Your Woodworking Heroes

Your Woodworking Heroes

Several weeks ago, Chris wondered about who you consider to be your woodworking hero. Thank you to those who have shared! – Editor

“I’m not sure if this qualifies exactly, but it might. Who knows? I’m almost 78 years old now, but when I was a little boy of maybe 8 or 9, my father had an old table saw. I recall watching him building a set of picture frames on that thing, with a compound miter in the corners. A couple of decades later, I bought another old table saw and tried my hand at building a few things. That’s when the complexity of what he did really hit home. I have a hard enough time cutting a straight 45 on a board for a flat frame — and that’s with a modern saw (now) and the benefit of experience. How in the heck he cut a compound miter for a set of three picture frames, I have no idea! But somehow he did, and my memories of him trying again and again to cut those angles until he got them right are still with me, long after he no longer is.” – H. Vinson Sumerlin

“My grandfather worked for 45 years as a tire builder in Akron, Ohio. But his passion was woodworking. Apart from a few treasured pieces of walnut from his family farm, all his wood was salvaged from orange crates that he carefully disassembled. His shop was stacked from floor to ceiling with that lumber. All his power tools were homemade, wired to knife switches mounted on the ceiling. I still have his scroll saw, powered with a washing machine motor and handmade wooden pulleys (see above). His shop had the most intriguing jigs and fixtures. He once built a roller coaster model. The power source was the wind-up motor from an old Victrola record player. The chain to carry the car to the top had links fabricated with the metal from Prince Albert tobacco tins (Yes, he rolled his own cigarettes too). When I was a child, I asked him to make a simple box for me. I watched as he assembled the sides, nailed the bottom on, then nailed the top on. I was too timid to say anything, but I thought, that’s not right, how can I put anything in the box? Then he stepped to the table saw and cut the top off to make a perfectly matched lid. I was amazed. I thought, what a genius! I guess I inherited some of his ingenuity. I seem to enjoy making jigs and fixtures just like my grandfather. My stepson once said to me, ‘You need to stop making fixtures and start making stuff!'” – Kevin Jones

“My father was a man who could make and fix everything. As a child I wanted to ‘help’ him when he was working on a project, but it was usually my brother who was his assistant. A few of his hobbies were taxidermy, building model airplanes (which had motors and actually flew), photo dark room, remodeling our home, animated Christmas decorations, wine maker and a midget race car for my brother, just to name a few. He repaired all our appliances. After retiring from the USPS, he started making and repairing clocks. My most prized possession is the grandfather clock he made for my mom. I guess I inherited his creative genes. I’m the only one of my siblings who became a woodworker. He will always be my hero!” – Ca.Johnston

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