Stop Asking All The Questions!!!

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Forum topic by cabinetman posted 03-24-2007 03:52 PM 1677 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View cabinetman's profile


144 posts in 4318 days

03-24-2007 03:52 PM

That’s what he would say right in the middle of something. I would refer to him as a master craftsman. My first shop was in an industrial district with several cabinet and woodworking shops within walking distance. Working late into the night I would hear tools running and it was coming from Werner’s shop. His shop was a few doors down and across the street. At times I would go over there and bring an extra coffee just to say hello. Then there were times he would need help lifting something or moving something around, and I would help.

After many visits I would just hang out there. He was German and had a strong accent, and spoke broken English. He came from a long line of woodworkers and cabinetmakers. From what I remember from his lineage, the men in his family were in the trade as far back as his great, great grandfather.

His shop looked like it was transposed right out of a history book, except for some really old huge power equipment, mostly all cast iron stuff. As a newbie to woodworking, I would always think that his equipment should be upgraded. I wasn’t one to talk, because at the time my table saw was a sheet of plywood with a circular saw underneath.

Anyway, Werner didn’t need to advertise. His clientele was completely referral and there was a backlog. People paid his price or they walked. He did no negotiation.

I would go over to his shop whenever I could and help him for free, just to watch. In my mind he was my mentor. Even his appearance was overwhelming. He had very thick fingers that didn’t look like they could even bend.

He remained in that shop for a long time and we became very good friends. I considered my time there an education I could get nowhere else for any price. It was his habit of signing and dating every piece made that I adopted. I still remember him working on something and I’d be yaking, and he would say “Stop asking all the questions”. He was used to concentrating.

He move out of state to be in business with one of his sons, and it was the last I saw of him. I was talking with one of my suppliers yesterday who heard he worked up to his 80’s, and died. I felt something in me die. I felt a genuine loss. I would have liked to say to him “Thank you”.

15 replies so far

View Obi's profile


2213 posts in 4412 days

#1 posted 03-24-2007 04:11 PM

And if you can pass on what you got from him, then he’s never really died… he just left.

View BobGlenn's profile


6 posts in 4259 days

#2 posted 03-24-2007 06:25 PM


He just changed location of his interest.

How do I know?
Becuase when I heard the thunder the other night, he was moving
around one of his pieces that he had just completed.

-- Welcome to Northern Ind. Coffe Pot Is On

View Chip's profile


1904 posts in 4267 days

#3 posted 03-24-2007 06:28 PM

That’s rough cabinetman. But I agree with Obi, a bit of him is still alive… in you.

-- Better to say nothing and be thought the fool... then to speak and erase all doubt!

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4474 days

#4 posted 03-24-2007 06:33 PM

A very nice story, thanks for sharing it.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View Bill's profile


2579 posts in 4336 days

#5 posted 03-24-2007 06:46 PM

A great story of inspiration and education Cabinetman. A priceless experience for you.

-- Bill, Turlock California,

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4489 days

#6 posted 03-24-2007 07:22 PM

Lucky you are Cabinetman. I think of the men who taught me not so much the skill as the quality and integrity of being a craftsman. I’m forever grateful for the values they have passed on…even if a few of them where on the grumpy side.

View Bill's profile


2579 posts in 4336 days

#7 posted 03-24-2007 07:24 PM

Isn’t grumpy part of the definition of being a craftsman? just kidding, but does seem like a number of the good ones are kinda grumpy.

-- Bill, Turlock California,

View Karson's profile


35140 posts in 4575 days

#8 posted 03-24-2007 09:08 PM

They are probably used to working alone or at least in quiet. So you talk they Grumble.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia †

View Wooder's profile


163 posts in 4361 days

#9 posted 04-02-2007 01:10 PM

What a great story Cabman! Now it’s up to you, to keep him alive, in your work. Make sure to pass some of him on to someone else.

-- Jimmy

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4489 days

#10 posted 03-04-2008 09:51 PM

“you just tried to cheat me….” Great advice!

View Harold's profile


310 posts in 4022 days

#11 posted 03-04-2008 11:24 PM

Every summer I would work with finish carpenter/painter. the jobs were always those that he wouldn’t ask one of the hired hands to do, I still loved it and learned so much. He had the same comment,”what’s with the questions” Like I fool I would try to explain the importance of my youthful concerns. He would shake his finally and explain, “I wasn’t getting paid to grow a brain” I never earned a dollar, but looking back those summers can never be replaced.

-- If knowledge is not shared, it is forgotten.

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 4049 days

#12 posted 03-05-2008 12:09 AM

Thanks for the great story. I enjoyed reading it.

-- Happy woodworking!

View motthunter's profile


2141 posts in 3974 days

#13 posted 03-05-2008 02:23 AM

great story. and so true for many of us. We learn from those who know more and have done more

-- making sawdust....

View TomK 's profile


504 posts in 4049 days

#14 posted 03-06-2008 02:32 AM

Old woodworkers never die, they just “dust off”. Great story Cabinetman.

-- If you think healthcare is expensive now, wait until it's free! PJ O'Rourke

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 4049 days

#15 posted 03-06-2008 12:10 PM

This is such a great story. He is an inspiration even though we can’t meet him (yet).

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