This interview with PURPLEV is from the August 2011 issue of the LJ eMag.
1. How did you first get started working with wood?
My first few projects (spread over several years) were out of necessity for some tables/cabinets/shelvings for personal use that required custom dimensions, and custom features. It wasn’t anything much to look at, just some plywood cut with a circular saw and screws holding it together. no glue, no intricate joinery, but it did what it was built for and did it well.
2. What was it about woodworking that initially caught your interest, enticing you to get into it at the level you are now?
It wasn’t really at the beginning but when I started planning for projects that would actually be more visible I unintentionally adopted the concept that would stick with me from that moment on which is ”I can do this better” which of course is a very general principle and personal to each.
3. Tell us a bit of history of your journey from that beginning to where you are today
As I was saying, it all started from necessity, and soon my eyes opened a bit too wide. As I was looking around I could see how I would eventually build everything around me – full kitchen, dining set, bedrooms sets, living room set and the list goes on. I always did want to build my own house, but I think that one would have to remain a dream.
I started researching online and at local libraries for reading materials and videos about building anything and everything from building houses, kitchens, flooring, furniture, boxes, bending wood and whatever I could lay my hands on (FWW has a good selection of videos for these for those are might be interested). I also started accumulating machinery and tools to help with making everything I would want to make and it felt like being trapped in a cycle of sorts, trapped in an addiction of woodworking and a race for knowledge.
Using techniques I would pick up from books and articles I then started incorporating those into whatever project I was working on. My motto is to push myself beyond my comfort level and beyond what I am familiar with in order to learn, expand my abilities, and develop experience that I would otherwise not have. Sure, the first (and second… and third…and…) time around won’t look like picture perfect and I will surely complain about it but at least there is something to complain about and something to improve upon as opposed to nothing at all. Another thing that I know from other fields is that unless you actually do something you won’t find your weak spots and what needs improvement as in theory everything comes out just perfect.
For lack of time, seasonal and other limitations my biggest challenge these days is project and time management, trying to condense as much project progress into small segments of time without losing focus on the big picture. This also made me reevaluate my woodworking goals and I think (and this may very well change over time) that I will have to put aside my aspirations to building an entire household and divert my focus to taking up on smaller projects (size wise). I also feel at times that by driving myself to bigger goals I’ve acquired too much (tools), but now that I have it, it would be a shame to give it up. If I had to do this all over again I would probably stick to more hand tools and less machinery that means less space requirements, and just the same results (for me).
And this is where I am today, trying to focus on what projects to do and what projects NOT to do, finding the time to allocate to shop time and finding the personal motivation drive to get in the zone. Incorporating something new in each project and use the least amount of electricity while doing so.
4. What inspires you regarding wood creations?
A project or a blog on LJ, or a flow of grain in a board. A very precise and clean joint, or an idea of a custom build for something unusual or not-found-in-stores. structures and shapes in nature also can really inspire me in many ways – not always in ways that makes me want to replicate, but they form ideas that generate into other ideas that grow into something else.
5. What are the greatest challenges that you have met along the way? (and how did you overcome them)
Cut wood square! no really – it’s not that easy. the only way I deal with this is practice practice practice – and have proper body and saw orientation which is interlinked with practicing it with handsawing, and sneaking in on cuts on power saws (which allows me to assess misalignments before it’s too late and adjust to it before it’s cut too short).
6. What is the greatest reward that you have received from woodworking? (personal or tangible)
For me it’s seeing my progression from piece to piece.
7. What is your favourite tool that you use for woodworking?
This is probably unusual, but since I ended up building and having a proper workbench later in the game, my workbench is my delight in the shop. I have many moments now that are “oh, I can do THIS with my workbench that I never could before… so much easier than trying to hold the piece with my toes, knees and teeth!”
8. What is your favourite creation in/for your woodworking?
I like making tools the most which is ironic because I would then try to incorporate the “I can do this better and nicer” for things that are out of sight, and not really meant to be pretty. this also takes away the time that I could potentially use for making things that ARE for show and ARE woodworking projects. But since I am not running a production shop, and don’t have to conform to efficiency and deadlines it allows me to ‘do it once and do it right’ and with more comfortable and better looking tools the overall woodworking for hobby is more fun and I have a feeling people here can relate.
9. What tips would you give to someone just starting out or currently struggling with woodworking?
It’s hard giving general tips as woodworking is so vast and tips are usually very specific but if looking back I would say, slow down and don’t buy into the ‘he who has the most tools wins’ slogan that only serves the suppliers. what I learnt a bit too late is that most woodworking machines are great IF you are running a production shop and need to generate a lot of identical parts and fast, but for a hobby nature they mostly just serve as space takers and time consumers (maintenance) and their effectiveness level drops significantly.
10. How did you find LumberJocks and what is it that keeps you coming back?
As I was trying to improve my skills, and searched online for woodworking related materials I came upon Marc Spagnuolo (The Wood Whisperer at http://thewoodwhisperer.com) who is a great guy, with a great personality, that delivers just as great content woodworking. In one of his blogs he mentioned some discussion that was taking place on LJ, I came to check it out and never left. I can’t put my finger on it, and honestly I don’t really care to find out cause that might ruin some of the magic LJ has, but I like coming here to see how fellow LJs are doing with their woodworking or in general. I like the fact that we can share and be a part of each other’s developments in the projects, get new ideas, see how some things are done, discuss how things should be done, assist where needed, and see the project that could be overseas come to fruition. no bounderies, no politics, no religion, nothing to stir up differences except the tools of choice and the nature of the projects we partake in. We are all the same people. Shalom (which stands for “hello”,”goodbye”,and “peace” in Hebrew)!
Thanks Sharon for taking the time to share your story with us.
-- ~ Debbie, Canada (http://www.execulink.com/~yohan)