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.
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