LJ Interviews #7: Dick & Barb Cain

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Blog entry by MsDebbieP posted 09-07-2010 08:47 PM 4190 reads 1 time favorited 44 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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This interview is from the September, 2010 issue of the Creative Hands Network News.

Dick & Barb Cain have been members of since August, 2006. Thank you, Barb & Dick, for this wonderful interview!

1. How did you first get started working with wood?
I guess I got off to a real early start. Being depression times my Dad was fortunate enough to have a job, so he took on the task of building a new home in 1935. I was three years old at the time. I was always under his feet with the small hammer he had given me, & small keyhole saw he let me play with. I can remember this because I hit my thumb once while pounding a nail into a wooden lathe. I can never forget that lesson, because it’s hard to forget painful things I guess.
When I got a little older I was always making things like wooden guns that shot inner tube rubber bands. I also carried a jack knife with me at all times. My first Jack knife came with a pair of boots from Kinney Shoes. They had a knife pocket with a knife in it as a sales gimmick. I wore those boots to school everyday. BOY! would I have been in trouble in this day, & age. I may have been on TV news nowadays for bringing a knife to school. I was only in about 2nd grade at the time. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think of a knife as being a weapon.

By coincidence I happened to find the knife in one of my tool boxes the other day.


I used to make sling shots, willow whistles, & carved my initials on things just about everywhere I went. I built a shack in the empty lot next to our house when I was about 14. It was torn down a few years later when my Dad sold the lot. My Dad always let me use his tools in his basement shop, & I used to make things like pushcart racers out of old red wagon wheels.
I also built some stick model airplanes as a teenager. One was a Lockheed Lightning P-38 fighter, the one with the twin tails.
In the area we lived, there was a lot of housing construction going on, so the houses became a playground for us kids after the carpenters left, so doing this must have helped me in the knowledge of carpentry.
My initial introduction to real woodworking were the wood shop classes I had in 8th, & 9th grades in the Hibbing school system. They were really well equipped with any kind of machine you could think of at the time. The 8th grade class was taught by learning to use hand tools, & 9th grade we learned the proper usage of power tools. I think this helped me more than anything. We also had superb instructors. Nowadays the kids don’t receive this type of training.
They miss being able to get hands on experience, & this gives them the fear of being able to use woodworking machinery safely, & properly.

I made a Cribbage board, & this Bookcase in 8th Grade.
Click for details
(click to view project)

2. What was it about woodworking that initially caught your interest, enticing you to get into it at the level you are now?

Buying an older home, actually made it a necessity to learn more, & to use my woodworking skills. Barb was always a homemaker, so we got by with my income. Doing the work myself was the only way to afford anything we needed.
We started out with old hand me down furniture, & when we wanted to upgrade, I would build something.
I even designed, & built our own kitchen cabinets.
Click for details
(click to view project)

3. Tell us a bit of history of your journey from that beginning to where you are today.
Craft shows started to flourish in the late 1970s. We used to stop and view the things people were making. The carving exhibits caught my eye, & I became envious of the beautiful carvings some of them had created. I always thought to myself, “I wish I could do that”.
I was a subscriber to Wood Magazine, & one issue had a lesson on carving an Owl in relief. I borrowed a set of carving chisels from a friend, & low, & behold, success! I discovered that I could carve.
I kind of kick myself for not trying carving before this. Here I was starting to carve at 50 years old, & thinking about all of those wasted non carving years of the past.

Here’s my first attempt at carving.
Click for details
(click to view project)

4. What inspires you regarding wood creations?
I get inspired whenever I see a piece of wood. I think, “what can I make from this”?
While I’m in the carving mode, which is most of the time. I’m always looking at pictures that could be used as a carving subject. I tend to clip pictures from magazines, & now with the computer, I can copy, & paste interesting things to my files.
When I plan on building a cabinet, or piece of furniture, I browse the internet, & magazines for ideas. I usually modify the project plans to my preferences.
When I use my lathe, I usually take a blank of wood, & set it into my lathe, & round it out roughly, then I just play it by ear. It’s hard to predict what the final outcome will be. The nature of the wood has a lot to do with the final creation.

5. What are the greatest challenges that you have met along the way? (and how did you overcome them?)
In the spring of 1965, I decided to build a sailboat, a small catamaran. I worked on it in my garage almost every night for about three months, & we finally launched the (“Barbara Ann”) in mid July.

