This interview with Grizzman is from the November 2012 issue of our eMag
1. How did you first get started:
When i was in high school i took a shop class that i fell in love with; i have always enjoyed making or fixing things and this class opened up my world to wood working. I made three things that year, one was a large trunk -like box; it was made from plywood that I stained and gave to my mother; the second thing I had made was a cutting board, and the third thing was a table made from 2×4 and it had a tile top. I gave that to my sister and she still has it to this day. That was my beginning and it sorta fell off at that point and i didnt get back to wood working until i was in my late thirty’s and then the journey really started to take off.
#2. What initially caught your interest?
What caught my interest at first were the power tools. I was exposed to utilitarian type of woodworking at first; I was involved with maintenance where i worked and made things like shelving units and office type of furniture; the miter saw and the router were my first tools then i purchased a bench top table saw. i thought i was really set; little did i know there was a whole different world of wood working yet to be discovered.
#3. Tell us about your history
So from the point of my beginning to where i am now has been quite an unexpected trip; as i stated above i had three major power tools, my shop consisted of a small bedroom that was free to use. It was very small, maybe 6×10, and if I tried to do any project that had any size to it, oh was that a challenge, the room was so small. Luckily for me I had not been exposed to what a real shop was suppose to be like or i would have been so depressed, but the winds of change were blowing and i was going to experience true happiness. This small shop was in my home in alaska and with my health changing and my wife’s mother needing help, we packed up and came back to the lower 48. Two other tools i had were a compressor and a nail gun, i had traded a fellow worker a 44 magnum hand gun for the nail gun – that was a life changing tool, for when we got settled here in alabama, it was the tool that built my small empire here in the country.
We were at my mother in laws home which my wife had been raised in her whole life, a nice place on 2 acres, but as we soon found out, we needed our own place and as soon as possible, so it all began, and the first thing that happened was i ordered the materials to build my shop and my home. I had stacks of lumber everywhere, but the shop was the first thing i built. It’s 22 by 32 with 10 foot ceilings. I had an electrician hang the lights and wire the place. I had planned where all the major tools would be located, so he wired 220 where i needed it and outlets about every 4 feet on all four walls; I have a 220 amp service to the shop, so plenty of room to expand if needed. I went to Montgomery to a delta dealer with 5,000 dollars in my pocket and i had a ball….i ordered my table saw, my 15 inch planer , my dust collection, a mortiser, and a scroll saw. They brought it and I set the table saw right in the middle of the room and placed everything else; I stood there and looked at my shop and i was in heaven…from an 8×10 room to almost 700sq feet…life could not be better.
I then turned my attention to the house, and with lots of help from our church family i was able to build us a comfy little 1200 sq foot home, and i had furniture to build, the whole shop to get set up and that is all i had to do, no worries of a job; i could not be happier. Any chance i had to collect old wood i took it. I was given a whole house to dismantle and salvage all the wood; the whole house was the old southern yellow heart pine, walls, floors and ceilings were 1×4 t and g , floor joists, ceiling joists, large beams, every window or door opening was a 5×5 on each side. I ended up using all the t and g for the inside of my home. so i collected wood from any source i could; when storms took down large red cedar trees, i had them milled and it went on and on, i now have wood stores to last through the millennium.
#4. What inspires you?
The main thing that inspires me in my wood creations is the wood, i think that it can be mixed and used together. I look at color and what is going on in each piece. I have over 80 projects now that were created since i have found lumber jocks and i have used hardwood with soft woods and really have no rules. I think that I’ve been blessed with the ability to make my creations and have my own style. I’ve had many comments from my buddies here that when they see my project that I have posted that they know its from me; so i guess i have my own style and its mostly on the rustic side, but i love wood. For me there are some spiritual connections and I feel fortunate to have been blessed with the ability to use what God has created, and its a part of who i am now, anytime i go somewhere, i look at the wood and how it was used.
#5. What challenges have you met along the way?
