Category Archives: Wood Working Ideas

Why Are You Moving?

coloradoFor the last few months I’ve been dropping hints about an impending move to Colorado. Recently the hints have become overt statements and if all goes well, we’ll officially be in Colorado before Thanksgiving. Because I seem to get the same questions via email daily and during my Friday Live sessions, I thought I’d write up some answers here on the site to avoid repeating myself and to prevent speculation.

Why are you moving?

To put it succinctly, kids change everything! Nicole and I never really LOVED living in Arizona. It was a means to an end, the “end” being running a successful business in an area with a reasonable cost of living. When you work all day and play video games all night, being stuck inside in the air conditioning for eight months out of the year isn’t that bad. But ever since my son arrived in 2011, priorities have shifted and our biggest challenge is finding indoor activities that allow the kid to burn off his seemingly endless supply of energy (otherwise he chews the furniture). Those indoor activities usually cost money which gets old quickly, considering all we really need is an afternoon at the park. And now that we have two little ones, things are going to get worse before they get better. So now that we have kids, we crave the same 4-season climate we grew up with.

Why Colorado?

Colorado is beautiful and has plenty of outdoor activities. The weather profile is what we’re looking for and many of the cities have exceptional school systems. And aside from that it comes down to our collective gut. There’s just something about Colorado that appeals to us and it’s where we feel we belong. It doesn’t hurt that we have some friends in the area too.

What about your shop?

The Dream Shop was fun to build and work in. It was a really cool experience. But in the same way I like to say Home is wherever my wife and kids are, my Shop is wherever my tools are. Doesn’t matter if it’s an 1800 sq. ft standalone building or 1-car garage. Woodworkers always figure out a way to make things work. So I’m not emotional about it at all and truly look forward to a future garage conversion. The house we are hoping to buy (we are currently under contract) features a 4-car garage at about 1050 sq ft. That’s not too shabby! But it will require a little downsizing, a little creativity, and a little extra work to get the shop up and running in that space. If I am ever feeling nostalgic about the old shop, I can always watch the Dream Shop build video.

How will this affect TWW and the Guild?

It won’t affect the Guild at all. I’m going to finish the Grandfather Clock project before I lose the shop and my new shop will be up and running before the next Guild project begins. The free site might see a slight decrease in content since that’s what I usually focus on between Guild projects. But I do plan on documenting the garage conversion so who knows, maybe I’ll have more content than I expect.

Did the shop affect the house sale?

When you have a big shop on your property, it can be a blessing and a curse. It’s not livable space, so you can’t add it to your square footage and that means it doesn’t do much to raise the overall value of the property. And if someone doesn’t have a use for the shop, it might be a deterrent. On the flip side, if someone does need a shop space, it could give the house a competitive advantage. So it really just depends on who’s looking at your house and what they want. But there’s really no way I’ll recuperate my investment in the shop. Good thing I’m sleeping on a bed of Honda money (that’s a joke).

Oh and if all of this moving talk sounds familiar or perhaps you’re hoping I’ll document the move, you might want to check out these videos:

Shop Journal #1

Shop Journal #2

A Moving Experience

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A Woodworker’s Surprise at Disneyland

Nicole and I recently decided to take our son to Disneyland. It’s only a 6 hr drive from Phoenix and since we’re both big kids at heart, it was the perfect choice for a 3-day getaway. We booked our stay at the Disney Grand Californian primary due to it’s proximity and access to the park. Based on the price, I fully expected it to serve our needs in terms of the vacation itself. What I didn’t expect was to be treated with an additional feast for the woodworker’s eyes at nearly every turn! Please forgive the photography that follows as these pics were taken with my phone and the lighting was less than ideal.

entryway-g&gThe first surprise occurred as I walked through the front door and passed through the entryway. I was greeted with an undeniably Greene & Greene piece. I couldn’t help but wonder how many happy families pass by this table every day and never give it a second thought. I’d guess most of them. But not me! I gave the piece a good inspection while other guests gave me funny looks.

Once in the lobby proper, the view was almost overwhelming. A large central gathering area features ample seating, impressive timber architecture, and numerous pieces that reflect G&G, Mission, Arts & Crafts, and possibly even Wright-influence.

lobby-3 lobby-2 lobby-1

From there it became something of a personal little game as I tried to spot the less obvious details and hidden gems. It seemed the more I walked around the more details I  discovered. I tried to capture some of my favorites in hopes of sharing them with you for a little inspiration. I hope you enjoy the rest of the pics. The vacation was awesome and the hotel stay was terrific. If you are ever in need of a great place to stay during a Disneyland trip, don’t hesitate to book this place. It’s impressive to say the least!

grand-californian-1 grand-californian-2 grand-californian-3 grand-californian-4 grand-californian-5 grand-californian-6 grand-californian-7 grand-californian-8 grand-californian-9 grand-californian-10 grand-californian-11 grand-californian-12 grand-californian-13 grand-californian-14

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What Happened With Festool?!

what-happenedYou may have heard through the grapevine or through my own lips that I’ve decided to pare down my Festool collection. Well, it’s true! But I promise you the story isn’t quite as interesting as you might think it is.

