Wonderful Mentor – Champion of Freedom

KeithFerrinWe have been neighbors of the Ferrin family for nearly 30 years. Keith has been an inspiring mentor to me. Several years ago, he showed up at our door with a beautiful plaque he created with his scroll saw.  He has created dozens of these, but I was honored to receive mine. It hangs in a place of honor in a corner of our living room.GodBless

In the years since then it has been wonderful to be in Keith’s home and in his shop to witness firsthand his craftsmanship and kindness. He has blessed us with many other works of art from his wood shop.  

A career Air Force fighter pilot and flight instructor, Keith is a veritable storehouse of wonderful stories about his service around the world.  He is indeed a Champion of Freedom!

The First Marble Run

After I purchased a router (see previous post), my first project? A simple marble run.

I had built a little marble run for my kids many years ago, but this is the first one I made after starting to focus seriously on woodworking in early 2017. A prototype at best, it was a fun project that required the use of my table saw, router and drill press.

It wasn’t very durable, but it was a blast to demonstrate this to my family.  Stay tuned, there will be more to come!

A Router, and the Irony of Unintended Consequences

RouterIf you were to google the term “router,” the first several links presented to you will refer to WiFi routers that are vital to Internet connections in our homes and businesses.  However, to the woodworking aficionado, the first thing that comes to mind is a “hand tool or power tool that routs (hollows out) an area in hard material, such as wood or plastic.” (Wikipedia)

So it was for me in the fall of 2016, when I received an email from my employer, Oracle Corporation, congratulating me on my 15 years of longevity with the company.  I was presented with a list of gifts I could choose for the occasion, including things like golf clubs, clocks or watches. Things like that didn’t appeal much to me, but fortunately, a Visa gift card was also an option.

So, using my 15 year employment anniversary gift card, I purchased a router (the wood kind). This proved to be a catalyst for my growing passion for woodworking.  As I took the time to use that router, I became starkly aware that time using my woodworking tools was a lot more fun and satisfying than doing my professional day job, which I found increasingly dreary, frustrating and unfulfilling.

Now, almost four years later, with Oracle in the rear-view mirror, I still love that router.  I broke it out today to do some finish work on a shop stool I am building.  An ironic unintended consequence of the employment anniversary gift?  A hastening of retirement for me.

Igniting a Passion

IMG 4819In 1967, when I was 14 years old, I built my first radio – a Heathkit four band short wave radio with 4 tubes (yes, it was that long ago!).  I learned to solder components on a printed circuit board and tune the radio so it really worked!  What a thrill it was to finally turn it on and experience something I had made come to life!

IMG 4818On a clear Idaho night, with a long wire antenna, I could sometimes pick up an English language broadcast from Johannesburg, South Africa! That budding youthful passion for electronics provided a strong foundation for my technology career. This old radio now occupies a prominent spot in the world’s smallest museum in the corner of my office.

Now later in life, a new passion is growing.  I find great satisfaction in creating things out of wood and experiencing the thrill of  completing a difficult project that really “works.”

Why My Fixation on Marbles?

When I was a young boy, I loved marbles.  I really didn’t play the traditional marble games, but was fascinated by the various colors and styles of different types of marbles.  By the time I was 12 years old, I had a large Crisco can filled with my collection of marbles. Then they were gone.  Our house burned completely to the ground, leaving our family with only the clothes we were wearing.


Sifting through the ashes and rubble, I found only these five melted marbles from my collection, which I have saved in an old film canister for the last 55 years.

Now in my woodworking, I think I love making marble runs and toys as much as anything.  The recent marble trees are just one example.  More to come!