top 10 Max Krimmels Tools

1. Rockwell Uniplane – 30 years

2. Rockwell Disc and Belt Sander

3. Rockwell band saw

4. Rockwell thickness sander

5. Lathe – workhorse for turning

6. Craftsman Lathe – first lathe ever given

7. Radial arm saw

8. Hercules Dust Collection System

table saw, carpenter, planer and mortise

9. Various hand tools

10. Alabaster

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