WoodworkingWeb Interview: MontyJ

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Thank-you to MontyJ for taking the time to do this interview (June, 2014)

This creation is MontyJ’s “first” — yes, his FIRST woodworking creation!! Talk about “jumping right in with both feet”!

You can follow his blog for this build here

and now for the interview
1. What is your “inspiration story” — where did your interest in woodworking all begin?

I’ve always enjoyed building things, but never really considered woodworking as a serious hobby until my wife pushed me into it a few months ago. She started asking me to build her things like sewing boxes, blanket chests and the like. Then she cut me loose to buy what ever I needed. Don’t you hate it when your wife forces you to buy tools?
Most of our children are grown with only our youngest daughter (the last of 4 girls in a row) still to finish high school. As we get older, we’re moving toward a more subsistence lifestyle. We raise most of our own food. Woodworking seems like a natural activity for how we live. But make no mistake, this is, and will always be, strictly a hobby for me. I have no illusions of quitting my day job and making a living out of the shop.


2. Who is your woodworking mentor and why?

I don’t have one. In fact, I don’t know any woodworkers personally. I’m flying by the seat of my pants here. I can safely say that all of the bad habits I have developed and all of the failures I’ve endured are all of my own making. I just don’t know what the bad habits are, because there’s nobody to tell me. I usually figure it out after blood is spilled though.


3. Power or hand tools? … and why

Both, I guess. I don’t have many of either, but I do have more power tools than hand tools. My plane collection consists of a jack plane, and a block plane (both Kobalts from Lowes). My chisel collection is similarly small, as in I have 2: a ¼” and a ½” also Kobalt brand from Lowes. Now that summer is here, I plan to make a road trip to a very large flea market about 2 hours from my house and try to hunt down more hand tools. My limited experience with hand planes has been mixed. I have had success as well as failure. I honestly feel that a better selection of quality planes will greatly increase my success rate.


4. What is your dream project and when do you think you will tackle the challenge?

My dream project is the very next project in line. I’m so new to this that every project is a challenge for me and I intend to tackle them all head on. I suppose my real dream is to get through a project without loosing any blood. I try not to think into the future too much. I make what the wife asks for. I guess if I had to seriously choose a project, it would involve some of the beautiful marquetry that Shipwright produces. His work is truly stunning and inspirational. Unfortunately, because of nerve damage in my cervical spine, I don’t have the fine motor control in my hands for that type of work, so it will always remain just a dream.


5. What is the greatest gift that this craft gives you?

The sense of accomplishment is great. Taking rough-cut lumber from the mill and turning it into something useful is very rewarding. Seeing the smile on my wife’s face when I gave her the sewing box was priceless. Knowing that some of the things I make could be handed down from generation to generation is pretty cool too.


6. What are your “words of wisdom” that you want to pass on to others, especially to beginners?

To the beginners out there, like me, I would say: Get through your first project as best you can. Don’t worry about the mistakes, but try to learn from them. Remember that nobody was born a master woodworker. Look at that first project and ask yourself this: If I tried it again, could I do it better? If, deep in your heart, the answer is yes, congratulations, you learned something. Also, learn to think outside the box. Look at what you want to do, what tools you have, and how you can make one of those tools do what you need done. That’s how jigs are born. If it doesn’t work, so what? Try something else.
Above all, keep a sense of humor. Things are going to go wrong, your going to get frustrated, but don’t let it keep you down. Put on some music, dance around in the shop like an idiot, play with the grand kids, (if you don’t have any grand kids, borrow some, they’re a real hoot). Above all, stay positive.


7. And with our community being so new, what do you look forward to, as a member?

There are so many directions a person could go with a question like that. As a member, I look forward to a time that I might be able to help some other poor lost soul such as myself. (I also look forward to the day I finally run out of stupid questions). I hope to someday earn the respect of the community and be a trusted, reliable member.
As a community, I look forward to the day when WW can step out of the shadow of LJ’s with a membership that doesn’t compare the two, similar though they may be. I hope that someday there will be a separate forum for off topic content. Talking woodworking is great, but having a place just to BS helps create friendships and a tighter bond among the membership.

A final note:
Frankly I was surprised to get a message from MsDebbie asking to interview me for this piece. In my mind, there are many more experienced, professional woodworkers here who could contribute way more than I. In fact, I nearly turned her down. In the end, I decided that it’s not about knowledge, but rather, a way to get to know the individuals that make up the community. And in that light, I’m all in.

And now, what questions do you have for MontyJ? (or other comments, of course)


-- Toxins Out, Nature In - body/mind/spirit

Aw shucks, thanks folks. Maybe I should clarify something though. If you put on some Rolling Stones and dance around the shop like an idiot, make sure you have a six-year old grand daughter with you. Otherwise…well otherwise it’s just creepy.

I just finished a table project today. It’s drying in the shop right now, so I’ll post it tomorrow. I have a couple of questions about it too.

-- Where are the band-aids?---Pro Libertate!


Monty was a great choice for an interview. His writing style is most enjoyable and we’ve learned a great deal from his willingness to share.


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

Monty J.

Great interview and thanks for taking the time to contribute.

Even though you may think you are asking a stupid question, I guarantee there are a bunch of us that wished we asked the same question. When we quit asking questions, we quit learning.

BTW; that sewing box is really a cool project. I bet your wife loves it.

-- John @The Hufford Furniture Group

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