NILES is the most recognized brand name and preferred by more professional artists around the world!!
Photo from 2018
Welcome to my website. I started turning wood in January 1990. Since I had to support myself and a couple of kids, the first 5 years I did mostly architectural turning; porch and stair spindles, etc. for contractors and turning chair spindles, table legs, etc. for antique dealers. Before learning how to turn wood, I was a seamstress and along with sewing custom clothing and wedding gowns I did artistic fabric wall hangings. When the fabric shop where I gave lessons closed, I opened a small fabric shop in the front room of my house, gradually adding more fabric and trim. When there were no customers, I would be in the next room taking off doors, knocking out walls and putting in shelving. I made an apartment upstairs in the house and now had 5 rooms of fabric and needlecraft supplies downstairs. After 5 years I sold shop and moved. I've always loved antiques and starting going to estate auctions where I met Annette and soon we were stocking up to start an antique shop in her barn. We built a small shelter for her miniature goat and pot-belly pig, insulated the barn and opened "Annette's Antiques". We were passing up great antique furniture because a spindle or finial was missing and I decided to find out how to make these replacement parts. I went to the library, read about turning table legs, it said I needed a lathe and turning tools so I went to Sears and said "I need a lathe and turning tools". I took 2 turning books out of the library, 2 weeks at a time, and learned how to turn.
A few years later I attended the AAW Symposium in Providence, RI and was introduced to a whole new world of woodturning.
I can relate to my customers that sell their artwork. I understand creating, producing, marketing and sitting for 2 to 4 days in a booth at a craft fair trying to make a living; which only half worked so, in addition, I waitressed and bartended part-time 4 days a week.
When I started doing artistic turning, in Feb. 2005, Tina LeCoff at "The Center for Art in Wood" commissioned me to make two dozen bottle stoppers and 2 dozen coffee scoops for a gift shop they were starting in the museum. I had never turned a bottle stopper but said "sure"....how hard can it be! At that time the only stoppers available for woodturners were the long chrome-plated style shown below. I made two and definitely did not care for the style nor the quality. I put one of those chrome stoppers on my son's metal lathe, cut it down to a shape I liked. The first picture below shows the shaping cuts of the chrome stopper where I removed most of the height and I shortened and softly rounded the nose.
The new design allowed my artwork to sit close to the top of the bottle and it looked more 'comfortable'. I took this prototype chrome stopper to a small machine shop in town and asked about having them made. They were not interested and it took me 3 or 4 weeks to get them to give me a price. They figured it was a waste of their time and I understood; after all here is this little old lady asking for bottle stoppers! I ordered 100 pieces for my own use. I never thought about being in the stopper business.
Woodturning friends saw the stoppers and wanted them, they showed their friends and club members and Niles Bottle Stoppers was created. I presented them at a woodturning symposium in Gainsville, GA. in April, 2005 and started selling to the public on my website that July. A year later when I went to pick up an order, the machine shop told me they filed a patent on my stopper design. About 3 years later I saw a stopper in Walmart that could stand and I gave the machine shop a picture of the base on the stoppers and the old standing SS-8000 was produced. Again the machine shop got the patent; I never thought to have patents but it taught me a good lesson. When using any machine shop, I first get a "non compete" agreement signed; most reputable shops expect to sign these agreements.
Then glass blowers and fused glass workers found my website and asked about stoppers compatible with glass. Being a woodturner, I knew nothing about glass. They told me what they needed and I had it made. Next stone workers, bead workers, porcelain, door knobs, granite and lava rocks. Each dictated what they wanted or needed so the stoppers for that particular craft were designed by the artists themselves. By this time I needed to find a larger, more professional machine shop to handle the orders. A dear friend, Bill Rubenstein (used to be a Stubby lathe dealer) introduced me to the machinist he used and taking my business to Paul at Precision Crafted Products in MO, was the best business decision I could possibly have made.
When I designed that original tapered cone shape it was only to fill the commissioned order. I didn't give a lot of thought to how efficiently it fit wine bottles. Over the years customers complained the tapered stoppers didn't fit screw-top (whiskey or wine) and bottles imported from Italy or several Balsamic vinegar bottles. One customer emailed, "Your stoppers don't fit any of the wine bottles we like and I'll never buy your stoppers again." Well, I started really looking at my stopper design for ways to improve it. The inside of bottle necks don't taper and the tapered stopper had only 1 o-ring that could possibly make contact to seal. It did seal several corked wine bottles nicely but I wanted a better seal, also a lot of people want to lay the bottle on its side and that cannot safely be done with a tapered style. I knew the cork shape was the only way to go, after all it has been used efficiently for thousands of years.
