About me, and about my woodworking journey.

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Blog entry by Gatsby1923 posted 10-23-2009 07:10 AM 1746 reads 0 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Well this is my first blogging experience here at lumber jocks. I have lurked in your forums for a number of weeks, and have decided to take the plunge. As I wrote it, this blog became more of a tribute to my father than about me, but many of us can trace our woodworking roots back to our fathers.

Well where do I start? I am coming back to woodworking as a serious hobby after a short hiatus. I had a “Man Vs. Saw” experience a few years ago. I did keep all my fingers but was injured enough to have some nerve damage. As a result enjoying work with a table saw was a bit hard to do. I kept doing home projects but I was more of a DYI’er than a woodworker for those years. Then a sad experience brought me back to woodworking.

My father was my first “shop teacher” he was the son of Polish immigrants and had me very late in life (He was 60 when i was born… Yes 60.) He was trained as a cabinet maker but when World War Two broke out it interrupted that career and when he returned from the army he ended up a gunsmith at one of New England’s many fine firearm manufacturers. But woodworking became his thing to do on a evening or weekend.

My much older brother had no real interest in anything mechanical so to his delight his very young son became his shop buddy. He taught me how to use a smoothing plane, brace and bit, use a hand saw, and even joint a board by hand. From a very early age allowing me to use all his hand tools under his supervision, and even at 8 or 9 years old i’d sneak into his workshop and work on some of my own projects.

When his health started to fail in my late teens. I took over run of the shop, and began working alone bought some tools of my own, updated the antique of a table saw to a more modern one. Then one night, when I knew I was too tired to be working, I nearly cut my thumb off on it. Luckily I went straight into it, rather than across it. A trip to the ER, seeing a hand surgeon, a few months of healing, and I was fine physically. Every time I turned that saw on, after that night, I was gripped with a fear. Not the respect for the tool fear that one needs, but an irrational one that if anything made it unsafe to use. As a result it was probably only turned on 5 or 6 times in 2 years and very little real woodworking got done.

Sadly my father became very ill, at 89 his time was running out. My mother and I, along with some wonderful hospice nurses, took it upon ourselves to keep him at home and not put him in a nursing home. I started spending a lot of time in that old little used workshop. Then one night started sharpening all his chisels, then planes, then ruined a saw or two trying to sharpen it. When he entered his last weeks I stumbled upon a used 6inch jointer and 14inch bandsaw and crammed it down there. I rushed up to tell my father about the finds and he was thrilled, those where the 2 machines he always talked about getting. We talked shop for over an hour before he fell asleep. I did not know it at the time but it would be our last conversation. He suffered another stroke the next day and only lived another week.

Since his passing I have become a woodworker again. I am working on projects, trying to relearn the skills I have forgotten, as well as learn new ones; such as hand cutting dovetails. My fear of the table saw has turned into a very healthy respect and I want to build that jointer’s workbench my father and I talked about building many years ago.

-- I don't know where I'm going but I'm on my way!

14 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


118161 posts in 4631 days

#1 posted 10-23-2009 07:37 AM

That was a wonderful and touching story .I’m sorry for your loss but you have wonderful memories to take with you the rest of your life. Welcome to Ljs enjoy the woodworking tips and fellowship.


View degoose's profile


7281 posts in 4408 days

#2 posted 10-23-2009 11:10 AM

Hello and I hope your journey through this site is inspirational and educational… It has been for me.. I too lost my father before he could teach me all he knew so I have had to learn a lot of it myself… luckily there are some great people here to help..

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27249 posts in 4875 days

#3 posted 10-23-2009 12:30 PM

First of all it is good to have you on-board here and thanks for sharing your personal story. My father was a third generation carpenter who was always willing to share his skills and knowledge with me. But when I was younger, and far more intelligent than I am now (or at least I thought so at the time), I really couldn’t see any reason to learn how to frame or build cabinetry. But after he was gone I realized I had a latent passion for woodworking and, like Larry, had to teach myself. But in the end it is the memories that are shared that really count. I am sure your father would be proud of your accomplishments and the skills that you have developed.

