Q: How did you get started in studio furniture making?
A: I got started in woodworking by flipping a coin to decide whether I would take an elective in wood or clay. At the time I was a photo student at Rhode Island School of Design. Just prior to that, I was a photo journalist for the U.S. Army in Vietnam. I
shot photos instead of people because I somehow managed to acquire a
B.A. degree in photo journalism from Boston University where I was
biding my time waiting for the war to end so when I got drafted I
actually possessed an expertise (ha....) that the military thought
valuable (not their normal m.o.) Anyway, the coin flip came up wood and Tage Frid, the memorable!) Took me under his wing and that was that.
Q: Do you use hand tools and or power tools? How do they affect your work?
A: Hmm, tools...of course I use power tools. I have a 20" Oliver joiner, 18"
Rockwell planer, 25" Moak band saw, a 10" Powermatic table saw, 5 horse
Oliver hollow chisel mortiser, Rockwell drill press and a small
Rockwell shaper. These provide the horsepower to cut and mill the rough lumber and produce the basic joinery. I'm
no fan of noise so the use of screaming, high r.p.m. routers and such
is kept to a minimum, but I do use them along with a neat orbital sander
and a hand drill.
What I prefer is quiet hand work with planes, chisels, gouges (sharp cutting tools) along with some rasps and files when needed. Finish surfacing is accomplished with sharp scrapers and fine sand paper. I prefer to not use anything courser than 240 grit though of course I also have 120 and 180.
The finest I use is 320 grit, following with burnish with either steel wool or 0000 scotch bright if I'm oiling a piece. When varnishing I stop sanding at 240.
Q: How much input does the client have in your process?
A: Client input? Phew, if you don't please the client there is no client....but wait that isn't what you asked. I usually get the specifics, you know-table, chair, cabinet etc. I
might discuss woods, and I will ask questions - how big, where is it
going, real function, but they are often not very involved in the actual
design. I'm lucky so far. It is quite important to give them what they will be comfortable with....
Q: What is your favorite wood to work with?
A: Favorite wood? Yikes, trick question. But honestly I'd have to say Claro walnut, figured maple, myrtle, cherry and Port Orford cedar are challengers.
and I love white oaks, live oak, honey locust, black gum, red and white
birch, sycamore and beech and poplar and......well, there is no bad
wood-ya know what I mean?