LJ Interviews #16: Napaman

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Blog entry by MsDebbieP posted 05-19-2011 04:32 PM 1799 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 15: Dennisgrosen Part 16 of LJ Interviews series Part 17: Patron »

This interview with Napaman is from our May/June 2011 issue of our LumberJocks’ eMag


1. How did you first get started working with wood?
I began my wood working in 1982—-in the 7th grade…when I signed up for the Woodworking class at Venado Middle School. The teacher Mr. Diederich was great…and I still consider him my favorite teacher of all time and a big influence on my own teaching (although I am a Social Studies teacher). His class was welcoming…focusing on safety and fun, he made it great for all levels as he had beginning and advanced students all at once…I took the class as many “tri-mesters” as possible…and then again in high school, but for only one year there.

Then NOTHING for many years…until we bought our house 6 years ago…then we started looking at some nice outdoor furniture—-and I said to my wife…”Hey—-let me spend the same amount on tools…and you will have a set of furniture and a lot more!” I have the tools…and I am proud to say the furniture is collecting (although not as nice) in the back yard.

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2. What was it about woodworking that initially caught your interest, enticing you to get into it at the level you are now?
The initial interest was the middle school class…but I think in my “re-birth” to wood working it has really been Lumberjocks that has kept me going…I joined when it was much smaller and you could post a project and it would stay on the front page for a couple days! Getting a chance to interact with skilled, caring woodworkers from all over the world has probably kept me going longer than with other hobbies…I have started so many hobbies over time—-but with LJ’s I have kept it going…I think my desire to post my project when it is done keeps me going…

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3. Tell us a bit of history of your journey from that beginning to where you are today
Well I told the history a bit already…but my level…I think I am moving away from the “beginner” label…lol…I have a hard time considering myself any better since I see so much talent out there…but I have learned a lot in the last 5 years. I still want to be able to repeat some work…it seems like every time I build something I don’t get to repeat those skills—at least not on the same project.

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4. What inspires you regarding wood creations?
I am inspired by everyone and everything. I love looking at all the great work…which seems to get better and better on LJ’s…I love scrolling through work and finding new projects to try…I love the pieces that have some design element—-art in it…But it was a year and a half ago I started looking at every boat project—-which gave me the bug to look into boat building…now I am building a 20 foot sail boat! If you would have asked me five years ago whether I would be building a sail boat big enough to take my family…I would have said no way…but I am now…slowly, but I am looking forward to summer for it to really take off when I have more time.

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5. What are the greatest challenges that you have met along the way?
Time. I seem to block myself from going out in the shop when I only have an hour…since I am a teacher I admit I do get big blocks of time…so on the “regular” weekends or after work I actually never seem to get moving…looking ahead to vacations when I have a longer block of time—so all that time back fires on me compared to someone who has less time (excuses excuses!)

…also CONFIDENCE…I still have to think everything through—even straight cuts on my table saw seem to take me way too long…because I seem to over think everything—-from a safety standpoint I know this is good…but the lack of confidence seems to block me more than anything…I wish I could just relax and enjoy the problems more…see them as challenges and new opportunities to learn—-ironically that is the way I teach—-but I can’t convince myself to enjoy the learning curve when it comes to my own learning.

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6. What is the greatest reward that you have received from woodworking?
By far it is the improvement…from where I started I do see progress…if you look at my first projects to some of the things I am completing now. I love the fact that I have become more of a problem solver…as a teacher you see a lot of woodworking programs getting cut out of schools—and from my experience this is a huge mistake…the problem solving and critical thinking skills demanded in woodworking can be carried over into so many other disciplines…I guess this improvement is both a tangible and personal gain…I just wish my gains would come faster!

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7. What is your favourite tool that you use for woodworking?
My shopsmith. Well this is more than one tool…but for me in my small shop and my humble start with only a few tools…the purchase of my Shopsmith took me from nothing to a real shop overnight…although SS has its critics…for me it has been huge and the overriding reason why I am still going…

8. What is your favourite creation in/for your woodworking?
Last summer my wife and I built the Trellis/Deck Bench. I am really proud of this. It is completely of my own design…which had been bouncing around in my head for several years. The design It solves many problems…when the vines grow up it will provide nice privact…and it really adds to the space. I love how the bench solved the strength issue—-in the space I could not have dug holes for trellis posts…so the sandwich 2×4 technique I came up with really gives it strength and looks good!

