The first project I can remember making on my own was a small wall sconce or shelf I had seen in a magazine. I told my parents that I wanted to make it and, being enablers, they got me started. We had a coping saw frame and no blades (I am sure my brothers and I had broken them all at some point), so my dad took me down to Perrozzi’s Hardware in Lompoc, Calif., and we picked up some blades. On the way home, he swung the Rambler American behind the Safeway store and found a fruit crate with wood suitable for my project.
It is important to know that both my parents grew up in the Great Depression so we learned the practice of thrift, something that shows up in my forthcoming DVD, “The Naked Woodworker.” My 90-year-old mother still saves more plastic bags than she will ever use under her kitchen sink, along with foil and other things one might need in a pinch.
The quality of pine in fruit crates back in the day was pretty good, so I had some decent material to work with. I sawed and nailed my shelf together and smeared on some mahogany-colored stain and varnish mix that was in the garage. I don’t know what happened to that shelf, but I am pretty sure that it was “lost” in one of our moves.
It is hard to believe that was more than 50 years ago. Since then I have built houses and cabinets, clock cases and coffins, even a wooden car. I still look forward to the next project with some of the same anticipation I felt as we searched through the fruit crates behind the grocery store for the proper shelf material so many years ago.
No matter your age or ability woodworking is great fun, so grab your coping saw and jump in! You’ll meet some great people along the way and you might even end up with a shelf, or a car!
— Mike Siemsen, Mike Siemsen School of Woodworking