LJ Interviews #45: JL7

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by MsDebbieP posted 02-13-2014 12:27 PM 3295 reads 1 time favorited 22 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 44: Jordan Straker Part 45 of LJ Interviews series Part 46: Knotscott »

This interview, with JL7, is from the February 2014 issue of our LumberJocks eMag


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

My dad always had a woodshop, and I guess my first memory was building Pinewood Derby cars back in my Cub Scout days. My very first car took first place (for speed) in our pack. Pretty thrilling for a little guy. I did take the woodworking class in High School, but all in all I didn’t build much in the early days.

Click for details

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

My story might be a little different than others, since I had a 29 year stretch where I didn’t do any woodworking (from High School until 2008). I have always liked to build stuff, when I was a kid, I had an Erector set and was also into building model cars from kits. In both cases though, I tended to make up my own rules and deviate from the written directions. This holds true today in my work.

It was really just 5 years ago that I really “discovered” woodworking. I had never worked with hardwood before that and would have say that once I discovered the magic of Hard Maple, it was all over.

Click for details


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

I’ll give the quick version. As previously stated, I always like to build stuff, plus most of my working career has been in manufacturing. I just love to build and fix things. For many years, and for many reasons, I’ve never had a proper workspace.

I bought this house in 2008 and it had a tiny little workshop in the basement, like 7’ x 16’. That little shop sold the house for me. Woodworking wasn’t in the brain anywhere, just a cool little workspace to build stuff. First tool purchase was a bench grinder. Then a power miter saw, because I had to rebuild the shed in the backyard. Then a bench top drill press. Again, no woodworking, just a little shop. Spent many years wishing I had a place to putter.

Was at the big box store one day, and walked past the “craft wood” display. Picked up a few pieces on a whim and built some (fairly crude) boxes.

The first challenge was finding wood. I was tearing apart old furniture and scavenging 2×4’s to build stuff. Then I discovered the “Materials” section of Craigslist and with the depressed economy, I discovered some really great buys on wood. That was the beginning of my wood hoarding obsession.

In the meantime, my tiny little shop now had more tools than anyone could ever imagine having in 112 square foot space. After 3 additions, the shop now occupies 75% of the basement. Lost in the process was a finished family room. I call it de-modeling……..

The original little shop space is now just wood storage, along with the utility room, the garage and the shed, plus several wood stashes in the working shop. Having a wood stash is huge when you don’t have great planning skills. I believe having cool wood available when inspiration hits is key. I can say for me, that I wouldn’t have the patience to purchase wood for each specific project. Plus, as most of you know, sometimes the wood dictates the project….

I have some cool wood that is still too sacred for my woodworking skills. I hopefully look for the day that changes…..

Click for details


4. What inspires you regarding wood creations?

Since we live in the internet age now, it’s really hard for me to imagine how people prior to this would learn such a craft. My hats off to the greats of the past who forged the way for us to learn now. Many of them are members here.

That being said, the greatest inspiration I have were from fellow LJ’s. There are many, but specifically Steve (Spalm), Martyn (Britboxmaker), David (Patron) and Larry (Degoose) were some early inspiration for me.

I look at some of the incredible stuff posted here, then think, that’s impossible. Then say, well it is possible, because they did it. I want to post projects that people say, that’s impossible…

I also try to build things using pure wood joinery and try to avoid other mechanical fasteners (screws and such).

Honestly, most of my stuff is just glue and hope……truth.

Click for details


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

Three Things:

1. Patience – It doesn’t come naturally for me. I don’t always overcome this one, and those projects usually don’t get posted. This is an on-going issue, but I’m much better at understanding that some things just take time.

2. Wood movement – It’s something you can read about, but it is really something you need to experience. I am just now getting to the point where I think I have some understanding and attempt to design correctly for it. Lot’s more to learn here……

3. Respect for the tools – This is an ongoing challenge – the table saw requires your “A” game every day.

Click for details


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

Almost all of my stuff is given away as gifts, so seeing the reaction of the recipient is the best. I’m sure many others have experienced this pneumonia where some (non-woodworking) folks ask how you colored that wood. LOL!

Of course the wood is the star here, and I don’t ever use stain or such, just the natural colors…..

One footnote, I have friends and family that say “where did this (woodworking thing) come from?” I’m really not sure…….

Click for details


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

For sure, the workbench. No stats on this, but 95% of the project time is on that bench. Everything starts and ends there. I view my workspace in 3 dimensions. When I sit at my bench, I have access to so many things…. it’s like the cockpit of a fighter jet.

Second would probably be those crazy Incra fences……I have one on the router table and one on the table saw. Accuracy…….wood moves, we need every advantage we can get!

Click for details


8. What is your favourite creation in/for your woodworking?
That would have to be the bench again. It is really one of those things I still wonder how I did it, but like so many things in this world, it only happens if you make the effort. I say that because there are so many things left that I need to make the effort for. Also, folks like SuperDav (Dave) were a great for moral support. Thanks Dave.

Click for details


9. What tips would you give to someone just starting out or currently struggling with woodworking?
Try stuff. Safely of course. Reading is great, but hands on is where you learn. Understand that what you envision may not be what you get, and be ok with that. Sometimes you get more than you ever imagined.

