My wife was used to me traveling to between 20~30 countries per year for work for pretty much our entire marriage. When Covid hit and we were all quarantined at our new home in Peachtree City Georgia, my wife politely asked me if I would take up a hobby. But with everything closed down I decided that woodworking would be something easy to start doing since I had so many samples of softwood, hardwood and plywood in our garage that was just screaming to be used for something fun. Plus, I always enjoyed watching this Japanese carpenter build things when I first started in the industry and he helped me build a few tables and my back deck expansion when we lived in Oregon.
I looked through some of my tool boxes and found an old copy of directions for making California Redwood Adirondack chairs that I must have randomly picked up over the previous 20+ years in the industry. I immediately set off to Home Depot to go through about 100 pieces of 5/4x6 and 2x6 pressure treated Southern Yellow Pine to get mostly clear pieces. Enough to make a couple of Adirondack chairs. After I made them, one of my neighbors came over and asked me what all the sawing noise was coming from. When I showed him the chairs, he asked me if I could make him 4 of them for his lake place. So, I did. And it was a lot of fun. And he and I were able to spend some time hanging out and getting to know each other better.
I had some Japanese Cedar T&G Paneling samples in the garage that I ended up ripping the T&G off of and running on my newly acquired Makita 12" planer and then ripping and chopping into components to make some child size and kid size Adirondack chairs to give away to some of our friends kids. Then I used even more of the paneling to make a kid size school house that a local Montessori school ended up buying from me.
One of the many positive impacts that the quarantine did for me was to give me even more of a passion for the wood products industry than I had in international wood products and building materials sales and marketing throughout my career.
One of the things that I learned quickly as lumber prices continued to sky rocket at the beginning of Covid was that you had to be very creative with a woodworking hobby so that you do not spend your entire children’s future college fund on lumber.
I have found that one of the easiest species to work with is cedar. Especially vertical grain and clear cedar. It was just so expensive to buy kiln dried clear cedar boards for a hobby and I was pretty sure I would end up with a lot of scraps at the outset. So, I ended up in the cedar fence section of Home Depot and Lowe’s every weekend going through entire units of fencing to find a handful of clear VG fence boards. In Georgia, I had Japanese Cedar and Chinese Cedar fencing that I was able to buy that was already kiln dried and it just needed to be surfaced. Now that we are back living in the Pacific Northwest, it is rough green western red cedar fencing from Alta at Home Depot and Lowe’s and they need to be air dried for a few weeks before they can be surfaced to rip and cut into components for projects such as lawn and garden products or to be run on the planer and router table into paneling.
Soon after starting my new quarantine hobby, my wife recommended that I start an Instagram account to easily share pictures of my projects with our family back in the Pacific Northwest so I started #stallcopwoodworking and soon I had other people who were woodworkers in our industry sharing their account hashtags with me and suddenly we were sharing ideas back and forth and I now have even closer friends in our industry from this.
Now that travel restrictions are lifting and I will not be home as much to spend time on my new hobby, I will definitely not let months go by before I get the tools out and build something again. The passion has been stoked and I can honestly say that when I retire I will now have a full time hobby to keep me out of trouble and out of my wife’s hair.
Please feel free to let me know what your Instagram account hashtag is if you also have a woodworking hobby. I’d love to exchange ideas!