Recipe for contentment
A small shop, a stack of lumber, the fragrance of wood in the air.
A passion for woodworking
I love wood above all other materials.
My main passion is creating shoji lamps, especially in the shape of various polyhedra. This provides a focus for my creative expression that is both whimsical and practical, a balance I enjoy.
I also appreciate quality. The few times I've wandered into furniture stores I've had either an allergic reaction to the shoddiness of manufacturing or just plain sticker shock, so in most cases I've opted to make my own stuff: simple but well made bookshelves, desks, end tables, bed platforms, and so on.
A glimpse of my current woodworking project
The Windtraveler shoji lamp
In late 2013, while I was finishing the Pentafleur lamp, I began thinking about a lamp in the shape of the Catalan deltoidal hexecontahedron. Made up of 60 deltoid-shaped faces, it's the dual of the Pentafleur (rhombicosidodecahedron).
I really love the deltoidf. One of my earliest lamp shade projects was a pair of small shoji screens in the shape of kites that I used as shades for two bulbs hanging in the corners of a room. I still have one of the shades hanging in my workshop, simply because its shape inspires me.
Appreciating the tools that make it possible
I've spent a bit of time reading online tool reviews and have found that I value the personal reviews of other individual woodworkers the most, so I've posted some thoughts about the tools I appreciate using: Woodworking tool reviews.
I've tried a lot of different tools over the years. One thing I learned is to buy quality tools if possible. They provide two things that cheap tools often don't: accuracy and longevity. In some cases, they're also safer. And it's simply a pleasure to hold and use a tool that has been designed and made with care.
On the other hand, tools are just tools
In India back in the 1980s, I watched barefoot woodworkers who had only a few shoddy hand tools sit on the ground and turn a pile of rough-sawn rosewood into beautiful and precise window casings.
It took them a really long time, but they were obviously practiced at their craft and could do things with their poor hand tools that I still struggle to accomplish with a shop, a workbench, and power tools.
An eclectic mix of tools
Making shoji lamps requires a lot of small hand tools—micro clamps, small hand saws, a hand miter saw, and so on—as well as some power tools like a band saw, planer, and palm sander.
Here's an older series of photos showing a lamp making project using these tools.
In 1999, we purchased a beautiful piece of property that came with a house in need of remodeling.
Having grown up with a hammer in my hand in a house that my father was remodeling, I already knew a lot of the necessary skills, but needed to get additional tools to work on our house and build our furniture, such as circular, table, and electric miter saws, bigger sanders, routers, and so on.
Here's a series of photos showing a furniture making project using these tools.
Finally, though I love using power tools, I've begun acquiring more hand tools so I can explore working by hand more.
Finding tools is a challenge, especially living in a somewhat rural area as we do. We have a wonderful local hardware store, but I often have to reach beyond it to find exactly what I'm looking for.
The most delightful outcome of my online explorations has been finding a handful of individual craftspeople and small businesses who are making incredible tools; I've also stumbled across some good general online tool sources: Sources.
Being an avid reader and having an incurable stubborn streak that manifests in a determination to teach myself everything, In my quest to learn woodworking I've come across some wonderful books, woodworking-related websites, and videos that share a wealth of knowledge: Learning woodworking.
Focusing on pleasure
After several years of focusing on remodeling our home and making our furniture, I'm finally returning to my hobby of making shoji lamps. This is a fairly significant milestone in my life, a good time to take a step back and think about where my journey has brought me: Is it Worth it?