My actual experience at the bench as an embryo cabinetmaker began when I was fourteen years of age. I had been at school all the winter and spring, but was with my father in the shop a great deal before and after school hours. At this time my father was working on piece work in the town of C, and in every odd moment I helped him all I could. He made a great many extension tables at so much a foot. They were 8, to and 12-foot tables, some were of black walnut but most were ash.
There was only one thing I could help him about on these tables and that was, after he had planed and scraped the tops I would sandpaper them. He had a cork block around which he folded the sandpaper, and after admonishing me to sandpaper only with the grain I would go at it. I took kindly to the work and he let me tinker a good deal for myself, and I became greatly interested in making a toy bureau. I made the frame, glued it together and get out the drawers, fitting them as well as I could. The first bureau was rather crude but I was proud of it.
I was given some practical lessons in shoving a plane. Like all beginners, I was awkward. Though I had seen my father use a plane from earliest recollection, when I attempted to use one in planing a hardwood board level, or to make a “rub” glue joint, what looked so easy as my father did it was a hard enough job when I tried it myself.