LJ Interviews #1: Todd A Clippinger

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Blog entry by MsDebbieP posted 03-04-2010 12:16 PM 2310 reads 0 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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March, 2010

This month, for our LJ eMag, we meet with Todd A Clippinger and learn a bit about his woodworking journey.

1. How did you find LumberJocks and what was the key feature of the site that kept you coming back?

Not long after I bought my computer I was talking with my local tool supplier about some ideas that I had for doing woodworking videos online. He told me about this guy that calls himself the “Wood Whisperer” who was doing video.

When I checked out Marc Spagnuolo's site, I found the link to LumberJocks. The world-wide community is just incredibly generous and friendly, that is what kept me coming back.

2. Tell us a brief history of your woodworking journey

My woodworking journey has it’s roots in my remodeling career. I was doing a lot of work on older homes from the 1920’s and 30’s and I always loved the original style trim work and built-ins. I was usually tearing out poorly matched remodels from the 70’s and 80’s that had been inflicted on these beautiful old homes and I often needed to fabricate the trim myself. It was here that I developed my hand and tool skills.

To understand what I was working on, I looked into architectural history and discovered the Arts&Crafts movement, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, the Prairie School, Greene&Greene plus the key figures associated with the styles. Then I found out there were contemporary woodworkers interpreting these styles in a modern vernacular and I was hooked.

Click for details

3. I can often tell when a project is one of yours; what do you think defines a “Todd A Clippinger” piece?

This is kind of a hard question for me to answer. It almost needs to be someone on the outside looking in to point out what it is that says “Todd A. Clippinger.” My work goes from a Shaker bench to a very contemporary closet design. But there is something about it that all ties together.

Often, there is a certain way an individual interprets materials and assembles elements that creates a personal style. I love contemporary interpretations or a modern style that reflects a traditional one. I love curves and arches, when appropriate I try to get them into my work.

Click for details

4. Your work is very artistic, where do you get your inspiration?

I am greatly influenced by the study I have done of the historical figures and movements. The influence may or may not be directly seen in the project, but it is always in my head interacting as I design.

My wife and I visit art galleries and we know a lot of artists that work in various mediums. Talking to them is stimulating to my creative process.

My best ideas and design solutions seem to occur when I am taking a walk with my wife and the dogs. There are all these influences and logged ideas in my head and they seem to breakthrough on their own when I relax and am just enjoying time out with Rita and watching our happy dogs run.

5. What do you find to be the most challenging part of woodworking and what is the most rewarding?

In building a freestanding piece of furniture it is easy to figure out a pleasing proportion and there is a freedom of expression. But I am usually working with a specific set of parameters such as space, style, and budget. The most challenging aspect is to come up with a design that fits all of these requirements at the same time.

The most rewarding part is reaching that break through moment when I nail it with a good design and it fits all of the requirements. The project as a whole is a visual, tactile, and cerebral experience that is satisfying in every way and happy clients are a great part of the reward.

6. What is your “most” favourite project created to date?

I am emotionally attached to all of my projects, but the one I am most fond of is the Mahogany Sofa Table. This was the first project that I really expressed myself and would consider it to be on the higher plane of fine woodworking and design.

I made the table for my wife, Rita, and we have it here in the house. It is such an easy piece to look at, I really nailed it with interpretation of materials and the proportions. It was part of the portfolio that got me juried into the 2007 Western Design Conference.

Click for details

7. Where can people find you on the internet (website etc)?

The website is very static because it’s primary function is an online portfolio for potential clients. I have more work on display at LumberJocks.

8. What is the biggest tip you can give people starting their journey into woodworking?

Spend lots of time in the shop and less on the computer.

As you are building in the shop, many things are happening. Hand-eye coordination and muscle memory is developing which creates skill. A sense of understanding for volume, mass, and proportions will develop as you build as opposed to just drawing. Also, greater creativity will be generated as the principle “One Idea Begets Another” occurs.

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9. Anything else you’d like to share with your fellow LumberJocks?

Don’t be afraid to push your personal limits on a technical and creative level.

I have had some redo’s in my projects and had to figure out some master level repairs for situations that have gone awry. But everything has pushed my work and skills to the next level.

Click for details

Thanks to Todd for taking the time to do this interview (and for all the support he provides to our site and our members!)

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

16 comments so far

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3814 days

#1 posted 03-04-2010 02:53 PM

Todd it was very refreshing to read the interview and learn of your journey and get an overall feel of how you feel about wood working..since Ive been here i have always been impressed with remarks made by others after they had met with you or you had given them help with a certain wood working problem…i applaud your journey and what you have achieved, may your success continue and i look forward to what else will come our way from you and from your shop…grizzman

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

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4610 days

#2 posted 03-04-2010 03:25 PM

Thanks MsDeb for the coverage and Grizzman for such kind words.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View roadhand's profile


3 posts in 3736 days

#3 posted 03-04-2010 03:33 PM

I appreciate the inspiration. Sometimes if I am having a tought time with a project it seems to help doing routine stuff that allow me to think while my muscles memory or sanding or whatever I will zone out and it and will come to me what I was doing wrong. But it time in the shop not at the computer that does it.

-- David, Texas

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4757 days

#4 posted 03-04-2010 04:15 PM

Todd has been an inspiration for me. He is such a driven, hard working person, that you can tell about him. You just have to respect him for that. I would not be surprised to someday hear some say, ” that’s a Clippinger piece”.

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 4473 days

#5 posted 03-04-2010 06:04 PM

Todd is a good friend and always an inspiration. When you can get your hands on that sofa table it is even more impressive than in the photos. Other than talking Rita into marrying him, I think it is the best thing he’s done, so far. I expect great things to come and will be watching.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4610 days

#6 posted 03-04-2010 06:26 PM

Thanks Thos and everyone.

I am working on more good things to come…

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View a1Jim's profile


117722 posts in 4088 days

#7 posted 03-04-2010 06:29 PM

Great news letter MSDebbie and super interview with Todd a long time Ljer that always has good post and information. Thanks

View Kindlingmaker's profile


2658 posts in 4037 days

#8 posted 03-04-2010 09:25 PM

Wow! Great interview of an incredable craftsman!

-- Never board, always knotty, lots of growth rings

View Porosky's profile


619 posts in 3875 days

#9 posted 03-04-2010 10:58 PM

Great interview Todd. You are always there to help out a fellow lumberjock. Truely a staple of this community. Thanks

-- There's many a slip betwixt a cup and a lip.--Scott

View jm82435's profile


1285 posts in 4253 days

#10 posted 03-04-2010 11:43 PM

It was an article in the Billings Gazette about Todd that brought me to LJs. Thanks Todd, MSDebbie.

-- A thing of beauty is a joy forever...

View Grumpy's profile


25623 posts in 4362 days

#11 posted 03-05-2010 12:27 AM

Todd, you certainly are a man with great talent & skill.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View MichaelMacD's profile


20 posts in 3564 days

#12 posted 03-05-2010 01:08 AM

saw your website when I first joined… very impressive. good article.

View Troy's profile


186 posts in 3574 days

#13 posted 03-05-2010 06:07 AM

On a roll bud. Great stuff. When can i get a hat? (autographed of course)

-- Troy Bouffard || Master Sergeant, US Army (Retired) ||

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 4184 days

#14 posted 03-05-2010 06:20 AM

Congrats, Todd.

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4610 days

#15 posted 03-05-2010 06:22 AM

Thanks everyone.

Troy – I just OK’d the embroidery today and placed my first order of hats:)

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

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