I have been making furniture since 1986 when I made a Hope chest for my little sister and I guess you could say I got carried away from there. I made a decision very early on to work only with hand tools and I have never regretted it. Just why I made this decision, may take my lifetime to understand or explain.
I am self-taught mainly due to the fact that any sort of apprenticeship program, of the sort that were around at the turn of the century, no longer exists. After making furniture on my own for about five years, I did have the opportunity to attend the woodworking program at the College of the Redwoods in Ft. Bragg, CA. While, overall the year at school was a mixed blessing, there are a few things I picked up and continue to use to this day.
The biggest influence on my work would have to be the Shakers. They worked in a way that put function above all else, but at the same time gave objects a simple beauty. There is no applied ornamentation or things that do not need to be there. Nothing to take away and nothing to add. Other influences include Greene and Greene, Edward and Sidney Barnsley, Jim Krenov, John Brown, Roy Underhill and many others… There is a quiet dignity to my work and I think you will agree.
The current state of the furniture industry as a whole has certainly affected the way that I make and design furniture. With the use of so much plywood, stains and machine techniques, the cabinetmaker is becoming lost in the shuffle. He (or she) is becoming an operator of machines and nothing more. I believe by using only hand tools, solid wood, traditional joinery and making pieces one at a time, I am putting the maker back into a piece of furniture.
Whenever I do something with my hands there is a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that just can’t be achieved by other means. With hand tools there is no doubt that the results are directly related to my labors. Whether it’s the time taken or the quality of the results there is no mistaking just who has done the work. Besides, there is no tired like a tired you have earned….
A lot of myself goes into each and every piece of furniture I make, and it shows. I really care about what I do, not only the end result, but also in how it gets done. In today’s fast paced, almost out of control world you do not hear of too many people who love what they do for a living. While I don’t make a lot of money the pay back comes in other ways. And what is so bad about making less money doing something you really care about? The things I make might be for others, how I make them is for me.
Hand tools have become a sign of quality unhurried, reminiscent of a time when very different attitudes prevailed. I have never wanted to be one of the crowd and working by hand does set me apart. At the present time I don’t think there are more than a handful of people in the industrialized world who do furniture work entirely by hand. Part of me would like to see this change.
I started writing about my woodworking just before I went to school. I wrote about my toolbox for Fine Woodworking magazine and this lead to other articles about my work and how I do things. I have had several articles published in Fine Woodworking and a piece of my furniture was featured in Home Furniture magazine. I’ve also had an article printed in a British magazine, Good Woodworking, that is about my philosophy rather than a how-to. These articles became the starting point for the manuscript that found it’s way into print. You will also find most of it here on the site.
While I have had some success with my writing, I would much rather be in my shop making a piece of furniture either to keep or to sell. For now, the only way I sell my work is through word of mouth. While this has been a tough road to hoe, in the end, I believe it will pay off.
Presently I live with my wife, Susan and our youngest, Caleb in the Pacific Northwest in the USA. Jeremiah and Benjamin are both off serving in the US Air Force.