I had the opportunity to do a real shop visit today, to the woodworking lair of LJ Dennis Zongker, a fellow Omahan. Unfortunately my stepson had the camera for my grandson’s first birthday, but Dennis has posted his workshop on the site. Dennis and his brother Dan head up a team of 10 in a big shop, with some impressive machinery and a big beautiful spray room. Of particular interest was the Ornamental milling machine and a double layered vacuum press table. Of course there were a handful of big Delta Unisaws, a big ole Powermatic lathe, a score of PC routers and in the office area – a dedicated marquetry/parquetry and carving set up.
The place was bustling with activity, with high-end work being done on conference tables for NASA and a big custom Chicago Bears bed. Dennis also showed me the window method work he recently posted. He does his homework, with several practice pieces and no stopping until the piece is right. I also got to sidle up to the astounding Griffin table. Dennis was down-to-earth and accessible to questions, and I was able to see the gleam in his eyes as he discussed his progress in the craft and his love of discovery as he follows his curiosity and perfects areas of embellishment (finishing, carving, marquetry). I recognize the fire that burns in this gentleman, and his desire for perfection that can be touched in the final piece.
I also got a signed copy of his recent publication in Wood Carving Illustrated. Before I even had a chance to get it up to the “reading room”, Pam had glommed onto it. This is good… I gave her a Flexcut set of interchangeable blades and a palm handle a few years back, and they have been idle. She needed a clue to the first steps, and there was plenty that fit right into that path in this fine magazine. He was also kind enough to offer up some short ends and hardwood scraps – just the sort of thing that makes this small box guy and notorious pack-rat drool…
Thanks Dennis for the invitation to visit. I hope that you won’t come to regret it. At least next time lunch will be on me!
-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.