 

History & Facts

In spite of what many seem to think, Festool has not been an official sponsor of The Wood Whisperer since 2009 when they decided not to renew our agreement. A year later, Festool came on as a regular advertiser and giveaway partner and that was the extent of our relationship until just recently.

So why didn’t I seek out a new portable power tool sponsor back in 2009? Because for me, it’s not all about money. The “smart” business move would have been to contact other potential sponsors and try to arrange for a new deal. But because of my personal enjoyment of the tools and the relationships I formed with several Festool employees, it just didn’t feel right to completely bail on them. Being true to myself, I WANTED Festool’s presence in my shop. Furthermore, Nicole and I were already cooking up a new idea for bringing in revenue that would allow us to pick sponsors by preference, not by necessity. That idea was the Wood Whisperer Guild.

As time went on, it became clear to me that incorporating more accessible brands into the show would ultimately increase our appeal. After all, people tend to enjoy seeing someone build things with tools they can actually afford. But because I do this for a living, I can sometimes justify having tools that are out of reach for the average weekend woodworker. But by the time every single portable power tool in my shop featured a bright green logo I started to feel like the pendulum may have swung a bit too far. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I was able to turn so many people on to Festool and what their tools can do but ultimately my goal is to encourage quality woodworking, not necessarily quality tool-purchasing. So this idea of a brand shift was something I’ve been mulling over for years and it’s at the heart of my current decision to scale back my Festool collection.

So What Happened?

Recently, after a bit of an internal reorganization including the departure of my primary connection to the company, Festool backed out of a year-long advertising agreement suddenly and without notice. Business is business so I don’t take this stuff personally. But it did allow me the opportunity to reflect upon my tool choices and the brands I use. While Festool makes great tools, there are certain tool categories I feel I’d be just as happy with if they were yellow, green, blue or whatever. And coming from a Festool-centric experience, I feel there’s a real opportunity in evaluating some of these other brands and reporting back on how my supposed “downgrade” is going.

So that’s the deal. I’m getting rid of much (not all) of my Festool gear and replacing it with more accessible brands. I’m picking the brands I think would be good contenders (Milwaukee, Porter Cable, DeWalt, Makita, Bosch, etc), using them over the next year and either selling or giving away the ones I choose not to keep.

So what’s staying from the Festool lineup? ETS and Rotex sanders, TS55 and MFT, a couple CT Vacs, and the Dominos. The Rotex, TS55, MFT, and Dominos are what I consider to be game-changer tools so they aren’t going anywhere. The ETS sander is very high quality, but I’m only keeping it because I have lots of Festool paper and the Festool sander integrates well with the CT vac. What’s going? Everything else! Drills, various format sanders, Kapex, and the routers. As you can see, this isn’t meant to be Festool mass exodus. Instead, I’m just paring down to what I consider to be the Festool essentials. I still love the brand and will continue to explore what they have to offer in the future.

So there’s no ill-will here, no fun story of vengeance or rallying against corporate greed, and certainly no reason to question my integrity (which I always find amusing). Just trying to make lemonade from a few lemons.

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A Woodworking Vacation and the TWW Guild

This is a guest article written by Guild member Steve Lyde about his recent experience building a Sculpted Rocker with fellow Guild member Tim Fuller.

What is a woodworking vacation?  I recently went on what I call a woodworking vacation, a 2000 mile trip spread out over 3 weeks with the intent to build something great with a friend.

Me and TimI think most hunters dream of the big game safari trip and most fishermen dream of a deep sea charter trip. But what do most woodworkers dream of? Just some time off work to spend in our shops? Or maybe you dream of taking a course at one of the many great woodworking schools around the country? My vacation build consisted of traveling from Oklahoma to Iowa for a few weeks to meet an online friend and build a Maloof-style rocker together. Then I would come home via Kansas City for Woodworking In America 2015.

What does this have to do with The Wood Whisperer Guild you might ask?  I have followed Marc’s great videos for many years and joined the Guild about 3 1/2 years ago so I could build the Split-Top Roubo Workbench.  Since then I have gained so much from being a Guild member including both project plans and woodworking techniques.  What I never thought I would gain from the Guild was friendship.  When Marc and Nicole created the Guild Facebook Page they hoped it would be a great place for fellow Guild members to meet up and share ideas and that’s exactly what has happened for me.  Last winter, I was searching the Guild FB page for ideas on building a bucket list project: the Blacker House Chair.  That search lead to becoming friends with fellow Guild member Tim Fuller.

