JoeNovack

Who/What inspired you???

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As a retired custom home builder (now) Middle School/High School Woodworking teacher (10 years) I am wondering what initially brought you to woodworking.

For some it was a school class...

In my case I never had any type of shop class....It was never a part of my education.

For some it was family...

In my case there was no father figure or other male presence in my life who took me to 'his shop'...

I grew up in Queens, NY and don't remember anyone that would have steered me towards anything close to woodworking...

And yet...I was drawn to working wood...

Who or what inspired you???

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My Dad inspired me. As I grew up, he would build projects, mostly basic stuff like an outdoor table and benches for it. Then while at the University of Alabama, I took a class, never will forget the title: "Wood Technology" which was a shop class with professional shop power tools and one of the largest band saws I have ever seen. That got me over being intimidated and I have been woodworking ever since.

Jeff

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kinda fell into it. was working in house keeping and my boss was treating me like a punk trying to get me out of the department. changing my hours daily. grilling me about every little task. writing me up for issues that happened while i was not there. docking my pay a min every day for a week before they changed a policy saying that employees had to clock in no earler then 5 min before the hour. needless to say they had an opening in the wood shop as a teachers aid and now i love it. kinda a fluke in all but it worked out.

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When I was a kid my folks would send me to my aunt, and uncles for a couple weeks in the summer. Now my uncle was a cabinet maker by trade and he had the coolest shop ever IMO, and he was always building something interesting out there, and didn't mind a little kid hanging around asking a million questions. One of the last times I got to hang out with my uncle he had me help him build an 8' pram it was really fun, and he let me do alot of the construction helped with the fiberglassing it turned out so nice I wanted it so bad but I never said anything, and when my folks came to pick me up he gave me the boat. He was a great teacher and a very easy going person and never to busy to answer questions, thats who I wanted to be when I grew up.

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Milt. I never knew his last name, just knew him as Milt. In Chicago, just about every neighborhood had a public park. Some were tiny .. some were medium .. a very few were HUGE .. I mean a couple of square miles with lagoons, and all sorts of amenities. My neighborhood (Gage Park) had a medium sized park. Swimming pool, 8 tennis courts, 20 baseball/softball diamonds ... BUT ... we had what was known as a "fieldhouse". It was a large building with an auditorium .. 2 gyms .. showers .. meeting rooms that a group or organization could use for free. But DOWNSTAIRS ... we had a game room .. a lapidary shop .. an indoor archery range .. and ... A WOODSHOP !!! Milt ran the woodshop, and he was like a second father to many of us. At age10, I remember going straight from school to the fieldhouse every day to make projects and learn from Milt. He would get Formica drops from some cabinetmaker friends of his, and we would cut them in the shape of pigs & other animals to be used as cutting boards. We made mangers at Christmas time ... I still have one I built in 1960 ... the Mahogany plywood is delaminating & falling apart, but we still put it out every Christmas. Later, I used the woodshop in the evenings with the adult group and, again, Milt mentored me just as he did in my earlier days. I've been doing some form of woodworking ever since, and I doubt I'd ever had the interest in the hobby had it not been for "Milt".

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Evan know I was raised by my Aunt and Uncle for a good part of my life I now work in construction which is what my dads family does. I have been working in the field now for 10 years and i am the 4th generation. I do remember the time i was with my mom and my dad that we did build a lot together. Even after that i was always into creating and building and putting things together.

If there was a project around the house at my uncles I was the one that helped him. I worked on his addition to his house and later on I took his roof of and re stacked it.

So i would have to say Genetics is what drew me to working in wood :) combined I would say my family has over 200 years of experience.

