WoodworkingWeb Interview: HorizontalMike

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Thanks to HorizontalMike for taking the time to do this interview.

1. What is your “inspiration story” — where did your interest in woodworking all begin?
While I took “shop” in junior high school, it did not go over well. When I made it to high school my counselor convinced me to go the “academic” route and not to take shop. I followed that instruction, though I was just an average student and many of my friends took shop. I missed that connection and that loss stuck with me most of my life. I always wanted to work with wood even though I never really understood why… Maybe because it was “natural”

2. Who is your woodworking mentor and why?
I would sooner say “what” is my woodworking mentor. I don’t always socialize very well, so woodworking for me has been an escape to privacy more than anything. I enjoy the interaction with other woodworkers, but on task specific subjects. Must be part of my hyper-focus that keeps me on-task. That said, I tend to read/peruse magazines and online material in place of a formal mentor-ship. And I think that gives me a greater opportunity to improve my skills, since I am not limited by the skills of a single individual (even though I have several I look up to and ask advice of).

3. Power or hand tools? … and why
I use BOTH. The basic lumber preparation and sizing is definitely easier with power tools. Where I find hand tools to come into their own realm is final fitting. Nothing beats the feel of using a hand plane or block plane to fit an assembled drawer into its assigned cubby/shelf, or to make a final adjustment on a M&T joint or miter.

4. What is your dream project and when do you think you will tackle the challenge?
Actually each of my projects are considered my “Dream” project. I choose/desire to build pieces:

  • that I would/could never afford to purchase
  • that I desire to have and/or know about how they were built in the first place(and when)
  • that are inspired from art&crafts, Stickley, Shaker, Early Country, primitive, or older that just look “different” to me. My home looks like an eclectic museum where no two pieces match, and THAT is the way I like it. It is kind of like time-traveling in your own home. 8-)

5. What is the greatest gift that this craft gives you?
The greatest gift that WW gives me is that sense of accomplishment that one feels when a project is completed and looks better than one could purchase in the mass market. I am not talking about high level stuff, as there are several masters of the craft that I could never come close to matching. What I am saying is that I feel “accomplished” at creating the everyday home objects that any other homeowners from past centuries had to accomplish daily, in order to have and furnish their “home.” Building such pieces makes feel more a part of, and appreciate, that particular community and time.

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

  • Ask questions, specific questions on techniques, woods, methods, equipment, etc.
  • Filter the “answers/suggestions” that you get. NEVER feel that you have to follow every piece of advice. Look at where/whom that advice comes from. Are they speaking out of experience (with posted examples of their own work) or are they only speaking out of their own OPINION (while claiming expertise without evidence of that experience posted)?
  • And remember… FREE advice is worth every penny it cost you.

7. And with our community being so new, what do you look forward to, as a member?
WoodworkingWeb, while technically “new”, it is inhabited with several experienced and well meaning folks. We are all, at this stage of the website, its care-takers, and as such we need to be as flexible and generous as possible to help it succeed. What that means, is to focus on the woodworking and forgo your/our own personal “feelings” for the greater good of the website/community. IMO, staunch individualism has no place here. Those folks know the other place that allows that and they are welcome to go there to express their individualism there, not here. But then again, that is just IMO.

What I would like to see is:

  • TechTalk Theme, for discussing techniques, methods, and materials
  • Jigs and Fixtures Theme, where all things jig related could reside. Most popular, most needed, most used, etc. And how to make these jigs!
  • Equipment/Manufacturers Theme, where specific WW equipment can be discussed. The good, the bad, the cost, and the need for such equipment in the first place. This might be a touchy area to address so I would expect to see some very specific ground rules posted before implementing this particular theme.

And what would you, fellow WoodworkingWeb members, like to ask HorizontalMike, to add to his wonderful interview?

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

Good interview Mike/Debbie. Your thoughts express my own views Mike. I would prefer to stick to woodworking related issues as opposed to all the rest.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway

Nice interview Mike. Seems we have a lot in common. I also value my privacy, hence my little mountain top here in the woods. If you like BBQ, cold beer and a good game of horseshoes, I figure we would probably get along well.

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

Great answers Mike.
Although I feel I already knew you fairly well from reading your opinions and seeing your work, this interview and the tone of your answers really gave me a “Yeah, I agree with this guy and I like him” feeling.
Good Job.

-- The early bird gets the worm but its the second mouse that gets the cheese.

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