Tim and his family recently invited me to bring my 5th wheel trailer, my dog, a few tools and come spend some time with them in Iowa.  What kind of crazy people do such a thing?  Woodworkers who are crazy about advancing their skills and knowledge do these things. Tim and I are both life long hobbyist woodworkers; which has developed into a passion, or some might say an obsession, for building fine furniture.  We decided it would be great if we could build something together.

Early September, I hooked onto the camper and headed out on my 900 mile journey from southwestern Oklahoma to eastern Iowa.  After arriving, I found that Tim had full RV hookups at his shop so I had a free place to stay. And diesel fuel is as cheap now as it has been in many years so the expense of this trip was actually minimal.

Now working in another man’s shop is a little like wearing someone else’s clothes. It took me a while to get into the swing of things to say the least.  While Tim’s shop is fully equipped and larger than mine, it’s different. Different layout and different tools. Tim had already built two of the Maloof style rockers, similar to the one Marc built in a recent Guild project.  I, on the other hand, had only built one chair: a G&G Blacker House chair. Now before you ask who get’s to keep the chair, it was a gift for someone in Tim’s family. They paid for the walnut from Bell Forest and we provided the labor.

front legOur chair build uses a different crest rail design and different back slats than those in the Guild chair; these are a Hal Taylor design.  The crest rail is made from several pieces of vertical grain wood coopered and glued together.  We went with the coopered seat and carved a recess into the top of the arm rest so they hold your arms in place as you sit in the chair.  The finish is the two-part oil and wax Sam Maloof finish from Rockler.  We worked on the chair for about 8 days and I spent a few days seeing the local sights.  Tim’s family has some land with trees and a 1940’s saw mill which they were kind enough to fire up one afternoon.  It was very exciting for a flat land Oklahoma boy to see that process.  And yes I brought home a big stash of fresh cut oak and ash.

seat arm chair

 

Of course you know when you spend that much time in someone’s shop, you come away with tool envy and for me that was Tim’s Nova DVR XP lathe.  And as luck would have it, I found a new Nova on a special sale that I couldn’t refuse!

I spent about 2 weeks with the Fullers then headed home via Kansas City for the WoodWorking in America event.  This was my first time attending a woodworking show. It was a blast!

A special thanks to the Fullers for making this trip possible, Tim and Marianne are fantastic hosts.  I learned so much about working style and techniques and how to build a  Maloof-style rocker and of course gained a great life long friendship.

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A Woodworking Vacation and the TWW Guild

This is a guest article written by Guild member Steve Lyde about his recent experience building a Sculpted Rocker with fellow Guild member Tim Fuller.

What is a woodworking vacation?  I recently went on what I call a woodworking vacation, a 2000 mile trip spread out over 3 weeks with the intent to build something great with a friend.

Me and TimI think most hunters dream of the big game safari trip and most fishermen dream of a deep sea charter trip. But what do most woodworkers dream of? Just some time off work to spend in our shops? Or maybe you dream of taking a course at one of the many great woodworking schools around the country? My vacation build consisted of traveling from Oklahoma to Iowa for a few weeks to meet an online friend and build a Maloof-style rocker together. Then I would come home via Kansas City for Woodworking In America 2015.

What does this have to do with The Wood Whisperer Guild you might ask?  I have followed Marc’s great videos for many years and joined the Guild about 3 1/2 years ago so I could build the Split-Top Roubo Workbench.  Since then I have gained so much from being a Guild member including both project plans and woodworking techniques.  What I never thought I would gain from the Guild was friendship.  When Marc and Nicole created the Guild Facebook Page they hoped it would be a great place for fellow Guild members to meet up and share ideas and that’s exactly what has happened for me.  Last winter, I was searching the Guild FB page for ideas on building a bucket list project: the Blacker House Chair.  That search lead to becoming friends with fellow Guild member Tim Fuller.

Tim and his family recently invited me to bring my 5th wheel trailer, my dog, a few tools and come spend some time with them in Iowa.  What kind of crazy people do such a thing?  Woodworkers who are crazy about advancing their skills and knowledge do these things. Tim and I are both life long hobbyist woodworkers; which has developed into a passion, or some might say an obsession, for building fine furniture.  We decided it would be great if we could build something together.

