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BradyS

Established Member
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Joined
16 Jan 2023
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159
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Location
Romania
Hello and apologies for not starting with this section after joining you.
I'm Brad, a hobbist woodworker undergoing professional practice/training to improve my skills. I spent the last 15 years as a professional translator and owned a translation company.
Woodworking is one passion that stuck with me. I was influenced by an uncle who opened one of the first furniture factories in post-communist Romania. On the other hand, my mother is an artist and an architect and I got my passion for design and detail from her. My career in translation was always supposed to be time-limited.
About 5 years ago I realised I won't be able to keep doing it for much longer (stress and stuff) so I started investing in woodworking machinery and tools, reading, watching video materials and learning. Then, 2 years ago I started an apprenticeship with a master sculptor & carpenter. I then won a big contract for restoration of antique furniture and I took it to this sculptor so we work together earning money as well while learning and perfecting my hand skills.
I forgot to mention I also graduated from a vocational arts school (post-graduate) where the final year was mostly focused on wood finishes.

My future plans now that my apprenticeship nears its end are focused on finishing my workshop (the same small space issue as many woodworkers have) and rebuilding my benches to maximise efficiency. I will share my thoughts on that in a different thread. Yet there is another issue I would like to address here. Maybe a change of perspective is refreshing for anyone.

My country is great to visit but hard to live in. No complaining, just stating facts. Since I can remember, I never understood why the field of woodworking has evolved so much in the West (especially in the UK and US, but not limited to), while in my country most of the work is done like 200 years ago. In all the workshops I've been, from hobby to professional (not big companies), I've mostly seen the same machinery - huge, rugged and uber heavy, built from cast iron to the smallest piece. Don't get me wrong, I love cast iron, but there are machines and machines. Here you rarely see a cabinet saw that has a fence at all. At any rate, I have never seen a machine that has its original fence. Same goes for many other machines, I'm trying to keep this as short as possible. The woodworkers on the other hand are stellar. They will rip a 3 meter plank in 2 perfect or almost perfect pieces with a cabinet saw that always has its blade raised at the highest and has NO fence. Instead of buying more precise equipment or building accurate jigs, they learn and work so much that they are able to do it by eyeballing. Of course most of them don't have all 10 fingers anymore but it seems it'sa risk they're willing to take.
At one time I visited a professional workshop which was full of brand new and shiny Felder machinery. One thing that perplexed me was seeing a wooden sliding sled jig used with a Felder sliding table saw. Their boss later found out that the saw operators didn't know how to adjust the sliding table so they weren't using it and made the jig.

Of course these are isolated cases. There also are people who are opening their eyes to the possibility of more and trying new ways beyond the traditional. We have a select few epic woodworkers who are creating art in wood. We have another few woodworkers who did their apprenticeship in UK, US, Germany, etc. and came back home merging the new with the old, creating flourishing businesses in woodworking. But they are still very few. Again, I'm only talking about the hobbist to professional small shops not the industrial sector, that's different.

I apologise for the long introduction and thank you for bearing with me. I needed to write this intro because this kind of 'cultural difference' is specific and probably not known here. From this point of view, my professional reorientation in my 40's has been seen as an act of bravery by others until I told them what I want to actually do. From there on, an act of naivity and dire stupidity. And that because my aim is to create wellbuilt and designed decorations, small furniture, single pieces or in small batches. Using carefully selected wood, using domestic and exotic wood. Using inlaying (which here is mostly a dead and forgotten art), using hand tools not only machiney, using veneers. I further want to combine my hand skills with 3d printing, laser engraving, cnc machining to create a range of other products. I will not get deeper into it for now but there is a market for such products here. There are people actively seeking professionals or hobbists who create such work. And there are almost no makers at all. I want to be such a maker.

Lastly, I've been reading a lot of info from your forum before joining. I joined because I've seen very pertinent topics discussed here. I've also seen a supporting community. And a passionate one. And one where questions are answered and advice is given without judgement no matter how crazy the question sounds. And a place where everyone is welcomed.