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Milt. I never knew his last name, just knew him as Milt. In Chicago, just about every neighborhood had a public park. Some were tiny .. some were medium .. a very few were HUGE .. I mean a couple of square miles with lagoons, and all sorts of amenities. My neighborhood (Gage Park) had a medium sized park. Swimming pool, 8 tennis courts, 20 baseball/softball diamonds ... BUT ... we had what was known as a "fieldhouse". It was a large building with an auditorium .. 2 gyms .. showers .. meeting rooms that a group or organization could use for free. But DOWNSTAIRS ... we had a game room .. a lapidary shop .. an indoor archery range .. and ... A WOODSHOP !!! Milt ran the woodshop, and he was like a second father to many of us. At age10, I remember going straight from school to the fieldhouse every day to make projects and learn from Milt. He would get Formica drops from some cabinetmaker friends of his, and we would cut them in the shape of pigs & other animals to be used as cutting boards. We made mangers at Christmas time ... I still have one I built in 1960 ... the Mahogany plywood is delaminating & falling apart, but we still put it out every Christmas. Later, I used the woodshop in the evenings with the adult group and, again, Milt mentored me just as he did in my earlier days. I've been doing some form of woodworking ever since, and I doubt I'd ever had the interest in the hobby had it not been for "Milt".

be nice if you could find out what happened to him.....perhaps you might want to do some kind of after school thing to teach shop to kids

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For me it was the wood itself. My father loved woodworking and I was ignorant about it. Then suddenly after his death the woodworking passion awake in me. It all happen when I saw a wall clock. I had to make me one, and when I was shopping for wood, I discover some nice grain bubinga. Ever since then, I was hooked and have many species of wood to work with.

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My grandpa was a master carpenter and woodworker. He had a marvalous shop that I would spend hours with him when I was younger. He lived 3 hours away so whenever the family went for vacations or holidays that is where I always wanted to go.

Going into middle school and high school I was always in construction or the woodworking class.... I just really loved it.

I am only 21 and have a pretty good setup in my dads garage... I am working on moving a few hours away for work and then I will be able to setup my own location!

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Where to start?

My father had a small selection of tools in the garage workshop, where he cut out ornaments for Christmas trees. He and my mother would paint them and sell them during craft fairs. (That's where my love of turning came from, incidentally.)

Plus, my grandfather had a (to me, then) large workshop packed full of things that you could make things with. Never had any large power tools, but he grew up learning how to make things, became an engineer so he could draw the plans to make things, and was always taking things apart to find out how to make things better.

My junior high had a shop class, where I struggled mightily with a hand plane, not knowing any of the basics. The shop teacher was a "good enough" kinda guy, but I was a perfectionist. While he was not very encouraging, and it was partially in spite of him rather than thanks to him, I fell more in love with working with tools. (Incidentally, though the school had probably $150,000 worth of power tools, the only tool we were allowed to touch - and just once - was the table saw. If I remember right, it was a 10" blade, and had a sliding top. Yet we did all our work with hand tools...)

And then there were the trips to Hale Farm and Village, and Sturbridge Village, where I got to see what other craftsmen had done without the benefit of power tools.... And that was as big a goad as other things.

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Moving into our first house (1950s split level) and doing some trim carpentry. Baseboards, crown, casings, etc...Seeing a coped joint come together started my joinery addiction; making the move from a hand saw and miter box up to a powered saw was all it took to kick-start an acute case of Normism.

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For me I remember going to visit my uncle David who was a hobbyist woodworker. He worked out of a small shed in his back yard and I was always fasinated by the things he could build. He also never minded me hanging around and would let me pound nails into scrap as long as I wanted and ocassionaly I got to help with a project. Never anything big just maybe help hold something steady but it was still nice to be involved. Then a few years later my dad bought a shopsmith and I got to work on things with him whenever he was home. Unfortunately being in the Army that wasn't always very often or for very long. Several years later I was all grown up and bought my first house and proceeded to remodel it in trial and error fashion. Couple yrs later I had a friend that was moving and gave me a little benchtop saw. After a couple small projects with that I realized I needed a table saw and I've been spending money and making mistakes, I mean beautiful things ever since.

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Some very cool stories!

I had shop class in middle school and built my mom a napkin holder and a jar opener that was just a cut-off hacksaw blade in a wedge. You'd jam the lid of the jar in there and the teeth would grab it so it could be opened. But after that I kind of forgot about woodworking until I bought my first house and found in the basement, in a cabinet underneath what must have been his workbench, a bunch of tools from the older fellow who lived here before and passed away. Something about seeing all those rusty old saws, gouges, and planes and realizing that he'd probably used those to make the built-in bookshelves and various other things upstairs got me interested again.