Early September, I hooked onto the camper and headed out on my 900 mile journey from southwestern Oklahoma to eastern Iowa.  After arriving, I found that Tim had full RV hookups at his shop so I had a free place to stay. And diesel fuel is as cheap now as it has been in many years so the expense of this trip was actually minimal.

Now working in another man’s shop is a little like wearing someone else’s clothes. It took me a while to get into the swing of things to say the least.  While Tim’s shop is fully equipped and larger than mine, it’s different. Different layout and different tools. Tim had already built two of the Maloof style rockers, similar to the one Marc built in a recent Guild project.  I, on the other hand, had only built one chair: a G&G Blacker House chair. Now before you ask who get’s to keep the chair, it was a gift for someone in Tim’s family. They paid for the walnut from Bell Forest and we provided the labor.

front legOur chair build uses a different crest rail design and different back slats than those in the Guild chair; these are a Hal Taylor design.  The crest rail is made from several pieces of vertical grain wood coopered and glued together.  We went with the coopered seat and carved a recess into the top of the arm rest so they hold your arms in place as you sit in the chair.  The finish is the two-part oil and wax Sam Maloof finish from Rockler.  We worked on the chair for about 8 days and I spent a few days seeing the local sights.  Tim’s family has some land with trees and a 1940’s saw mill which they were kind enough to fire up one afternoon.  It was very exciting for a flat land Oklahoma boy to see that process.  And yes I brought home a big stash of fresh cut oak and ash.



Of course you know when you spend that much time in someone’s shop, you come away with tool envy and for me that was Tim’s Nova DVR XP lathe.  And as luck would have it, I found a new Nova on a special sale that I couldn’t refuse!

I spent about 2 weeks with the Fullers then headed home via Kansas City for the WoodWorking in America event.  This was my first time attending a woodworking show. It was a blast!

A special thanks to the Fullers for making this trip possible, Tim and Marianne are fantastic hosts.  I learned so much about working style and techniques and how to build a  Maloof-style rocker and of course gained a great life long friendship.

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Leave Your Comfort Zone

wonka-comfort-zoneI don’t know who said it first (Robert Allen?), but there are a few quotes out there that say something like “Everything you want is just outside your comfort zone.” There was a time when I would have dismissed that quote as something successful people say just to sell books. But there’s definitely truth to it and I truly believe it applies to anything you’re trying to get better at: exercise, diet, education, and yes, even woodworking. And it must be true because I wouldn’t be able to make a stupid Willy Wonka meme if it weren’t.

When you are first starting out in the craft, one of the best ways to progress quickly is to throw yourself into a project you’re interested in and then sink or swim. Most of us are resourceful enough to swim, even if it is just a doggy paddle. We can always work up to the breaststroke and synchronized swimming later. I personally believe that people do their best work and are most receptive to learning when the stakes are high and the results matter. There’s nothing wrong with taking an afternoon to practice joinery but don’t stay in practice mode too long. Start making things as soon as possible and even if they don’t turn out great, I guarantee you someone if your inner circle would appreciate owning your hand-made creations. Furthermore, every success you have on the project will be a solid reinforcement of your skills and every mistake you make will be memorable, assuring you won’t likely repeat the mistake again.

Because my “job” is to teach people woodworking, I often find myself sticking to what I know. It’s hard to teach something effectively if you don’t exhibit the confidence that comes with experience. But in the online space, we have a significant advantage over traditional media outlets in that we are allowed to screw up. In fact, we’re encouraged to by our fellow woodworkers! While some folks prefer to see a master woodworker execute a flawless joint, many more prefer to see a beginner or mid-level woodworker struggle through the process. The latter tends to provide a more relatable and dramatic story filled with excited expectation, miraculous victories, and depressing pitfalls. In other words, you get to see someone figure it out in the exact same way YOU will need to figure it out. As I approach my 10th year of doing videos online and after publishing my first book in traditional media, I have to constantly remind myself which camp I hail from.

hamper-1 copyIn my most recent project, the Woven Panel Rolling Hamper, I had an opportunity to do something I haven’t done in a while: design on the fly. This is something I did extensively in older series like the Sculpted End Table and the Gadget Station and it’s something I wanted to return to along with making good on my recent promise to return to more detailed productions. While the hamper’s construction is fairly simple, the woven panels were something completely new to me. I designed it in SketchUp (with the help of my buddy Scott Seganti) but I wasn’t entirely sure it would work. After all, SketchUp doesn’t take into account how difficult it is to weave a panel while trying to connect multiple legs, rails, a bottom panel, and a back panel. Because I was investing significant time in building and filming the project, it actually could have ended in disaster and more than a little embarrassment. But much like a college student who writes a fantastic paper the same day it’s due, I sometimes do my best work under pressure.

