Woodworking Mania

Somehow or other I got started in woodworking as a hobby. Frankly I don't know how this might have happened since virtually all of my early experiences with it were rather negative: I came as close as anyone might to failing shop class in school and only some minor luck with the lathe prevented that.

Despite this early negative experience I found myself watching The New Yankee Workshop on PBS and wishing for a shop like the one Norm uses. I bought and devoured books on the subject. Eventually I accrued a very modest set of hand and power tools as I started tinkering in my shop a.k.a. garage. Unfortunately it still was a garage and though the space left over by my Miata was generous there was still no room for large projects. For this reason I concentrated on small items like boxes. Some of my early items were quite ornate but I lacked the knowledge of wood movement that would have made them stable—many cracked and failed when hit by major seasonal humidity changes outside of Alaska. You live and learn. At least if you are paying attention...

The next level of my mania came when I re-discovered the lathe and turning. I bought a tiny Ryobi lathe and took up pen turning. This satisfied for a few months and I moved on to a bigger used Delta lathe. This satisfied for nearly a year and I was forced to move on to a real Woodfast lathe from Australia. I realized that a lack of knowledge was holding me back and books and video tapes were only filling part of the void. Eventually I took some real instruction from big-time turners like John Jordan and Richard Raffan and attended several turning symposia in Alaska and outside to round out my turning education.

Evenutally the time to leave Alaska came and I was forced to get rid of most of my power tools. I kept only my hand tools and lathe when the move came deciding that I'd do it right next time and buy more suitable tools and have a proper shop.

After purchasing an older home in Tennessee I had the space for a shop and a real reason to set one up quickly: along with my tools I had sold all of my furniture before moving. Building a whole house-full of furniture would keep me busy for quite some time. With luck my skills will improve as I build.

All material on this web site copyright © 1999-2012 by John McGaw. This specifically includes images, words, ideas, concepts, colors, sounds, odors, shapes, obtuse angles, acute observations, and vague recollections.
You can contact me by clicking here:
Send E-Mail

Appearance Issues?