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LJ Interviews #24: Lee A. Jesberger

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Blog entry by MsDebbieP posted 960 days ago 1341 reads 0 times favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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This interview with Lee Jesberger is from the December 2011 issue of our LJ eMag

 

Lee: “This is like taking a test! I didn’t study for it, so I’m going to have to wing it.”

1. How did you first get started working with wood?

As a teenager I worked for my father’s plumbing business. I was exposed to the various building trades. I always seemed to gravitate to the carpenters and the cabinet makers. Between that and wood shop in school, I realized it appealed to me very strongly.

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2. What was it about woodworking that initially caught your interest, enticing you to get into it at the level you are now?

When I was about 10, my parents inherited some very fine 18th century furniture. The pieces included a dining room table set and chairs, a couple of high boys, a Hepplewhite style sideboard, and a federal style secretary. I was mesmerized by the decorative carvings and inlays. I remember laying on the floor, studying the ball and claw feet on the chairs, trying to figure out how they were made. The carvings on the high boys were also very appealing to me, although the size of them intimidated me.

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3. Tell us a bit of history of your journey from that beginning to where you are today.

When I was 14, I started buying tools with the money I was making from working for my father. My first machine purchase was a craftsman radial arm saw. It really angered my father that I bought it without checking with him. I seems I should have asked him if it was okay to take over part of the basement for woodworking. It wasn’t long before I was building vanities for his plumbing business, as well as furniture for the house. When I was 18, got hit in the eye with a steel pipe, while goofing around with some friends. I had no insurance to pay for the required surgery, and had been working for a contractor, which didn’t pay very well, so I decided to go into business for myself.

Since I wasn’t a licensed plumber, and I had a strong interest in carpentry, I figured I would start a construction business. For that, it was a simple matter of paying a fee to become a licensed general contractor. I got away from woodworking for a while, as I built up the construction business. Surprisingly, it didn’t take long to get some very high end work. As the general contractor, I was able to do some of the woodworking required for the jobs. I bought a shopsmith and most of the accessories to accomplish this. Eventually my wife kicked me out of the basement, so I built a 24’ x 48’ shop in my yard. Just prior to finishing the shop, a project I had bid on about six months earlier came through. It was a large residential renovation, which included a large amount of cabinets and furniture. As always, one thing lead to another, and before long, I was doing more cabinet work than construction. That was by choice. It was far more rewarding to me to build furniture in my yard, than to drive to a construction site.

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4. What inspires you regarding wood creations?

I would have to say the work of others has always inspired me the most. Seeing what other woodworkers are capable of never ceases to amaze me.

 

5. What are the greatest challenges that you have met along the way?

As I mentioned, I started the construction business when I was pretty young. Convincing clients to hire a 20 year old guy to renovate their house was pretty difficult. On one occasion, I went to a potential client’s house for the initial meeting. After I entered the house, the husband stood by the open front door. I patiently waited, wondering why he wasn’t coming in. I finally asked what he was waiting for. He said, my father, he’s coming, isn’t he? I asked why would my father be coming. He said, You’re the contractor? Needless to say, I didn’t get that job. I overcame this by getting older. What I really did was to go buy a luxury car, and made sure the clients would see me in it. If a person appears successful, most people assume you know what your doing. Surprisingly, that really did make a big difference.

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6. What is the greatest reward that you have received from woodworking?

Personal satisfaction from creating something, in addition to being respected as a craftsman. Somehow, that means a lot.

 

7. What is your favourite tool that you use for woodworking?

DUH? Ezee-Feed systems. There is something very gratifying in using a tool that you designed and manufacture, especially when it makes your life easier.

[http://lumberjocks.com/LeeJ/blog/17789]

 

8. What is your favourite creation in/for your woodworking?

See # 7.

 

9. What tips would you give to someone just starting out or currently struggling with woodworking?

So often I see the equipment that other woodworkers are using, and while I realize that not everybody can run out and buy the best of everything, I would suggest they buy quality tools. Often the problems aren’t due to the woodworker, there due to poor quality tools they’re trying to do high quality work with. There is so much more enjoyment to be had working with tools and machines that aren’t fighting you every step of the way. This is supposed to be fun, after all.

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10. How did you find LumberJocks and what is it that keeps you coming back?