The hamper project honestly wasn’t THAT much of a risk but it does serve as a good example of what I’m trying to convey: leave your comfort zone by exploring new techniques and new materials. Of course you’ll want to do at least some research so that you don’t do something unsafe or stupid, but don’t fall into that “paralysis by analysis” state of mind. Pick the project, design it well enough to get started, and start making some sawdust. Before you know it, you’ll be creating things you previously thought were beyond your grasp and you’ll pretty much be a woodworking hero to your friends and family.

Obviously, not everyone has the same aptitude for woodworking. Some folks need more hand-holding than others and there are certainly people out there who would benefit from a slower-paced instructional curriculum (like we provide in the Wood Whisperer Guild). But the above logic still applies even if you aren’t a naturally-gifted woodworking god. The key lies in knowing yourself and knowing your comfort zones. Find that line and set your next goal just beyond it. Do this on every project and you will get better!

 

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A Woodworking Pep Talk

I occasionally receive emails or comments from discouraged woodworkers. Local woodworker Keith recently emailed me the following:

Just watched your video on your outdoor sitting bench. You make everything look so damn easy. I am in awe of how everything you touch comes out so perfect. What you do is a piece of art that some of us strive for but will never attain. Thank you for showcasing your talent. The only problem someone like myself has is I won’t do anything that you have done, because when it doesn’t look like yours, I feel I have failed. That is another reason I won’t be nearly as good. You have to practice to be good and I expect perfection because I see you make it look so easy. Still enjoy watching you work. Your neighbor, Keith

Keith’s mentality is something I encounter a lot. Many folks are easily discouraged when they see seemingly average people putting out exceptional work. I consider my own work better than average but not exceptional. Keith is being very kind. But we tend to be our own worst critics, right? Understanding where your work fits into the greater hierarchy can be a good thing if coupled with a dose of humility and an optimistic perspective. But not everyone has an optimistic perspective and knowing where you sit on the scale of skill could sour your taste for the craft. I’d hate to see that happen. So here’s a modified version of the pep talk I gave Keith and it’s one that just might resonate with you too.

Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself!

Pondering my choices in 2005

Pondering my choices in 2005

Woodworking (as a hobby) should be fun. If it’s no longer fun, for whatever reason, it’s time for some reflection. Keith is comparing his work to mine but is that a fair comparison? Let’s look at our virtual resumes. I have been doing nothing but woodworking for the last 12 years. Not only that, the last decade has been spent teaching others the fundamentals of the craft. As a result, I’ve gotten pretty good at the basics. I now have very high standards for basic joinery, basic design, and overall finish quality. Because The Wood Whisperer is a business and the primary lifeblood of my family, I have invested in nice equipment and I have a great space to do my work. My brain is in this stuff 24/7 and my livelihood allows/requires me to improve every day. My guess is that most people reading this are not in the same situation. You probably work hard at a full-time job and you’re limited to woodworking on nights and weekends when you’re not spending time with your family. Bottom line is this: I’m on my path and you’re on yours. Both paths are valid, necessary, and worthy and both are capable of facilitating the production of beautiful projects that will dazzle onlookers in their own unique ways.

Aim For Your Personal Best!

Keith used the word “perfect” in his comments but I can assure you my work is anything but. See some of my lessons learned from past projects here. And something Keith may not realize is that there are MANY woodworkers out there who make me look like a rank amateur. I’m very aware of this fact but I don’t let it get me down. Everything is relative and we all have our place in the hierarchy. So how do I manage to not be depressed by the fact that I am not as good as someone else?  Because those people are the genesis of my own self-improvement. By example, when I used to sit in my garage looking at pictures of “dream shops” I never once thought to myself, “That dude sucks! Must be nice. I’ll never have a shop like that because I can’t afford it.” Instead, I thought “That’s impressive. I’d love to have a shop like that. What steps can I take today that put me on a path that eventually leads to that dream shop?” Ten years later this happened.

So the same idea applies to observing the work of others. You shouldn’t view someone else’s skill and success as a reflection of how bad your situation is. Instead, use their work to help you set goals and discover ways to improve so you can put yourself on that path to greatness. And let’s clarify what I mean by greatness. We can’t all be “the best” woodworker but we can be our personal best woodworker. So as you move along your path to greatness, you should gauge your progress not by how close you are to the end-all-be-all, but by how much you’ve improved over your previous attempts. If you notice that project after project you just aren’t getting better, you need to find out why and squash it. My guess is it’s a mental block and not a physical one.

