David shares his experiences, ideas, and some great projects for cabinetmakers in David’s Sandbox.
I’ve been involved in woodworking for (gulp) 25 years. I started by doing odd carpentry jobs while working out of my parents’ basement (at least they let me sleep upstairs). I managed to work a few furniture projects in, a couple of which weren’t bad for a beginner (the others were bad). After a brief attempt at college (I almost became an electrical engineer – whew, that was close), my springboard into life in the real world was a two year stint studying under Ian Kirby, a traditionally trained woodworker, writer and teacher, during which time I earned a foundation of woodworking theory, hand and machine tool use, drawing and design that I am still building on today.
This brief period of exploration and enlightenment was followed by many years of blundering, missteps and mistakes – at least that’s what it felt like some days. Since 1988 I’ve been self-employed building custom residential cabinetry, built-ins and furniture, beginning with a single helper and growing steadily to as many as 10 employees, and (sparing you many agonizing details here) now have come full circle to a shop attached to my house, with a single helper.
So what’s different about that compared to working out of my parents’ basement? Well, other than having a much better equipped (not to mention better lit) shop, the difference is that (gulp) 25 years of experience. In those years I’m watched a lot of good ideas turn out to be not so good, seen some changes (mostly improvements) in how things are done in a woodshop, and learned a few techniques that make my job easier and keep the phone ringing.
Plans for this WebColumn
While it’s impossible to teach experience, I’m happy to share some of what I’ve found along the way in the hopes of helping those who are not as far along the path to avoid some of the pitfalls I’ve fallen into; and since I think I still have a ways to go myself I also hope to bounce some ideas off of y’all and maybe pick up a new trick or two along the way.