I am looking forward to seeing more of your posts.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View ajosephg's profile


1897 posts in 4614 days

#4 posted 10-23-2009 01:03 PM

Thanks for sharing, and welcome to LJs.

-- Joe

View Chris Davis's profile

Chris Davis

1560 posts in 5036 days

#5 posted 10-23-2009 01:07 PM

Welcome to Lumberjocks. Thanks for sharing with us. Hope to see some projects soon.

-- Watch live video from our shop.!current-projects/c3c1

View rozzi's profile


323 posts in 4375 days

#6 posted 10-23-2009 01:25 PM

Sorry for the loss but a great memory and touching story. Welcome to Lj. Looking forward to some photos of the shop.

-- Duane, Iowa

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 4357 days

#7 posted 10-23-2009 01:42 PM

thankyou for such a personal introduction…its people like you and stories like this that have drawn me here to this site…i love wood workers….and because i am one myself..there is one bond that brings us togeather…each of us have diffrent levels of ability and we share that with each other all the time…i would love to see any projects your father did and look forward to seeing the ones you post…welcome to lumber jocks and consider this a handshake…...your welcome to visit my shop and view my projects…they speak of the kind of woodworking i enjoy doing…and i hope to learn more..grizzman

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View Tennwood's profile


114 posts in 4235 days

#8 posted 10-23-2009 02:45 PM

Thank you for a wonderful story. I know many of us learned woodworking, or just how to be a DYIer, from our fathers, a gift that can never be taken away. My brother and I had no social life growing up as we were always having to spend our weekends with Dad on one project or another. I only wish I had taken it as seriously as you did. Thank you for sharing.

-- Jim, SE Tennessee, "Don't spare the kindling Dear, we have plenty"

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 4338 days

#9 posted 10-23-2009 02:50 PM

I’m so glad you’ve joined LJ’s. Thanks for the great introduction. We look forward to hearing and seeing lots more from you in the future and welcome to the family. (I think you’ll like it here).

-- John @

View Dez's profile


1172 posts in 5131 days

#10 posted 10-23-2009 05:56 PM

We have several things in common. I also took care of my father and mother so that they could spend their last days at home rather than in a nursing home. I worked with my father for many years in the construction industry and also inherited all his woodworking tools! During one of the last talks we had he told me I was a much better woodworker than he was. I also had an incident with the tablesaw where I lost part of the nail on my left pinkie, because I was too tired! Fortunately I have not suffered more than a cautionary fear of that tool since then.
With part of my inheritance I was able to purchase a few more tools, among them a bandsaw and jointer!
Every time I use my tools to build something I remember him and the times we spent together, whether in the shop and out. I will continue to do my best just the way he taught me.

-- Folly ever comes cloaked in opportunity!

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4388 days

#11 posted 10-23-2009 11:01 PM

Great and touching story. I didn’t start woodworking until I retired. By then my two sons were grown men, so even though we have done some DIY together, we haven’t done much in the shop. However, my two grandsons who are 10 and 12 years old do Christmas projects with me each year making gifts for their parents and each other. I hope they will have similar fond memories about our time together in the shop as you have about the time you spent woodworking with your father. Welcome to LJ. Looking forward to seeing your projects.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Lenny's profile


1690 posts in 4580 days

#12 posted 10-24-2009 01:47 AM

Hi David,

Welcome from a fellow New Englander and thanks for sharing your woodworking journey with us. Father/son stories are special and I particularly enjoyed yours. Best wishes to you.

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

View Bob Kollman's profile

Bob Kollman

1798 posts in 4244 days

#13 posted 10-24-2009 06:23 AM

my freind, God is forever…but for us , our memories last only as long as the story is told. I rember the old polish guy and his son. I have an older brother too, that has no interest in wood working.

-- Bob Kenosha Wi.

View Gatsby1923's profile


39 posts in 4191 days

#14 posted 10-25-2009 06:17 AM

I’d like to thank all the respondents to this blog. I can tell all of you are wonderful people and I am blessed to have found such a great community. I am sure I will make many friendships with my time here.

Dave M.

-- I don't know where I'm going but I'm on my way!

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