Practical Advice

When you’re finished with a project, take time to evaluate what it is you don’t like about it. If you can spot the flaws, you can usually identify when and why they occurred. To quote GI Joe, that’s half the battle. The other half is actually easier since it only requires a little research. Figure out how to prevent those mistakes and make sure they don’t happen again. And if we’re being completely honest with ourselves, most imperfections are a result of laziness, not just honest blunders. An honest mistake is something like not realizing that the table saw causes tearout when doing cross-cuts. But after you do some research and realize that you should use a zero clearance insert and a sacrificial fence on your miter gauge, the only reason you’ll have tearout again is because you made the conscious decision to take a short cut.

So be patient, be realistic, be honest about the nature of your mistakes, and most importantly: be inspired! Let the work of your betters pull you up instead of knocking you down and learn to be OK with the fact that there will always be someone who can do the job better than you. Run your own race and beat your own score. Be the master of your own destiny by setting a goal and plotting a practical course that gets you there. Don’t just daydream about what could be. Take an action today that helps make that dream a reality. Before you know it, you’ll find yourself sitting higher in the hierarchy. And if all goes well (somewhat ironically) you won’t give a crap about your place in the hierarchy simply because you’re having fun making things and doing what you love.

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Modern Day Lumberjack: Matt Cremona


Find a Tree, Turn it Into Furniture!

If you stop to think about it, the fact that we woodworkers can take a rough milled piece of lumber and transform it into a piece of furniture or art is quite amazing actually. For most of us, woodworking begins at the lumber yard, but for Matt Cremona, woodworking begins in the outdoors hunting for logs for his projects.

At first glance, you probably wouldn’t guess that Matt harvests and mills full size logs as a side business and as part of his woodworking routine. He may not be a burly dude, but it is rumored that he eats pancakes for breakfast every day!

Of course, he’s also a very accomplished woodworker and he does a bang up job teaching others what he knows. I’ve found his channel to be extremely useful in learning all about milling your own lumber along with a heap of great woodworking tips. I even learned that there are contraptions out there that turn a chainsaw into a mill that can slice up slabs from a log. Who knew!!

I’ve been following Matt for a while now, and I wanted to dig a little deeper and learn more about him and his work. A few months ago, he decided to make a career change to pursue his woodworking passion full-time. I had to take the opportunity to learn more about him and squeeze some great business tips out of him as well.

Enjoy the interview!


Who is Matt Cremona?

I build furniture starting with cutting down the tree, using my own special blend of hand and power tools. My own designs tend to have a clean straight line look, but I also really enjoy building period pieces. I produce videos about woodworking and milling lumber. My videos aim to motivate other woodworkers to challenge themselves and try something new. I also sell the majority lumber that I produce.

Who or what has had the biggest impact on the progression of your work?

Surrounding myself by people who are more accomplished than me has been the single most influential thing that has caused me to grow as a woodworker. Rather than be intimidated by their skill and accomplishments, it has been a constant motivator to learn from them and to try to achieve what they have done.

Throughout your journey as a woodworker, what accomplishments are you most proud of?

SecretaryOn the tangible side, the secretary desk is the project that I am most proud of. It was a massive undertaking for me and was such an incredible learning experience. I am also very proud of what I have been able to teach myself through trial and error. There is a lot you can learn by just getting out in your shop and building something. Sure, you’ll make mistakes. But for me, making mistakes has been by far the best way to learn. There is a sense of accomplishment looking back at those mistakes and realizing how it’s shaped you into a stronger woodworker.

I am also proud and really humbled by the interactions with other woodworkers through YouTube and other media. I receive messages from people who, after watching one of my videos, have been inspired to try something that they have always been hesitant to do. That is easily the best feeling in the world knowing that you got to play a part in their new experience. For example, my wife surprised me by making me a dovetailed beer carrier for Father’s Day this year—something she likely wouldn’t have ever tried if I wasn’t a woodworker. I don’t think there has been a prouder moment in my life.

What part of woodworking do you struggle with?

I have the hardest time staying focused on one project. At some point I’ll totally lose interest in working on something and I’ll switch to working on some other project. I’ll usually have multiple projects going at the same time because of this.

Which do you enjoy more: Building furniture or harvesting your own logs? Why?

Matt Cremona Slabbing Red Oak with a ChainsawThat’s a really hard question. For me, they are so intertwined and they both provide me with enjoyment and experiences that the other can’t. For instance, being out in the woods getting logs makes for a physically exhausting day which I love. Being in the shop allows me to turn an idea I have in my head into something that exists in the physical world. The best thing about doing both is the project starts out in the woods. Most of the time I don’t have a project in mind when I fell a tree, but I have plenty of time to come up with a great use for it or I’ll have a project come to mind and I’ll know exactly the right set of boards to use for it.

What made you decide to switch careers and focus on woodworking?

