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Forum topic by a1Jim posted 03-02-2012 07:44 PM 2800 views 1 time favorited 36 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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117115 posts in 3602 days

03-02-2012 07:44 PM

Topic tags/keywords: resource

We all love to hear about a woodworker who can build the most beautiful pieces of furniture, can finish better than the old masters and can teach their skills to others, plus we love to be able view their shops and glean from their special techniques of doing things a better way than other woodworkers . Sometimes these people that we admire because of their skills and talents have secrets they don’t want the general public to know about. Sometimes we are shocked at things that are revealed about famous people, like Tiger Woods. These people we had high hopes for let us down by their actions in their not-so public life. I have held my tough long enough about a well thought-of individual. Yes, you might have guessed I’m talking about Charles Neil, the well-known Virginian woodworker. I have been in touch with Charles for around 5 years and was first drawn to learn more about him by viewing his 40 +or- videos on You-Tube and then by purchasing some of his DVDs. Then to my surprise he actually answered questions I had when I e-mailed him and to be even more surprised he answered everyone who e-mailed him. This seemed almost impossible since he makes up to 60 major pieces of furniture a year, produces many DVDs a year and has a weekly program “Mastering Woodworking”, develops his own products like a dove tail jig and blotch control and more, not to mention teaching in-person classes through the year. I still can’t believe all that he does. But over the years of touching base with him he has shown his true colors. I have known these things about him ever since we became friends, but knew if I told his true story he would get upset.
The truth of the matter is Charles is always helping people who need help, with his time, his money and through calling all of his friends to help, too. Since I’ve known him he has supported friends who have had cancer, made trips to young woodworker’s home’s (teenage woodworker) to encourage him to keep up with his woodworking. He has grown huge gardens and donating much of it to those in need of food, he has raised thousands of dollars for wounded warriors, and he has helped many struggling folks get back on their feet. He helped my son when the VA was not getting help for a medical emergency and sent funds to travel back and for to the hospital. There are many more great kindnesses Charles has given to folks out there.
One of his most recent great gifts goes back to a post I had put on LJ’s about young woodworkers, . He contacted me and said if some of the young woodworkers wanted any of or all of his DVDs he would gladly give them to them. I contacted a couple of the young woodworkers and they jumped on that offer with both feet. Well it turns out Charles donated his full set of all his DVDs to both of these aspiring young woodworkers and to my local high school’s woodshop where I volunteer and teach my adult local community college woodworking classes and for good measure he gave them a free subscription to his weekly on line program “Mastering Woodworking”. These DVDs would cost thousands of dollars when bought through Charles not to mention the mailing cost to places as far as Great Britain.
You might think, “What’s the big deal, Charles is rich, he can afford all this”, but that’s not the case. Charles has very humble beginnings and has worked hard to achieve where he’s in life and is just a hard working individual who gives way beyond anyone I know. These products that Charles makes are part of how he makes a living so he can’t give these things away everyday in these tough times. Whenever I hear from Charles and I find out something nice he has done for someone. He always says not to tell anyone, and I know it’s because he does those things to help folks and not to get credit for what he has done.
I know I’m not alone when I say I’m proud to call Charles Neil my good friend and mentor and a first class human being.
Sorry to let the truth out Charles, but it’s time to give credit where credit is due.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

36 replies so far

View Dez's profile


1166 posts in 4102 days

#1 posted 03-02-2012 08:05 PM

Agreed! Charles is a great guy and deserves credit!

-- Folly ever comes cloaked in opportunity!

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Joe Lyddon

10118 posts in 4077 days

#2 posted 03-02-2012 08:05 PM

Thank you… a very enlightening story…

... a true woodworker… keeping it going…

(please ignore my PM)

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View DocSavage45's profile


8589 posts in 2867 days

#3 posted 03-02-2012 08:20 PM

Amen! Jim,

Charles is a “human being” in the greatest sense of the indian interpretation of human being. He does not hide his passion for what he does, and he gets to “slamin things out” which he says “is just the way I like it.”

You say “Virginia Wordworker” he says “Big Dog” He actually wants to teach us how “Townsend” might have built those famous pieces.

He wants to do it Charles’ Way, which is at times the hard way to go. At times he has to “back the truck up” and rethink all that he is doing. But threre he goes! whosh!

Many of the well know or “great woodworkers” have had books written or wrote it themselves. I think Thomas Moser was identified in your last blog? A BIG well done coffee table book that is photograhed with the same artistry as the makers pieces does wonders? You are more of a woodworking peer than I although I have attempted to get past all my road blocks. You also have some recognition (?) here on LJ’s.

Maybe someone who has the experience of building more complex pieces and a peer could convince the “Big Dawg” Lord knows I’ve tried, but I have had to resign myself to moving at a very slow pace and although I got information a knowledgeable guy might have some wieght.

