Interview with Bob Rozaieski – Cabinetmaker
Interview with Podcasters and Bloggers #2
I started watching Bob and he captured my attention quickly. Bob is a traditional woodworker. And is very good at it. He has his own blog and podcast. You can find him on iTunes as well. In his series he has covered tools, benches, cabinet building, sharpening and so much more. He goes in depth and teaches very well. There is a lot to learn from this man.
iTunes – Logan Cabinet Shoppe – Handtools and Techniques
I once was looking to learn the layout of a double bevel dovetail. This is a difficult issue and there is so very little information on the joint. Bob was a great help in resolving the problem. I have seen him help many people to get through there issues.
Another great influence to me was the layout and thought processes he did in his bench build. They are really worth looking at. He makes you think of what you need and not what everyone else is building. To me that is innovative.
I had sent Bob an email and asked for an interview. He was kind enough to do so.
What is your inspiration in your woodworking?
Like a lot of folks who started woodworking when I did, my original inspiration was “The New Yankee Workshop”. I actually didn’t start out woodworking only with hand tools but rather I evolved (or is that devolved) to where I am now over the years. My first trip to Williamsburg was a big push in the direction I have been headed over the last 10-12 years. I was amazed and encouraged by what was possible with what some might call primitive technology (though when you really start studying it you see how technologically advanced a lot of the 18th and 19th century tools really are).
What brought you to share your knowledge in your podcast and blog?
I think it started out as just a way to share what I had learned and was learning. Woodworking is typically such a solitary pursuit and most people just don’t share your enthusiasm when you discover something or learn something new in the shop by yourself. The blog was a way for me to connect with other folks who did share my enthusiasm and passion for this stuff. Over the years this has continued, but I think it has also developed into a way for me to introduce eager folks that are new to the craft and enthusiastic about the hand tool methods to the joys of traditional woodworking as well. In my eyes, video is the next best thing to live, in person classes. I’d like to offer these types of classes some day, but until that becomes possible, the podcast I think remains the next best media for sharing some of these skills.
Your podcast and blog are very informative. Where do you get your ideas?
Most of my ideas come from my own education in the craft. I am, for the most part, self taught. That doesn’t mean that I discovered everything on my own, in a box. Of course I’ve gotten a lot of my knowledge from books and magazines. But what I mean i that I have never had any formal education in the craft. I’ve never apprenticed, or gone to school or taken a woodworking class, outside of high school wood shop. Everything I have learned has come from reading about it, doing it and experimenting on my own. So for me, ideas come pretty easily. I just share what I have learned or what I’m currently learning. So much of the knowledge of the traditional aspects of the craft has been lost to time that it’s easy to share things that I learn, because not too many other folks are looking in the places that I look. The history of the craft has a lot to teach us if we just look for it. I also get suggestions from readers/viewers on what they would like to see. These are often some of the best and most popular topics.
For a starting woodworker what would be your advice?
The best advice I can give someone new to the craft is to start simple and be specific. Woodworking can get complicated and intimidating very quickly when one starts looking at all of the tools and machines and wood and information available to us today. When we see TV shows like WoodWorks, The New Yankee Workshop, The Woodwright’s Shop, and all of the popular podcasts, it’s easy to feel like you can’t get started until you have all of those cool tools. The problem is, when you start to add up the cost of all those cool tools, it gets very discouraging very quickly. Even as a hand tool only woodworker who predominantly uses old tools, I still have a lot invested in my shop. Most of it isn’t required to get started though. If one focuses on skills rather than on tools, the initial investment can be reduced dramatically. By picking a very simple and specific project to start with, then buying tools only as they are needed for the next steps in the project, and only those tools, one can start woodworking with as little as $20. The tool kit is built gradually this way and you start working on the skill set from the outset. When you focus on acquiring all of the tools first, you can spend years of time and salary and still have nothing to show for it in terms of woodworking skills or projects other than a pretty shop. So my advice it to start very basic by picking a simple, specific project, acquiring the few basic tools needed to build that project, and then focusing on skills, not tools. I know it’s cliche, but it’s still true: the tools do not make the craftsman.
It seems that the history of woodworking is very important to you. Is there a time period or person you research and study?
The time period that interests me is really very wide. Much wider than it may seem. Really it’s any time before the industrial revolution and mass production. I like the traditional aspect of the craft, when it took some skill with a hand tool to turn out a good quality product. This really applies to the mid 1800s and earlier. My main focus is 18th century, from the turn of the century to the Revolutionary War period. But really, I love the 19th century westward expansion and 17th century early colonial periods as well. These periods to me represent a time when craftsmanship and skilled hands were at their peak. I’m continually amazed at the work that these folks did with such simple tools and nothing more than the desire to survive and succeed. I think that’s what draws me so much to the very early colonial and pioneer periods. It’s not really a romanticism about these times (well, maybe a little), but more of a respect for what they were able to accomplish with so little. Woodworking is only a small part of this of course, it just happens to be the part I’m most interested in and have the greatest access to. I really study many more aspects of these periods than just the woodworking though.
All the Best,
I want to personally thank Bob for taking the time to do this interview. Bob keep the good information coming we will be watching and reading. Thanks for all you do.
Please be careful. Some of the things I do are dangerous. It is not my fault if you get hurt. Use your brain, be safe.