When I lost my job in Dec 2014, I started looking for a new job based on my professional experience. Around the same time, my YouTube channel was really starting to grow. With each job application I filled out and each interviews I went to, it became clear that teaching others about woodworking was what I am truly passionate about and that I had been given a great opportunity to try to do what I love. In March, I officially ended my job hunt and have never been happier.

What worries you the most about your career change, and how do you overcome those fears?

I think most people who go off on their own worry most about the change in income style and I am no exception. Going from a regular job to being self-employed is frightening. I was used to receiving a constant pay check. I knew how much I was going to make months in advance. I had paid vacation and holidays. I don’t have those anymore. No one is paying me not to work.

What’s really reassuring for me is every month the business grows. I get to look back and see how far this thing has come – all the way from nothing. That keeps me motivated and excited for the future.

How has becoming a full time woodworker affected your woodworking?
Spicebox made of walnut by matt cremonaMy time now consists primarily of making videos and everything that goes along with that. So really since I made this career change, I’m actually woodworking less than I ever have, at least measured in hours spent in the shop. However, what I’ve realized is now I am much more focused. I know exactly what tasks I want to complete when I head out to the shop. Overall that makes me more productive while I’m out there (although I still spend too much time looking for things I put down somewhere… who keeps moving my tape measures and pencils?!)

Thanks Matt!!

Be sure to check out Matt’s YouTube channel. Learn more about milling, learn from his tutorials, and see what’s going on in the shop. If you’ve ever considered harvesting and milling your own logs, you’ll want to check out all his videos about it.  You can also check out his website to see more of his projects, take a peek at the lumber he has in stock, and more!

Big thanks to Matt for taking the time out of his busy schedule to do this interview with me.

 

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Modern Day Lumberjack: Matt Cremona


Find a Tree, Turn it Into Furniture!

If you stop to think about it, the fact that we woodworkers can take a rough milled piece of lumber and transform it into a piece of furniture or art is quite amazing actually. For most of us, woodworking begins at the lumber yard, but for Matt Cremona, woodworking begins in the outdoors hunting for logs for his projects.

At first glance, you probably wouldn’t guess that Matt harvests and mills full size logs as a side business and as part of his woodworking routine. He may not be a burly dude, but it is rumored that he eats pancakes for breakfast every day!

Of course, he’s also a very accomplished woodworker and he does a bang up job teaching others what he knows. I’ve found his channel to be extremely useful in learning all about milling your own lumber along with a heap of great woodworking tips. I even learned that there are contraptions out there that turn a chainsaw into a mill that can slice up slabs from a log. Who knew!!

I’ve been following Matt for a while now, and I wanted to dig a little deeper and learn more about him and his work. A few months ago, he decided to make a career change to pursue his woodworking passion full-time. I had to take the opportunity to learn more about him and squeeze some great business tips out of him as well.

Enjoy the interview!


Who is Matt Cremona?

I build furniture starting with cutting down the tree, using my own special blend of hand and power tools. My own designs tend to have a clean straight line look, but I also really enjoy building period pieces. I produce videos about woodworking and milling lumber. My videos aim to motivate other woodworkers to challenge themselves and try something new. I also sell the majority lumber that I produce.

Who or what has had the biggest impact on the progression of your work?

Surrounding myself by people who are more accomplished than me has been the single most influential thing that has caused me to grow as a woodworker. Rather than be intimidated by their skill and accomplishments, it has been a constant motivator to learn from them and to try to achieve what they have done.

Throughout your journey as a woodworker, what accomplishments are you most proud of?

SecretaryOn the tangible side, the secretary desk is the project that I am most proud of. It was a massive undertaking for me and was such an incredible learning experience. I am also very proud of what I have been able to teach myself through trial and error. There is a lot you can learn by just getting out in your shop and building something. Sure, you’ll make mistakes. But for me, making mistakes has been by far the best way to learn. There is a sense of accomplishment looking back at those mistakes and realizing how it’s shaped you into a stronger woodworker.

I am also proud and really humbled by the interactions with other woodworkers through YouTube and other media. I receive messages from people who, after watching one of my videos, have been inspired to try something that they have always been hesitant to do. That is easily the best feeling in the world knowing that you got to play a part in their new experience. For example, my wife surprised me by making me a dovetailed beer carrier for Father’s Day this year—something she likely wouldn’t have ever tried if I wasn’t a woodworker. I don’t think there has been a prouder moment in my life.

What part of woodworking do you struggle with?

I have the hardest time staying focused on one project. At some point I’ll totally lose interest in working on something and I’ll switch to working on some other project. I’ll usually have multiple projects going at the same time because of this.