I've since cleaned up a few of the saws and one of the planes and they still work pretty good. I think he'd be happy to know someone's using them.

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I was always then kind of kid who would get scraps were ever I could and put something together wether it was a trailer for my bike of a backboard for basketball. After I got older and grew tired of working on cars and my new bride and I bought a house. I started to see how much money renovation and furniture costs, and the NYW on TV. I thought I could do it better and cheaper myself. I have spent a lot of money on my shop but it has paid for itslef ten fold, and that's not even figuring in that woodworking is my therapist!!

Nate

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After moving into a house way back in the '70s I was faced with many projects. I always enjoyed building and fixing things for myself. Thinking back to then I had a radial arm saw, a hammer, and screwdriver. Shopsmith was going strong back then and after visiting one of the malls that had a Shopsmith store, I would regularly visit and watch the demonstrations. I got hooked on all the neat things I could make. So, Shopsmith was the first inspirations to get me to move from common carpentry tasks to building fine furniture (well, I like to think it is). Since the Shipsmith days, I have moved from a basement full of the Shopsmith and all the accessories to a garage full of Powermatics, Leigh Jigs, etc. etc.

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I'd have to say it was Gustav Stickley. I collected Mission/A&C furniture for our home, but it's rare to fine affordable quality pieces. So, I thought I'd try to make one or two small pieces myself. They're not going to be collectable, but may be my children would consider them keepsakes one day. It turned out that I enjoyed making pieces even more than I expected, and the means became the ends for me.

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My granddad had a little garden shed in his backyard that was fascinating to a growing boy. All kinds of tools hung on a pegboard over a table. In retrospect I realize that he wasn't nearly as handy as he wished he was, but small house repairs were within his abilities. The attitudes he had towards self sufficiency would come home to roost years later.

Then in college I would make sets for the theater, but quality was secondary to quick. Since anything we built would only be up for a month, it was all thrown together and made to look good. From one side. At a distance. With the right lighting. This didn't instill in me a love for the object made, but was an excellent orientation for various ways to work wood. After college I would do small projects for my first house, a deck was the largest attempted, but I hated having an old house that I constantly had to repair so my joy factor was low.

Turn to my second house. After my divorce and years of apartment living, I bought a house and hired a contractor to install flooring and do other repairs. The rest of it was okay, but the job they did on the stairs was awful and I had to redo it. I bought a table saw and got an old radial arm saw from a friend to cut new treads and decorative caps for the stairs. I decided to attach it with screws, but evenly spaced countersinked holes for the screws with a benchtop drill press. The caps were stained, and installed, and I found that I was very pleased with how they turned out, attractive and functional at the same time. It was like the scales fell from in front of my eyes. I wanted to make nice things, things I couldn't buy. I turned to look at the MDF shelving and furniture that had been purchased with a bachelor's budget and realized that I could do better.

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Please keep them coming...

The following is my response in another forum after a teacher posted about a student who passed away and whose parents created a memorial of his woodworking at his wake...

Dave...

I had the exact experience at the wake of one of my students in my 3rd year of teaching...

This student had two sets of parents....(Father/Stepmother ... Mother/Stepfather)

Whatever he made in class was in duplicate...

He always worked twice as fast so he could have something for both of his families.

I never saw any family members at Parent/Teacher meetings...Not their style...

At his wake both sets of parents brought all of his projects for display which created quite an impressive array... (Fighting tears here...)

At his funeral family members spoke to the congregation of his love of woodworking class...

Both the Mother and Stepmother told me how he couldn't wait to show them each thing he made in my class...

I lost a student this week because his father and step-mother wanted to punish him for his home behavior by taking away his favorite class...So they had him removed from my class...

He cried as he told me that he could no longer be in my class...

We (Teachers) don't teach Woodworking or Carpentry or Shop (or Math or English)...

Teachers do not teach subjects...

We teach young men and women...

There is so much life-changing power in the simple words "Good Job!" spoken to a young student who turns in a project for grading...

We've all felt it...

Know this...

Although there are only a few of us who post here...this very day thousands of mothers across America were given a hand-crafted gift proudly presented to them by a student whose favorite class is shop class....

All the best...

Joe

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