Click for details
(click to view project)

Back in 1968, we decided to have a basement built under our house. Trying to save a buck, I made an agreement with a house mover that I would help him with the project. He deducted my labor from the bill, which really helped a lot.
That was quite an experience. It surprised me how heavy a house is. As we jacked it up, we kept adding wooden cribbing, & it kept sinking into the clay until it finally stabilized. After it was raised to the proper elevation we rolled it back about 50 feet, so the hole could be dug. I installed new 2×10 floor joists while it was still blocked up to supplement the old 2×6 joists. I then took diagonal measurements of all of corners, & the block layers used these measurements to layout the foundation. When we rolled the house back, it fit perfectly. I saved on this job by carrying blocks, & doing other labors.
We added on to the front of the house, & also to the rear to accommodate a grade entrance plus a stairway to the basement. Being that we started this project late in the fall, we had it all enclosed just before winter came.

I’ve also tackled countless other projects, wood turnings, & carvings with perseverance.

6. What is the greatest reward that you have received from woodworking? (personal or tangible)
The many “hugs” I’ve received from Barb for things I’ve made for her over the years.

Also the appreciation I’ve received from my family, & friends that I’ve made things for. All of this is very rewarding to me.

Just looking at the things I’ve created is also very rewarding.

On the tangible side, I was able to take third place in the Lumberjocks contest last year. I’ve also placed in a couple of other LJs contests.

7. What is your favorite tool that you use for woodworking?
Without a doubt, I think my wood carving tools would take first place.
Click for details
(click to view project)

My wood lathe would be a close second.
Click for details
(click to view project)

8. What is your favorite creation/project?
WOW! That’s going to be hard thing to do. I have many favorites when it comes to carvings. I think the one that was most difficult is the Irish Claddagh I made for Barb. Carving hands takes much skill, & I think I did them quite well. Also carving the Irish Knot was quite a chore.

Click for details
(click to view project)

The Mining scene is another favorite. I think it turned out pretty nice.

Click for details
(click to view project)

Also the Guitar I made for my son Steve, was a very satisfying project.

Click for details
(click to view project)

There are lots of other favorites, so just check out My Projects.

9. What tips would you give to someone just starting out or currently struggling with woodworking?
Nowadays it’s much easier to learn woodworking. There are so many sources available, such as magazines, & now the internet. These things were unheard of when I started out, but I did have the advantage of a wonderful school with a lot of equipment, & excellent instructors. If you do have the funds available to you, take advantage of taking some classes in woodworking. Also some of the tool shows have some great seminars that are usually free. You can also learn a lot with some of the videos on Utube.
When you buy tools, get the best you can afford, because your going to have that tool for many years, so don’t skimp.
Another thing I’d like to say, is don’t be afraid to try something you’ve never done. As I mentioned before, if I hadn’t tried carving it would sure be a missing link in my life.

10. How did you find LumberJocks and what is it that keeps you coming back?
I happened to see a small article in Popular Woodworking Magazine, & typed in the LJs link. After viewing it, & looking at the way it was set up. I think I immediately signed up for it. That was on 08/19/2006, & here we are, four years later.
The best thing we like about LJs is the Jocks. You can’t find a better group of people any place on this earth. It’s like one big happy family. If anyone has a problem, woodworking, health, or whatever, there’s always someone there to help. We have friends from all over the planet now. Isn’t it amazing?
LJs has really helped me to be more computer savvy. I’ve learned through the help from Martin how to embed video, & pictures from my files, & also how to transfer images from one website to another by copying its address, & pasting it to another place.. It took me quite a few tries, but Martin was patient with me, & kept on helping until it finally soaked in.
LJs has also helped me with my writing. When I first got started here, I could hardly put two sentences together. I think it has exceedingly enriched my life , & I’ve also gotten much more proficient in expressing myself.
One more thing I’d like to mention is our Avatar. People have asked about it. The photo is a Photoshopped rendition of two of our pictures at about three years of age. We lived next door to each other for about a year until Barb’s family moved, & we didn’t meet each other again until we were in high school, started dating, & then we married.


Finally: We’d like to thank Debbie for inviting us for an interview.
It’s been a great honor, & was very rewarding to us

And two questions for Barb:

1. What is your favorite project?
Although I’m not a woodworker, I’m an avid fan of my woodworker HUBBY. My favorite way to express myself is through my photos. I Always have my camera in my hand ready to record his carvings, & other projects, also whatever Beauty my eyes come upon as I observe Nature’s Wonders.

Here’s a sampling of some of my nature photos.

I love to follow my SWEETHEART around, & take photos of his HANDS as he carves, & guides his tools. His Hands show so much Talent, & Strength.