Which do you enjoy more: Building furniture or harvesting your own logs? Why?

Matt Cremona Slabbing Red Oak with a ChainsawThat’s a really hard question. For me, they are so intertwined and they both provide me with enjoyment and experiences that the other can’t. For instance, being out in the woods getting logs makes for a physically exhausting day which I love. Being in the shop allows me to turn an idea I have in my head into something that exists in the physical world. The best thing about doing both is the project starts out in the woods. Most of the time I don’t have a project in mind when I fell a tree, but I have plenty of time to come up with a great use for it or I’ll have a project come to mind and I’ll know exactly the right set of boards to use for it.

What made you decide to switch careers and focus on woodworking?

When I lost my job in Dec 2014, I started looking for a new job based on my professional experience. Around the same time, my YouTube channel was really starting to grow. With each job application I filled out and each interviews I went to, it became clear that teaching others about woodworking was what I am truly passionate about and that I had been given a great opportunity to try to do what I love. In March, I officially ended my job hunt and have never been happier.

What worries you the most about your career change, and how do you overcome those fears?

I think most people who go off on their own worry most about the change in income style and I am no exception. Going from a regular job to being self-employed is frightening. I was used to receiving a constant pay check. I knew how much I was going to make months in advance. I had paid vacation and holidays. I don’t have those anymore. No one is paying me not to work.

What’s really reassuring for me is every month the business grows. I get to look back and see how far this thing has come – all the way from nothing. That keeps me motivated and excited for the future.

How has becoming a full time woodworker affected your woodworking?
Spicebox made of walnut by matt cremonaMy time now consists primarily of making videos and everything that goes along with that. So really since I made this career change, I’m actually woodworking less than I ever have, at least measured in hours spent in the shop. However, what I’ve realized is now I am much more focused. I know exactly what tasks I want to complete when I head out to the shop. Overall that makes me more productive while I’m out there (although I still spend too much time looking for things I put down somewhere… who keeps moving my tape measures and pencils?!)

Thanks Matt!!

Be sure to check out Matt’s YouTube channel. Learn more about milling, learn from his tutorials, and see what’s going on in the shop. If you’ve ever considered harvesting and milling your own logs, you’ll want to check out all his videos about it.  You can also check out his website to see more of his projects, take a peek at the lumber he has in stock, and more!

Big thanks to Matt for taking the time out of his busy schedule to do this interview with me.

The post Modern Day Lumberjack: Matt Cremona appeared first on The Wood Whisperer.

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A Maloof-Inspired Sculpted Rocker

The Sculpted Rocker Guild project starts next week and there’s an elephant in the room. I should probably address him.

Upcoming_RockerI have no problem admitting that I had/have serious reservations about doing this project in the Guild. When you build a sculpted rocker, in nearly every case, you’re doing your best to emulate the one and only Sam Maloof. His rockers (and other works) are admired by woodworkers and non-woodworkers alike. This is probably why this was the most requested project since the Guild’s inception.

 

 

I knew I didn’t have the time to develop my own patterns for this project so I reached out to fellow woodworker Charles Brock, who sells plans and DVDs on how to make his interpretation of a sculpted rocker. I licensed the plans for use in the Guild and will do my best to show folks how to make the chair with the level of detail we apply to every Guild project.

While this may have covered my butt with Brock, it doesn’t do much for the folks at the Maloof shop. After all, even after paying licensing fees I will eventually make a profit from a Maloof-inspired design. I have great respect for the Maloof family and craftspeople that keep the name and brand alive today. As you can see, my desire to bring this challenging project to my audience conflicts with my personal ethics. From my perspective, it’s just not a black and white issue. So, what am I to do?

Starting retroactively in April, I’ll be donating 10% of our direct revenue from the Sculpted Rocker plans to the Maloof Foundation. The Maloof Foundation’s mission is: “to perpetuate excellence in craftsmanship, encourage artists and make available to the public the treasure house the Maloofs lovingly created.” Located in Southern California, the organization does great things for the community and the craft and it should be on your short list of woodworking destinations to visit.

To be honest, I’m still trying to process all of this and the eventual repercussions. I always try to be honest and fair not only in my personal life but my business life as well. Even if the patterns we’re using in the Guild came from a third party, there’s no denying where the original inspiration came from and the best thing I can think to do is simply share the profits.

Perhaps the Maloof people will see it as an empty gesture. I hope not. Either way, I’ll be sending them money twice a year. If you already purchased the project or a bundle containing the project, a portion of your purchase is currently sitting in the Maloof Foundation’s Paypal account. If anyone wants to donate directly to the Foundation, you can do so by clicking the little red “Make a Donation” button at the top of their home page.

Thanks for listening.

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