Greetings! I'm a time-traveler -

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by Don Butler posted 04-05-2009 05:39 PM 1160 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

from the year 1933!

Perhaps this blog should have the sub-title, “How I Finally Came to Woodworking”.

Unfortunately, I can only travel forward in the stream of time, so I can’t get any do-overs. Drat and piffle!

Making something has always been important to me, so very early on at the age of five, I declared that I wanted to be an Artist. Yes I capitalize the word because I feel its important enough for that.
I began by drawing. Using crayons, pencils, whatever I could make marks with. As with any craft, I was absolutely no good at it at first, and I wondered why I couldn’t just jump in and do good things. Obviously, I didn’t get it. One must become educated before one can know HOW to do things. Any things.
So I stumbled along, doggedly pursuing the goal of becoming an Artist when I grow up and failing, because of one thing or another, to get the education I needed. Of course, starting life in the midst of the Great Depression was a serious deterrent. My family barely got by with simple necessities and things like college were just not on the horizon. There was also a physical component in the problem. I have no sight in one eye. Never had it as far as I know. So I don’t see things as others do. Becoming an Artist was going to be very difficult.
In high school I thought I might like to became an engineer. Technical things fascinated me and I “experimented” with electricity and mechanical devices in our basement at home, but that would only whet my appetite for an education. But I was told by advisors at school to abandon the wish. Confused and disappointed by that advice, I foundered in school and eventually dropped out. Completing my secondary education would come later.
Through a series of accidental occurrences I became a member of the fresh water merchant marine industry. A couple of years going up and down through the Great Lakes convinced me that this wasn’t going to be my life’s work and I returned to dry land and got caught up in the world of automobiles. Imported cars were just becoming a significant factor in the American scenery and I was most interested in the technical aspects. I was sent to quite a few factory schools conducted by the importers of cars like MG, Jaguar, Mercedes Benz, etc. I got to be a pretty good technician but making a good living at it eluded me and I drifted away.
Hmmmmmmmm. I don’t seem to be going toward woodworking, do I?
Rather late in life I married, almost 30 years old, and earning a living suddenly came to the forefront with great urgency. Now that I was taking care of our living quarters, I was introduced to working with woodworking tools. But not to any great extent. I was still trying to “bring home the bacon”. After awhile I realized I was spinning my wheels in the automotive industry (the funny part of that sentence is deliberate) and I turned to the business world. Starting out with a part time job in the merchandise business, I soon rose in the ranks. I was good at the work and was soon a corporate merchandise manager.
Still not going in the direction of woodworking, am I?
In my spare time, though, I wanted to make things and I bought a new ShopSmith with most of the bells and whistles offered at the time. I didn’t really have a workshop then and the machine was installed in a tiny spare room in our house.
I was now beginning to learn woodworking.
That was before the World Wide Web was invented and I had little contact with other woodworkers. But I’m a good and avid reader and I read everything I could find on the subject. But, still, making the money to put groceries on the table and pay for the many other things a family needs consumed me. Becoming a woodworker yet held secondary importance in my life.
The world of technical things still had appeal to me and I took a job with an electrical services company that made circuit boards and fixed electronic devices for industrial firms. My ability to learn new things, perhaps my most important talent, allowed me to advance in that world to the point where I was designing ciruit boards and then making them in a small laboratory. Later the company expanded and I found myself taking care of a network of 50 or 60 computer stations, a large but dilapidated telephone system and the renovation of the lighting in old factory buildings that covered about six city blocks.
Then, at long last, I retired from the ranks of the people who worked at a nine to five job. But experience in the business world still served us well. My wife has a business in our home (quite a large enterprise for a home-bound business) and I help her run it.
Now we’re getting somewhere! I now had time (and space) to have a workshop and I began to acquire tools. As I made things for the house and a few things for sale, my wife began to see the value of my work in the shop. She was now interested in buying more tools! Hey! This is getting good!
Now, years later, I’m actually making things out of wood. The workshop is full of tools. I’m rising on the learning curve. Its Spring and the urge to make things is stronger than ever.

I think I’m becoming a Woodworker (yes, with a capital W).
Life can be good.

And that’s how I came to this Time. Time Travelling can be very slow.

I now practice Art using wood as my medium. Funny, isn’t it? I’m growing up at last and perhaps I’ll be an Artist some day.


-- No trees were damaged in posting this message, but thousands of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.

