Norm, David Marks, Roy Underhill & Pop...

Most woodworkers, amateur or otherwise, know who I am referring to when I say "Norm". In case you don't know, Norm Abram is the host of The New Yankee Workshop. He's credited with jump starting the woodworking hobby for many people. I remember watching Norm with my dad when I was a kid. I didn't get it then... but now I do. Norm has been criticized for using a brad nailer, but I don't see the big deal. His work is exceptional.

Roy Underhill is another woodworker dad and I watched as a kid. He hosts the show The Woodwright's Shop. PBS now has a season of the show online to watch anytime. I've watched quite a few episodes, and I don't remember him being that spastic. He gives out a lot of good info, especially for those that shun power tools.

David Marks, is not as well known as Norm but is an accomplished crafstman. David is the host of a program on the DIY Network called Wood Works. He definitely has his own style, mostly Asian/Egyptian influenced. While I'm not a huge fan of his style, I appreciate his exceptional work. The curved surfaces give his work an organic feel.

So, why do I bring these guys up? The one person that has influenced my woodworking more than any other person on this earth is not in that list. That's my grandfather aka "Pop". He's been working with wood in one way or another since the 30's. I grew up, quite literally, in the house next door to his workshop. I would go up there daily to see what he was working on. It could have been any number of things. From putting a wooden dash in an old diesel Mercedes, making a wooden top for an old Willys Jeep, gun-stocks, guitars to repairing furniture. He worked on boats for 20 or 30 years, I watched him rebuild a 50's Chris Craft over the course of about a year. He's quite an amazing craftsman. Unfortunately, I didn't get into woodworking until I was 30. So I missed a great opportunity to apprentice with him. Fortunately, I was an inquisitive kid so I remember a lot of what he taught me. He's my go-to resource now. If I have a problem, or need a technique I have a resource with over 65 years of woodworking experience. At the time of this writing he's 83 and still working on guitars & gun-stocks. I didn't apprentice him then, but I'm soaking up the information now. Every time I visit with him we talk about our current projects and compare notes, which means I ask him questions on techniques. He's better than any television show host that I know. And he knows a lot more than any book or series of books could teach.

What's the moral of the story? Before taking classes from Woodcraft or your local woodworking guru, take a look at the resources in your family. In my family alone I have my grandfather, dad, and 3 uncles that have carpentry or woodworking experience. You'll enjoy the experience more and grow closer to your family. If those are not good enough reasons, then think of the money you'll save on those classes. Money that could be put toward a new tool.


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