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Here's My Woodworking!

by Martin Rosen

Click on any picture to see a larger version.

I grew up in what today you would call a tenement in Brooklyn, NY. I started woodworking as soon as I was able to hold a hacksaw that I took out of my dad’s toolbox from the back of a closet, albeit without his knowledge. My source of wood was from the melon boxes that I obtained from the produce market around the corner, which I took apart. This was actually good wood in those days. I even used the nails from the same melon boxes after straightening them with a hammer on the sidewalk. My shop was the front stoop of the building. I made the typical things that were necessary for a kid to have at the time, mostly rubber band guns and rifles, which I would also make for my friends. Occasionally, I would make a room pass for my class at school. Those were made out of wooden planks with the room number wood burned into it. In order to go to the bathroom, a kid would have to take a pass with them in order to insure that no more than one kid was out of the room at a time.

I learned the actual craft of woodworking from a master. The ground floor of my building contained a number of small stores, one of which had a craftsman who made unpainted furniture, before there was unpainted furniture. He turned out desks, bookcases, stools, chairs, and anything anyone ever needed. I stood in the doorway of his store for hours. At first he tried to chase me away because he thought I might get hurt by a flying piece of wood. He had a table saw and various other power tools. Eventually, he began to accept me as a permanent fixture in his doorway. He even began to show me a thing or two, like closing up the edge of plywood with a solid piece of wood. I remember him well. This led to my love of woodshop in school, with the teacher whose name I still remember to this day.

Eventually, I moved away from building furniture and got into sculpture. I have an art background, which I put to good use. Everything I have ever made started with a blank piece of paper. All of my designs are original and all of the plans for the furniture, artwork, and carving were created by me.

Below are a few of my wooden sculptures (as is the very first picture at the beginning of the article), which I am really into making these days:

Each of the Kellogg's Pep cereal comic buttons as well as the soda bottle caps were carved and painted by hand. They are all smaller than a dime.

I designed and built this plane from scratch in 1967 and it was made out of 1/2" plywood and 1/8" masonite. I was always intrigued by WWI airplanes. I would have made a Spad but this Fokker was much more colorful. The carved propeller spun, the guns made a ratcheted sound by turning crank handles, and the pilot taxied it by walking. The rear wheel steered with a control stick in the cockpit.

Below are additional projects I have done:

The cabinet above, and the wall unit below are both made of Teak.

The hall table is also made of Teak with a marble top and a wrought iron base.

The mirror is made of Cherry.

Would you like to see your woodworking in this column? We invite you to SEND US PHOTOS of your favorite woodworking projects along with captions and a brief history of your woodworking. (Email photos at 800x600 resolution.) Receive a $50 store gift card if we show your stuff in a future issue.

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