Woodworking started for me around 1974 when I took my first wood shop class in 8th grade from Keith Vanwinkel. He taught many woodworking and safety skills that I still use today, such as how to sharpen and use a hand plane. A few of the items made in his class were a candelabra and nut bowl.
Pictured is the candelabra and nut bowl that I made
I continued shop class in High School, where I honed my woodworking skills and made my first checker/chess board.
While I was attending trade school, I started losing my eye sight due to complications of Diabetes. I underwent numerous eye surgeries, but none were successful. So, by 1984, I was totally blind. I then attended the Iowa Department for the blind Orientation Center, where I learned how to live independently as a blind person. Surprisingly, one of the activities they used for blind skill training was Wood shop, which I took to very quickly. Shop class at the Department for the Blind was not, however to teach the blind how to become woodworkers, but a way to build confidence. Many individuals believe, “if I can cut a board with a power saw, and keep my fingers, what else can I do?”. I went on to graduate from Iowa State University with a degree in Business/Marketing and a degree in Speech Communication. I began my career in the Financial Aid Office at Iowa State University, but managed to find some time to visit the woodworking shop on campus to make a few projects.
Pictured below are Modular CD racks used for a mobile disk jockey business
After 18 years of full-time employment, the opportunity came for me to purchase a table saw.
The Rest of the Story
On August 11, 2010, the community of Ames, Iowa had one of the worst floods ever in its history. The entire city of 55,000 lost all sanitary water for two days, and many homes suffered water damage. Our home was one of them and all of our basement furniture was ruined. I told my wife that I would love to build a new fish aquarium stand, so I could then make the entertainment unit and end tables to match it. I said, “all I need is a table saw.” Well, here we are years later with a full shop including a dust collection and heating cooling system. After nearly 23 years of working, I am now retired from Iowa State University. I spend much of my time building and creating custom pieces of woodwork for individuals, and I am acting president of the Ames Woodworker’s Club.