In truth, they had a woodworking section in my kindergarten class room, and Mikey Kane and I made a raft that my dad and his dad took down to the Mississippi River, and we got to float on it. Then there were bird houses and kites in Cub and Boy Scouts, and my mom whittled and carved little figures. And every kid my age always carried a knife, and we were sharpening spears and arrows making bows. Then there were the cars we made from wood fruit boxes. So I guess you could say I have been working with wood ever since I was five.
I started thinking seriously about building things with wood as I sat in a bunker during a rocket attack in Dung Ha, South Vietnam, while serving in the Marine Corps. The bunker was open on two ends, and the light shined on the wood joint where somebody lapped two huge twelve by twenty inch beams together at the corner. It wasn’t just thrown together, somebody took their time making that joint, and it was perfect. What was impressive was that there were two, two inch square wood pegs pounded into round holes to hold it together. As I think about it now, I believe that joint I found so interesting was probably an elongated bridle scarf joint, and that is why it had the two pegs going in on the side.
When I got back to the States, my dad had already signed me up for Vo-Tech school so I could become an electrician. That lasted for six months, but I wasn’t ready to pick one thing to do for the rest of my life. After my time in combat, I was still trying to figure out why I had a life.
It took a while, but I ended up at Arizona State University where I entered the Fine Arts program. I was attending on the–get this–Vocational Rehabilitation for Disabled Veterans Program. They paid for not only my books and tuition, but for my supplies also. Those paid supplies opened up so many choices for me.
As far as I know, I was the only returning Vietnam veteran in the arts school. Two instructors, Ben Goo, a WW II vet, and Ray Fink, a Korean War vet, couldn’t have been better for me to study under. That first semester Ray gave me a key to the woodworking shop, and told me I could use it 24/7. Use it, I did. Ben taught me many techniques he used in his work that would have taken me many years to master on my own.
After finishing up at ASU, I moved into the “woods” of Northern Minnesota where my wife and I and our young daughter lived in a 1920’s log cabin on the bank of the Big Fork River, about twenty miles from the Canadian border and five miles to the closest neighbor.
So for the last 40 years, wood, in one form or another, has been my life’s work. During that time I have always done artwork, but with three wonderful children, a house, and wood, and tools to buy, sometimes I would build furniture, cabins, boat houses, repair/rebuild wood boats and canoes, anything that my skills with wood would help pay the bills.
Today, I am in Madison County which is in Northern Florida, about twenty miles from the Georgia border. Yes, there is a long story between those two locations, but I’ll save that for another time.
I still work with wood, and I believe I enjoy it more now than I ever have. I have now moved into my new studio and have set up the tools where I think they work best. The studio has big windows that allow me to watch the woods and the wildlife while I am doing quiet work, and being in a rural setting I don’t have to worry about my power tools disturbing anyone.
As you explore my web page you will be able to see my studio and the grounds it sits on. You’ll also see the tree house I have built, and the other structures I have added to the property. Other pages will have photos of past work and work in progress. There is also a map showing how to find me, and I always enjoy woodworkers, wood lovers, and art lovers to stop in for a visit.
I hope to meet you here someday.