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 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.
As my interest in Old Time music has grown, I've enjoyed learning and perfecting my luthier skills and making instruments to play. My wife (guitar) and son (fiddle, banjo, and guitar) also play Old Time music, and we enjoy playing together. I produce instruments somewhat intermittently, based upon the time I can find to work on them. In addition to making instruments and furniture, I also make the frames (and much of the framing stock) for my wife, Alice, who is a professional artist in pastels and oils. (I'm also the webmaster for her artist website).
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.