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9. What tips would you give to someone just starting out or currently struggling with woodworking?
Don’t give up. Ask lots of questions. Buy good tools…the saying I have seen here is so true in my experience: “Buy the best you can afford.” I tried starting with cheaper tools, but what is the point if they don’t work. I still shop bargains but I try to go with better brands as much as possible.

10. How did you find LumberJocks and what is it that keeps you coming back?
I found LJ’s by luck…I had just rec’d my first issue of Popular Woodworking and there was one tiny paragraph about a side table contest…I loved the site immediately and it really opened up a whole new world to me. I really don’t believe I would have kept up the woodworking without LJ’s…seriously…it has served as such a good resource for inspiration, knowledge and good people. I find myself wanting to share my work with the LJ community as much as my own family!

_Thanks again to Napaman for taking the time to do this interview!

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

12 comments so far

View patron's profile


13654 posts in 3848 days

#1 posted 05-19-2011 04:47 PM

great interview deb

insightful and concise
as always

can’t wait
for the next installment

heave ho
my man
heave ho

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Gary's profile


9402 posts in 3940 days

#2 posted 05-19-2011 05:56 PM


-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4329 days

#3 posted 05-19-2011 06:01 PM

This is another great interview. Matt this made for a nice read and it was good to have you share your woodworking passion with the rest of us. Deb, another 5 star interview in my book.

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

View stefang's profile


16722 posts in 3841 days

#4 posted 05-19-2011 06:06 PM

Good interview Napaman. I feel that your experience is pretty much a mirror image of my own. We shouldn’t give up on woodworking or ourselves, and the encouragement and inspiration LJ provides helps us to prevent this.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View WayneC's profile


14358 posts in 4604 days

#5 posted 05-19-2011 06:17 PM

Thanks for doing the interview Debbie. I can attest to the fact that Napaman is a great guy. I’ve had the opportunity to hang out with him a couple of times. Although I think the interview would have been much better with a full section on the boat….lol

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4753 days

#6 posted 05-19-2011 07:20 PM

Nice interview Matt and Deb. Matt it has been great having you on Lumberjocks. You are always positive and have good insight. It’s great to have you as a fellow LJ and friend. God Bless. mike

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

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 3427 days

#7 posted 05-19-2011 07:53 PM

It is nice to learn more about our fellow woodworkers her on Lumberjocks. It is a great interview and Napaman is really talented. I also love the trellis/bench project. Great reading!

Sheila :)

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View Napaman's profile


5530 posts in 4584 days

#8 posted 05-20-2011 04:25 AM

Thanks everyone…it was an honor to answer the call from Ms.Debbie…

I seriously would not still be woodworking with out this place…so I really appreciate all of you!

YES…after I sent it===I realized I said so little about the boat…COMING SOON…when I actually finish the boat I think we will have to have a launching——and everyone who has razzed me—-will have to fly out for the party!!!!!!!!!!!!!!THAT WOULD BE COOL!

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View majeagle1's profile


1426 posts in 4003 days

#9 posted 05-20-2011 06:21 PM

Great interview Matt and Debbie, love to hear about the woodworking history of our fellow LJ’s.
I also can say that I am proud to know Matt personally and have been to a few woodworking shows together and shared the LJ’’s booth. Fantastic guy…........ and just can’t wait to see that boat !!!!!!!!!!!!

-- Gene, Majestic Eagle Woodworks,,

View Grumpy's profile


25623 posts in 4358 days

#10 posted 05-21-2011 12:47 AM

Great interview Deb & a good subject in Napaman.

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

View Napaman's profile


5530 posts in 4584 days

#11 posted 05-25-2011 02:13 AM

Hey Debbie—-I did not get an e-mag notification——is there an e-mag out? Lew mentioned he got a notice…but wehn I click on the e-mag link on the mainpage I dont see any recent episodes…

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 4667 days

#12 posted 05-25-2011 11:06 AM

here’s the link: May 2011 eMag

Are you signed up to receive the eMag? Do you usually get it in your email?

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

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