LJ Interviews #12: GaryK

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Blog entry by MsDebbieP posted 02-03-2011 11:19 AM 5057 reads 0 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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This interview is from the February issue of the CreativeHands Newsletter. Thanks to GaryK for taking the time to do this interview.

1. How did you first get started working with wood?

In Junior high school I took my first class on woodworking. In high school I took it also, but only for a short time. There were no girls there and believe it or not I took a power sewing class. Lots of girls there! :-)
I didn’t pick it up again for years after that. I had “more important” things on my mind.


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

One day, I don’t remember exactly when, I saw a model wooden ship. It was amazing with all of it’s detail and precision. I asked how much it was selling for and was told $15,000. I knew that the only way I would ever be able to have one was to build one myself. I was used to the precision, working in my fathers machine shop while going to school. I got a cheap little table top table saw, an Ohio Forge at Home Depot and a little 4” jointer from Sears (I still have it) and a cheap Royobi 9” band saw. From that meager beginning and about a year of steady work I made the model ship you can see in my projects.

Click for details


3. Tell us a bit of history of your journey from that beginning to where you are today

Well, after making that boat and upgrading my bandsaw to a 14” Delta. I think I made a chessboard or two and decided that the cheap tablesaw had to go, so next came a Delta Contractor saw, and 6” jointer to boot. From there on there was no stopping me.

Not being one to shy away from a challenge I made the Mahogany Highboy as my first furniture project. It may look very difficult but it really wasn’t at all. After that, I figured that I could build anything I wanted. I just thought of something and built it. I’ve always been able to visualize things in my head, so that helps and being an engineer doesn’t hurt.
Look through my projects and you will see what kinds of things pop into my head.

Click for details


4. What inspires you regarding wood creations?

Buildings and architecture are inspiring to me. Some of my projects are just scaled down features from buildings. Check out my Headboard and Pie Crust table to see what I mean. Both of those I got from buildings I saw while traveling in Europe.

I also like books on ornaments. I have about 10 different ones that I always thumb through for ideas. It’s usually just one small detail that sparks an idea.

Click for details


5. What are the greatest challenges that you have met along the way? (and how did you overcome them)

There really was no greatest challenge with the woodworking part, but finding wood has always been. I am always looking for wood. When I lived in the Los Angeles area it was pretty easy. There are a lot of places there. Since moving to Texas it’s a lot harder. I tend to buy in bulk now and have it shipped. That takes all the fun out of the hunt, and you can’t be 100% sure of exactly what you are getting. You have to remember that when you find a really great looking piece of wood you have to buy it then, because you will never find one exactly like it ever again.

Click for details


6. What is the greatest reward that you have received from woodworking? (personal or tangible)

My greatest personal reward has been looking at a newly created project. Especially that big harpsichord. That alone took me probably about 1 1/2 years of work over a 10+ year period.

Another is the recognition of my peers for my work by their votes in the Lumberjock contests. I won three contests on a row that really was a great reward. I also like when a project I made inspires someone else.
Click for details


7. What is your favorite tool that you use for woodworking?

That’s like a person to pick his favorite child. I guess it’s a toss up between my band saw and drum sander. A great table saw is nice, but you can still get by with a contractors saw. Just like a jointer, nice to have one but not necessary. I like the band saw because it is so versatile. That was my first real full size tool that I bought .You can do things with it you can’t do with any other tool. The drum sander was the last significant tool I bought. I use it more like a giant planer than a sander. I use a lot of highly figured wood and the drum sander is the least likely to damage it.

Click for details


8. What is your favorite creation in/for your woodworking?

That would be my big harpsichord without a doubt. More time, thought, effort, money and patience went into it by far than anything else I have made. It was also the hardest thing to make, because so many different things went into it. Since at the time I couldn’t find any plans, I had to design it on the fly. Lots of books and pictures were all I had to go on. It probably took about 6 months of thinking and planning before I even got started cutting wood.

Click for details


9. What tips would you give to someone just starting out or currently struggling with woodworking?

Don’t worry about making mistakes. Everyone makes them. I do all the time. Usually when I do, if possible I just change my design to accommodate it. Anyone that has never messed anything up has never done any woodworking. You live and learn and usually don’t make the same mistake again. The problem is that there are a infinite mistakes to make! :-)

Remember you don’t have to tell anyone. If you don’t then it never happened. Looking at some of my projects you might think, “how did he come up with that?”. Well, it may be that it was a result of a mistake, but I’ll never tell.