Charles needs a PR guy! LOL

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View KPW's profile


226 posts in 2393 days

#4 posted 03-02-2012 08:24 PM

Thanks Jim for sharing that and thanks Charles for being the person that everyone wants to be.

-- Ken --------- never try and put 5 lbs. of tenon in a 3 lb. mortise.

View Manitario's profile


2630 posts in 2907 days

#5 posted 03-02-2012 08:36 PM

I had a tremendous amount of respect for Charles even before reading this. He seems like the man that everyone would want for their friend and mentor.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View Sanity's profile


174 posts in 2715 days

#6 posted 03-02-2012 08:48 PM

I came to know of Charles through his informative and entertaining videos on Youtube, and have since become a regular visitor to his website. The other week I was very surprised when he responded to a simple question that I posted in the forums section of Lumberjocks. I thought how great it was that he took the time to respond to a hobbyist woodworker such as myself. His passion and enthusiasm for the craft is inspiring. Thanks Charles!

-- Stuart

View RussellAP's profile


3104 posts in 2311 days

#7 posted 03-02-2012 08:57 PM

You know, it’s very hard to find someone of that caliber of skill who remembers the little folk. I’m looking forward to meeting him. Is he on LJ? I have a couple bottles of the conditioner and can’t wait to use them.

Thanks for letting the ‘dirt’ out on him Jim, there just isn’t enough guys like that around. I’d like to be like him, but lets face the facts, I’ll never be half the wood worker he is, but it’s good to have a star to shoot for.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View Loucarb's profile


2388 posts in 3470 days

#8 posted 03-02-2012 09:09 PM

Thanks for sharing that with us Jim. Nice to hear there are people out there that care.

View sandhill's profile


2128 posts in 3948 days

#9 posted 03-02-2012 09:30 PM

I am 110% in agreement with you Jim. I found out about Charles on YouTube about three years ago myself and when I contacted him with a question I did not expect to hear back from him but with in an hour I got his email. I have bought his DVD set Finishing A to Z and was sold on the quality of what he had to offer since then I got a number of items from him. I made a trip up from Florida to see my grand daughter in Maryland and tried to find his place but without an address or phone number (my fault) and not a lot of time to spend in New Market I had to leave without getting to say “Hi Ya all”. Now that I have moved to VA. I want to go by and thank him for all he has done, I was going to enroll in his finishing class but with building out a new shop and a very costly move I am not in a financial position to attend but I will stop by and say hello in the next few months, I have his address and phone number stored in my phone along with a number of other Jocks I have become friends with so I can call ahead.

View Jorge G.'s profile

Jorge G.

1537 posts in 2500 days

#10 posted 03-02-2012 09:52 PM

Ok, his video delivery just drives me nuts, but I have to admit that the guy is growing on me….like mold…hahaha…just kidding. He does seems to be the genuine deal, freely giving advice and help to to many, and heck nobody is perfect. Good for you for posting this, it lets us see the man behind the woodworking.

-- To surrender a dream leaves life as it is — and not as it could be.

View Delta356's profile


463 posts in 2878 days

#11 posted 03-02-2012 10:35 PM

Charles , He’s a great person, and his gift was something I could never repay.. Being a self tough woodworker and running a woodworking company I could use all the help I can get. Charles did that with his lovely gift. I’m in the mist of refinishing a desk for a client and had some question. They were all answered in his DVD (Finishing a to z).
Thank you Charles.

Thanks, Michael Frey
Portland, OR


View Karson's profile


35125 posts in 4425 days

#12 posted 03-02-2012 10:39 PM

I agree with you Jim: Every contact has been a great contact. When I met him at the Baltimore Wood Show he offered to help in any way that I asked for our Toy making Outreach from the Mason Dixon Woodworkers.

He’s always willing to give of his knowledge and resources.

Thanks for acknowledging it Jim and Thanks Charles for all you do.


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

View AlexHarris's profile


92 posts in 2661 days

#13 posted 03-02-2012 10:51 PM

Yup, just simply a great guy.
I was actually one of the lucky young woodworkers to recieve his DVD’s! I have to say I was pretty touched by such a kind jesture, so once again thanks Charles Neil! Also thanks to everyone else who has helped me out over the years, you Jim (recently), Steve etc. etc. the support I have recieved has just been amasing!

If you havn’t checkd out Charles yet, you all should! :P

-- Alex -

View Milo's profile


869 posts in 3344 days

#14 posted 03-02-2012 11:51 PM

Thanks Jim!

But, ya know, I hear your not too shabby yourself… ;)

-- Beer, Beer, Thank God for Beer. It's my way of keeping my mind fresh and clear...

View TheDane's profile


5441 posts in 3687 days

#15 posted 03-03-2012 12:07 AM

I have written Charles on several occasions when I have gotten hung up on a project … he always answers and provides information that has always helped me deal with whatever the issue was.

He is a real class act!


-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

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