This interview, with knotscott is from the March, 2014 issue of our LumberJocks eMag
1. How did you first get started working with wood?
Woodworking was an evolution that went from watching lots of home shows on TV, to trying to do small projects around the house myself, to taking on bigger projects. While rebuilding our front porch railings, I made a chamfer cut on a post with a borrowed router that totally changed the way the post looked. After that I was hooked for life! My reaction was, “wow! …I did that?!”. The things that can be done to wood have fascinated me ever since.
2. What was it about woodworking that initially caught your interest, enticing you to get into it at the level you are now?
Being able to change the shape of a piece of wood with a simple tool was pretty intriguing to me. It wasn’t long before I wanted to try every technique, every type of wood, and every tool at least once….I haven’t gotten there yet.
3. Tell us a bit of history of your journey from that beginning to where you are today
For as far back as I can remember I’ve had an interest in building things, and understanding how things work. Once I got married and had a house and a family, being able to do basic maintenance and repairs myself was a financial necessity. Lack of a tool budget and lack of knowledge were big obstacles when I got started in woodworking, but like many others, I bought what was available and just started making stuff. Over time, my knowledge of tools and the ability to use them grew, but it was disproportionate to my discretionary funds to buy tools. I got pretty good at spotting bargains on used tools, and began refurbishing and reselling some of them to supplement the tool purchases I really wanted. In time, I was able to put together a small shop that far exceeds my current capabilities…with any luck they’ll last long enough for me to actually get proficient with all them!
Somewhere along my journey of acquiring tools, I got sidetracked with a fascination of saw blades. It actually stemmed from a frustrating experience with my first aftermarket carbide tipped saw blade. At the time $20 seemed like big bucks for a saw blade, but this one didn’t cut well, and didn’t stay sharp very long….frustration and curiosity led to me experimenting with over 70 different blades. I didn’t keep them all, but the experience taught me a lot about good saw blade performance at an amateur level.
4. What inspires you regarding wood creations?
Beautiful wood and unique or clever design is always inspiring to me. My tastes lean towards Mission/Craftsman, and Greene & Greene type styles, but I often only start with a flavor of those styles, then evolve things to suit my whims. The vast majority of my projects have been furniture and items for around the house, and for friends and family members. Building something special for a fraction of the retail cost is also pretty motivating to me.
5. What are the greatest challenges that you have met along the way? (and how did you overcome them)
The biggest challenges I’ve faced have been shop space, lack of tool budget, shop time, and inexperience. Shop space will remain an issue for the foreseeable future, but many layout changes have at least made it functional and fun for me. I have 6 kids and work full time outside the house, so finding time for the shop is also an ongoing issue. It really boils down to a matter of priorities…when the need arises, I take whatever time I can to get into the shop. More shop time means more experience, so it helps solve the problems caused by inexperience…the wonders of the internet can really help cut down on trial and error, but nothing replaces hands-on experimenting. Another issue I face is that is that just about everything I build is a prototype….I’ve purchased plans just once, and never did use them. I do the best I can trying to plan the next step and thinking things through, but inevitably mistakes or oversights happen….I learned a long time ago to forgive myself quickly and move on….unlike many costly items, this stuff does grow on trees! Finding ways through a mistake can actually lead to some pretty cool discoveries….it’s all part of the appeal.
6. What is the greatest reward that you have received from woodworking? (personal or tangible)
Woodworking means a lot of different things to me. There’s the uniqueness of each type of wood, the joinery and woodworking techniques, the tools and the shop layout, and then there’s the design and creativity of making stuff. It’s multifaceted and appeals to me in many ways. It’s all very rewarding to me, but the greatest satisfaction comes from seeing people enjoying and using the fruits of my labor. A lot of the pieces I’ve made have come from repurposed wood….much of it given to me for free by friends and family. There have been many times that I’ve taken some repurposed wood and made it into something special for a family member or friend. Giving the wood back to the person who gave it me as a new and unique item has brought more than one weepy moment for the recipient…..that’s incredibly rewarding for me.
7. What is your favorite tool that you use for woodworking?
The things that can be done with a router are very cool and nearly endless, but the router itself isn’t as intriguing to me as my 3hp cabinet saw. There’s just something about the 540# of precision cast iron and steel mechanisms that evokes a primal “Tim the Toolman Taylor” grunt of satisfaction….so without question, my table saw is my favorite tool.
8. What is your favorite creation in/for your woodworking?
My wife will tell that the gas fireplace installation and mantel project is her favorite, but my favorite are the three electric guitars I’ve made for my kids. I don’t play, so learning the nuances of making a guitar was a stretch for me. The first two were traditional looking custom hard body guitars that were challenging and satisfying to build….upgraded proprietary electronics give them a unique original sound. The third was less of a challenge, but was still a lot of fun to build….the body was actually an oak toilet seat. We call it the “Telecrapper”, and it always fun to bring out when the kids have friends over. Ultimately, watching the kids make music with something I made has been the pinnacle of woodworking for me!
9. What tips would you give to someone just starting out or currently struggling with woodworking?
Keep at it. Make whatever you want to with whatever you have….where there’s a will, there’s a way. Everything else stems from that desire.
10. How did you find LumberJocks and what is it that keeps you coming back?
My first recollection of LJ’s was a mention on another forum. I like the visual and physical format a lot… the blogs, the reviews, the favorites, the workshops, etc., are all great. The huge welcome I got at LJ’s was really neat too. Overall, it’s an active and welcoming community with great participation that I’ve enjoyed being part of. Don’t change it!
-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)