9 comments so far

View Francisco Luna's profile

Francisco Luna

1003 posts in 4447 days

#1 posted 04-05-2009 06:31 PM

Its very interesting when reading biographies of influencial personalities in history, many of them didn’t have a single clue they would became what they were….
I feel myself in the same boat, without a clear north…..every time I send my resume trying to get a job,I need to adjusted it for that specific job offer, so if it’s about Cabinetmaking, I change everything trying to show myself as an experienced Cabinetmaker…...but my question is, what is my real resume? Do I need to be the person who those job ads are looking for? what is my real” resume?
At your Age, what is your advise for young people like me that are still dealing with “imported Cars” ?

-- Nature is my manifestation of God. I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day's work. I follow in building the principles which nature has used in its domain" Frank Lloyd Wright

View Don Butler's profile

Don Butler

1092 posts in 4449 days

#2 posted 04-05-2009 07:49 PM

I don’t feel qualified to give advice!
As you can see from my blog, I didn’t get where I am by plan. I just stumbled along. Drifted, you may say.

Interestingly, I have never had a resume’.
I’ve had a few jobs but rarely ever filled out an application.
Mostly, I approached the Boss and told him there was a job in the company and I should have it.
It worked almost every time!


-- No trees were damaged in posting this message, but thousands of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.

View DaleM's profile


958 posts in 4438 days

#3 posted 04-05-2009 07:50 PM

Thanks. I really enjoyed the glimpse you gave us of your journey through life. I guess I’m somewhere around the imported cars phase right now too, just leaving the Army and no clue as to what I reallywant to do now. I think I would like to just keep woodworking as a hobby with maybe a few paying jobs, or not, so I don’t suck all the enjoyment out of it. I think I can find satisfaction in any job as long as I make enough to support my family so I don’t guess it really matters, but it sure does make it harder trying to get hired when you don’t have a clear focus on what you want to do. Anyway, I will be looking for any replies to the questions that Moai asked.

-- Dale Manning, Carthage, NY

View DaleM's profile


958 posts in 4438 days

#4 posted 04-05-2009 07:52 PM

Okay, it looks like you replied to Moai just as I was posting this. I guess I’ll continue to stumble along too.

-- Dale Manning, Carthage, NY

View douginaz's profile


220 posts in 5056 days

#5 posted 04-05-2009 10:00 PM

donbee, thanks for that snippet of your life and how you got here. I appreciate the the time and trouble you went through not only in your life but in writing it down for us. I know too the stumbling bit and do not envy the youth of today trying to find their way – the only advice I can give is what was given to me – if you are not happy with your job at least half the time – find something else to do.
Doug in AZ.

-- If you need craft books - please visit our small business at

View Karson's profile


35271 posts in 5454 days

#6 posted 04-05-2009 10:13 PM

Great to have you here. good luck.

-- 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] ā€ 

View tinnman65's profile


1414 posts in 4468 days

#7 posted 04-07-2009 01:39 PM

Thanks for posting this Don,
I must disagree with one thing, you don’t get to be a corporate merchandise manager by stumbling along, you may not have had a clear goal in mind but it appears you did make the best of what you were dealt in life. You knew what you wanted you just decided to take the scenic route to get there :-) . I discovered my passion for woodworking after I was in the middle of my career, to many responsibilities to just quit my job and go back to school but you have to enjoy life that’s why we have hobbies. Now if I could just get my wife “interested in buying more tools!” I’d be all set. I really am going to have to get out to your wife’s store for a visit maybe she could convince my wife to buy me more tools!

-- Paul--- Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. ā€” Scott Adams

View Don Butler's profile

Don Butler

1092 posts in 4449 days

#8 posted 04-07-2009 02:11 PM

Funny, lots of guys have said similar things. One guy said he was going to send his wife here to learn at the feet of the master!
Heh he he heh he
My darlin’ is no fool, though. I haven’t pulled the wool over her eyes. Its more like, “OK buddy, we’ll just see if you can deliver on your proposition”. You know we all say, “Honey, I wish i could build that for you, but I lack this tool and that one, so, I can’t”. So, my sweetheart of 48 patient years of wedded bliss has wisely agreed that we would buy every tool that I could want, so I now have no excuse.
I can always fall down the stairs and milk the old “injuries” thing!


-- No trees were damaged in posting this message, but thousands of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5214 days

#9 posted 04-21-2009 03:58 PM

stumbling along—gathering wisdom as well as discovering what you like to do and what you don’t like to do.
Isn’t life wonderful, as it unfolds leading us to the information and opportunities that we will need later in life.

I wonder what is waiting around the corner!! :)

Great blog! Thanks.

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

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