2. How would you describe Dick when it comes to woodworking?
To watch him as he carves is like watching a piece of wood coming to life. It amazes me every time I watch him as he starts a new project. It isn’t only his carving, but I believe there isn’t anything that he cannot make. As I said in the beginning, “He’s AWESOME!”

I realized my “HUBBY” had woodworking talent by the first project he made for us when we were first married.We lived in a trailer house at the time, & living space was at a minimum. We were expecting our first child, & badly needed a place to store our many baby clothes. He drew up his own design, & made us a combination bench settee, & baby clothes storage container. It served two purposes for us while taking up minimal space.

Later on our “Settee Bench” became a unique toy box for our two sons’. We are still using it at our cabin to store lake gear in. It’s still very strong, & solid after over 58 years! This Bench is full of of happy, & special memories that are very dear to us.
Since the beginning of our married life, he still continues to create, build, & carve numerous projects.

Click for details
(click to view project)

From “THEN” until “NOW” tells,


Thank you so much, Barb & Dick, for taking the time to answer these questions. :) _

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

44 comments so far

View Toolz's profile


1004 posts in 4993 days

#1 posted 09-07-2010 09:33 PM

Wonderful stories. Congratulation to both of you.

-- Larry "Work like a Captain but Play like a Pirate!"

View lew's profile


13431 posts in 5006 days

#2 posted 09-07-2010 09:50 PM

A Great Interview of Great Folks!!



-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View mpounders's profile


1008 posts in 4146 days

#3 posted 09-07-2010 10:10 PM

Thank you for sharing your stories. I enjoyed the picture of the trailer….I remember when I was young and we lived in a small trailer…..the table folded up to cover the bookcase and give more room!

-- Mike P., Arkansas,

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27249 posts in 5072 days

#4 posted 09-07-2010 10:22 PM

This is a wonderful interview. Dick, thanks to both you and Barb, for sharing a part of yourselves with the group.

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

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 5550 days

#5 posted 09-07-2010 10:49 PM

Thanks Guys!

We’re sorry Barb’s nature slideshow isn’t working.

I accidentally didn’t send Debbie the link, but we’ll eventually get it right.

Barb is anxiously waiting, to share her fine pictures, so try back later.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View mmh's profile


3697 posts in 4973 days

#6 posted 09-07-2010 11:04 PM

What a wonderful interview, I could read more should you like to create a blog.

Keep up the great work and keep having fun!

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5411 days

#7 posted 09-07-2010 11:07 PM

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5411 days

#8 posted 09-07-2010 11:18 PM

I think we have the technical problems ironed out … maybe.

thanks Dick & Barb for a great interview!

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

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 5550 days

#9 posted 09-07-2010 11:30 PM

Thanks for taking care of my mistake, Debbie. <(:O}@

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5411 days

#10 posted 09-07-2010 11:32 PM

I should have caught it earlier… sorry about that.

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

View Jeff's profile


1010 posts in 5344 days

#11 posted 09-08-2010 02:09 AM

Dick and Barb,

It’s been many moons since I had the project or the gumption to make a post. I couldn’t let this opportunity to say Hi and Thank you pass though. I follow things as best I can these days and still receive your updates from my buddy list. Great interview – it filled in a few gaps I had about my fellow pals “in da north land”.

Also, a few belated congratulations on:
Your wedding aninversary
Your respective birthdays
Your 5000th post (it seems you have moved far beyond that now; shows how out-of-date I am)
Your many contributions to this community

Best Wishes,
Jeff (Caliper)

-- Jeff, St. Paul, MN

View dpow's profile


504 posts in 4094 days

#12 posted 09-08-2010 02:55 AM

Thanks for sharing your woodworking life story. What a great read. You brought up some interesting points. I agree todays youth are missing out when it comes to learning to use their hands and developing their creativity. Maybe some of them will realize there is more to life than their ipod, cellphone, and texting.

I took the time to look over your projects on Lumberjocks and was really impressed. What a variety! What an inspiration. Thanks for sharing.

-- Doug

View kenn's profile


813 posts in 4970 days

#13 posted 09-08-2010 05:03 AM

Great story on two of the nicest prople in our Lumberjock community. It is good to learn a bit more about their journey. Thanks.

-- Every cloud has a silver lining

View Jordan's profile


1400 posts in 4375 days

#14 posted 09-08-2010 07:13 AM

Wonderful to read! Great job deciding to give us insight into this wonderful and talented couple Deb.


View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5411 days

#15 posted 09-08-2010 11:55 AM

Barb—your photos are BEAUTIFUL.
You have a a keen eye for beauty and for creating photo art. I’m so glad the slideshow finally worked.
You are an artist.

Thank you for sharing!

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

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