The Editors Mailbox

The Editors Mailbox

Woodworking with Ugly Men

comments (2) January 14th, 2009 in blogs

MKenney Matthew Kenney, special projects editor
thumbs up 20 users recommend

Whys your secretary in the garage? Ive been teased quite a bit about building such a nice tool cabinet. I couldnt of built it without the help of my friend Joe Mazurek. - CLICK TO ENLARGE

Why's your secretary in the garage? I've been teased quite a bit about building such a nice tool cabinet. I couldn't of built it without the help of my friend Joe Mazurek.

Photo: M. Kenney

My first attempts at furniture making were what you'd expect: Not that great. But then I had a student in two of my philosophy classes. She noticed that I often used woodworking as a metaphor and asked if I'd like to meet her dad, Joe Mazurek, a professional furniture maker in Camden, SC.

I made the 45 minute drive to Joe's shop one day and within an hour of arriving he had me cock beading a drawer, from cutting the rabbet for the beading to making the beading to gluing it on with hide glue. And that drawer was for a client's table. I was terrified and ecstatic. (By the way, Joe makes 18th century style furniture.)

Joe invited me back. Of course, I did go back. In fact, I became a regular at Joe's shop. There were weeks when I was there everyday, and days when I stayed for 10 or 12 hours. How could I not go? Joe opened up his shop to me, taught me how to make furniture, and entertained me with stories. And asked for nothing in return. Well, I did help on the occasional delivery, and always brought homemade pastries.

The pastries were for the daily meetings of the Ugly Men's Club, aka, the morning coffee break. Joe's the president of the club. I always enjoyed having a nice chat with Joe and the other guys who hung out and worked in Joe's shop.

The first piece I built at Joe's was a tool cabinet. With encouragement from Joe, I ended up with a cabinet that is far nicer (and larger) than what I had intended to build. That tool cabinet taught me how to cut dovetails, make drawers, veneer, make doors, make molding, etc., etc. In other words, it taught me everything I needed to know to make furniture. After that, I built a few tables, some jewelery cabinets, a new workbench, and a bed for my son.

After two years of working in Joe's shop I had become a good furniture maker. More importantly, I knew enough about woodworking to land a new job as an editor at Fine Woodworking. It's amazing how a chance meeting has changed my life.

(You can take a closer look at my tool cabinet in the Gallery.)

posted in: blogs, workshop, period interpretation, walnut

Comments (2)

MKenney MKenney writes: Bill,

I don't think we ever met. That's too bad. I'm glad you got to see this blog, though.

Posted: 10:51 am on June 11th

Billrhodus Billrhodus writes: As a woodworker from Camden who has known of Joe's work for 20+ years (he and Lucy told me about this article) I concur with your comments on Joe; he is always willing to teach the newcomer or add to the knowledge of those who know a little. I'm sure there are many woodworkers who got their start through a relationship with Joe.
Posted: 12:45 pm on June 9th

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