How did you come to be in woodworking?

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Maybe this is the beginning of a thread of interest maybe not.... I've been reading this ng for awhile now and see quite a few regulars, a few participants that post only once and awhile, the occasional lurker who's name I haven't recalled seeing before....What's your story? How did you get started in woodworking?
I'll keep mine short. My grandfather was a carpenter out of necessity, had to find some sort of work to support his family. Passed it on to my father who also worked with his hands out of necessity in order to put himself through college. I grew up learning from him. When I was young he was the manager of a local millwork operation and he drug me to work with him in the summers while I was out of school. I learned to use the tools in the shop at an early age. Learning how to work with my hands backfired on me since I dropped out of college to get married...I just knew I could make a living without a formal education. We divorced 6 months later and I never made it back to college.
Fast forward 14 years....I remarried a woman with 2 young daughters. I've put a shop together mostly because I wanted to build them things they would cherish and use...like my father did for my sister and me. That's where I am today...I build things for the builders I sell lumber to so I can justify the expense of the equipment I have in my shop so I can periodically turn out piece by piece for my daughters and wife.
What's your story?
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Nearly the same, have several of my great grandfather tools hanging on the wall. He built 1726 pianos in his lifetime. Shop was retooled during WWII and made caskets for the govt during the war, retooled again after that. Dad/Grandad made their fortune on a new product called "Formica". They cast about for a while until they landed a contract with a hamburger joint called McDonalds in the 60's. They sold some furiture. Never had more than 7 folks working for them at one time. I've been gluing up countertops since I was 10. Have been part of just about every aspect of furniture building since, home renovations mostly custom kitchens and offices. Got lost for a while in the computer industry after taking several CAD classes but have since found my way back to woodworking . Hey we all do something stupid when we are young don't we? I did make enough cash in the I.S. biz to outfit the shop pretty well. Been working as a tradesman in custom home building industry in Southern Wisconsin recently. Pretty big market for the Chicago weekend escapes around here. I've done some pretty cool high tech home offices and builtin hide the bigscreen TV entertainment centers doing SC work for a home theatre outfit. I would really like to get in to stairs. Most of what you see around here are factory built, nothing hand crafted anymore. I geally get inspired by Tom Plamanns work. If you haven't seen his website take a look. http://www.plamann.com/sys-tmpl/door/ proof that not all American hero's occupations have the word "ball" in them somewhere. I do prefer to work alone as I have a tendancy to rub people the wrong way and my shop indicates that... 40 miles from anywhere pretty much. Not a lot of walkup business.
EJ
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Being a native Bostonian who had been transplanted to New Jersey, a certain woodworking show became a habit of mine. What the host, Norman, did was interesting, but more importantly, he had such superb diction -- no trace of an accent at all.
After a lifetime of limiting manual work to changing light bulbs (while mumbling "right is tight and left is loose") and calling repairmen, yours truly decided woodworking would be a fine hobby to carry into the retirement years.
At the tender age of 51, the corporate business world said, "Bob, take this super early retirement incentive package, 18 months of full salary, and be gone with ya'." Not being hard of hearing -- this was pre-router whine/shop vac roar and radio blare -- my head said, "Hmmm, maybe you could keep your job and escape downsizing for nine more years or take the package now, not work, and get retirement pay as though you had worked nine more years."
Not wanting anyone to think badly of my dearly departed mother as a breeder of idiots (savant or otherwise), I said, "Oh, great financial empire, I beseech thee. Give me the money; I can find the door myself." And it was done.
With a pocketful of advanced salary, a working wife, a Woodworkers Warehouse and 5 Home Depots nearby, a kazillion catalogs and a score of books and magazines, I will become a gentleman woodworker.
Soon I discovered that I probably would not be able to match the colonial cherry Queen Ann pieces in our bedroom. (I have since realized I don't want to; real wood is a nicer color.) So maybe my first project shouldn't be a Queen Ann highboy with cabriole legs, carved shells and inlays.
How about an Adirondack chair?? It's big and sturdy and, with all the woodworking I will do, I will be able to add "sturdy" to my self-description.
Plans, plans and plans for Adirondack chairs. At last I found Jake's Chair, designed by a certain Tom Gauldin, a Renaissance man who goes by the handle of "Scoundrel." By the way it is a GREAT chair - comfortable and good looking.
After much sawing, swearing, drilling, swearing, routing, swearing, screw-drivering, and some swearing, the chair was built! Now, to make it look "professional," I countersunk, puttied or dowelled everyone of the almost 100 screw holes. Much sand papering, primer and two coats of a glossy forest green oil enamel that would make Ireland's 40 Shades of Green envious; the work was complete!
"Come, working wife of mine. Come admire me and what I have created!" And indeed, it did look mighty spiffy. "Now, dearly beloved, bend to and we shall carry it onto its rightful place on our deck. There I shall languish and praise the corporate reorganization that brought me here!"
Ooops, the basement stairs are narrow and they have an evil witch's nose bend to them. Perhaps if we catty corner the throne? Perhaps, if we try it on its side? Perhaps, upside down? Perhaps, it won't go up the %$%$ stairs!
"May I suggest you take off the arms, my woodworking hubby?"
"What and ruin the shiny green, my beloved? But yes, I shall because I have more paint!"
"Where are those screw holes anyway?" Much scraping and, gouging later. "Ahah, there's one screw, only 15 more to go to take off the arms."
Days later, a badly beaten, much troubled Jake's chair was armless.
"Hey, Suzanne! Don't look at it, just help me carry the damn thing up to the garage which has a real door and I'll try to rectify it there. And stop saying, 'What a shame.'"
"Hold your end higher, woman!" "Lift and then turn, I say!" Perhaps sideways? Damn, damn! It still won't go up the stairs!
And so it remains to this day, down by the woodpile, under a good reading light, with a stack of catalogs nearby. And, what's even worse, high gloss forest green enamel really shows the sawdust!
P.S. The chair back made the trip from NJ to Cape Cod where my proud/wise ass wife set it up against a tree. "It'll make a lovely trellis," she said with a smile.
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(Good read snipped)