In order to get a superior fit, I went to all the taverns and restaurants in town; Carlisle, PA is a college town so there are a lot of taverns! At each, I asked if they would save empty whiskey and wine bottles for one weekend. I only wanted one of each brand or bottle size but that would have been too much to ask. Monday I collected all the bottles, saved one of each brand and style and put the rest out for recycling ...... my neighbors thought I had one heck of a party! Then I cut the necks off of the bottles and sent them to Precision Crafted Products where they perfected the slight taper, added another o-ring size and came up with a stopper that fit just about every bottle neck.
The photo below shows the superior seal of the SS-9000 cork-shape style stopper and how 2 of the o-rings seal inside the bottle. Remember the customer that said he would never buy my stoppers again? I sent one of the SS-9000 to him out of the first shipment I received. I emailed him saying I saved his email over a year ago and wanted his feedback on the fit of this new design because I knew he would be very honest. He said it fit their bottles perfect. (whew) This was the beginning of another patent and other stopper designs so now Niles Bottle Stoppers can say "No Bottle Left Behind". *note: this is the first manufacturer (machine shop) I've used that other large suppliers and a professional woodturner asked if they could have Paul (owner) make special products for them. That assured me I found the best machine shop to manufacture my products.
Below are some of the custom stoppers and bottle cap openers we have made for customers. The first one was designed by Paul for PAU Vodka in Hawaii. Randy at Makai Glass in Hawaii designed an exclusive glass breaking wave top for PAU's top-shelve brand. The PAU company signed the design over to me, it is patented.
The second photo, a customer who creates high-end men's jewelry needed an exclusive stopper for a solid gold lion decanter top he designed to fit a $4,000 decanter. Together we designed the 'decanter' stopper (which we also patented) and the photo of the exclusive solid gold lion stopper in the decanter. Check the website
The next one is a solid brass bottle stopper was designed for a 50th year anniversary of a cosmetic company who used them as promotional gifts at the big trade shows.
The last 2 photos show an exclusive stopper and opener design variation we made for Laserkeep They do custom engraving from photographs. They have custom display boxes made so the stopper or opener can be kept on display even on an office desk.
Now it's 16 years later and I now have Bourbon and whiskey stoppers. I am amazed at the number of people who use stoppers in their whiskey bottles. Also there are a larger range of sizes in these bottles than wine. Wine bottles are basically 2 sizes and each is a small difference but with all the "spirits", there are many sizes. The first one we made was ok; those of you that know me, "ok" is not good enough, it has to be "perfect" or darn close. It was the fastest design to go from Introducing to Close Out Sale! The second one pleased me but I needed my customer's opinion since you are the ones buying them and selling or gifting them. That is the SS-4000. There were still bottles "left behind", so we again got as many brands to check sizes and several customers sent diameter measurements and we designed the SS-610, SS-620 and SS-630 Bourbon and whiskey stoppers. I can now safely say No Bottle Left Behind! Also due to the popularity and superior seal of all the new styles we now have I've decided to drop the original tapered stoppers and we designed a tapered stopper but a little less taper and 4 compact o-rings instead of 3 separated rings.
In between designing the stoppers, a customer sent a prototype he turned out of wood of the bottle cap opener and we got a patent together and those have been a huge success. People can't figure how it's used and when you tell or show them, they all say "Oh my goodness, I have to have one!" The Paul (machinist) designed the tab can pull himself and, at first it was taken to be for not breaking fingernails or ruining a manicure and painting; which it is for that, too. However people with arthritis love it the best because soup cans and cat or dog food are in thicker cans and the tabs can be hard for them to pull up.
A customer said we should make espresso coffee tampers; he belongs to an Expresso Club. So we started making coffee tampers. A few customers mentioned meat tenderizers and both Paul and I didn't think that would be a good selling product. Boy were we wrong! We have a meat tenderizer and a meat/garlic pounder/press. Customers love creating their own tenderizer mallets or making them separate as a pair.
All my products are Made in America! I firmly believe we should keep OUR economy in OUR country. Precision Crafted Products in MO has made all my products for many years and their honesty and attention to detail, fine quality machining and extra care in packing is impressive. My stoppers are made from FDA 304 grade stainless, they have been tested by the FDA and I get mill certs with every order of stainless steel because if I say they are "304 18-8", they darn well better be!
Today I still do woodturning and The Village Artisans Gallery, in Boiling Springs, PA sells my work. I am not just a supplier, I use my products. I support and promote my customers' work on the customer Gallery page where I put links to their websites or where their work can be purchased. I enjoy and am proud to have their work displayed.
I like to say "I am not a real business but rather I am a happy woodturner sharing the products I like to turn and sell to the public." I hope you enjoy my website.
If you have any comments or suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
E-mail: email@example.com or call 717-486-5232