Although this is a personal story, I wrote it in hopes you are able to take away a bit of inspiration from the story of how I started woodworking.
I grew up in a family of builders. My dad helped build the house I grew up in. He built barns and decks and patios on our property and for the company where he worked. He built shelving racks and picnic tables and was constantly improving our property and home. We even built old cars together. Growing up around all this creating made me realize that’s the type of life I wanted for myself.
So I went to school for engineering. It seemed to mix all the things I loved to do (designing, creating, building) and I’ve been blessed to really enjoy my career choice. I’m a manufacturing engineer working in a plastics manufacturing facility and I have the opportunity to work on some very unique products.
While I enjoy my job, I always yearned for my own creative outlet. When my wife and I had the opportunity to buy our first house, I knew this was my opportunity. So I dove headfirst into projects in our new home. I repaired and rebuilt a section of fencing. I replaced the carpet with laminate wood flooring. I updated the trim to a style we liked far more. I put a new vanity and flooring in a bathroom. And I had the help of my dad for a lot of these projects. All these things I loved doing and it reminded me so much of my childhood. It was the outlet I had been wanting for years.
I built my wife a farmhouse-style desk as a surprise when she was away on a trip. The desk wasn’t complicated or intricate but it was my first real experience in furniture building. I used basic 2x4s from a big box store, some cedar I had from the earlier fence repair, and a Kreg jig for the joinery. This was definitely a first-time DIY project. But my wife loved it, and I loved creating it.
Taking pieces of wood and turning them into something structural for use is an amazing feeling. While house upgrades were something I liked doing, this was something I loved.
Then life became very busy. We were traveling for work, making trips to see family, and then in July, we found out we were expecting our first child. All these things took priority, which meant I didn’t scratch that itch for far too long.
Cut to my 8-week paternity leave. After putting off a passion for so long, I wanted to burst. So while our daughter napped, I took the monitor into the garage and started building again. The first thing I built was a king-sized headboard for us. It turned out great and we love it.
After that, I built a mantle cover for our fireplace. The fireplace is brick with a brick shelf at the top but we love the look of wood so much more. So I built a thick cedar mantle to cover the brick shelf. And it turned out better than I hoped.
That is when the desire completely took over. I got the blessing from my wife to really pursue this as a passion and she even started pushing me harder than I push myself. Here’s the thing about woodworking and building— everyone has a similar story starting out. No one wakes up a professional woodworker that can build amazing complicated designs. Everyone starts off in their garage with some Home Depot or Lowes tools (or Menards for midwesterners). But that’s not where my story with woodworking ends. I hope you follow along and learn something along the way. If you’d like to learn more about me, check out this page.
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Located in West Michigan, Bearded Moose Woodworking handcrafts custom wood furniture, cabinets, and built-ins using locally-sourced hardwoods.