LJ Interviews #37: StumpyNubs

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Blog entry by MsDebbieP posted 03-21-2013 08:41 AM 2714 reads 0 times favorited 23 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 36: Monte Pittman Part 37 of LJ Interviews series Part 38: HorizontalMike »

This interview with StumpyNubs is from the March 2013 issue of our GT News.


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

I suppose I started like everyone else, with a hand saw and some old scrap 2X4’s as a kid. I’ve told the story in my blog about my grandfather’s big green monster. It was his 1950’s Dewalt radial arm saw that he kept tucked in the corner of the basement with a blanket over it, waiting for the time he could retire and use it. We weren’t allowed to go near the thing, which of course drew me to it. I grew up thinking that the ultimate hobby was making stuff out of wood with a radial arm saw.


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

I like the idea of making something out of raw materials. I mean, in this day and age of factory made plastic everything, people seem to forget that we used to make things ourselves. Some still look surprised when I tell them I could make that piece of furniture, or even that tool they want. It feels good. I also like the opportunity for artistic expression. I was considered a gifted artist as a child and young adult. I was skilled in several mediums, from oil portraits to Asian batik. But over time I lost my desire to pursue art- until I started woodworking full time. It became a natural outlet to express my creativity.

Click for details

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

My family didn’t have a lot of money when I was a kid, so if I wanted a bookshelf for my room or a box for my rock collection, I had to make it. Grandpa didn’t let me use the radial arm saw, but I could use his hand tools and all the bent nails I cared to straighten. I would have to search through his scrap wood pile and ask to have any old piece I wanted. That taught me a lot about choosing wood and seeing diamonds in the rough, so to speak. As I got older and needed new furniture, I made it with my hand saw. Let me tell you, nothing forces you to be creative when you have only a couple of tools and big ideas!


4. What inspires you regarding wood creations?

I love antiques. I am a junky for anything old, and that includes furniture. I wander through antique shops way more than my wife would like, and I always want to see what type of joinery was used or how the piece stood up to heavy use over time. For that reason I am also drawn to the traditional woodworkers of today, like Roy Underhill’s use of classic tools or Charles Neil’s use of classic designs.


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

I never had a place for a shop. My wife and I always lived in small apartments and any woodworking had to be done in the living room amid the irritated sighs of my wife as she picked splinters from the carpet and her feet. But I made a lot of stuff that way. It wasn’t until about five years ago that I got the space for a real workshop.


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

By far it’s the relationships I’ve developed with other craftsman. I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s true. Through the production of the online “show” and the website, I’ve met people of all skill levels who have been helped by what I do. I get fan mail, for goodness sake! Imagine that, a clown like me inspiring others! It’s very humbling, but also very satisfying. I love to build stuff, but I enjoy sharing with others even more.


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

Hand planes, hands down. I can’t get enough of them. I pick them up at yard sales and flea markets, sharpen them up and let out a soft sigh as I listen to them cut a fine shaving from a piece of straight grained wood. I think it’s sad that so many people work wood their whole lives and almost never use hand planes. They are by far the most satisfying tools in any workshop.

Click for details


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

I have a step-brother with special needs. When he graduated from the 8th grade (there is no public schooling for kids like him past that grade in Michigan) we had a party just as if he had finished high school. I made him a box. It was simple, but still beautiful with spalted maple and walnut. He LOVED that box, and he still keeps it next to his bed… It doesn’t get any netter than that.


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

Read, watch and practice. We live in an internet age where you can learn fine woodworking while you sit on your couch eating Cheetos. Don’t do that. Instead take the books or computer to the workshop and actually try those hand cut dovetails yourself. Don’t be afraid to mess up a hundred times, because no skill worth learning comes easily. Through sites like Youtube, A new woodworker can apprentice with the finest craftsman of our generation right in his own shop. Take advantage of it!


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

I searched “woodworking” on Google. No joke, that’s how I found it. And I was immediately hooked. Lumberjocks is the best forum out there because of the way the site is designed. It’s very visual, lots of pictures, places to show off your work, express your opinions, share your knowledge and learn something new. No other forum is as feature packed and user friendly. And that draws woodworkers of all skill sets. That’s why I’m here.

Thanks StumpyNubs for taking the time to do this interview.

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

23 comments so far

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30618 posts in 3451 days

#1 posted 03-21-2013 09:37 AM

Excellent interview stumpy. Did you ever get your grandpa’s saw?