Doing research for my own woodworking website, I came across LumberJocks. The reason I keep coming back is for the inspiration I get from the other LJ’s. Not only are they fine craftsmen that I can learn a lot from, they are also very fine people.

 

Thanks, Lee, for taking the time to take this test.. I mean do this interview._

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)



21 comments so far

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7490 posts in 1526 days


#1 posted 960 days ago

I really enjoyed reading this and learning more about you, Lee. I think it helps so much for us to see what others have had to overcome in order to be successful. You are so talented! And besides that, you are also a nice guy who helps others along the way through this forum. Thanks for your friendship and inspiration to all of us!

Sheila :)

-- Contributing Editor, Creative Woodworks and Crafts Magazine, If you like reading my blog, come visit at Sheila Landry Designs http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com "Knowledge is Power"

View degoose's profile

degoose

6981 posts in 1960 days


#2 posted 960 days ago

Really nice to take a few steps in some one else’e shoes… Thanks…..for take the time to do this interview and to take time to influence and encourage others…

-- Drink twice... and don't bother to cut... @ lazylarrywoodworks.com.au For lovers of all things timber...

View Roger's profile

Roger

14177 posts in 1410 days


#3 posted 960 days ago

I’d say ya got an A.. lol gr8 interview. work/play safe, keep makin dust

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Kentuk55@bellsouth.net

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

12951 posts in 1299 days


#4 posted 960 days ago

Incredible versatility. Truly a man of many talents.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View jockmike2's profile

jockmike2

10635 posts in 2852 days


#5 posted 960 days ago

Great interview Lee, you really are and have been an inspiration to me. Always a kind word, a word of incouragement, always thoughtful and friendly. People like you is why I’ve kept coming back to Lumberjocks. It’s been a pleasure knowing you and I’m proud to call you my friend. mike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View ShaneA's profile

ShaneA

5260 posts in 1204 days


#6 posted 960 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 2905 days


#7 posted 960 days ago

Congratulations! Lee, & Debbie for this great biographical interview.

It’s nice to get to know you even better Lee. You’ve been one of our favorite stalwart Jocks.

You’re always here through good times, & bad.

It was nice reviewing some of your projects, some that I didn’t even remember.

It’s always nice to look back to the past. That’s what’s nice about Lumberjocks.

Barb, & I wish you many more years of making sawdust.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN. http://www.woodcarvingillustrated.com/gallery/member.php?uid=3627&protype=1

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2697 posts in 1892 days


#8 posted 960 days ago

Lee and Debbie, thanks for a great interview. I can relate so well to some of it, especially about being young in the industry. There were some jobs I was not allowed to go to with out “adult” supervision. The wonderful thing was my dad defending me, some of which I didn’t know until later.

Thanks again

-- She thought I hung the moon--now she just thinks I did it wrong

View Karson's profile

Karson

34862 posts in 3006 days


#9 posted 960 days ago

Lee: It’s great to call you a wonderful and great, talented buddy. I’ve enjoyed the hours in your shop and the phone calls. Congratulation on all you do and your many talents.

I hope that the woodworking business kicks back into high gear for you.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware karson_morrison@bigfoot.com †

View QuinLeach's profile

QuinLeach

12 posts in 1223 days


#10 posted 960 days ago

Thanks for the interview – very interesting!

-- -- Quin, Oregon

View SPalm's profile

SPalm

4761 posts in 2488 days


#11 posted 960 days ago

Hey Lee. Thanks for the share. That was nice.
Getting older does have some advantages. Doesn’t it?

Keep in touch Buddy,
Steve

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View shipwright's profile

shipwright

4849 posts in 1404 days


#12 posted 960 days ago

You are one of the true class acts here Lee. I’m happy to call you my buddy and my friend.
Good interview. You aced it.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fiberglass trees. http://prmdesigns.com/

View Grumpy's profile

Grumpy

19334 posts in 2457 days


#13 posted 960 days ago

Lee old buddy, that was a great insight into your wood working achievements. Thanks for sharing & keep safe.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6646 posts in 2585 days


#14 posted 959 days ago

Thank you all for the very kind comments.

Lee

-- by Lee A. Jesberger http://www.prowoodworkingtips.com http://www.ezee-feed.com

View Skylark53's profile

Skylark53

2559 posts in 1666 days


#15 posted 959 days ago

Great interview. Thanks Lee for sharing.

-- Rick, Tennessee, John 3:16

showing 1 through 15 of 21 comments

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