Who is Nick Carter and Why Does He Sell Lathes?

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Nick Carter's Current Interests
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A Short Autobiography

I was born in Boston Massachusetts on September 9th, 1966. My Father, Nicholas S.F. Carter, was from Williamstown MA, and my Mother D.M. June (Allan) Carter was from Montreal. My parents moved after my birth to Cambridge where we lived for five years on Huron Ave. in an apartment. During this time I attended the Lesley Ellis preschool. My sister Elizabeth (Betsy) was born in May, 1970. Just before my fifth birthday my parents moved us to Milton, 9 miles from Boston, which like so many towns, claims itself as the birthplace of the revolution. I attended Glover elementary school, then Cunningham Junior High. I was a member of Troop 3 of the BSA, had a paper route and wasted time playing dungeons and dragons, and making WW2 models. At Cunningham I learned to program in BASIC on punchcards. Summers saw me either at camp, South Pond Cabins in Fitzwilliam NH, or in Chatham, Mass. and later at the house my parents rented in Bar Harbor.

I was fortunate enough that my parents could then afford to send me to St. Marks School, an Episcopal boarding school in Southborough, MA. Although I didn't fit in, being from a middle-class background (most these kids were rich!), and rarely achieved high marks, I muddled through. We had class on Saturdays, chapel three times a week, sit down dinners, dress code, and sports were compulsory. I rowed crew in the spring for three years. I did become the system manager of the school's new PDP-11/24 computer (DEC being down the road from Southborough) which was a novel experience. I took the first ever computer AP test.At the time I thought I'd end up being a programmer. I was also lucky enough to get a summer job at the Economic Botany Library at Harvard University, where I learned lots about plants, from Corn to Opium. I was awed by the presence of the late Richard Evans Schultes, who had had more adventures in his life than I ever hoped to in mine. He was also incredibly addicted to coffee, a result of his chewing coca for years in South America. If the secretary forgot to make a pot he would send me out to get a case of Coca-Cola.

When it came time to apply for college, the only school which accepted me was the University of Toronto, because they only looked at test scores (I do well on standardized tests.) I started in Computer Engineering, but soon ended up in Philosophy, as the life of a programmer, or at least the way they taught programming, wasn't for me. This academic confusion led to my suspension for a year after my second year (an enlightened philosophy on UofT's part - come to school when you're ready to learn) and my decision to travel through Central and South America. I also, believe it or not, became a member of Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity, AB chapter while at U of T.

While I was in Guatemala, the girl I was travelling with dumped me, but I quickly met my current wife (who is actually from Brooklyn) after only a month hitchiking around that lovely country. Felice and I then travelled around Guatemala, Mexico and the United States. I returned to Toronto with Felice in tow and finished my BA, with decent grades, due to the great maturity gained while travelling (ha!). Having promised Felice we would never again live anywhere so incredibly cold, we started to travel around the USA, selling jewelry which we spontaneously started to make.

Three years living in an Econoline van is enough to make anyone yearn for a place to hang one's hat, so in 1991 we settled in the verdant Willamette valley, on the outskirts of the town of Philomath (near Corvallis, midway between Eugene and Portland). We began to sell our jewelry at the Eugene Saturday market, and continue to this day both there and online. As happens, I started to accumulate tools, particularly lapidary equipment. This led to the purchase of a Taig lathe, for making phenolic gem carving wheels. As I detail elsewhere on my site, I fell in love with the Taig, and machining in general. Only after this point did my Father reveal that my Grandfather (who died before I was born) had spent a lot of time hanging around machinists, and had embarked on a few business ventures making mechanical objects, such as a ski tow at a local ski slope. And my Great Great Grandfather, Aaron Carter, was the first Jeweler in Newark NJ to erect a steam engine in his factory.

After a long hiatus from the computer, I purchased a second hand 486 and awoke to the world of machining online. Noticing that many people were selling Sherline products, but that no one was selling Taig equipment, I started this online dealership. My goal was to provide the lowest price, the best online support and square dealing throughout. So here I am, years later, learning more every day, making my living by my wits and aptitude. My shop has grown until it threatens to collapse from its own weight.

We now have two wonderful sons, Henry and Max, who keep us busy all the time. You can keep up on the current events in our lives by reading my blog, and Felice's blog.

Why I Sell Lathes

Every mechanically inclined person innately yearns for a metal lathe, as soon as they find out that they exist. Maybe it comes from years of reading old Popular Mechanics magazines, or a childhood train or gyroscope. When I finally was able to get a lathe, a part of me finally felt whole, yes it sounds maudlin, but it's true, I'm a happier man for learning machining. So it's natural that I would become a bit evangelical about tools, trying to get humanity to realise the potential of their opposable thumb. Friends have learned to steer clear of technical subjects, lest I lead the conversation back to tools. Family has given up, and even visited the Starrett factory on a whim. My wife supports me so many ways, largely by not throwing me out when I drag home some great oily hunk of iron, or make her wait for hours outside a used tool dealer. I have the conviction, and only partly tongue in cheek, that if everyone had a lathe (and mill, and...) the world would change dramatically for the better. Already I have noticed that customers of mine have started doing those things they could only dream of, whether it's making their own R/C helicopter, steam engine, tobacco pipe, rocket engine or some invention so secret they won't even tell me. For those of you who have read Heidegger, I would say that they are achieving attunement with being, or maybe they're just having fun. Whatever is going on, I get the satisfaction of my customers happiness, and that's better than money.

I better stop now, as I feel a tear in my eye (ha!). If you have felt that a part of you was missing, that you could make the world a better place if only you could make a precision gizmo, then by all means, get some tools! It doesn't matter if you buy them from me, only that you get them and start living your dreams.

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