LJ Interviews #24: Lee A. Jesberger

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Blog entry by MsDebbieP posted 12-15-2011 11:52 AM 2422 reads 0 times favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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This interview with Lee Jesberger is from the December 2011 issue of our LJ eMag


Lee: “This is like taking a test! I didn’t study for it, so I’m going to have to wing it.”

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

As a teenager I worked for my father’s plumbing business. I was exposed to the various building trades. I always seemed to gravitate to the carpenters and the cabinet makers. Between that and wood shop in school, I realized it appealed to me very strongly.

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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?

When I was about 10, my parents inherited some very fine 18th century furniture. The pieces included a dining room table set and chairs, a couple of high boys, a Hepplewhite style sideboard, and a federal style secretary. I was mesmerized by the decorative carvings and inlays. I remember laying on the floor, studying the ball and claw feet on the chairs, trying to figure out how they were made. The carvings on the high boys were also very appealing to me, although the size of them intimidated me.

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

When I was 14, I started buying tools with the money I was making from working for my father. My first machine purchase was a craftsman radial arm saw. It really angered my father that I bought it without checking with him. I seems I should have asked him if it was okay to take over part of the basement for woodworking. It wasn’t long before I was building vanities for his plumbing business, as well as furniture for the house. When I was 18, got hit in the eye with a steel pipe, while goofing around with some friends. I had no insurance to pay for the required surgery, and had been working for a contractor, which didn’t pay very well, so I decided to go into business for myself.

Since I wasn’t a licensed plumber, and I had a strong interest in carpentry, I figured I would start a construction business. For that, it was a simple matter of paying a fee to become a licensed general contractor. I got away from woodworking for a while, as I built up the construction business. Surprisingly, it didn’t take long to get some very high end work. As the general contractor, I was able to do some of the woodworking required for the jobs. I bought a shopsmith and most of the accessories to accomplish this. Eventually my wife kicked me out of the basement, so I built a 24’ x 48’ shop in my yard. Just prior to finishing the shop, a project I had bid on about six months earlier came through. It was a large residential renovation, which included a large amount of cabinets and furniture. As always, one thing lead to another, and before long, I was doing more cabinet work than construction. That was by choice. It was far more rewarding to me to build furniture in my yard, than to drive to a construction site.

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4. What inspires you regarding wood creations?

I would have to say the work of others has always inspired me the most. Seeing what other woodworkers are capable of never ceases to amaze me.


5. What are the greatest challenges that you have met along the way?

As I mentioned, I started the construction business when I was pretty young. Convincing clients to hire a 20 year old guy to renovate their house was pretty difficult. On one occasion, I went to a potential client’s house for the initial meeting. After I entered the house, the husband stood by the open front door. I patiently waited, wondering why he wasn’t coming in. I finally asked what he was waiting for. He said, my father, he’s coming, isn’t he? I asked why would my father be coming. He said, You’re the contractor? Needless to say, I didn’t get that job. I overcame this by getting older. What I really did was to go buy a luxury car, and made sure the clients would see me in it. If a person appears successful, most people assume you know what your doing. Surprisingly, that really did make a big difference.

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6. What is the greatest reward that you have received from woodworking?

Personal satisfaction from creating something, in addition to being respected as a craftsman. Somehow, that means a lot.


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

DUH? Ezee-Feed systems. There is something very gratifying in using a tool that you designed and manufacture, especially when it makes your life easier.



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

See # 7.


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

So often I see the equipment that other woodworkers are using, and while I realize that not everybody can run out and buy the best of everything, I would suggest they buy quality tools. Often the problems aren’t due to the woodworker, there due to poor quality tools they’re trying to do high quality work with. There is so much more enjoyment to be had working with tools and machines that aren’t fighting you every step of the way. This is supposed to be fun, after all.

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

Doing research for my own woodworking website, I came across LumberJocks. The reason I keep coming back is for the inspiration I get from the other LJ’s. Not only are they fine craftsmen that I can learn a lot from, they are also very fine people.


Thanks, Lee, for taking the time to take this test.. I mean do this interview._

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

21 comments so far

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 3433 days

#1 posted 12-15-2011 12:17 PM

I really enjoyed reading this and learning more about you, Lee. I think it helps so much for us to see what others have had to overcome in order to be successful. You are so talented! And besides that, you are also a nice guy who helps others along the way through this forum. Thanks for your friendship and inspiration to all of us!

Sheila :)

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

View degoose's profile


7258 posts in 3868 days

#2 posted 12-15-2011 12:29 PM

Really nice to take a few steps in some one else’e shoes… Thanks…..for take the time to do this interview and to take time to influence and encourage others…

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View Roger's profile


21011 posts in 3317 days

#3 posted 12-15-2011 02:50 PM

I’d say ya got an A.. lol gr8 interview. work/play safe, keep makin dust

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View Bertha's profile


13567 posts in 3206 days

#4 posted 12-15-2011 03:56 PM

Incredible versatility. Truly a man of many talents.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4759 days

#5 posted 12-15-2011 05:42 PM

Great interview Lee, you really are and have been an inspiration to me. Always a kind word, a word of incouragement, always thoughtful and friendly. People like you is why I’ve kept coming back to Lumberjocks. It’s been a pleasure knowing you and I’m proud to call you my friend. mike

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

View ShaneA's profile


7084 posts in 3111 days

#6 posted 12-15-2011 05:48 PM

Thanks for sharing.

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4812 days

#7 posted 12-15-2011 06:29 PM

Congratulations! Lee, & Debbie for this great biographical interview.

It’s nice to get to know you even better Lee. You’ve been one of our favorite stalwart Jocks.

You’re always here through good times, & bad.

It was nice reviewing some of your projects, some that I didn’t even remember.

It’s always nice to look back to the past. That’s what’s nice about Lumberjocks.

Barb, & I wish you many more years of making sawdust.

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

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 3799 days

#8 posted 12-15-2011 08:26 PM

Lee and Debbie, thanks for a great interview. I can relate so well to some of it, especially about being young in the industry. There were some jobs I was not allowed to go to with out “adult” supervision. The wonderful thing was my dad defending me, some of which I didn’t know until later.

Thanks again


View Karson's profile


35202 posts in 4913 days

#9 posted 12-15-2011 08:36 PM

Lee: It’s great to call you a wonderful and great, talented buddy. I’ve enjoyed the hours in your shop and the phone calls. Congratulation on all you do and your many talents.

I hope that the woodworking business kicks back into high gear for you.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View QuinLeach's profile


14 posts in 3130 days

#10 posted 12-16-2011 02:38 AM

Thanks for the interview – very interesting!

-- -- Quin, Oregon

View SPalm's profile


5334 posts in 4395 days

#11 posted 12-16-2011 02:51 AM

Hey Lee. Thanks for the share. That was nice.
Getting older does have some advantages. Doesn’t it?

Keep in touch Buddy,

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View shipwright's profile


8381 posts in 3311 days

#12 posted 12-16-2011 03:07 AM

You are one of the true class acts here Lee. I’m happy to call you my buddy and my friend.
Good interview. You aced it.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View Grumpy's profile


25623 posts in 4364 days

#13 posted 12-16-2011 05:07 AM

Lee old buddy, that was a great insight into your wood working achievements. Thanks for sharing & keep safe.

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

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6866 posts in 4492 days

#14 posted 12-16-2011 10:06 AM

Thank you all for the very kind comments.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Skylark53's profile


2712 posts in 3573 days

#15 posted 12-16-2011 05:00 PM

Great interview. Thanks Lee for sharing.

-- Rick, Tennessee, John 3:16

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