LMAO!
Terry
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I was 14 and a tree fell on out picnic table on the patio.
My neighbor had a radial arm saw and I "borrowed" some lumber from a nearby construction site. I was able to figure out the constuction of the table easy enough. and in 2 days we had a new table. 2 days after that we had new benches. And I was pretty much hooked.
My first real project was a drafting table I needed for HS. (working on the kitchen table was killing me) and been collecting "tools" ever since ;)

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When I was a kid in grammer school (pre-1966) I used to enjoy hanging out in my grandpa's shop in his basement. Add to that my uncle up there in St Albans, Vermont used to build boats for Lake Champlain and my own father's woodworking shop and I was hooked before I was 12! In high school I took "shop" for all 4 years and it just continued on from there.
Terry Sumner
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Both Grandfathers and Dad were builders.
I was raised to not pay others to do what I can do for myself. I'll do without first. It's almost a pathology.
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Mark

N.E. Ohio
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My parents, younger brother and I moved into a new home when I was 11 and there was a couple in their 70's that lived across the street. He was into woodworking and liked to make Grandfather clocks and our family quickly became friends with them and spent almost every sunday evening together playing cards and such. I hung out with him after school and helped on several of his projects and was eventually allowed to use the jointer and various saws and started to learn to make things on my own.
I took some woodworking classes in 7th and 8th grade but was frustrated with it since I was limited in what I was allowed to do at school and could do almost anything I wanted when I was next door. I learned a lot hanging out with Carl and after my wife and I were married I met another guy that was doing similar types of things and played around in his shop a few times. Got away from woodworking for a few years but had a small shop in the backyard (8'x12' very small) and was limited on the tools that I had. My father-in-law built a sizable shop in his backyard so I started getting the itch back again so I doubled the size of mine and started to accumulate a few more tools mostly as they were needed for various home improvement projects around the house.
I attended my first woodworking show about a year ago and that really got me going. Purchased a new table saw, jointer, planer, band saw, drum sander and a couple more routers since then and have once again enlarged the size of my shop. It is now 12'x26' and I'm still banging into the walls. Anyway, I'm thankful for Carl, who passed on about 6 years ago and the great things that he taught me. I've signed up for a woodworking class at the local college this spring and I'm looking forward to that and I really enjoy the time that I get to spend in the shop with our 3 kids (4, 7, 8) and my ever so lovely wife who has no problem with me spending money on tools. :) :) :)
Best to everyone,
John Voss Prescott Valley, AZ
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My dad's hobby was "piddlin' around in the basement". He usually had no choice but for me to be his sidekick. While he was "pidlin'" he'd usually give me a few pieces of wood to do a little piddlin' of my own. He'd get pretty involved in his hobby. I would usually get handed some scraps of wood and few hand tools to keep me busy. One time, (around age 6 or 7) I traced the outline of his hammer onto a board, cut it out with a coping saw, rounded it with a rasp and proudly showed dad a spitin' reproduction of his hammer in wood. He had a grin that wouldn't go away. Dad mostly built practical things for the house, nothing fancy but very functional. Mom was more of the artsy type with ceramics and needlepoint. What chance did I have growing up with these two :~)
I got to high school at just right time. An old school house in Elsberry, MO was revamped into the industrial arts building. Rockwell and some other big iron companies of the day stocked the building with the latest and greatest tools. Along with the wood shop, there was a metal shop, electric shop, power mechanics and a drafting room. They also provided some some great teachers. The teaching environment really encouraged creativity. The more hours you where able to earn (academically), the more freedom and time you had in the IA building. I earned lots of freedom. (It's horrible that our court system has made programs like this impossible today.)
My dad passed away when I was 16. Every project I've completed makes me wonder if dad still gets that same grin that he did with that wooden hammer.
That was all over 30 some years ago and I've been piddlin' with wood ever since.
--
Larry G. Laminger
http://woodworks.laminger.com
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mel wrote:

I remember the *how* of it, but not the *why*. I bought a miter box and backsaw, borrowed a jigsaw, and made a house-shaped curio shelf thingie for the wall.
I suppose it was some off-shoot of my first refinishing project. My girlfriend had graduated from college, and had decided to get an apartment here so she could stay near me. She needed furniture. We went to a used furniture place.
I was looking at some cheap dresser with no pulls, and I said "I can fix this. Just put some new pulls on it. It will be fine." Some passing sales guy hear this and said, "Oh, you like to refinish furniture do you? Come look at this."
So he really put me on the spot in front of my girlfriend, and we wound up buying the thing for $70, rather than the $20 dresser we had been looking at previously. It was covered in white paint, and someone had done a really bad job of stripping it. It was absolutely hideous, and I couldn't believe we actually paid $70 for the stupid thing.
So I got some junky refinishing book, some 3M Safest Stripper, some Minwhacks stain and Minwhacks poly, and went to town on the thing.
The bored can see it on my web site, except that the traffic this post will generate will wind up using up my bandwidth and shutting down my site. It is the basis for the "hutch thing." It turned out pretty well!
I suppose the "curio shelf thingie" was a reaction to my having the stain and poly laying around. I found some excuse to use the rest of it, making the house-shaped thing, and another one, this one mushroom-shaped, for Mom.
Well, that's it in a nutshell. The curio thingies lead to a plant stand and a few other projects. All of that was done in the kitchen floor. Then we bought a house, and I got a $50 table saw, and laid claim to the shed as my own. That was the beginning of my "real woodworker" period.
(Oh, the girlfriend in this story is SWMBO.)

No big deal. I have a formal education, and it qualifies me to do precisely nothing in the real world. The job I have is the result of *vocational* education. (I went to truck driving school four years out of college, because I couldn't do better than Wal-Mart, and Wal-Mart wasn't earning me enough money.)
--
Michael McIntyre ---- Silvan < snipped-for-privacy@users.sourceforge.net>
Linux fanatic, and certified Geek; registered Linux user #243621
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7th grade woodshop class, 1977.
I've built and tinkered (broke <G>) with things since I was old enough to remember. I was building and flying big R/C aircraft, and bought a table saw to rip wood for high stress parts. The more I played with the saw, the more I remembered shop, which encouraged me to acquire more tools, which had me flying less... <G>
Then I discovered the router and hand planes and forgot all about r/c.
It's a slippery slope!
Barry
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wrote:
I got started by building things to make life easier. Shelves, brackets, stools, dog houses, etc. 40 years later that's pretty much what I build now only it looks a little better now. What really got me going was the purchase of a Parks Planer.
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As a kid, I was used to having a shop full of tools, stuff that my parents had gotten from my grandfather's estate. I also recall my grandmother having some "mystery tools" that were stashed in a corner of her basement garage that nobody ever used. She also had a workbench in the basement with some old hand tools that she let me use whenever, so it was mostly a case of idle curiosity. Dad had an old Gilbert tool chest with some semi-useless tools, and I got them, and I remember the elementary school having a big wall cabinet chock full of all kinds of hand tools from the Stanley plant down the street, that once in a while I managed to finagle a look at, or maybe some use. So it's been in my life since very early childhood. Even stuff like cub scouts, and the fact my dad has 30 acres of woods and he has always burned firewood, I've always been around it.
Junior high school my woodshop teacher was an older guy who had been friends with my grandfather before he died. It was almost "assumed" that I was more used to the tools than the rest of the kids were. Once I demonstrated that I had a clue, he pretty much gave me free reign of the tools and the lumber. High school I was on a college track but still found time to take two years of woodshop, mostly lathe work and some clumsy attempts at hand tools, hand cut dovetails and such, but the shop teacher didn't know enough to teach me much.
Fast-forward to about three years ago, I hadnt done any woodworking in about twelve years, except for a few years during which carpentry work was a poor substitute. I was never really totally away from it, just not into it as much as I was as a kid.
Got a house, got married, found out the old tools in my grandmothers basement were something worth having, and Dad had been saving the tool sin his basement for me anyway, so I was most of the way to a shop. I sunk a few bucks into some more tools, accessories and lumber, built a few things for the house, and now I am undertaking my largest woodworking project I think I will ever do. Bought a sawmill, and I am using the trees on my property to cut a 2600 square foot timber frame house, a new 24x40 shop building, and will do all the kitchen cabinets, built-ins, and a lot of the furniture for the new house.
I actually feel like Im just getting started.
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On Sun, 18 Jan 2004 17:40:55 GMT, "Jon Endres, PE"
the murky depths:
-snip-

