I've been actively woodworking since 1998, when I went into a local woodworking store to see if I could buy some lathe tools for an old Rockwell lathe my grandfather had owned, and which had been sitting in my parent's garage for the past twenty years. I came out of the store with several gouges, scrapers, and skew chisel, and a gleam in my eye-- my wife bought me a tablesaw shortly afterwards as a birthday present.
I've always liked woodworking, having taken shop back in 7th grade, and fooled around with a scrollsaw during middle- and high school. This always seemed fun to me, but I lacked clear vision or purpose on what to make. I'd always been afraid that if I bought a tool, I'd use it once but then not know what to make next with it.
Skip forward to 1998, when I then owned an old farmhouse and barn needing furniture, animal stalls, and other furnishing, and the 'to do' list for my family was growing. Walking into that woodworking store, I suddenly realized that I'd never run out of things to do or make, and promptly started accumulating tools and started making stuff. Even though I feel I'm productive, my "to do" project list is growing faster than I can complete things.
I have most of the major power tools, such as tablesaw, 8 inch jointer, planer, bandsaw, and drill press, but my pride and joy are my handtools-- a mix of old Stanley and newer Lie Nielsen bench planes, block planes, shoulder planes, and assorted speciality planes.
I like improving my basic handtool skills, and have taken some workshops to learn more and to push me a bit. I'm currently especially interested in Federal style furniture, with intricate inlay and fine veneers, and am working on using these in various projects.
I make my official living as a Professor at Penn State University. Most of the activities I'm involved with are months-long, with multiple meetings, planning, group decision-making, and then implementation. Woodworking,in contrast, provides me the immediate sense that I'm accomplishing something -- I can work for an evening on a woodworking project, and immediately see the results of that effort; its a very tangible feeling with deep satisfaction. Its something I can touch when I'm done, something I can point to and know that I created it, with a real immediacy.