Relearning Wood Working #1: To Start, Discussing Relearning Skills.

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by Dallas posted 03-31-2012 07:28 PM 2883 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Relearning Wood Working series Part 2: Have I mentioned that I detest Home Centers? »

On another thread I iterated that I got injured and am no longer able to work full time as a meaningful member of society.
The reasons are long and sordid, but they are there nonetheless.

For a few years, being a diesel mechanic from decades ago, I worked on antique 2 stroke Detroit Diesel engines for people that still own those magnificent engines. Everything from a 51 series to the biggest diesel submarine engine was no problem.
Unfortunately, just the weight of the tools is too much for me anymore. (I have a torque wrench that weighs more than I do).

So, I came back to the roots of stuff my dad and step dad taught me….. Wood working.

My step dad was a truck driver and mechanic, but I watched, (and helped), him build a house and he never used a tape measure or a square. He had an innate eye for what was needed.
My dad was a master cabinet maker and was exceptional with anything made from wood. I actually watched him make an arbor for his old rip saw out of some myrtle wood. The saw was run from a long leather belt turned on a shaft driven by an old 330cid Ford industrial engine. Originally it was turned at my Grand fathers shop with a couple of mules.

Now I am relearning all the stuff dad tried to teach me 50 years ago. Some is easy, some… not so much, but I have to make a living somehow.

I spent at least a year learning to make a square box with butt joints. Then a few months more making mitre joints. It’s just amazing to me that making a square cut is so difficult. BTW…. I still don’t make a square box.

A few months before Christmas I started working on some cutting boards, standing grained using wood grown here on the property.
I built one for a neighbor lady as a cheese board that she liked so much she got me to build 3 more @ $75 each and they were only 10” X 14” X 1 1/2”.
Now, it cost me more than that to make them, but it was gratifying to actually get paid for something from someone who wasn’t related to me and who I hadn’t had to sleep with, LOL!

In the past couple of months I’ve been making some silly other stuff, nothing to get excited over, but it is experience.
About 6 months ago I was asked by one of our long term campers to build a new cabinet for the bathroom in his old Avion. The original was made from particle board and over the last 25 years was ruined just from sitting.
I built him a new cabinet with a lot of cut outs here and there because of the curves in the walls, (nothing in an Avion or an Air Stream is actually square, plumb or level). I used some scrap red oak for the rails and stiles and 3/4” AC plywood for the box. The panels were made from 1/4” oak ply that I had laying around and the counter top was made from the ugliest piece of Formica I have ever seen.

I think the only thing he, or I paid for was the pocket hole screws to the tune of $6.

He came to me last week and asked how much he owed me. I was being nice and told him $200. He gave me a check for $450 and wanted me to do more. He wants all the cabinets and closets redone.

WOW!!!!!!!!!! I just made some money from my wood working! Maybe not from fancy stuff like we all do for this and that, but I got paid!


I’ve been working on figuring out how to make Texas Lonestars. Not a big deal right?

Getting those angles exactly right has been a real learning experience.
I finally got one close enough I can glue it up and had a friends wife stop in today for a visit with the wife.

the wife mentioned my shop and this lady had to see it. she saw my pieces I made and ordered 7 of the stars. I priced them at $40 each and she didn’t bat an eye…. just asked if I would like a chek or paypal.


For many of you, especially those trying to start a business, don’t worry so much about you sales. Keep your day job and let your work be seen, whther you are getting paid or not…...

I may never make a living doing this, but at least I’lll have the satisfaction of knowing I did the best I could!

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

7 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


117592 posts in 3904 days

#1 posted 03-31-2012 07:32 PM

Interesting story Here’s a member who made a Texas .

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2814 days

#2 posted 03-31-2012 07:48 PM

Thanks Jim!
After doing it wrong for a hald dozen tries or so, I started using iltws2’s method. It works good as long as I have an accurate miter. LOL.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View a1Jim's profile


117592 posts in 3904 days

#3 posted 03-31-2012 08:03 PM

The 1st and last Texas Star I made turned out ok but I hand held the side angle of each arm of the star on the table saw,talk about stupid!!! I’m lucky I still have my fingers and don’t have part of a star sticking out of my forehead. A very bad move for someone who considers himself a safety nut.

View Roger Clark aka Rex's profile

Roger Clark aka Rex

6940 posts in 3762 days

#4 posted 04-01-2012 01:27 PM

Jim gave you a great example Dallas, I do hope things go well for you, keep the faith in yourself.

-- Roger-R, Republic of Texas. "Always look on the Bright Side of Life" - An eyeball to eyeball confrontation with a blind person is as complete waste of Time.

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2814 days

#5 posted 04-02-2012 04:30 PM

Thanks guys!
I have always had faith in my abilities. I use to get hired to do jobs because I could “Fix things”—- I even had that on my resume. Some of my fixes weren’t elegant or pretty, and some seemed like prototypes from Rube Goldberg before he got it right, but they worked.

When I grew up both of my dad’s had the opinion that it was better to rebuild and overhaul than buy new. Of course, at that time if a car engine lasted 100K miles, it was pretty much shot. We rebuilt engines, saws, splitters, hydraulics, etc. every year during the winter in our down time. We also built from local wood, which in the case of my dad in Oregon was Doug fir and for fancy stuff, Myrtle wood. With my step dad in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, the only thing available was Lodgepole pine. Some day I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of the furniture they built featured on Antiques Roadshow as ‘Historic’ or ‘Folkart’.

I’ve been busy for the last few days with stuff around the old homestead, and a small trip to an RV rally and a foraging trip to Harbor Freight.

I’m still working on the stars, I am not satisfied with the thickness of the pieces and while at HF bought a drum sander kit for my HF bench top drill press. As soon as I bring the 4 high ones down to the height of the lowest one, it’ll be glue time!

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3194 days

#6 posted 04-04-2012 01:38 PM

You’ve given us an interesting story, Dallas, and I hope that you will be able to substantially add to your income and possibly even live off of your work eventually; and, most importantly, be always happy in your work.


-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View vman154's profile


160 posts in 2756 days

#7 posted 04-08-2012 02:11 AM

i wish you the best of luck and hope you do will and make alot of money i hope thing go will with your injured i no how ruff that can be i no i cant wate to get back in my shop

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics