This interview with Napaman is from our May/June 2011 issue of our LumberJocks’ eMag
1. How did you first get started working with wood?
I began my wood working in 1982—-in the 7th grade…when I signed up for the Woodworking class at Venado Middle School. The teacher Mr. Diederich was great…and I still consider him my favorite teacher of all time and a big influence on my own teaching (although I am a Social Studies teacher). His class was welcoming…focusing on safety and fun, he made it great for all levels as he had beginning and advanced students all at once…I took the class as many “tri-mesters” as possible…and then again in high school, but for only one year there.
Then NOTHING for many years…until we bought our house 6 years ago…then we started looking at some nice outdoor furniture—-and I said to my wife…”Hey—-let me spend the same amount on tools…and you will have a set of furniture and a lot more!” I have the tools…and I am proud to say the furniture is collecting (although not as nice) in the back yard.
2. What was it about woodworking that initially caught your interest, enticing you to get into it at the level you are now?
The initial interest was the middle school class…but I think in my “re-birth” to wood working it has really been Lumberjocks that has kept me going…I joined when it was much smaller and you could post a project and it would stay on the front page for a couple days! Getting a chance to interact with skilled, caring woodworkers from all over the world has probably kept me going longer than with other hobbies…I have started so many hobbies over time—-but with LJ’s I have kept it going…I think my desire to post my project when it is done keeps me going…
3. Tell us a bit of history of your journey from that beginning to where you are today
Well I told the history a bit already…but my level…I think I am moving away from the “beginner” label…lol…I have a hard time considering myself any better since I see so much talent out there…but I have learned a lot in the last 5 years. I still want to be able to repeat some work…it seems like every time I build something I don’t get to repeat those skills—at least not on the same project.
4. What inspires you regarding wood creations?
I am inspired by everyone and everything. I love looking at all the great work…which seems to get better and better on LJ’s…I love scrolling through work and finding new projects to try…I love the pieces that have some design element—-art in it…But it was a year and a half ago I started looking at every boat project—-which gave me the bug to look into boat building…now I am building a 20 foot sail boat! If you would have asked me five years ago whether I would be building a sail boat big enough to take my family…I would have said no way…but I am now…slowly, but I am looking forward to summer for it to really take off when I have more time.
5. What are the greatest challenges that you have met along the way?
Time. I seem to block myself from going out in the shop when I only have an hour…since I am a teacher I admit I do get big blocks of time…so on the “regular” weekends or after work I actually never seem to get moving…looking ahead to vacations when I have a longer block of time—so all that time back fires on me compared to someone who has less time (excuses excuses!)
…also CONFIDENCE…I still have to think everything through—even straight cuts on my table saw seem to take me way too long…because I seem to over think everything—-from a safety standpoint I know this is good…but the lack of confidence seems to block me more than anything…I wish I could just relax and enjoy the problems more…see them as challenges and new opportunities to learn—-ironically that is the way I teach—-but I can’t convince myself to enjoy the learning curve when it comes to my own learning.
6. What is the greatest reward that you have received from woodworking?
By far it is the improvement…from where I started I do see progress…if you look at my first projects to some of the things I am completing now. I love the fact that I have become more of a problem solver…as a teacher you see a lot of woodworking programs getting cut out of schools—and from my experience this is a huge mistake…the problem solving and critical thinking skills demanded in woodworking can be carried over into so many other disciplines…I guess this improvement is both a tangible and personal gain…I just wish my gains would come faster!
7. What is your favourite tool that you use for woodworking?
My shopsmith. Well this is more than one tool…but for me in my small shop and my humble start with only a few tools…the purchase of my Shopsmith took me from nothing to a real shop overnight…although SS has its critics…for me it has been huge and the overriding reason why I am still going…
8. What is your favourite creation in/for your woodworking?
Last summer my wife and I built the Trellis/Deck Bench. I am really proud of this. It is completely of my own design…which had been bouncing around in my head for several years. The design It solves many problems…when the vines grow up it will provide nice privact…and it really adds to the space. I love how the bench solved the strength issue—-in the space I could not have dug holes for trellis posts…so the sandwich 2×4 technique I came up with really gives it strength and looks good!
9. What tips would you give to someone just starting out or currently struggling with woodworking?
Don’t give up. Ask lots of questions. Buy good tools…the saying I have seen here is so true in my experience: “Buy the best you can afford.” I tried starting with cheaper tools, but what is the point if they don’t work. I still shop bargains but I try to go with better brands as much as possible.
10. How did you find LumberJocks and what is it that keeps you coming back?
I found LJ’s by luck…I had just rec’d my first issue of Popular Woodworking and there was one tiny paragraph about a side table contest…I loved the site immediately and it really opened up a whole new world to me. I really don’t believe I would have kept up the woodworking without LJ’s…seriously…it has served as such a good resource for inspiration, knowledge and good people. I find myself wanting to share my work with the LJ community as much as my own family!
_Thanks again to Napaman for taking the time to do this interview!
-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)