Click for details


10. How did you find LumberJocks and what is it that keeps you coming back?
I’m a computer guy so LumberJocks was always popping up in Google when I searched for anything woodworking. It took me a year to actually sign up because I was intimidated by all the talent here, but I lurked before that. The projects page has always been the shining star in my mind, but the friends I have met here keep me coming back. Some of them are a bit quirky, but I’m sure I’m not all there either……

[And one last project .. didn’t know how to fit this one into the interview but definitely wanted to include it .. .so ending with a bang???!!]
Click for details

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

22 comments so far

View DIYaholic's profile


19917 posts in 3407 days

#1 posted 02-13-2014 01:05 PM

What a great view into your WW adventure….
Much sage advice hidden in this interview!

I too am inspired by the same folks, as Jeff has been….
Except my list includes Jeff!!!

Love seeing your projects and most importantly, the blogs explaining YOUR process…
The blogs are informative & inspiring!!!

Carry on, Jeff….
I need more inspiration!!!

-- 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 Sandra's profile


7207 posts in 2807 days

#2 posted 02-13-2014 01:13 PM

Fantastic write-up Jeff!

I really like the comment about not always getting what you envision. I’m just learning that lesson. I also want you to know that I look at your incredible cutting boards and think ‘that’s impossible!’.
So you’re passing the torch in the inspiration department.

Keep on keeping’ on.

-- No, I don't want to buy the pink hammer.

View SPalm's profile


5334 posts in 4614 days

#3 posted 02-13-2014 01:17 PM

What a wonderful interview.
Thanks Debbie and Jeff.

Jeff you have been really fun to watch. Your basement shop is now a riot of nooks and crannies. And your projects a joy to read. I consider you one of my best internet friends. Good humor serves you well too.

Here’s to several more years of puttering,

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

12125 posts in 4161 days

#4 posted 02-13-2014 01:22 PM

Wonderful interview! It’s great to be able to peek into your mind and find your motivation and inspiration.
Thanks, Debbie.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View Dave's profile


11435 posts in 3572 days

#5 posted 02-13-2014 01:28 PM

Jeff I could have not thought of a better person to interview than you.
Wonderfully written and excellent answers.
You have come so far in your journey and the sky is the limit.
Its good to have a friend like you and the many other Jocks here.
This is a wonderful learning environment and a great place to make some really good friends.
And its all being recorded for others to refer and learn from.
Now I sit a wait for those project with that special wood.

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

View Skylark53's profile


2795 posts in 3793 days

#6 posted 02-13-2014 02:23 PM

Thanks Deb for another fine interview and Jeff for taking the time to share your story with other LJs. These interviews are always inspiring, encouraging and enlightening.

-- Rick, Tennessee, John 3:16

View lanwater's profile


3113 posts in 3666 days

#7 posted 02-13-2014 04:52 PM

Great interview Debbie.

I think Jeff forgot to mention He has written many great blogs and that he is an inspiration to many of Us.

I am always on the look out for another great project of yours Jeff, Keep them coming.

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View SASmith               's profile


1850 posts in 3719 days

#8 posted 02-13-2014 05:19 PM

Great interview.
Thanks for sharing JL7, and thanks for putting it together MsDebbieP.

-- Scott Smith, Southern Illinois

View patron's profile


13702 posts in 4073 days

#9 posted 02-13-2014 05:23 PM

great story jeff

like many here
i have watched your rise thru the years
and marvel at the ways you have progressed in your work
constantly seeking and exploring new ideas
and then jumping in and following thru to newer unknown builds
and taking others works and adapting them to your own
then sharing with us all the hows and whys
everyone wins thru this

keep ‘em coming buddy
it’s always a pleasure

good call debbie
you always have good taste

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

View JL7's profile


8771 posts in 3697 days

#10 posted 02-13-2014 05:51 PM

Debbie, you never did tell me if it was the repeated PM’s I sent you to put me over the top:

Seriously, I sure do appreciate it and all the great folks here…...really. Thanks.

You did edit my comments however and left this line out:

”And thanks Debbie, you make this a great place…………”

-- Jeff .... Minnesota, USA

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 4893 days

#11 posted 02-13-2014 09:40 PM


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

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3422 days

#12 posted 02-14-2014 02:15 AM

Jeff, I think that is the best LJ interview I have seen! You did leave out the fact that you are generous to a fault and ALWAYS willing to help your fellow LJs.

I never would have learned to post a link if it hadn’t been for the tireless efforts of you and David (Patron).

Thanks for all you have done for us.

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

View lightcs1776's profile


4254 posts in 2386 days

#13 posted 02-14-2014 03:33 AM

Great interview. Nice to get to know a bit more about you and your woodworking.

-- Chris ** If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace. — Tom Paine **

View ShaneA's profile


7085 posts in 3331 days

#14 posted 02-14-2014 03:34 AM

Thanks for sharing. Interesting read.

View CFrye's profile


10976 posts in 2572 days

#15 posted 02-14-2014 05:55 AM

Akways good to get to know fellow LumberJocks a little better. Thanks for sharing your story Jeff.

-- God bless, Candy

showing 1 through 15 of 22 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics