Jan 082018
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Reader Garry D. Meador writes: “I am a recent subscriber to Wood News and have a hard time waiting for the next issue. So much info presented in so many different ways. Love it. This may have been done in the past but I would like to see a poll of what woodworkers did in their former life. I was a high school band director that grew up working with Dad in wood. My first thoughts on retirement were to get really involved in wood, which I did. I see lots of different retirees that seem to be unrelated to woodworking but realize that everyone has an opportunity to return or relearn the joy of wood.”

Garry, thanks for the great suggestion. As we reflect on the end of last year and this year’s New Year’s resolutions, the time couldn’t be better to think about this exact topic.

Many woodworkers are retired. Some dream of being retired. Some are living the dream by working in wood as their vocation.

There is no pigeonholing woodworkers; our backgrounds are extremely varied. Just watching the final episode of The Highland Woodworker and seeing Charles Brock’s extensive library of interviewees shows a bit of the diversity that exists in our pastime.

Many of us worked wood with family as youngsters. Some took shop classes in junior high and high school. Home construction backgrounds are over-represented. While blue-collar foundations abound, plenty of doctors, lawyers and clergy like to express our creativity in wood.

Wood News Online has an international subscriber base. The world of woodworking is so much bigger than our United States. We get emails, questions and online comments from all over the globe. Below you’ll find a broad list of occupations, but the real results of this poll will be seen in your comments. Stories about how you came to woodworking will be most appreciated if you would like to share them in the comments below.

  20 Responses to “POLL: What Is Your Occupation?”

  1. Been a part time woodworker for over thirty years. Moved into our last house ever and just finished setting up shop in half of a two car garage.All of the heavy tools are on rollers so I can spread out when needed.

    Have a few items needing to start on, just waiting for the temps to warm up a bit

  2. My grandfather worked for the C&O railway, which later became CSX. He specifically worked in Pullman car restoration. When I was young I liked that he did some woodworking around his house and truly was a do it yourself man. When I started woodworking as an adult I wish I would have had the forethought as a child to have learned more from him. I am blessed to have some of his hand tools and incorporate them when it makes sense. I look forward to passing those onto my children and their children and telling them about watching my grandfather work with them.

  3. I am an Ag teacher, Army Reserve Chaplain, blacksmith, and traditional woodworker. I am in Missouri. I just visited Highland Woodworking for the first time last month. Amazing place!

  4. I studied Industrial Arts (Shop teacher) in college and became interested in wood working at that time. Retired as a rehabilitation counselor and still interested in wood working in my spare time.

  5. I started woodworking with my twin brother at the age 5 or 6 in Vs. Moved to New York city soon after, we’re at the age of 11, my brother and I started making and selling wire jewelry. One of the first jobs after the age of 18, was a laborer in construction. That started my career. I then elevated to carpenter, and was lead carpenter by the age 20. I soon was pro.oted to form an in the New York city area.
    I then .oved to Arizona where I started to a job as a commercial cabinet installer. I then got really interested in functional art. I started to read all I could find. My favorite book stire, was changing hands book store in Tempe. I am now much older and quite happy with my skills, as I run a commercial cabinet shop. Along with 1000 sq. Ft. Studio for my artistic side. We are in the process of setting up a new shop with my first gallery/ showroom. I am so excited.
    I am now located in Mesa, AZ.

  6. Professional high end furniture and cabinet maker for the last 30 years or so.

  7. As a 61year old guy with 31 years as a financial advisor with a big firm, this craft has been a Godsend. Working with intangibles all these years, there was something missing. Two years ago, a neighbor who was moving, asked if would like his old table saw and radial saw. I took them off his hands as a favor as he had nowhere to put them. I was instantly hooked and every day after work I head straight to the shop until I’m called in for dinner. I read ww publications each day to learn all I can. This wonderful craft will be with me for life, and until I retire it’s THE best stress relief.

  8. Retired.

  9. work healthcare as a Critical care nurse.Have a nice small shop 14×22 heated.
    One day looking through a woodworking book saw a wooden pen and thought I needed one so bought a lathe and all the supplies needed for 10 pens ,,after 8000 more I still enjoy making and giving them away too coworkers and others going through a tough day.

  10. Have had three different callings in my life. First tuning repairing and installing pipe organs. Second as a pipefitter working in the refinery and power plant business. Finally a copier service technician. Through out all did carpentry and home repair for my own home as well as for others. It has been amazing how all three have tied into each other, mostly in pride of workmanship as well as ” plumb, level, and square”.

