How My Woodworking Hobby Began

I spent more than 55 years of my life without a hobby, for several reasons. First of all, having an attention span of a gnat, coupled with very little patience for detail and most of all I didn’t have time for such things.

I started doing various woodworking projects almost by accident. Here’s how it happened.

We have a very unique table that we got from Madeline’s mom, Maxine, many years ago. It was a coffee table brought back from Venezuela by Maxine and Ted in the 1960s.

It’s not just a regular coffee table, it is huge. It’s made for a crosscut piece of Honduran Mahogany that is approx 3 1/2″ thick by 4’/ 5′ oval diameter. It’s a very impressive piece. The legs are made from branches of same type of tree that have been turned down on the end to make a dowel that fits into a drilled hole on the underside of the table.

At some point a thick coat of clear urethane had been applied to the top. The same thing that popular for finishing bar tops in many beer joints back in the 60s and 70s. Over time the coating had started to yellow and crack. We put the table aside, as it wasn’t much to look at.

Wanting to once again put it in service Madeline contacted a furniture restorer in Austin. I loaded the table on a trailer and took it to get an estimate. The guy quoted over $3000 to strip and refinish it. That wasn’t exactly what we were expecting. As I headed home with it, she called and said she found a guy out in the country over out of Hutto that would do it cheap. He worked out of his garage. So I headed that way.

When I turned off the main highway onto a Farm to Market Road and went across a real rough railroad crossing, I looked back the legs had all snapped off. The weight of the table had caused it to flatten out, sitting on the floor of the trailer. It was shaping up to be a real disaster. I pulled over, secured it then turned and headed for home.

I assured her that I would fix it. I didn’t know how but I figured I could do something. She was having none of it. She just wanted it stored away. She just wanted it out of site. The more I talked about it the more resistant she became. So I put it out in a little storage shed we had out from the house.

She had a trip planned to China that was coming up. The wheels in my head were turning. When I hauled her to the airport, and I made a stop at the speciality wood shop and bought all kinds of tools and materials. I got home and managed to get the table up on a pair of sawhorses I had set up in the garage and then went to work.

A couple of weeks later when she returned the table was setting in it’s new place in our living room, looking better than the day it was brand new and much more sturdy.

With all the newly purchased tools I decided I would put them to work. That’s when I started doing Intarsia Woodwork. For those that don’t know Intarsia is a process where you combine various types and colors of wood to make all sorts of animals, birds, flowers and just about anything you can think of.

Examples of Intarsia I’ve Done

There is no paint or stain used in any of the Intarsia pieces. Just the actual wood colors and using the grains oriented in directions to make it look real.

Each of those pieces take between a few hours to 20 hours to make. Getting involved in that hobby taught me a lot about patience. After doing this hobby almost everyday for months I decided it was too much hard work for it being a hobby.

I was introduced the world of CNC (Computer Numeric Control) woodworking. I could make beautiful wood pieces, by setting at a computer to create a design, put a piece of wood in the machine, push a couple of buttons and walk away for a little while and wait for it to be made. Of course there was still work I had to do to finish each piece. I did this almost nonstop for a few years. But it turned into more work than should be required of a hobby. So I slacked off of that some. I still do it but not with the gusto that I once did.

These are examples of CNC Woodworking

It is possible to create almost anything with a CNC.

Needing a good supply of wood, and it takes a lot of wood, we built our on saw mill shed with a portable mill to make our own lumber. It is a fun part of my hobby obsession, but it’s hard and strenuous work. My back ailments are flair up every time I work with the CNC or the Saw Mill.

Thinking I needed something that would required less of my body, I decided to try laser engraving, which uses much less lifting. My laser is actually in a room in the house, so can do that sitting at a computer then hit a button and away it goes.

These are laser item I’ve made

It’s a fun hobby, but it makes so much stuff, that the cost to do it continually becomes almost prohibitive.

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