As always, great job Debbie.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Roger Clark aka Rex's profile

Roger Clark aka Rex

6940 posts in 4547 days

#2 posted 03-21-2013 09:46 AM

Good show Stumpy, you deserve a cold one.

-- Roger-R, Republic of Texas. "Always look on the Bright Side of Life" - An eyeball to eyeball confrontation with a blind person is as complete waste of Time.

View WoodenFrog's profile


2737 posts in 4026 days

#3 posted 03-21-2013 10:50 AM

Thank You, Stumpy and MsDebbieP!!!
I really enjoyed this interview, great job to you both!
Stumpy, I am adding you as a Buddy should have done it along time ago!!! Hope you do not mind!!
I second what Rex said but I think you both deserve a COLD ONE!!
Thanks again!!

-- Robert B. Sabina, Ohio.....

View DIYaholic's profile


19921 posts in 3787 days

#4 posted 03-21-2013 11:59 AM

I proud to say that ’ I knew Stumpy Nubs, waaaay back when…..

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View jap's profile


1251 posts in 3167 days

#5 posted 03-21-2013 12:00 PM

great interview

-- Joel

View Dave's profile


11435 posts in 3952 days

#6 posted 03-21-2013 12:36 PM

Wow you had a rock collection..
Great interview Stumpy. I learned a bit more about you.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View boxcarmarty's profile


17437 posts in 3472 days

#7 posted 03-21-2013 01:17 PM

How do you get that orange Cheetos stain off of a piece of fine Douglas fir???

-- My mind is like lighting, one brilliant flash, then its gone.....

View History's profile


399 posts in 3094 days

#8 posted 03-21-2013 01:25 PM

When are you going to do a interview with his cousin Dusty Lung ?

View Don W's profile

Don W

20089 posts in 3680 days

#9 posted 03-21-2013 01:37 PM

Great interview

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

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3979 days

#10 posted 03-21-2013 01:40 PM

Stumpy, I really enjoyed this interview and it was a great opportunity to get to know you better. Thanks.

Thanks for these interviews, MsDebbie. They’re all good and they help us all get to know each other better.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View GaryL's profile


1099 posts in 3943 days

#11 posted 03-21-2013 01:45 PM

Thanks for the “inside info” on Stumpy. It’s great to hear how someone gets started and how they progressed in woodworking.

I catch on better with Doritos, rather than Cheetos….... :^)

-- Gary; Marysville, MI...Involve your children in your projects as much as possible, the return is priceless.

View RTex's profile


35 posts in 3876 days

#12 posted 03-21-2013 02:27 PM

Great interview….thank you for sharing this story with us.

-- RTex, Wood Wranglin' Cowboy

View eddie's profile


8565 posts in 3726 days

#13 posted 03-21-2013 03:01 PM

stumpy great interview my friend

-- Jesus Is Alright with me

View DocSavage45's profile


9049 posts in 3955 days

#14 posted 03-21-2013 04:02 PM

Really like the grandfather history story. And number 9 for people struggling. You have a patient wife…LOL!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View Straightlines's profile


70 posts in 3006 days

#15 posted 03-21-2013 04:13 PM

Stumpy, your story really resonates with my experience!

My grandfather was a hardcore woodworker (he was the son of a 7th generation cabinet maker), who had one of those early Craftsman RAS down in his basement workshop, and it was a seriously scary sucker (the saw of course). That workshop was a place of great mystique to all of the grand kids, and even as adults, whenever we visited my grandmother after Grandpa passed away, we all would go down there just to see the shop and touch the tools. He had a great workbench, and like you, this was one place where Grandpa would turn me loose w/ something from the scrap bin and any of the hand tools I wanted to use. No question, hammering was very satisfying, but I think my favorite activity was drilling with that old fashioned egg-beater style hand drill.

Nowadays, I recently bought a beast of a RAS, a 1958 14” Rockwell Delta Turret Arm Radial Arm Saw. Yes, it is kinda scary when I get up close and personal with it and hear the wind whistling off the blade, but I am dazzled by how the precision and accuracy of this 55-year old machine eclipses that of most modern tools. I have long worked without a workshop; but this is about to change, finally. Like you, I deeply value the ability to make most anything rather than buying it. And lastly, I agree that the hand plane is the most satisfying tool to use—that sound, the feel of a properly sharpened and set blade, and those beautiful, translucent paper thin curls of wood…ahhhh…..

Thanks for sharing your story—it really took me back to my earliest days as a woodworker at about age 4.

-- Cut twice, measure once ... DOH!

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