Back in 2009, I quit my job in marketing with the hazy plan of making furniture. I remember explaining to my boss how I desperately wanted to “work with my hands” — a mighty notion to a white-collar worker, albeit vague and romanticized. At night, I sketched my ideas in broad strokes, unacquainted with the details of joinery, material or proportions. By day, I admired images of graceful tables while hunched over my laptop in a creaky office chair.
I moved to Maine thereafter to take a twelve-week intensive course at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship. I toiled for weeks on my first project, a modest step stool, and although I was steadily absorbing a fresh set of skills, I grew discouraged by the lack of tangible progress. But one day, snap! The stool clamped together squarely and I was able to appreciate its joinery, material and proportions — the very details I had once overlooked.
While at school, I shared my experience on my bygone blog, Woodlearner. That August, I was hired as the woodworking columnist for Apartment Therapy, an interior design blog with three million monthly readers. For my weekly column WoodWise, I wrote about the basics (lumber, joinery, tools) with a heavy dose of anecdotal wisdom and chronicled the thorough process of setting up my own workshop.
More recently, I went west to Fort Bragg, California to attend a nine-month program at the College of the Redwoods. There I laid a sturdier foundation by building my own tools and enhancing my hand skills. I gained respect for my material and a greater understanding of its temperamental nature. As the school’s founder James Krenov writes in A Cabinetmaker’s Notebook, too many woodworkers are “looking for new ideas rather than at the wood itself.” In practice, this simple notion is quite transformative.
Nowadays, I’m back at my shop in Connecticut, crafting one-off pieces and composing a full line of furniture.
- Bethel, CT
- Professional Status
- Member until Jan 22, 2020