The challenges i have met along my journey is learning everything that is available to enhance my wood work. I learned that wood working was done mainly with hand tools, and all that is involved with that is just mind blowing. When i see carvings from days gone by, things made by wood working artists, shows me there are so many paths here, even though most of what I do is from power tools. If I could go back and start over, i could have leaned heavily on the hand tool side. I love and enjoy the power tools as they are needed in today’s world where things are fast paced and they’re a blessing to help us create, but i would really enjoy a slower time where the use of hand tools would let you really become more connected to the wood then power tools allow. But all wood workers have there preferences.
The other challenge is learning all the different types of joinery and for me that is going to be a long one; I still have many things to learn there and what is most enjoying about the use of joinery is just going to it. I use all the resources available to learn how to do different types of joints and where there best to be used, i just jump right in and work at it until i have it.
#6. What has been your greatest reward?
My greatest reward that I have gotten from my woodworking is the love that has come back to me from those who have gotten something that I have made for them. Of coarse I have many pieces of furniture in my home that I have made and I see it every day, and I’m fortunate to have been able to do that, so seeing what i have made is enjoyable, but the best reward is knowing I’ve made someone happy with what I have given them.
#7. What is your favourite tool?
The most favorite tool for me is my planer. I use old wood for most of what I do and when I first started wood working, i was using the old southern yellow heart pine. It was dirty and dark and no way to tell what it really looked like. When i ran the firat piece of it through the planer, I was like a kid in a candy store…to me its one of the most beautiful woods ever, and so seeing wood revealed from going through the planer is the best.
#8. What is your favourite creation?
I have many wonderful things I’ve made that have lots of wood in it to show off, but the one piece that I have made is my headboard. I’ve always wanted a huge headboard made with logs and beautiful wood, and another favorite wood for me is red cedar. My headboard is made from cedar logs and cedar wood that I glued together to make the center piece of the bed. This i get to see every day and it has art work from my sister and there is a story from the bears that are on there, and any time i have someone new see my home, i have to explain the headboard.
#9. What advice would you give to new woodworkers?
Well I think the first thing I would tell them is to reach for perfection in there work. Whichever route they take with wood working, whether it be hand tools or power tools, whether it be carving or making decorative boxes, strive to do your best. Of coarse there will be mistakes and they will look back and find every little flaw there is, and that is good, if it drives them to do better.
Lumberjocks is to me the best resource there is for learning wood working. Whether it’s learning to make dovetails or how to do certain joinery, its all here. Look at the best projects that you like, study how they made it and how they used the woods. Every person has their own style, likes and dislikes, but with as much that is available here, you can learn it all; send PM’s to those you like and ask questions, and dont give up. Wood working is fun and it’s something that takes time to learn and feel comfortable with. Some take to it right away – its a given talent – and others sometimes struggle, but if you really want it, work for it until you get it. Sometimes your wood will make it, other times you just put it in the stove and start over, but don’t give up until you’re happy with it. It takes time and experience. It’s a journey, enjoy it along the way, and don’t be in a hurry. So many things to learn; it’s so much fun and when you have made that piece that took many hours of patience and newly learned skills, you will have achievement, and you’re one step further to a life time of learning. That is one of the best things i love about wood working, so many things to learn.
#10. How did you find LumberJocks.com?
i found LumberJocks doing a search for a wood working project, and it took me to someone’s gallery. To me it was like finding the holy of hollies of wood working, the MECA, a gold mine. For days i looked and looked at all the projects and was amazed at what i saw. I could not believe I had found so much talent in one place. And then i had the guts to post in a conversation, and from there on, it was one of the best finds ever. I’ve made friends that i never would have made otherwise, and I’ve learned more here than I could have anywhere else. I come back because of the people I know and the class of wood working that is here.
When i joined there were 8,000 members, and we have gone from that to where we are today, over 51,000 members. If you really want to learn, this is the place and if you need inspiration on a new project, you will find it here, regardless of the bumps and bruises along the way; I love LumberJocks.
Thanks to Grizzman for taking the time to share his story with us!
-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)