I love interviews – getting to know people on a different level.
We begin this series of interviews with IANWATER who has been very active on our site, helping 3W (WoodworkingWeb) begin its journey and members develop their skills.
And now – to the interview!
1. What is your “inspiration story” — where did your interest in woodworking all begin?
My Interest in woodworking started at a very early age. My dad started as woodworker before moving to business. He always maintained a wood shop. I remember watching him work; make stuff. That was fascinating.
I did not have the chance to learn from my dad because school was far from home.
My first foray in woodworking was an attempt to add a shelf into a wall closet while in college. I went to a hardware store and bought a screw driver, a hammer, a handsaw, some nails and screws…
When I was done, it was not pretty. My finger took a beating from the hammer.
Several years later, in 2008, I bought my first home and I also bought some tools I thought I would need to fix stuff around the house. It quickly became apparent that I needed to build a pantry in a dead space under the stairs. I bought a Sears jobsite table saw that was on sales for $99. I brought it home, admired it almost every weekend but did not power it on even once; I was scared to death.
I started actively looking for a woodworking school. In 2009 I enrolled in a woodworking class offered by Castro Valley Adult School. The teacher, Jim Vice, a machinist and a woodworker for over 30 years, was the inspiration of my woodworking life.
From the first class he was taking about safety, safety and safety. He was also talking about square and precision. 5/1000th, 3/1000th of an inch was heard very often.
I took several classes from Jim. We built a tile top garden table, a round table, a tool chest, an octagonal table, 2 end tables and a coffee table, a raised panel blanket chest, etc…
A lot of joinery, jigs, techniques and precision. Eighty percent of what I know in woodworking, I learned from Jim.
After my second class I also discovered Lumberjocks. The inspiration poured in.
Great people shared a great deal. I saw the work of Larry (Degoose), Steve (Spalm), I saw “Oops” from Paul (shipwright), boxes from Britboxmaker and Andy only to list a few.
I had to make some of the stuff. I had to learn faster. I bought DVDs, books and magazines. I spent weekends in the garage that was by now a shop on wheel.
I failed on many projects and continue to do so now. But every failure is a new experience.
That jobsite Sears table saw was gone after the first class. It was replaced by a Bosch 9100 that also got replaced by a SawStop cabinet saw.
2. Power or hand tools? … and why
Being a machinist, Jim, my teacher only used power tools. So the majority of the time I use power tools. I have been discovering hand tools slowly and have been buying more of them. I think I will still use mainly power tool for a long time just because I can finish project faster with less effort. I do see a time where I will be giving my hand tools more use as I feel you get closer to the wood with hand tools.
3. What is your dream project and when do you think you will tackle the challenge?
There are so many dream projects. It’s very hard to choose.
I saw the work of Enrico Konig in Fine Woodworking in May/June 2011 and was amazed. His hallway table and his coffee table are very high on my dream project list. I would like to start on those next year. Next year just because there is always a new project that pops up where I go “that’s so cool!” and I get side tracked. I have many of those “cool” projects on my list.
4. What is the greatest gift that this craft gives you?
The best gift is the feeling I get when I finish a project. It’s the feeling of accomplishment and pride. The greatest feeling is when I see happiness when I give away my projects as gifts. I have not kept many of my projects. My wife is still waiting for her cutting board :)
Woodworking also takes me away from technology and daily worries a bit. The time I spend in the shop gives me new energy and focus. I feel at peace when I am in the shop.
5. What are your “words of wisdom” that you want to pass on to others, especially to beginners?
Given that I am a beginner myself, it would be unwise to give advice to others.
This said there is always a thought that resonate in my head every time I walked in the shop.
I hear what my teacher Jim once said: “Power tools are not your friends. They will bite you if you become complacent. Get to know them but don’t get comfortable with them. Replay and visualize your cuts before you turn on your tools. If you feel the cut you are about to do is dangerous, find a different way to do it”.
6. And with our community being so new, what do you look forward to, as a member?
It’s very exciting to be part of WoodworkingWeb. I am looking forward to seeing this community grow in term of members and creations. I am hoping this community opens new friendships and evolves into an extended family.
I am also looking forward to learning and be inspired by members. I am looking forward to sharing whatever I learn along the way. I think knowledge sharing is the best way forward.
Abbas, Castro Valley, CA
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Thank-you Ianwater! Thank-you for taking the time to answer the questions, to share your story, and to inspire us. We look forward to seeing the cutting board and the dream project!