Click for details


10. How did you find LumberJocks and what is it that keeps you coming back?

Actually I don’t remember how I found Lumberjocks, but once I did I was hooked. There is no other place on the net that has so many helpful, informative, and friendly woodworkers. Martin did a fantastic of setting everything up and keeping on top of issues as they arise.

Thanks again, Gary, for taking the time out of your busy schedule and away from your wee one to do this interview.

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

18 comments so far

View Dez's profile


1167 posts in 4584 days

#1 posted 02-03-2011 12:24 PM

Thanks to both of you for taking the time to present this to all of us!

-- Folly ever comes cloaked in opportunity!

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4807 days

#2 posted 02-03-2011 04:23 PM

A very interesting read Gary!

Your skills are astonishing, & projects are exceptionally well presented here on LJs.

Thank you for sharing them with us.

Thank you Debbie for your efforts in helping make this site exceptional.

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

View Pimzedd's profile


623 posts in 4650 days

#3 posted 02-03-2011 04:34 PM

Glad to hear more from Gary. We don’t see as much of him as we used to which makes his posts even more interesting. Whenever his face shows up in a post, I pay attention. Keep it up Gary.

-- Bill - Mesquite, TX --- "Everything with a power cord eventually winds up in the trash.” John Sarge , timber framer and blacksmith instructor at Tillers International school

View mmh's profile


3679 posts in 4229 days

#4 posted 02-03-2011 04:49 PM

Congratulations on the impressive interview! A nice show of your talent.

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

View Skylark53's profile


2712 posts in 3567 days

#5 posted 02-03-2011 04:59 PM

Thanks Deb, this is a very fine interview, very informative and interesting. Gary is a great asset to LJs and its always good to hear from those who “raise the bar” for us all through his work and encourage us all through his openness. Thanks Deb for all you do.

-- Rick, Tennessee, John 3:16

View ND2ELK's profile


13495 posts in 4281 days

#6 posted 02-03-2011 05:04 PM

Hi Gary

You have always been an inspiration to me and many others. You are truely blessed as a excellent woodworking craftsman. You are a great asset to the LJ site.

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View lew's profile


12859 posts in 4262 days

#7 posted 02-03-2011 05:07 PM

MsDebbie and Gary,

Super interview. I have been a fan of Gary’s work ever since I joined LJ’s. It’s really great to get some more insight on his work.


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

View CharlieM1958's profile


16284 posts in 4726 days

#8 posted 02-03-2011 05:25 PM

Good read. That part about working in your father’s machine shop explains a lot about the technical precision of your work.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 4180 days

#9 posted 02-03-2011 05:28 PM

Congrats, MsDebbie and Gary on the review.

View HokieMojo's profile


2104 posts in 4235 days

#10 posted 02-03-2011 07:03 PM

If it wasn’t for you, I probably wouldn’t have stuck around this site in the beginning. You were always posting such great info. Your blogs have always been among my favorites. I appreciate all that you have contributed!

View a1Jim's profile


117722 posts in 4084 days

#11 posted 02-03-2011 07:22 PM

Super interview Gary and Debbie. All your projects are always impressive Gary you were the main reason I joined LJs ,I had to see what you were going to make next, and learn from your blogs. Thanks for sharing your innate know how.

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10734 posts in 4559 days

#12 posted 02-03-2011 09:39 PM

Thank you Debbie & Gary for a very nice interview.

I found it very interesting & educational.

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3616 days

#13 posted 02-03-2011 09:53 PM

Great read Gary and Debbie. Maybe that power sewing class came in handy after all. I believe Gary does have a scrollsaw ;)

Thanks for sharing your life Gary and thanks to you Debbie for capturing it.


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View SnowyRiver's profile


51458 posts in 3988 days

#14 posted 02-03-2011 10:40 PM

Great interview Debbie and Gary.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3622 days

#15 posted 02-04-2011 01:49 AM

thank´s to both of you , great interwiew


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