The Journey #1: A Bit Of Background

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Blog entry by wmgworks posted 11-17-2015 09:03 PM 658 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of The Journey series Part 2: Every Cut A Lesson »

I thought I’d take a few minutes and give a bit of background on myself and start to tell why I’ve started down this path of woodworking.

To set the picture of my youth I am from a small farming community in central Ohio. The town I grew up in just peaked 1000 people in the 2010 census. One stop light. One gas station/convenient store. My graduating class was 135 kids. The high school is (no joke) surrounded by corn fields on three of it’s sides.

I am the son of a carpenter. One of his brothers did siding and roofing. His other brother made cabinets. My grandfather did plumbing and electricity. I was never around my uncles when they were working, but as a kid, I went to lots of job sites with my dad. I would follow behind him with my tape measure, tool belt and plastic hard hat on and tell him the measurements I was taking. All the way up to middle school, I was convinced I was going to be a carpenter, too. All through middle school and high school I did a lot of woodworking. I was in 4-H for several years and always took home “A” ribbons. I took woodshop all 4 years of high school and made some pretty cool stuff.

My dad didn’t have much of a woodshop in our garage. He was a carpenter after all, so he had things like a table saw, a miter saw, and lots of other hand tools I forget about. But he didn’t have things like a drill press or band saw. Still, I loved using the tools. I would cut wood with a hand saw and nail boards for no reason other than to just use the tools. I never paid attention to which tooth configuration or count I was using – I just grabbed a saw and went at it.

Growing up, I was also one of the “smart kids”. I was in all the honors classes and accelerated classes. My parents never told me “you will go to college” but that’s what smart kids were supposed to do, right? Plus, I had changed my mind on the whole carpenter thing. I watched my dad work his fingers to the bone for very little money. I was going to do something else.

So off I went to college. I pursued more cerebral and academic interests and stopped working with my hands as much. Funny thing is, I never ended up getting a degree from college. I started down a career in IT and that’s where I’ve been ever since. Met my wife while I was in college. I moved her from Los Angeles to Columbus. We moved back to Los Angeles 4 months later. Been here ever since.

Many, many years passed and woodworking was still not on my mind. Even after I moved to college I still liked putting things together. I liked getting furniture from the store and assembling it. (I feel like I own stock in Ikea at this point). I always looked for ways to improve on the way it was constructed. But I always got a little happy when I had something to put together.

My official title is Systems Engineer. Which means I find ways for all of the servers and devices and workstations to talk to each other. I get to think of everything like a big Erector set and try to combine the pieces together to solve business problems. In many ways, I’m still a builder like my ancestors. Just not with the same materials.

Then, this August, something rather insignificant happened. My wife is an elementary teacher and she found this project on Pinterest to make little reading seats for the kids (you take a plastic cube crate, cut out a plywood square, put on some foam, cover it with fabric and it makes a seat for the kids to sit on). We got a sheet of plywood ripped down to the square sizes we needed at our local blue box store. As I’m standing there watching the guy cut these squares I’m thinking to myself “I should be doing this”. I should be cutting these squares. I can totally do that. Then, we got everything home and the squares were a hair too big. So I had to trim them down somehow. I borrowed a neighbor’s palm sander… and it was all over from there. The sawdust was flying, the sander was vibrating like crazy in my hands… I needed to do this again!

Since that day, almost every waking thought is about woodworking. I’ve been absorbing everything I can. Read, read, read. Watch videos. Research. All I can think about is this rekindled passion. I don’t really watch T.V. anymore (except when Ohio State is playing football ;)). I even get up at 7:30 on the weekends just so I can have some time in the shop before the wife and kids are awake. I’m completely bitten by this bug!

As for my setup, as this point I have almost nothing. The most powerful tool I own is a circular saw. But I’m finding ways to be resourceful, learning to be patient, and enjoying every mistake I make while moving down this path.

-- Butchering wood since 2015

3 comments so far

View SirGareth's profile


85 posts in 1624 days

#1 posted 11-18-2015 02:47 AM

Welcome! I too am in IT in Southern California. It’s nice to try working with my hands and seeing something tangible. Make a stool, or a chair, or crate, or a barrel, or something and set a spell. Try posting some of your projects too. You will get good feedback and encouragement from many of the fine folks here.

-- Even if you fall on your face, you are still moving forward. - Tim, Southern California

View sras's profile


4364 posts in 2553 days

#2 posted 11-18-2015 02:49 AM

Great story! (My graduating class had 27 – but only a cornfield on one side)

Your last paragraph is spot on – enjoy the journey!!

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View wmgworks's profile


193 posts in 409 days

#3 posted 11-18-2015 07:46 AM

Thanks for your comments, guys!

@Tim – as soon as I get a project done I will be sure to post it. It’s going to look terrible and I don’t care!

@Steve – To add more proof to that paragraph this just happened: everyone is asleep here so I snuck out to the shop and couldn’t resist making some cuts on a project I have in mind. It’s using pallet wood, so I grabbed a piece, marked my cut, put it in the vise, pulled out my used hand cross cut saw and sawed away with glee… only to notice my cut traveled waaaaay out of line. I mean I drifted almost 1/2” on a 3 1/2” cut. But you know what? I learned so much in that 30 seconds. I learned that 1) I need to pay attention and not just go crazy 2) I remembered I wasn’t supposed to cut ON the line, but in front of it a hair 3) I learned what a not sharp saw feels like 4) I learned I need better lighting so I can see my marks better. I couldn’t be happier!

-- Butchering wood since 2015

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