Thank-you to Brian for taking the time to do this interview
1. What is your “inspiration story” — where did your interest in woodworking all begin?
I’ve always been a tinkerer, but living in an apartment in NYC is pretty limiting for a hobby like this. However, I have a friend – my mentor, actually – that helped me build a recording studio cabinet in his shop many, many years ago for my little bedroom studio. It was mahogany veneered plywood, very simple yet elegant, with the top half being a rack for studio gear and the lower half an enclosed cabinet for the computer. The cabinet sat on casters. It was and still is a beautiful piece of furniture that has held up over several house moves. That experience has always stuck with me. The years passed and my hobbies and work changed and I found myself doing handyman work and construction stuff that included fixing all manor of things on the cheap. It gave my tinkering interest life. Sliding window doesn’t open smoothly? A ball point pen cap to replace slider pad. Bathroom vanity scratched? Wax pencil buffed in with furniture polish. Anyway, you get the idea. Stuff like that along with the usual patching and painting. The point is it I started looking at things differently, sort of 3 dimensionally, and understanding them in a way that I never had the opportunity to before. This was a big learning tool and they lent themselves heavily 2 years ago when my wife and I were looking for our first house. I felt no hesitation whatsoever in tackling a handyman special, which was a good thing because that’s all we could afford anyway. And we did end up with a handyman special complete with that 70s wood paneling and asbestos tile floor. And an attached garage. :-)
2. Who is your woodworking mentor and why?
Soon after moving in, my friend and mentor – he’s a Serbian fellow named Rade that I met when I first started my real estate career – called me up and offered his services up to me. How could I possibly turn that down? I had no idea what I was in for. First on the agenda was to build a proper shop and the centerpiece of any WW shop is a table saw. Well, that old table saw that we built my studio rack with was sitting in a mutual friend’s basement. The mutual friend wanted to dispose of it precisely at the time I needed one. Kismet! We picked it up and brought it over to my garage. After setting it up and a few safety lessons, Rade started designing my office. Then, together, we started to build it. I posted a creation page for it here: http://woodworkingweb.com/creations/155-home-office
Talk about diving in head first. My first wood working project was also the largest and most complicated I could imagine. Rade started by making most of the cuts so I could learn. We did the joinery together. Learning more… Edge banding was left to me. Learning more… This was all over the course of maybe a dozen weekends last summer and early fall. We got the cabinet boxes made and set, and the top done and set. Then Rade left for Europe. Sink or swim! I had to build and install the drawers on my own along with the multitude of tasks that went with the whole thing. The end result was, in my opinion, spectacular if you don’t mind me tooting my own horn. What a sense of accomplishment!
Since then (basically last fall), I’ve been making things for my house. I’m slowly building interior panel doors to replace the junky hollow ones throughout. I’ve been working on some table lamps and things. I like furniture because it gets my creative juices flowing. Rade only comes for BBQ now, but he’s always sending me design ideas. There are more projects in my queue than I could possibly have time for. And I’m enjoying every second I have in the shop, which is getting rarer and rarer thanks to my 3 month old boy coming along. Hopefully that will turn around as he gets a little older.
3. Power or hand tools? … and why
Power tools for sure. Its all I know. For most things they’re more convenient. I already bought almost everything I can use. Hand tools are for purists. And I don’t mean that in a negative way. I can definitely see how one could derive a lot of satisfaction from making and using them. I just don’t care so much. It’s not the tool that gets me excited – its the creativity and end result.
4. What is your dream project and when do you think you will tackle the challenge?
My dream project for the moment is kind of a few things. WW started out for me as a means to an end – a beautiful home. But I find myself really enjoying the other things I make. So I guess my dream project is really the kitchen and dining room. I have a preliminary layout for the kitchen. I still need to save a lot of dough before I can start – appliances are expensive, you know. And also the dining room, which I plan to build a walnut table and some other furniture and a chandelier that I saw in a magazine that consists of several offset boxes. I can’t wait to start that.
5. What is the greatest gift that this craft gives you?
That’s a tough one to answer. I suppose it is having a beautiful place to work and live. I get a lot of satisfaction working in my office. I feel more productive, calm and comfortable than any city office I’ve ever worked in. Most were dumps anyway. Its like the zen of paper pushing. I can’t wait to have that same feeling in my kitchen and dining room.
6. What are your “words of wisdom” that you want to pass on to others, especially to beginners?
Don’t get caught up in the hype of gear lust. There may be a minimum standard of quality tools for certain jobs, but for the most part, used and abused is fine as long as you can tinker and adjust it back to precision. Learn to use the tools you have. Thank goodness for this place because I’ve learned many things that I could have done differently, more efficiently and more accurately as well as tons of stuff I put into the “vault” for later use. I hope I’ve contributed a few of those pearls myself. But there are a million ways to skin a cat. Learn the best way for you – absorb and use or toss other ways as you come across them. Tune, clean, wax, lube and sharpen!!! Especially sharpen your pencil!!
7. And with our community being so new, what do you look forward to, as a member?
I always appreciate the stories about building things – even mundane stuff. Isn’t that why we’re here to begin with? To learn and share? I always try to add as many pictures and detail as I can to my creations and blogs and I always like to read other peoples’ creations and blogs that do the same thing. Somewhere in that mundane clutter is a priceless gem. The stuff that I find useless others may find brilliant and vice verse. So bring on the long posts with pictures – they are never boring. Trust me on that!
And now, what questions do you have for Brian? (or other comments, of course)
-- Toxins Out, Nature In - body/mind/spirit