Gotta start somewhere

Rough sawn blog

This is my first shot at a blog, so bear with me as I learn how this all goes. My name is Dan, and I’m a mechanical engineer turned furniture maker. This blog will chart my journey through getting my furniture side business off the ground. I’ll post periodically about what I’m designing, the sawdust I’m making in the shop, and my Furniture Testing Department (aka: my 3 year old son Alex, 8 month old daughter Jane, and my lovely wife Tracy).

My first taste of woodworking came from working with my Grandpa Funk in the shop on his dairy farm in Beverly, IL.

2015_04_14_Dad and Dan with dominoes 8-89 shopped
The master himself teaching me the ways of physics through dominos

I always enjoyed the wooden puzzles he created in that shop as a kid, and when I was old enough to get on the scroll saw myself, I was a bit giddy. I think the first think I made was a toy guitar (I must have been around 7 or 8). That moment of creating something to tell stories with resonated throughout my life.

I picked up woodworking again after becoming a homeowner and becoming frustrated with the quality of furniture that we could afford for our house. IKEA and Target have their place, but not in our place! I thought to myself “how hard could it be to build something better?” It turns out, quite hard. As my wife could tell you, over the past four and a half years since I started woodworking I’ve become a bit obsessed with making everything as good as I can. This usually leads to my projects taking longer than expected, but the end result and the journey along the way is worth it.

My first shop. It was basementy.

My first piece out of our basement was a game table for a friend who didn’t want to pay $3,000+ for a table for his basement. We both thought that we could build a table together and spend a lot less money to do it! We put about $600 worth of lumber (plus the tools we borrowed) and about two months of labor into it but we finally made a table worthy of many an epic gaming session:

This was before I could take photos worth looking at!

After carrying the over 100 pounds of table out of the basement, I realized how satisfying it could be to make a piece of furniture from my own designs, in my own shop, with my own two hands (and a friend), and have it go to someone else’s house to enjoy for a lifetime.

After that fateful table, I began designing another piece of furniture to replace our Target TV stand. But that’s another blog post…


One More Word on ‘That Word’

Lost Art Press


There is great power in naming things, but there is also violence.

A few years ago I was driving to dinner with a fellow furniture maker, and he asked me this question: “Do you consider yourself a writer or a woodworker?”

I hate this question, but I also hate looking like a wanker.

I replied, “I’m a writer who builds furniture.”

“Ah!” he said. “You said the word ‘writer’ first. So that’s more important to you?” He raised the tone of his voice at the end of the sentence like it was a question. But it wasn’t.

So I bristle a bit when people tell me what I am and what I am not. At times I build cubbyholes, but I won’t be put into one. After writing “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest” in 2011, a fair number of blowhards declared that I wasn’t an anarchist. Anarchists, they explained, are explicitly…

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