‘The best part of online sales is the reach to people who may otherwise not come across my work in person’

Rockland’s John Coppola: Captain by day, wood turner by night

Tue, 12/08/2020 - 12:45pm

ROCKLAND — During fishing season, Rockland’s John Coppola can be found on waters from Casco Bay to Penobscot Bay chartering fishing trips for striped bass, bluefish and bluefin tunas. 

When he is not at the helm of a boat, wood turner Coppola is in his workshop crafting wooden handmade segmented bowls, bottle stoppers and ice cream scoopers. 

Coppola opted to begin selling his Northeast Woodworks products online via Etsy as a way to supplement the sales he is able to make through the local galleries and shops selling his products. 

“A few online sales in the winter months helps a lot when galleries are closed or seeing greatly reduced traffic compared to the summer months,” he commented. 

Coppola fell in love with making turned items as soon as he began using a wood lathe, a tool specifically designed for woodworking applications to cut, sand, drill, face, turn and deform wooden workpieces.

Smaller items, such as the scoopers and stoppers, in Coppola’s inventory can take between 10 and 30 minutes to create, while segmented bowls take more than four hours each. 

The small items are first prepared for the lathe by sizing the wood blanks, before Coppola drills the necessary holes for the hardware, cuts and sands the lathe and applies a finish before finally attaching the hardware. 

Segmented bowls, meanwhile, begin as rough boards that go through milling, mittering, ring assembly, flattening, a final gluing, hand cutting on the lathe, sanding, and finishing.

His products have reached around the world with products recently being shipped to Canada, England, Israel and Luxembourg. Interestingly, customers from the U.S. East coast are more likely to purchase Coppola’s segmented bowls, while his West coast customers tend to purchase his bottle stoppers, pizza wheels and ice cream scoopers.  

“The best part of online sales is the reach to people who may otherwise not come across my work in person,” said Coppola. “It also is great because the customers share their experience with friends and family on social media creating a snowballing effect.”

Thanks to the addition of new products this year, Coppola said the pandemic has not negatively impacted his online sales. In fact, his sales have continued to grow amid the pandemic thanks to the newly added products. 

Coppola sources inspiration for his brightly colored, beautiful designs by asking individuals working at the local galleries what they and their customers like the most and making variations of them. 

“Subtle differences in curves and details can change a piece greatly,” he said. “So even though I am making similar items they are always a little bit different every time.” 

Asked to identify which of his products are more popular with customers, Coppola noted each of the small items vary greatly and all seem to find a buyer, though the bowls seem to be more popular for in-person sales than online. 

“I feel this is because in person you can see and feel the quality making it an easier decision,” he said. 

Though he first began selling his creations as a way to pay for his hobby and make additional income, Coppola now hopes to grow the business further to make it a career for fishing’s offseason.