  11. I’m a retired airline captain that now teaches in the Airbus 320 simulator for American Airlines. I began woodworking in high school and paid for my college and flying lessons by working as a cabinet maker. I began carving birds in the early ‘80s and discovered it was easier to be a pilot than make a living as an artist. I always wanted a lathe and bought one before retiring. I now turn3-4 days a week making everything from Christmas ornaments to bowls and hollow forms. I’m a firm believer in,”I’m only one tool away from greatness!”

  12. Attended woodworking in H.S. Before that I was raised on a farm and helped with chicken coops, birdhouses, bee keeping stuff, and much more including hunting blinds! Now my daughters say that dad’s woodworking hobby is the best thing ever. They have cabinets, blanket chests, coat hangers, book shelf cabinets, desks, tables, and more. I have been and electrician by trade for 15 years, and now I am an aerospace engineer by training. How much fun can can a lifetime be? And I plan for much more. Thanks for the help, Highland.

  13. I’m a contract toolmaker/designer for the pharmaceutical business, and for a defense contractor. Have been doing it for 30+ years now. I guess wood working (my real passion)
    just seems natural given the manufacturing background. no plans to retire soon, as I work at home and have time between projects to make furniture, Christmas presents ect.

  14. I am a retired pipefitter/welded with a lifetime on metalworking and working on big projects like power plants, refineries, chemical plants, Nuke plants, etc. Lost wife of three years in a car accident in 1980 and the subsequent alcoholism lasted 20 years. In 2000 I got a DUI and that ended my drinking (and smoking). Suddenly I didn’t have anything to do with my hands. I thought it over and decided it was going to be either golf or woodworking. And, since it was Winter in the upper peninsula of Michigan at the time, woodworking was it. Acquired a cheap Craftsman saw, drill press, planer and jointer. A bunch of hand tools I didn’t know how to use and set off. 17 years later I am a middle level amateur with flashes of actual artistry. Love woodworking and am going wireless mostly as I wind down this life.

  15. Growing up around aircraft mechanics and pilots, I began working with my Dad and brothers on airplanes. Got my mechanics licensee and followed that field for some years. Decided that the field I wanted to follow was electronics, so I started work in the electronics service field, from which I retired.
    I discovered my love for woodworking as a young child, and began building things of wood. I received my first “Skill saw” at the age of 11, and have grown my love for woodworking since.
    Now I am finally able to live the dream of being a full time woodworker, and hope to follow this for many years into the future.

  16. I started woodworking about 50 years. I was a heavy equipment and truck mechanic for 55 years and had my own shop for 35 years. I retired at 74 and now I build cars and trucks from wood including the engines, transmissions, undercarriage, and exhaust system’s with steam bent doweling. I also did a remodel to our home and made some of our furniture. Now I just do smaller thing mostly.
    Ken Darby

  17. Started woodworking as a hobby about 35 years ago. Retired as a university librarian ten years ago, but recently started a small home-rehab business with my stepson. He’s the experienced construction-management side, I’m the administration-financial side. I also bring to it my own understanding and expertise in home construction from decades of my own DIY home improvement and repair.

  18. I grew up working wood at a young age <10 years old under my father's tutelage. We built everything from small sailing dinghies to basic home repairs. He was a naval architect with a degree in mechanical engineering.
    After getting my degree in machine tool technology while working in machine shops, I served a formal 4 year apprenticeship earning my journeyman's papers from the state of California as a Tool & Die-maker.
    After various positions including shop manager, I was promoted to the title of Sr. Project Engineer.
    Since the 15+ years I have brought home my machinist tool boxes, they have found a new home in my home wood shop! My tools, whether they be of the woodworking variety or not are 96% made in USA or of Swiss or German origin. I often challenge someone new to my shop to find the made in China items. (there are a few).

  19. I’m an accountant. I grew up on a farm in North Dakota and had many days of fall and winter to learn construction, welding, electricity, plumbing, car repair, farm machinery fixing, and a wide variety of animal husbandry – pigs, chickens, cattle, and horses. I’ve built shops, garages, barns, Quonset buildings, and fixed or repaired almost everything in them. Today as I near retirement, I’m learning to do more finish woodworking rather than the rough construction and building I’m used to. I have a 36 x 26 barn, a 24 x 36 pump house, and an 1,800 garage with the house to practice in. The Highland Woodworking magazine and its online companions along with all the writers keep me busy learning new things every day.

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