I am deeply touch by this story, I think you are going to be as well. Cricket
What is your inspiration story? Who did you watch, what was their hobby, and how did you get involved?
First I must say I am so happy to be married to the same wonderful woman for 32 years this October. I have been blessed with 2 daughters who are now married to great guys and this June I will be a grandpa again to another granddaughter. My wife and I homeschooled or daughters from K- 12 and in their last year in school they both made the top 4% in the nation on the national achievement tests. I cannot do or say enough good things for my wife and owe her everything. She is Number 2 in my life and God is in the number 1 spot with whom I owe my life and every conscious thought.
Inspiration story; Hmmm… I guess I would have to say in some way it was my Step Father. My childhood was pretty rough; you see my father was a Korean Vet Tank Commander who as his tank was disabled was shot several times as with his tank crew who were mostly dead. The Koreans left him for dead; however, the Marines fought to him rescued him. Well I can now say he had a severe case of PTSD and as a child I was treated very, very roughly and will NOT describe it.
My mother and father were divorced when I was 5 years old. After that we all were living with my Grandmother for a few years where my mother met my Step Father. He was very strict and dealt out punishment swiftly; however, he set the rules and my brother and I broke one or two on occasion. ;). We were living in Wisconsin and moved to Colorado when I was 7.
He taught me all about Auto repair and engine rebuilding. I was outside with him all the time when he was working on the car or truck. He also did some little remodeling in the house so I learned a little about construction and he was a Very good role model.
I went into the Military when I was 17 and did very well on my Military test scores and had a choice of any career field I wanted. I spent 20 years and volunteered for everything there was including any training and schools. I even volunteered to cross train in several other career fields which I enjoyed highly.
After my first retirement in 1999 I build my own house on 20 acres my in-laws gave us and started a good management job and finished out my education and getting my MBA and PhD. However, when 9/11 happened I was recalled back into the military and that is how I was hurt the last time and had to retire again.
I spent 6 months in the hospital in the prone position and the only mobility was to get my hospital bed inclined, but not more than 5% to keep my back and neck stabilized for the next 2 years. I continue to be in a hospital bed with a CPAP machine and a machine to check my respiration. It seems I stop breathing a lot weather sleeping or awake but the machine beeps loudly after 2 minutes if I do not breathe. I had broken 16 bones in my neck and back along with 4 ribs, broken ankles, broken fingers, sternum, severe brain trauma, PTSD, lots of bone fragments into my arms, legs, and in my head which was 3/8” wide and 2 3/4:” long. They at first thought it I had a tumor in my head, but when the Dr. did the surgery he seen the bone fragment and removed that which I was much relieved to hear that later. I still go weekly to speech therapy, learn to read and write, I forget the thinking therapy and then physical therapy.
Power or hand tools? Why? How did you find Lumber Jocks and what is it that keeps you coming back?
I use either one to which gets the job done. I can say I feel in love of hand planes especially the Stanley Liberty Bell ones. I only have 1 Liberty Bell but they mean so much to me like the first 100 year celebration of our nation of which I am a very strong patriot. Also I think of these and any other older tool I have of who might have touched it and what projects he might have done with it. I still a few times a month I take down a plane, saw, older chisel, brace or any other tool and just feel the tool in my hand and think about it. I am not a collector nor can I afford to be but, I would just love to have a few nice old hand tools in a glass cabinet to look at them every day. Who knows someday I will have the ones I want.
I was also very fortunate to have the VA buy me some power tools like a Cabinet Table saw, Large Band saw, 6” jointer, and a 15” planner all from Grizzly. This is also how I found Lumber Jocks (Or it found me). I was at Woodnet.net for 2 years when I first started woodturning and a friend of mine there was part of LJs also. He seen a post by LJ (lilredweldingrod http://lumberjocks.com/lilredweldingrod) who lowered his equipment to fit his wheelchair. So since I also had the same table saw and jointer he had I want to the link my friend gave me and looked at what he did and tried to send him a PM, however, I found out I had to be a member to do so.I became a member and forgot who I was trying to find (I still have 50% brain damage) so I had my friend PM him with my info and Rand was quick to contact me. Well over the next month Rand and a few of his friends including (Patron, http://lumberjocks.com/patron) organized how to get Patron over to my house to do the repairs. At that time the VA was still doing my (I do not remember what it is called) my disability rating and not getting any money yet. So Rand asked some vets for money and that is how Patron came to my house where he stayed for a week and also made some benches for me too.
What advice would you give to someone just getting started in woodworking?
