Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Woodworking as a journey

Greetings, thank you for stopping by.  This is my brand new Blog in which I hope to share some interesting content about my journey as a woodworker.

 I suppose I started out as a woodworker in a small town in southern Lancaster County, PA.  As a young teenager I used to visit my cousins Lew, Alex, John-T & Marci for a couple of weeks during the summer months.  Lew had the most wonderful shop in the basement where he had a full compliment of tools. He taught me how to use a few of them, and I would tinker away in there using the bandsaw, drill press and belt/disc sander plus a few hand tools. I don't recall ever building anything of importance, but to this day I remember being extremely happy in the shop. Lew would always have Big Band music playing when he was in the shop,  I still think of him whenever I hear Glenn Miller et al.

Years later they moved to Florence SC, and at the time I was on the road doing portraiture.  I had weekends off, but whenever I could, I would give them a call, and then descend upon their house for a visit. Lew's shop had shrank a bit, he had a small shed out in the back yard as his man cave. I didn't make as much in those days, but it was still a haven I loved to visit.

Fast forward to the very end of the '90s. I moved back to NY after several years on the road. I set down roots back in central NY.  I lived for a time with my best friend Stu and his lovely wife Brenda, plus our good friend Helen.  Eventually though I re-connected with the love of my life Lori and moved in with her and our three handsome boys.  Part time at first, but eventually I was here full time.

As the boys got older, I wound up making things starting with a very basic set of tools which Lori's ex left her.  Nothing fancy, just a circular saw, jigsaw and a Workmate. I added a compound miter saw  to the mix when I built my first bed for our eldest son. In the beginning I worked in the side yard of our home, strictly a fair weather woodworker. If it rained, or simply when the sun went down I would have to put all the tools back in the garden shed.

I started hanging out on various woodworking forums, Woodnet,  the WWA, Sawmill Creek & Woodcentral just to name a few.  I think it was Woodnet where I met my mentor John. He and I got together for a cup of coffee in a local diner, chatted about woodworking awhile and he invited me to visit his shop. That visit led to another, and another, and suddenly I had a key to the shop and was over there all the time. It wasn't fancy, dirt and concrete floor, no insulation (not a good situation in central NY...) and hot and cold running chipmunks.

John and I toughed it out in the carriage house shop for a couple of years, then we got the itch to move up in the world. We rented space in a local business incubator, pooling our tools and resources and we spent a couple of years in the shop mahal. It was 30x40' of light industrial space, we had a lot of good shop time in there and I learned a lot. Eventually however it was too much rent for my budget and I pulled my tools out ending our partnership.

My tools went into a storage unit for a couple of years until I decided to invest in my shop. By this time I was a regular on the Family Woodworking forums. I've been taking a breather... mostly because of pressures off-line, but I firmly believe that FWW is one of the finest forums on the internet.
 I strongly suggest you visit and sign up if you're looking for a forum to participate in.

I had done my research and settled on a plan for a minibarn from I modified mine a bit, putting up 10' sidewalls instead of 8'. Here is a partially completed photo... I'll get an updated shot eventually. Don't hold your breath however. I've been known to take my time... building the shop took a couple of years, and it still has some rough edges. Keeps the rain off the tools though.

Along the way I've made loads of friends around the world wide woodworking web, far too many to list. You know who you are however, and though I may not say it often, you've all made an impact in my life. Thank you.

Recently I've 'discovered' podcasts, both traditional ones I listen to on my iPhone and those who publish on youtube and their own sites. My  Current favorite is Woodtalk Online,  Hosted by Marc Spagnolo of the Wood Whisperer, Matt Vanderlist of Matt's Basement Woodshop and Shannon Rogers of the Renaissance Woodworker.  I'm working my way through their archives, but I have a blast listening to them.  In one of those interesting twists, an old friend from way back when I first got online at the WWA is also a frequent contributor on woodtalk; Tom Iovino aka TampaTom whose site is  It's cool to see his success, and I can say with pride "I knew him way back when...".  I wonder if I ever 'bumped into' Marc when he was on the WWA back in the day as well.  Judging by some of the history he's shared on woodtalk we were both on that forum, as well as others such as woodnet at the same time. Things that make you go hmm...

I drive for work... Most nights I'm behind the wheel at Least 4 to 5 hours (I deliver meds to nursing homes).  As a result I have a Bunch of time where I want and/or need something to keep my mind active. I've gone through about 3/4 of the Woodtalk archives in the past month and a half.  I suppose that listening to the guys each night has inspired me to start this blog. I don't know where I'll take it yet, after all my journey to this point has been a long circuitous route.  I realized last night that I'm also an internet age woodworker and there is room enough for one more woodworking blog.

For those who are so inclined, look for the email link somewhere on the right column as well. I can be reached at I'm also on twitter as @artisanboards. Hope to hear from you soon!


 Did a little poking around on the WWA, unless Marc hung around through the mid 2000's we weren't 'there' at the same time. Beach Boy... TampaTom and I were both 'class of 2003' though.

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