Highland Woodworking Wood News Online, No. 154, June 2018Welcome to Highland Woodworking - Fine Tools & Education Learn more about Highland Woodworking View our current woodworking classes and seminars Woodworking articles and solutions Subscribe to Wood News
Here's My Woodworking!
By Ross Roepke

I’ve built over 250 pieces of furniture and an unknown number of boxes from off cuts in the past 24 yrs since retirement.

I got started at 8 yrs old building a wagon out of parts for an old swing and an old wagon. I took manual training in HS and built several items. Then I made my own tablesaw from a motor, mandrel and plywood and was able to build simple pieces for our early home. Next, I bought a used Mark V Shopsmith on my military pay and built second generation furniture for our home. Then, over the years, I accumulated a shop in my garage and started building nice furniture for our home and for our church where I was head of the building committee. I built church furniture and accessories because we were short $50,000. I was able to provide almost all of the items that we were short.

After I retired at 68, I built furniture for my children who were setting up their homes, cabinetry for a daughter's business and more furniture for our church. I've also been making gifts for charity auctions for the past 20 years. Typically they bring $400 to $1000. I try to do this for 4 or 5 charities per year. I have won two civic awards and have gained some acclaim as a woodworker in town.

I'm an engineer and build furniture without drawings. Sometimes I have to make sketches to see how parts are to fit and develop a sequence. I establish the size of the piece of furniture and build the pieces to fit. I may start with a photo in a magazine or catalog. I normally build a piece of furniture in a week. I have some elaborate pieces that have taken a month.

Now, I only build small projects like boxes, small tables and accessories, like a step stool and jewelry box that I made for an upcoming charity auction.

I read several magazines for ideas. They provide lots of pictures of furniture and methods. My favorite is Fine Woodworking and I have built several of the items pictured in it. I seldom reproduce precisely but get ideas and concepts from them. I'm artistic but not really an originalist. I know what I like.

I've had a great life building furniture. I'm in a club, Tennessee Valley Woodworkers. Most have taken up turning or carving so there aren't many who build furniture any more. I've had to refuse to become a bowl turner in order to remain a furniture maker.

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