This interview is from the December issue of our CreativeHands News. We head to the workshop of CharlieM1958 to learn about his woodworking journey.
Charlie’s first comment was, “These are hard questions. I didn’t know I was going to be on 60 Minutes! :-) “
1. How did you first get started working with wood?
In January of 2005 I was walking through Home Depot with a little extra cash in my wallet when I noticed a Ryobi portable table saw on sale for $89. I bought it more or less on a whim, thinking the price was right and it might come in handy some day. I had always done the standard handyman—around-the-house jobs like hanging shelves and the like, but had never really ventured into what you would call “woodworking.”
Well, the first time a ripped a board to width, it suddenly dawned on me what a world of possibilities this little tool opened up! I immediately started building a box out of various scraps I had lying around, and I was hooked.
2. What was it about woodworking that initially caught your interest, enticing you to get into it at the level you are now?
I’ve always been a creative person. I started writing poetry as a young child, and have been composing music since I was 13. I was never good at visual arts, though, like painting or drawing. Woodworking opened up a way for me to express my creativity visually as well.
3. Tell us a bit of history of your journey from that beginning to where you are today
I don’t consider myself that far along in my journey as a woodworker, so there is not much to tell. I started subscribing to a few of the woodworking magazines, and I found Lumberjocks. The site has definitely been my biggest source of information and inspiration. I’ve built my collection of tools over the last five years, and learned a lot through trial and error.
4. What inspires you regarding wood creations?
I’m inspired both by the traditional and the imaginative. I would love to be able to produce something like a traditional highboy or a rolltop desk some day, but I also like to come up with things that are new and different in some way.
5. What are the greatest challenges that you have met along the way? (and how did you overcome them)
The greatest challenge for me has been to learn patience. I’m all about instant gratification, and once I start a project I am anxious to see it completed. As we all know, haste makes waste when it comes to woodworking. I have finally started to learn how to enjoy the process. Taking the extra time to do something right always pays dividends in the end.
6. What is the greatest reward that you have received from woodworking? (personal or tangible)
I have sold a few pieces, but the real reward for me is my own satisfaction. Taking a piece of raw wood and discovering the beauty hidden within it is a real source of pleasure. Sharing my work with others and hearing their compliments is nice but, just as I find in writing music, the biggest payoff is really an internal, intensely personal thing. Even if I lived on a deserted island and no one would ever see a thing I made, woodworking would be just as much fun as it is now.
7. What is your favourite tool that you use for woodworking?
I think the table saw is still the tool I’d least like to live without, although I must say, as a novice turner, the lathe has captured my imagination and opened up another new world of possibilities.
8. What is your favourite creation in/for your woodworking?
My favorite creation is usually my last. I find I have to come back a few months later to see my work more objectively. Overall, though, maybe my favorite is a walnut hall table I made for my parents. It was made at their request to fit a certain space, and I think (even though it is nothing special) it exceeded their expectations. Every time I visit they tell me how much they enjoy it, and how much it is complimented by friends and neighbors.
9. What tips would you give to someone just starting out or currently struggling with woodworking?
Read, watch videos on the web, take classes, ask your fellow woodworkers for advice, but don’t be afraid to experiment. I occasionally do things that contradict the “conventional wisdom.” Sometimes they don’t work out, but sometimes they do. In woodworking there are usually many ways to skin a cat. Only through experimentation will you learn which ones work best for you. Above all.. be patient. Don’t hurry through one step just to get to the next. I’ve never finished a project and said “Gee, I wish hadn’t wasted so much time getting those miters just right.”
10. How did you find LumberJocks and what is it that keeps you coming back?
I was frequenting one of the woodworking usenet groups, and one day someone posted a link to Lumberjocks. I found it to be a fantastic site. At that time I think there were less than 2,000 members, and the core group of regular posters was quite small. You could literally view and comment on every project or topic that was posted, and there was a great helpful, family-type atmosphere.
Today, even though the site has grown quite large, there is still a strong core group of regular posters, a great sense of community among the members, and a true spirit of caring and helpfulness that makes me proud to call myself a Lumberjock!
Thanks for the great interview!
-- ~ Debbie, Canada (http://www.execulink.com/~yohan)