50 years old, and still hanging around. Not me; one of my projects!

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I’m glad Martin said it was OK to post some of our “older” projects. Here’s one I did when I was in high school 50 years ago.

Two reasons I wanted to share this with you;

First; this is where my passion for woodworking started (9th grade in high school). I look back and realize my philosophy towards woodworking has never changed.

I always like to pick projects that push my limits (this was my first real woodworking project) and I’ve never been afraid to use “good” wood to build with in the first place. I’ve always felt that if I built something out of cheap wood the first time, I created two problems;
1: I felt it automatically gave me an excuse to fail or make mistakes.

2: If it turned out really good, I would kick my butt for not building it with good wood in the first place.

_The little shelving unit is 30” wide x 28” tall x 8” deep (bottom shelf and drawers).

We had a choice of three woods to build our project from; Pine, Poplar or Obeece (looks a lot like Mahogany). At that time, I didn’t really know the difference between the woods, but I really liked the looks of Obeece, so I chose that to work with and of course I found out it was quite a bit more expensive than the other two woods. Oh well, I’m sure glad I decided to use it.

The finish was stain (can’t remember what it was at the time) and a paste wax finish. I was really surprised it held up as well as it did all those years._

My second reason for posting this project; my mother proudly displayed this piece in her home for the past fifty years. When my mother passed away, the little shelf was returned to me. I have since applied a fresh coat of stain and shellac to bring back some luster, but left all the imperfections from my early woodworking craftsmanship in tack.

I’m now wondering who I can pawn it off on that will keep it for another 50 years!

It’s a great reminder of where I started in woodworking and how supportive my mother has been in my love for woodworking. She also kept the projects I built in 10th, 11th and 12th grades also. They have been passed down to other family members now and I’m trying to get some pictures of those projects too.

I hope others will share some of their early woodworking projects too.

-- John @The Hufford Furniture Group

walnut 65,

Is Mr. Hays still alive? He must be 100 years old by now! He used to live on Landings Creek Rd.

I really enjoyed him as a teacher.

-- John @The Hufford Furniture Group

Thanks for the compliment, but I’m more impressed with your work. I consider myself an OK woodworker, but I’m really impressed with the work others do. I’ve always considered my real strength in running my business was not as much my woodworking skills, but my selling and marketing skills.

I now love to spend my time trying to help other woodworkers that want to make a career in woodworking, or at least make a profit when selling their work; not by teaching them woodworking skills, but the marketing and selling skills it takes to succeed in a woodworking business.

-- John @The Hufford Furniture Group

Back when I was in school, the “Industrial Arts” classes where looked down upon and considered for students " that weren’t college bond", so I took both business courses and Industrial Arts (wood shop, metal shop and mechanical drawing) during my high school years, but none of my teachers or career advisors ever suggested that if I combined the two, I might be able to make a career in woodworking.

I had to figure that one out by myself. I’m glad I took the route I did, because the experience and training I recieved working for the other man for the next 15 years proved to be very benificial when it came to starting my own business.

I’ve enjoyed 28 years owning and operating my custom woodworking business and it’s been very good to me. I retired the company in 2012 and moved to Florida this year and have been busy writing a book, trying to help other woodworkers and working on the home we bought.

-- John @The Hufford Furniture Group


You got off to a very good start and we’re glad you kept it up. It’s fun looking at your accomplishments.

When I was in high school — back in the olden days — girls didn’t take shop class. I’m not certain if we weren’t allowed or just not encouraged. I wish I had gotten an earlier start and maybe I would have taken a different career path.

High schoolers do amazing projects. My nephew made a windsor chair as a high school project. After about 35 years of tinkering around with wood, I’ve never attempted a chair!


-- “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Benjamin Franklin

David L.

It’s fun to look back at our early work and also how we evolved in our finishing. When I first started, I used a lot of tung oil, but once I started spraying lacquer finishes in my business, I pretty much strayed away from some of the traditional hand finishes. (shame on me!).


Thanks for the compliment, but the imperfections where plentiful on this one. I learned a real lesson on patience when sanding from this first project. I like seeing the tooling marks though, reminds me where I started and how I’ve worked hard to improve on every project.


Thanks, Over the years I’ve built a number of projects for my parents and has always been very rewarding for me, simply because of their support.

The hardest, most challenging, stressful, yet most meaningful projects I’ve ever done was when my mother wanted me to do my father’s Urn and expected me to do her’s also when the time came.

To date; I’ve been asked to do the Urn’s for my best friend(our Methodist Minister), my brother, my wife, my father and my mother. I would like to think all my projects come from the heart, but nothing like those special ones.

-- John @The Hufford Furniture Group

Very nice! I was looking for a little bookcase table I made when I was about 20 and couldn’t remember what happened to it. My wife has it on the other side of her night-stand. It was my first experience with Minwax Tung Oil (Wipe-on Poly probably). The fact that I didn’t need a brush was great! It smelled good and I was hooked. At 52, I got hooked on homemade shellac from coins I purchased from Shellac Shack.

-- David L. Whitehurst

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