I thank you for welcoming me along,
Brad
 
Welcome Brad I’m relatively new hear myself but not to woodworking just got back into it after a 20yr gap LOL

there is some great advice on hear so deffo use the search button first if you have a problem been using that recently as I’m looking in to getting a lathe soon which I Haven't a clue about everyday is a learning day

Don’t forget to post what ya making in the ‘post a photo of the last thing you made ‘ thread
 
Welcome Brad I’m relatively new hear myself but not to woodworking just got back into it after a 20yr gap LOL

there is some great advice on hear so deffo use the search button first if you have a problem been using that recently as I’m looking in to getting a lathe soon which I Haven't a clue about everyday is a learning day

Don’t forget to post what ya making in the ‘post a photo of the last thing you made ‘ thread
Much appreciated, Graham. Will do, as soon as I'll build something. Currently I'm building workbenches, I'll post that as well after they are finished.
 
A warm welcome Brady, I'm sure you will find lots of useful information and interesting discussions here. You highlight a good point in that outside the "west" much of the woodworking going on is done very differently with regard to safety. I'm sure that as time develops and former Soviet influenced countries become much more intergrated into EU regulations for trade you will see more safety conscious machinery appear. It did take nearly 50 - 60 years for it to do so here in the west but those rules are now in place and should mean a much faster transition for others to go through. A big part in the slow take up during former times for the east was probably down to a much smaller and less dynamic economy under the Russians. sort of - if the old kit is still working why replace it? - kind of thing
 
sort of - if the old kit is still working why replace it
Precisely, that's hitting the spot. I had no idea that the same process of orientation towards safety took place in the UK as well. To me as an outsider it felt like you have always worked like that.
But if approached more logically it makes sense since the machinery here that is not German, comes from the UK. Surprisingly, only a tiny percentage of the woodworking machinery in Romania is of soviet origin. But this is explained by the fact that communist Romania was heavily industrialized. We had a booming manufacturing industry in machinery for woodworking, metalworking, etc. And what is pre-1900 came from either Germany or the UK.

Buna dimineata Brad!
A good morning to you, too, and appreciate it.

Thank you all for the warm welcome.

In the following days I'll gather some material from my previous year's furniture restoration work and post in the appropriate section for a more complete picture.
 
But there also are the issues of precision and quality, not safety alone. Again, I'm not generalizing, yet many of the 'woodworkers' I've met consider a difference of a few millimeters between the ends of let's say a door as acceptable tolerance.

And then there's the quality thingie. I have only known one carpenter who was selecting the wood for his project and he died 5 years ago. Here there is a saying (which I detest): "the (wood) filler came first, then the carpenter". When they build a door, or furniture, or a tabletop, they font select the wood. Except for the heart, that does go away. The rest will be used or patched and used. All of it. No matter if it has defects, nasty knots, etc. They will be masked with wood filler. And don't imagine that it's a quality wood filler. Neah, the cheapest. Same goes for varnishes, stains. About the wood conditioning or pretreatment products I had to learn from the internet. I didn't see anybody use such 'contraptions'.

I once stained a few pieces of pine with a dark brown miniwax gel stained, then took detail photos and sent them to the sculptor whose apprentice I am. I asked him what wood species it is, mentioning that it's stained. He could not identify it. Though he can identify a ton of species with all finishes known to him.

This is how it goes. I often use 'woodworkers' between commas when referring to my country because here we don't really have hobbyist woodworkers. Maybe a few open-minded like me in the recent years. As for the rest, we have building joiners (not sure if it's the correct term - wooden buildings and frames), then we have carpenters, a small number of solid wood furniture makers, and that's about it.

Apologies for expanding the topics here. If I should move this to another thread, please let me know.

Brad
 
hi there, its a mix here in ireland, a local workshop to me is full of old cast iron and no dust collection to speak of, yet the same town has a high tech manufacturer working mostly with veneered sheet materials, all the digital toys, but ive heard they are struggl;ing a bit financially, i suppose this stuff has to be paid for and it aint cheap! the two older guys in the old workshop are flying making doors and windows and the waiting list is long. thanks for the intro from another new member.
 
Welcome to the Forum, great place,great people, just ignore all begging letters from Dovetail, its a bot!! Most of all have lots of fun.

