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MikeW

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CAUTION Mike has only had wine and bread for dinner...

Here's that post I was warning y'all about <g>.

I spent a little time lurking here before deciding to participate. But now I think I should introduce myself a little better.

I have chosen this forum rather than add to the sticky topic in the general wood working forum titled why we do it because this is just too wordy but maybe in this introduction I can share the why I love woodworking. Maybe not the why. Heck, I don't know if I really know why. Not worth killing a few brain cells to figure it out either--I need the few I have left in order to avoid cutting off a finger...

A semi-brief life of Mike as relates to the subject at hand then. Let's see. Like Dickymint I had a wonderful grandfather. His loves were varied and diverse. One that is of note was his love of the outdoors. He worked an occupation that allowed him to work two weeks on and have two weeks off. During the summer school break we would go hiking in the mountains of Washington state for most of those two weeks.

Along the paths we hiked he would pick up pieces of wood and we would sit around the campfire at night before turning in and take out our pocket knives and whittle. Often we would make spoons or animals or traps for catching small game birds to go along with the fish we would catch.

When I was 12 he bought me my first carving set from the corner hardware store. A Marples set actually. As he would teach me to carve, my mom and dad would find things for the home to make or embellish. So there were the rolling pins I decorated or the plaques I would make. When I began taking art classes in high school there were businesses that would sometimes hire students to make store decorations. I began carving signs.

Carving continued to be my main love even though I made some furniture and turned bowls in wood shop classes.

Jump forward a bit and I met the lady who would become my wife. In 1974 our first son was born. In 1978 we decided to move up into the mountains along the Montana border in Idaho. So we did. We bought a 60 acre parcel of land. The first summer we built a 20 ft by 20 ft log cabin with a 3/4 loft as an upstairs. The first winter we found out how cold -20 degrees Fahrenheit really is (I guess that's about -29 C?). We also found out how much (dry) firewood we needed to cut to keep toasty all winter. Answer? 18 cords. That's a bunch of wood.

Our second summer up there we learned how to really make a log structure weather tight. That made a difference of about 7 cords needed to last the year. I also began cutting cedars (some of the trees were 10 to 15 feet on the stump) into bolts and splitting shingles and fence posts to haul into town each Monday morning to sell. I also began carving for the odd payment as trade for supplies when I didn't have enough squares of shakes or a load of posts made up.

As an aside, the entire time we lived at the cabin we didn't have electricity. The only running water was beside the house in a creek. We had two more sons, both born in the cabin during the dead of winter. The family looks to those years as some of the best we ever had.

During our years up there--about 11--I mainly turned to logging for a livelihood. Low impact tree farming. I dearly loved to--pardon the expression--kill trees. I was very good at it. Beside running my own company that eventually employed 11 people, I was occasionally asked by other companies to come in and do some "specialty" falling. It was special too <g>. Something about dangling below a helicopter on a cable with about 50lbs of equipment as it flies up the face of a mountain that has ledges sticking out from the face that puts the "special" in "specialty."

This was to enable us to get to great Yellow Pine trees that would become veneer. Most of the trees were 6 to 10 feet across and 90 to 120 feet to the *first* limb. These trees had to be fell across the ledge outcroppings in such a way as to not send them over the cliffs or break them on the boulders strewn across those ledges.

One day I took delivery on a brand new rubber-tired log skidder and promptly rolled it down a mountain side. I went 260 some feet in 4 1/2 revolutions and was able to stay inside the machine. Over 30,000 lbs of steel flying through the air and crashing. 4 1/2 times. I didn't break a thing--except the machine. I went over $100,000 dollars into debt in about 20 seconds. Unfortunately, Loyds of London had not received the orders to bind the coverage on this piece of equipment from my agent and they denied the claim.

We sold all we had to get out of debt. But now what to do. It was the end of the 1980s and the economy was fairly good, so we decided to pack up and move back to Oregon and start a new business. What should I do? I couldn't decide on something that "felt" good. So I took a teaching position at a 4 year college and in turn received enough money to help pay the bills and pay for tuition for some classes I desired. I didn't know what I wanted to do as an occupation, but I was comfortable. I had my carving gear. It was satisfying.

Toward the end of my first year at the college I was approached by a student who's father owned a small software company. I was asked if I would be willing to talk to his father about editing a software manual. Sure I would. That led to starting my own company in 1989. This company was mainly technical writing and graphic design. Then I added database programming for some companies I was designing for so they could print catalogs directly from their inventory software.

My wood carving got better with my focus being on graphic design. But still, it was lacking appeal to me. Something was missing. Challenge? Maybe. Application? Yeah, I think so. So I decided to carve a border around our dining table. Oops. Did I screw that up or what?! So then I decided I needed to make a new table (well, OK. Maybe my wife helped in that decision). A new love was born the day I began that table.

Because I carved and liked the solitude of the process and the sound the tools made cutting through wood, I decided to use hand tools. That table is no longer around. Truth be told, it was a little ugly. When we gave it to one of our sons as they left for college I promised I would make a new one. A better one.

Since then I have made many tables and chairs, credenzas and buffets, tea tables and library built-ins. Many many free-standing display cases and wall display cases too. There have been the desks and file cabinets.

And an occasional hand carved sign.

I have acquired many carving tools through the years. Heck, a bunch just in the last couple years that I have hardly used. I still find myself reaching for those smallish Marples made for the hands of a boy so many years ago.

And no. I still haven't made that new table and chairs yet. Maybe tomorrow I'll begin.
 

Philly

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Mike
Thanks for sharing that with us-you've certainly had some great experiences!!!! :shock:
Are you still "hand tools only" or do you allow the odd power tool now?
Cheers
Philly :D
 

devonwoody

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That was a nice read, and pleasant to hear another side of American life that was not based on a city experience .

Best wishes to the future.

John
 

MikeW

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Philly":85aaykgw said:
Mike
Thanks for sharing that with us-you've certainly had some great experiences!!!! :shock:
Are you still "hand tools only" or do you allow the odd power tool now?
Cheers
Philly :D
You're welcome. But me thinks the wine got to me :) .

The shop is pretty well equipped with power tools. We still don't posess a "real" table saw. Just a table top model with a folding stand that I purchased when we began remodeling our old house several years ago.

For a saw we mostly use a bandsaw. I don't like table saws.

Entire furniture projects using only hand tools is a rarity for me, at least as concerns the money making side of things. About the only projects we do this way are those we do for ourselves in the wee small hours of the morning.

That said, I'm just finishing working on a display case commission that comes closest for nearly all hand work though. The resawing was done using the BS. All else was hand tools. It has taken off and on since November of last year, just working on it in the spare moments. I have a couple more glass stops to cut before setting the glass.

And I guess there are a couple bloodwood jewelry boxes that save for the BS resawing is done with hand tools.
 

Adam

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Interesting stuff!

Adam
 

Alf

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Mike, thanks for taking the wine and trouble to write that; fascinating stuff. Sounds like you were lucky to walk away from the log skidder in one piece. :shock:

Cheers, Alf
 

Newbie_Neil

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Hi Mike

Thank you for taking the time to share your story with us,I thoroughly enjoyed it and I'm glad you made it to today.

Cheers
Neil
 

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