We hiked the Himalayas to see a chair so perfect, even the Dalai Lama would not sit in it.
We set sail for the island of Tonga where an entire island appeared seemingly overnight made of wild olive. From there we took a quick trip to Padagonia, mostly because we figured as long as we were traveling on the company dime, why not?
While we were there, however, we saw an entire town consisting of houses made to look like Stickley dressers made with absolutely perfect through dovetail joints.
Who built these incredible feats of woodworking? How could one man do all this fine handcrafted woodworking and then pick up shop and move halfway across the world to create another stunning piece the next day? Would our editors continue to pay for us to go to strange locations on the off chance that we’d find this unique individual?
To answer these questions, we traveled to Antarctica, where we found a distinguished looking gentleman constructing a scale replica of the Taj Mahal entirely out of popsicle sticks. He refused to identify himself, but we knew immediately that we’d tracked down the Most Interesting Woodworker in the World.
He took a break from his construction project to share with us a few bottles of unidentified beer and agreed to a brief Q&A session in the charbagh.
Woodworker’s Journal: You’ve made countless projects over the years. Do you have any tips that other woodworkers can use when they are cutting and milling lumber?
The Most Interesting Woodworker in the World: “I rarely cut project parts to size, I find that the trees simply grow to the proper dimensions.”
WJ: What do you think of the increased interest in handmade goods?
MIWITW: “I’m perplexed when I hear someone say that they made something by hand, and yet, they made it with the aid of several tools. When I make something by hand, it means that I have made it with nothing more than my hands as the tools.”
WJ: Although we recognize that there are examples of high quality manufactured furniture, many people are concerned that affordable, some would call “disposable,” furniture is leading to a devaluing of the furniture most people place in their homes. Would you ever purchase a piece of manufactured furniture?
MIWITW: “I don’t often purchase furniture that was not made by my hands, but when I do, it is a piece that I have designed.”
WJ: There is a growing trend towards repurposing or reusing the lumber from other objects to make new projects. For example, many people are scavenging old wood pallets and turning them into new wood projects.
MIWITW: “It’s funny you mention pallet wood. On a recent trip to Tasmania, I found myself with a few spare hours between speaking engagements. One of my students pointed out a pile of old broken pallets scattered amongst other debris behind the studio where we were working. She challenged me to make something of value from those broken and worn pieces of wood. In the course of the next 2-1/2 hours I turned that pile of unidentified species pallet broken wood into a Honduran mahogany Greene & Greene-style Robinson dining table. The ribbon-figured grain I was able to bring out was quite lovely.”
WJ: Your skill in making intricate joinery is well-known. How do you feel about the use of metal fasteners in your projects?
MIWITW: “I do not typically use metal fasteners, but when I do, they are precious-metal fasteners.”
WJ: Woodworking can be a relatively dusty and dirty activity. Your appearance is always impeccable. Can you share any grooming tips with other woodworkers?
MIWITW: “I maintain my stubble at a precise 60-grit.”
He then set down his beer, put on his glasses and stepped onto a waiting helicopter, never to be seen again. We’ve since heard that the entire Olympic village was fully constructed in Rio de Janeiro later that night.
As a side note, we recently discovered that our funding for this interview ended somewhere around February during a side excursion to Maui. We’re setting up a Patreon account to fund the remainder of our journey.