Meet the new guy—Barry Dima
About a month ago, Tom McKenna offered me the job of Associate Editor at Fine Woodworking. About three days before that, I was interviewed by editors and other staff who’ve been generating the content I’d been reading and learning from for years. And maybe ten days earlier, Tom mentioned on Shop Talk Live (you’re a listener, right?) that the magazine was looking to hire an editor. I rewound the podcast about three times—think a DJ scratching a record—before being convinced I wasn’t hearing things. My head’s just now stopped spinning enough for me to come here and, very gratefully and humbly, say hi.
I grew up in a suburb of Philadelphia, Pa. and have always been into words. Some may call me a geek? I do, at least. And woodworking’s always been nearby: My dad’s a hobbyist who’s had a love affair with his table saw for as long as I can remember, my maternal grandfather’s one of those people who can fix whatever’s broken, and my dad’s dad, during retirement, built clocks and small boxes in his condo’s closet. Plus, my mom’s an outrageously talented artist. So being around handmade, hand-adorn items—all involving intention and effort—was just normal for me. Color me lucky for sure. But I didn’t step into woodworking myself until an overstuffed apartment opened opportunities for some money-saving DIY-lite projects. I’ve taken some steps from there since and have fallen down the same hole—tools, techniques, books, furniture studies, tools, stealing hours in the shop, tools, classes, tools—I assume many of you have. Pretty great company down here, huh?
Before getting this job, I had just started at Bucks County Community College’s Fine Woodworking program and had taken a small weekend class on riving and shavehorse work. My specific interests are pretty rooted in hand tools—not so much because of any purism or romance compared with practicality, like concerns about noise, cost, and space. Routers and mortisers aren’t so apartment friendly, but I still want to work some wood, so hand tools it is. As for whom I try to steal from, I gravitate toward Peter Follansbee, Toshio Odate, Adrian McCurdy, Jim Hendricks, Roy Underhill, Jennie Alexander, Charles Rohlfs, and Curtis Buchanan. Those names are all pretty lofty, though. For now, I’m staying low kicking around ideas for my new workbench—probably something knockdown and quietly assembled, i.e. no huge mortises. That bench will help me make my kitchen table—I’m thinking trestle-y with breadboards and a carved stretcher, probably pine and oak, maybe some ash—since I had to leave my old table in Pennsylvania. Feel free to proffer suggestions; I’m not above crowdsourcing.
Anyway, to circle back, when I heard Tom mention the gig—words, wood, and a paycheck—I couldn’t not apply. Now I’m here, and to say I’m eager to get to work at Fine Woodworking is a gross, gross understatement, but words are failing me right now. (Don’t tell my boss.) The magazine—and you, I hope—have high expectations rooted in more than forty years of history; I plan to meet those expectations every day. If I don’t, you know where to find me.