LJ Interviews #30: Richgreer

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Blog entry by MsDebbieP posted 07-17-2012 10:10 AM 7022 reads 0 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 29: Roger Part 30 of LJ Interviews series Part 31: William »

This interview, with richgreer, is from the July 2012 issue of our LumberJocks’ eMag.


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

I was raised on the family farm and was actively involved in farm work from the time I was physically able. I particularly enjoyed the “working with wood” projects on the farm. We were often building, modifying or repairing calf pens, corncribs, wagon racks, etc. My Grandfather was quite talented and taught me many basic lessons about using hand tools properly. We only had one power tool at the time, a heavy, clunky, hand held drill.
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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 first thing that enticed me about working with wood, as a boy, was working with Grandpa, whom I loved very much. After he died (I was 13), I continued to do the much of the carpentry work on the farm and I really enjoyed the challenge of finding the optimal way to design something. I seemed to have a knack for it.


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

I left the farm to go to college. After college, I pursued a career as an actuary. Any interest in working with wood had to be put on hold for quite a while as I dealt with the demands of my career and raising our two sons.

I’ve always been handy at minor things around the house and did some modest projects (e.g. Adirondack chairs) but I did not do any serious woodworking until 1998, the year I was transferred to Iowa. In Iowa I was in the later phase of my career and my work was less demanding and our sons were on their own. We also bought a home that was well suited to having a shop.

I started with a 10’ x 12’ shop and a used ShopSmith. I reconfigured the shop twice and it is now 17’ x 22’ and I have plans to make it even bigger. I still have the ShopSmith, but it is only used for very limited applications.

A second significant year was 2007 when I retired and had more hours to put into woodworking. From then until now, I probably spend about 20 hours per week in the shop during the fall and winter seasons.
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4. What inspires you regarding wood creations?

I am most inspired by the beauty of the wood itself. I do almost all of my own design work and I stress designs that show off the inherent beauty of the wood. More than most, I work with exotic woods. However, due to the cost, they are usually accent pieces on projects made primarily of less expensive wood. Even with domestic wood, I seek out wood with beautiful grain.

I do both flat work and turning. To me, they are radically different aspects of woodworking. I really feel like an artist when I turn. Working with my own designs in flat work makes me feel more like an engineer looking for perfect joints and a creative design.
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5. What are the greatest challenges that you have met along the way? (and how did you overcome them)

I have supervised other volunteers on some big projects for my church. I found supervising some volunteers very challenging. From now on, if I need some help on a church project, I have a few specific people I will ask. I will never again issue a general invitation for people to help.
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6. What is the greatest reward that you have received from woodworking? (personal or tangible)

I spent almost a year working on numerous projects for my church. We completely renovated the chancel area of the church with 9 new pieces of furniture, a new communion rail and new end panels for the pews. Several projects were solo acts I did alone and others were team projects that I supervised. Pardon my lack of modesty, but my greatest reward is just seeing how beautiful it is every Sunday morning. I relish the joy from knowing I did a good job for my church and my God.
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7. What is your favorite tool that you use for woodworking?

I have lots of tools and each tool serves a particular purpose. At any given point in time, my favorite tool is the tool that will do the best job at the task before me.

If you want a more specific answer, my Festool Rotex 150 sander is high on my list of favorite tools. It’s permanently connected to a dust extractor and always near my primary work area, ready to go. It gets a lot of use.
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8. What is your favorite creation in/for your woodworking?

If I had to identify one project as my favorite creation, it would be the communion rail. It is curved and I had to deal with difficult joints and cutting some precise arches. From a technical perspective, this was my most challenging project to date. It really came out great. The red oak I found for this project is stunning and the design shows off the wood beautifully.
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9. What tips would you give to someone just starting out or currently struggling with woodworking?

Patience. I work slowly and I intend to always work slowly. I pause and think often. I do mock ups with cheap lumber to test how something will work before I do it with the real lumber. For a tricky task, I usually practice on scrap wood first. I avoid any project that has a deadline that could force me to work faster than I am comfortable with. I don’t enjoy woodworking when I am rushed and enjoying what you are doing is what it is all about.


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

I tripped onto LumberJocks when perusing the Internet. I genuinely appreciate LumberJocks and all the great advice I have received. I am a seasonal woodworker. I am much more active, both in the shop and on LumberJocks in the fall and winter months. Spring and summer are more focused on my other hobbies, baseball and antique tractors.
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Thanks to richgreer for taking the time to do this interview.

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

18 comments so far

View Roger's profile


21011 posts in 3309 days

#1 posted 07-17-2012 12:19 PM

Gr8 interview. Keep makin dust Rich

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

View Skylark53's profile


2712 posts in 3565 days

#2 posted 07-17-2012 12:35 PM

Good to get to know you Rich. Thanks for sharing. Very good interview Deb.

-- Rick, Tennessee, John 3:16

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 3361 days

#3 posted 07-17-2012 12:40 PM

Thanks Rich & Debbie

Great interview


-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View Don W's profile

Don W

19330 posts in 3072 days

#4 posted 07-17-2012 01:07 PM

great interview. Its good to hear others stories. The raised on the family farm resonates with me as does the John Deer.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View DaddyZ's profile


2475 posts in 3545 days

#5 posted 07-17-2012 01:37 PM

Way to go Rich !!!

-- Pat - Worker of Wood, Collector of Tools, Father of one

View sras's profile


5191 posts in 3634 days

#6 posted 07-17-2012 02:13 PM

Thanks for sharing your story Rich!

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3579 days

#7 posted 07-17-2012 04:32 PM

Thanks for all the nice comments. I don’t think I have ever shared much about my other hobby here. But I decided to provide a picture of my ‘49 John Deere A and my model 44 John Deere plow. As an FYI, this is almost identical to a tractor and plow we had on the family farm. This was Grandpa’s favorite tractor.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View moke's profile


1419 posts in 3281 days

#8 posted 07-17-2012 04:44 PM

Good interview,
I am glad I met you before you became famous….

-- Mike

View SnowyRiver's profile


51458 posts in 3985 days

#9 posted 07-17-2012 05:23 PM

Nice interview Rich. Thanks for letting us know more about you. Great looking tractor too!!

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3371 days

#10 posted 07-17-2012 06:23 PM

You did a fine interview, Rich, and I’m glad to know more about you.

Thanks, MsDebbie, for another great interview. Please keep ‘em coming.


-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3195 days

#11 posted 07-18-2012 01:55 AM

A great interview with a great guy! And I knew the tractor would make the interview. I think he keeps it in the house!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3579 days

#12 posted 07-18-2012 02:44 AM

gfadvm – My tractor is not kept in my house but, to date, it has been in the third stall in my garage. As a coincidence, it was just today that I talked with a contractor about a machine shed in the back yard. i bought the tractor a year ago. Since then I have purchased a trailer to transport it and a plow. i need a place to store all this stuff and, yes, I am thinking about a few more additions to my collection.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3195 days

#13 posted 07-18-2012 03:36 AM

Rich, It looks like it was washed and waxed daily! I’d be ashamed to post pics of my tractors next to yours. I’d never use yours for fear I’d scratch it but it is a beautiful classic. Keep enjoying it and looking forward to seeing your new additions! LOL

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3579 days

#14 posted 07-18-2012 07:55 PM

I admit that my tractor gets washed more than my truck, car and 3 motorcycles combined.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View studie's profile


618 posts in 3652 days

#15 posted 07-20-2012 02:08 AM

Thanks Rich and Debbie for a fun time hearing some history and getting to know a Lumberjock.

-- $tudie

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