Regards from Barcelona

Neil
 
Hello and apologies for not starting with this section after joining you.
I'm Brad, a hobbist woodworker undergoing professional practice/training to improve my skills. I spent the last 15 years as a professional translator and owned a translation company.
Woodworking is one passion that stuck with me. I was influenced by an uncle who opened one of the first furniture factories in post-communist Romania. On the other hand, my mother is an artist and an architect and I got my passion for design and detail from her. My career in translation was always supposed to be time-limited.
About 5 years ago I realised I won't be able to keep doing it for much longer (stress and stuff) so I started investing in woodworking machinery and tools, reading, watching video materials and learning. Then, 2 years ago I started an apprenticeship with a master sculptor & carpenter. I then won a big contract for restoration of antique furniture and I took it to this sculptor so we work together earning money as well while learning and perfecting my hand skills.
I forgot to mention I also graduated from a vocational arts school (post-graduate) where the final year was mostly focused on wood finishes.

My future plans now that my apprenticeship nears its end are focused on finishing my workshop (the same small space issue as many woodworkers have) and rebuilding my benches to maximise efficiency. I will share my thoughts on that in a different thread. Yet there is another issue I would like to address here. Maybe a change of perspective is refreshing for anyone.

My country is great to visit but hard to live in. No complaining, just stating facts. Since I can remember, I never understood why the field of woodworking has evolved so much in the West (especially in the UK and US, but not limited to), while in my country most of the work is done like 200 years ago. In all the workshops I've been, from hobby to professional (not big companies), I've mostly seen the same machinery - huge, rugged and uber heavy, built from cast iron to the smallest piece. Don't get me wrong, I love cast iron, but there are machines and machines. Here you rarely see a cabinet saw that has a fence at all. At any rate, I have never seen a machine that has its original fence. Same goes for many other machines, I'm trying to keep this as short as possible. The woodworkers on the other hand are stellar. They will rip a 3 meter plank in 2 perfect or almost perfect pieces with a cabinet saw that always has its blade raised at the highest and has NO fence. Instead of buying more precise equipment or building accurate jigs, they learn and work so much that they are able to do it by eyeballing. Of course most of them don't have all 10 fingers anymore but it seems it'sa risk they're willing to take.
At one time I visited a professional workshop which was full of brand new and shiny Felder machinery. One thing that perplexed me was seeing a wooden sliding sled jig used with a Felder sliding table saw. Their boss later found out that the saw operators didn't know how to adjust the sliding table so they weren't using it and made the jig.

Of course these are isolated cases. There also are people who are opening their eyes to the possibility of more and trying new ways beyond the traditional. We have a select few epic woodworkers who are creating art in wood. We have another few woodworkers who did their apprenticeship in UK, US, Germany, etc. and came back home merging the new with the old, creating flourishing businesses in woodworking. But they are still very few. Again, I'm only talking about the hobbist to professional small shops not the industrial sector, that's different.

I apologise for the long introduction and thank you for bearing with me. I needed to write this intro because this kind of 'cultural difference' is specific and probably not known here. From this point of view, my professional reorientation in my 40's has been seen as an act of bravery by others until I told them what I want to actually do. From there on, an act of naivity and dire stupidity. And that because my aim is to create wellbuilt and designed decorations, small furniture, single pieces or in small batches. Using carefully selected wood, using domestic and exotic wood. Using inlaying (which here is mostly a dead and forgotten art), using hand tools not only machiney, using veneers. I further want to combine my hand skills with 3d printing, laser engraving, cnc machining to create a range of other products. I will not get deeper into it for now but there is a market for such products here. There are people actively seeking professionals or hobbists who create such work. And there are almost no makers at all. I want to be such a maker.

Lastly, I've been reading a lot of info from your forum before joining. I joined because I've seen very pertinent topics discussed here. I've also seen a supporting community. And a passionate one. And one where questions are answered and advice is given without judgement no matter how crazy the question sounds. And a place where everyone is welcomed.

I thank you for welcoming me along,
Brad
Welcome, Brad - we're neighbours and I recognise much of what you describe - although to an even greater degree - here in Bulgaria. There are some wonderful woodworkers, and other craftsmen, here who produce miracles with kit that would be in a scrapyard in Western Europe - but sadly I am certainly not one of them! :cry:

You've clearly been to my local woodyard in Sofia, where the guys will rip boards for you on an antique sawbench with no guides or fences and in an open shed, a couple of them holding the ends so they don't flex too dramatically. How they can cut so accurately beats me!
 

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