I’ve been working with wood since the age of eleven. In 1984 my family moved to Cincinnati from Greenwich, CT. Being a shy kid, I didn’t make many friends so most of my free time I spent tinkering around my dad’s shop. My dad wasn’t a woodworker but he did have some modest tools like a bench top drill press and a band saw, so I started making small little toys. I continued working with wood taking shop class throughout my junior high and high school years. After school and during the summer I built several Toys and Joys cars and trucks. Below is a sample of things I made between the ages of twelve and sixteen.
Around the age of thirteen, I started collecting antique tools. When visiting my grandparents in Detroit, MI, I would always hang out in my grandpa’s garage. He was a mechanic who restored old cars like Model T’s and had a 1919 Maxwell in his garage that I thought was the coolest thing on earth. My grandfather seeing that I had an interest in woodworking, gave me a few his tools he never used. The first tool he gave me was an old hand cranked drill press that I still own today. While staying with my grandparents for a few weeks during the summer, they would take me to area flea markets to find some bargains for themselves. Extremely bored, I decided to look around for some old tools to add to my budding collection of hand tools. After a few purchases of hand planes, I became an antique tool collector. When I attended a couple of The Ohio Tool Collectors Association meetings in 1989, I noticed I was the youngest antique tool collector in the room. Over twenty five years later, I probably still am.
This is my tool cabinet full of antique tools that I use on a daily basis. I update it about once a year and replace some of the old tools with new tools I recently purchased. As it stands it holds about 200 tools, most of them being antique.
After graduating from high school, I attended the University of Cincinnati. I originally wanted to take Industrial Arts Education and become a shop teacher. I was told by my high school guidance counselor that UC had that degree available. When I went to the new student orientation at UC, an administrator asked me what my major was. I told him Industrial Arts Education. He turned and looked at me with a strange look and said “UC hasn’t had that degree in thirty years”. Stunned I said “Okay I’ll take Business Administration.” I took Marketing in high school and really liked it. Five years later, I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing.
Today I’m a sales rep for Oldcastle Building Products selling patio hardscapes to high volume retailers and independent hardware stores. I’ve been in the building industry for the past fifteen years working for other companies such as Walker Williams Lumber Co and Senco Products. http://www.linkedin.com/in/mvflaim
While I would love to work full-time on building furniture and have a business like Thomas Moser or Brian Boggs, I’m glad I have a day job with health benefits. In 2012 after temporarily losing my vision in my left eye and losing feelings in my legs, I was diagnosed with Devic’s Disease. I’ve healed a lot over the past few years, but I still have some lingering effects. I’m hopeful for the future as I’m currently on the right medication, but I may have some uphill battles to fight.
In 2009 I made a Roubo style workbench. It’s a combination of two Roubo workbenches. One from Chris Schwarz in his book “workbenches” and the other from Roy Underhill’s book “Working with Wedge and Edge”. I originally wrote a blog while building the bench on Fine Woodworking Magazine’s website. This is by far one of the most useful things I have ever made. You can start reading the five part blog here: http://wp.me/p1gfza-3p
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