On advice to others I would say, do what you love to do and try not to see it as a business. When it becomes work it is no longer fun and it is time to do something about that. I LOVE wood turning a lot since you can make something beautiful quickly, however, as stated before I started in flat work. I first started making Birdhouses around the acreage and so I could get good enough to make boxes for Couples who lost their child due to SIDS, Stillborn, or Miscarriage.I had an experience in the hospital about a couple that had a stillborn child and it really affected me deeply. I tried to establish a club called Loving Hands Memory Boxes and asked for help from LJs and a few did help including (Andy, http://lumberjocks.com/gfadvm) who made some wonderful boxes and one other who made me 2 but I do not remember his name. Also (Greg, http://lumberjocks.com/GregInMaryland) started making us a Face Book page, however, it was never finished. I donated the boxes to a local Pregnancy center and I was overwhelmed really fast and I asked for someone to take it over and no one did so I had to stop that.
Now mostly I do wood turning and teach Vets and their family and anyone else who asks how to turn their own pens. I donated the pen kits and wood and for quite awhile, however, again due to funds I ran out of pen kits pretty fast (Within a year) and had to ask others for help again.Well a Canadian stepped up (Doe, http://lumberjocks.com/Doe) has been helping every year with a gift certificate from PSI. Also several others have helped with pen blanks which helped a lot too. Now another LJ (Sue, http://lumberjocks.com/MadJester) helped me with an idea to help me again with the vets since I have a small one car garage and it limits me to how many I can teach at one time which is 1 person in a wheelchair or 1 person and their family member who wishes to turn also. She gave me the idea of GoFundMe account and gave me the link too. I asked GoFundMe people a lot of questions on how do set it up and make everything work. So now I have an account (http://www.gofundme.com/m1abko) and hopefully in a year I will have enough to first get a Educational Nonprofit so all donations will be tax deductable, then have enough for 6 months of Rent, Utilities, Insurance and then tools and equipment and lots of turning kits and wood for turning.
My main goal is to make this a Community Woodworking Center that is open to everyone and encourage dads/sons mothers/daughters to including Clubs who I hope they will help teach those who come. I am going to call this club (American Patriots Woodworking Club) and I am still working on an emblem to signify who are the people in the club. So this would be my Dream Project and Building Project all in one. I hope you can now see who I am and what I am. It is all about helping others. I am a people person who loves people and encouraging too.What is the greatest reward that you have received from woodworking?
My greatest reward is teaching disabled vets. I have seen guys and gals who looked empty inside and others who have no self-worth or/and hopelessness or/and deep depression which I was one of them for quite some time until I had a mental health Dr. who finally told me I had to get a hobby and then helped me with it in buying the tools. I greatly urge you to reach out to others or to ask for help or give help to those who ask. I have seen far too many vets end their lives due to depression. In the first 3 years I battled grave depression for not only being in a wheelchair but seeing my wife doing everything to do and not being able of get out of bed and being in a body cast for 21 months. Then while being in the cast and in bed my only dog died and that sent me crying for 2 weeks. She was a great hunting dog and friend and like one of the family.
So when I teach others that were like me and help them turn a pen (Now I teach turning small bowls, boxes and vases) and when the pen is all done I see the faces and eyes of them light up and the boogeyman is gone for awhile makes everything worth it. I do not know if everyone knows but it is not only Military who has PTSD but even Law Enforcement, Firefighters, EMT and regular people who go through tragic events and to some degree their family members.So I think any woodworker is capable to reach out to others like this and being able to help and knowing that your live will be better for it.
I have been hurt in the past at LJs by people who are well plain mean people and those who are there to rip you off. They say a lot of nice things and bang they hit a person up with bad things. I only have one person that I have blocked because of that and that is why I hang out with the people at StumpyNubbs and once in a while post a turning I do. I feel safe with everyone there and gave and get great advice.
If it is within my abilities to help someone please just ask. The VA does not pay me much but I feel I can help in others ways. I have made a lot of turnings of which I have donated to individuals with their good causes having them Auctioned and I have been able trade or give wood to people outside of the Country too.
I feel if you need help and cannot do it yourself ask I am sure someone will help.
What is your favorite creation you’ve made in your woodworking?
Lastly, what is my favorite creation? I guess I would have to say the one I am working on at the time. I do have some turnings I still have and my wife will always keep though.
So everyone go out there and have a great day doing what you love but not by hurting others doing it.
Oh, and if you want to help me and those I help Please go to my http://www.gofundme.com/m1abko page we really could use the help and please spread the word using your Face Book, Twitter, or any other way you communicate.
-- "Show respect even to people who don’t deserve it, not as a reflection of their character, but as a reflection of yours."