Wow, cool story, Jon. Got a website up for the pics yet? Let's see!

I think that's pretty universal.
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wrote:

I've seen some tools that are vices, but I've never actually met one that was a full-fledged sin :-)
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What's your story? How did you get started in woodworking?
I'm gonna blame it on my Old Man as well. We didn't have a pile of money, he was in school, my Mom worked as a secretary. He was a Ham so I learned electronics in the attic and how to work on the car in the driveway. When something broke we fixed it, when we needed something, odds are we made it. Helped neighbors put up their houses, we drew up the plans for our new one when I was a teen. I worked as a mechanic and a truck driver, ran a mechanics shop for Navy, fixed my own stuff and anything I ran across, still do. There was a RAS and a cabinet saw out in the garage growing up, and a pile of handtools. I made my own drawknives after learning how from the blacksmith across from my Grandfather's office. I miss that man,a civil engineer who became a Dr, as well as the smith. My Old Man is in Seattle. Quiet and strong, always willing to answer a question if I'd thought about it and hadn't come up with the right answer. I still like the smell of fire and hot steel. I still work on my own trucks, the mechanics just don't do it right. I'll have to stop that pretty soon, it's getting hard to bend and work under them. So, nature or nuture, I don't know, both maybe. I love turning, though, short attention span. %-)
Dave in Fairfax
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forth from the murky depths:

Then you've never seen a Drilldo before. <vbg> http://www.extremerestraints.com/stat/SD800.html
- Every day above ground is a Good Day(tm). ----------- http://diversify.com Website Application Programming
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I really don't want to know what you were searching for when you found that, Lar.
As for the original question: Started off innocently enough by wanting to re-finish/restore an old china display cabinet that came from my grandmother's farmhouse. By the time I got down to the bare wood (it looked like they decided it was easier to just slap a new coat of paint on the thing rather than cleaning it whenever it got dirty), I had started to accumulate various tools. Also, by the time I got down to bare wood, I realized that I was better off building it from scratch than trying to restore it.
So I started off by buying a few basic handtools and a routah. Then I started building boxes. Then I branched out to making other household stuff (headboard, artists easel, etc.). Finally I got the Neander disease. Tools began showing up in my mailbox and on my front porch. Saws, planes, braces, more planes, some more saws, even more planes, spokeshaves, a drawknife or two.
As I accumulated tools, it only seemed appropriate that I learn how to use them by making things. So it was a highboy, a shoji screen, a workbench, an entry table, some bowls, some carving, etc.
And it's been all downhill from there ... on rollerskates ... with a jetpack on my back ...
Chuck Vance
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On 23 Jan 2004 06:36:37 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@swt.edu (Conan the Librarian) brought forth from the murky depths:

Worry not. One of the wreck.metalheads posted something about it.

That's precisely why I just painted this kitchen. The LVT antique pewter birdcage hardware (which was destined for fun in the shop) looks nice, BTW. Now I have to order more to finish up.

Yeah, I <scritch, scritch, scritch> know that feeling well. Bent crowbars, empty wallets, the whole schmear. But I got sidetracked into just collecting tools, no longer doing any woodworking. Whadda maroon! <:( I'm starting my recovery this year, though. Look for that carving bench soon...right after I finish the cabinets for the tools, so I'll know where they are and can get to them again. (Both projects are already started.)

Cool.
JATO-assisted wooddorking at its finest!
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Any info you care the share about your carving bench? I was thinking about making a portable carving bench *top* that I could put on my regular workbench when I want to carve. I was thinking this would get the work up a bit higher (a good thing both for my eyes and my back), and it would be a better solution than having a dedicated carving bench. (Space-wise, at least.)

*meeep* *meep* *whooooosh*
Chuck Vance
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