Who Are Your Woodworking Heros?

One of the best parts of this job is getting to meet great woodworkers, guys who have managed to make a living doing what the rest of us do for fun. We feature woodworkers now and then in Popular Woodworking Magazine in articles we call “Great Woodshops.” One of my favorites is a gentleman I mentioned in a post last week, Brian Boggs. We did a story on Brian in the February 2005 issue, when his shop was just down the road from us in Berea, Ky. Since then Brian has relocated to Asheville, N.C., and expanded his horizons with what he calls the Boggs Collective. I came across this video this morning, and thought it worth sharing. If you’re not familiar with Brian’s work, it is well worth a look.

Brian combines tradition and innovation and makes chairs that sit well and look fantastic. If you’d like to spend time with him, pick his brain and go home with a great chair, he teaches a few classes at his shop in Asheville.

We’re always open to ideas on articles about woodworkers. Leave a comment below to let us know about your favorite woodworker.

– Robert W. Lang

23 thoughts on “Who Are Your Woodworking Heros?

  1. barryblessing

    Like mathemeticians (http://genealogy.math.ndsu.nodak.edu/), we stand on the shoulders of those that have gone before us and owe our intellectual and philosophical gains to these fine people. I would suggest that instead of calling our woodworking heroes just that, it might be more true to call them part of our woodworking family tree – our woodworking godfathers, so to speak.

    If this were to be, then I would claim to have stood on the shoulders of Doug Stowe through his technique books and his passion for woodworking education, Chris Schwarz for his clear passion for the craft, it’s tools and it’s crafters, David Marks and Jonathan Benson for their fearless artistic advances in the field, and secondarily all the other numerous authors, editors, illustrators, and woodwright’s who have generously shared their knowledge through books, videos, classes, and the web.

  2. 8iowa

    Let’s not forget Nick Engler. He has written 60 books on woodworking, and deserves many kudos for introducing high school kids to woodworking through the replica building program of the early Wright Brothers gliders and airplanes.

  3. revgarydbell@sbcglobal.net

    No discussion about woodworking heros would be complete without a mention of David Marks! Granted we all agree Norm opened a lot of doors for us a craft but David certainly blew the lid off of the whole artistic approach to woodworking for the common ordinary person. David showed all of us through his show (Woodworks) that any of us can see what we do through artistic eyes. Creative design is possible by emulating the work of others and adding ones own particular twist. By and by one learns to be inovative. We all have a creative side and I learned that from David.
    Incidentally I think David pretty well solves this whole debate of hand vs. power tools. He uses both, and it seems to be with the attitude that one should simply choose to use the right tool for the right job, power or hand whatever works best for the task at hand. Works for me

  4. prrk47002

    My father, who taught high school wood shop for many years and let me help with projects for our home. Because of him I love the smell of sawdust and the “feel” of a a board waiting to become a “project”.

    Sam Maloof. HIs work is stunning in it’s beauty and simplicity.

    Chris Schwraz. For the way he opened my eyes to how usefull hand tools still are, and for the style in which he presents the material.

  5. spitfiresuz

    I’m not so sure I would classify any wood workers as “heroes” (we are REALLY over-using that term today), but I would list Ron Herman as one of my very favorites. He can do more with three hand tools than most other people can do with a shop full of power tools, and often faster as well. Ron is very down to earth, provides clear and simple direction, and has been very helpful to a lot of folks trying to learn or improve their skills in this field. Two thumbs up!

  6. djfilmore

    My guys are Glen Huey and Chuck Bender. Norm also did alot for my confidence. I knew I could do it already but he lit the fire. Glen and Chuck are just plane good people that happen to have great talents and are willing to share them with the rest of us. jt of jfilmorethompson.com

  7. John R

    My hero’s are SEVERAL. MR. BADGETT, for his basic and genuine care for a youth in his classes in the early 1950s. The walnut lamp, turned under his direction, sits on a KELLY MEHLER curly maple desk created under Kelly in a class in 2003. The solid walnut desk inspired and built under Mr. Badgett’s guidance is still in use in my library. The TAGE FRID trilogy of books from ’81, ’83 & ’85 gave great guidance. The four JAMES KRENOV books from the late ’70s gave great inspiration and insight. The ongoing insights I gain from CHRIS SCHWARZ in his writings. And last but Certainly Not Least, the challenges from LONNIE BIRD, which started with his 18th Century Furniture Carving class. These men all have helped me to strive in my hobby time to build better and more solidly than I ever could have otherwise.

  8. zdillingerzdillinger

    By far, my woodworking hero is Roy Underhill. He, along with a couple others, started the revival of hand tool woodworking thirty years ago. My second is Adam Cherubini. He walks the walk and I respect him for that. Another hero is Stephen Shepard of the Full Chisel blog. He has commited himself totally to the craft.

  9. donscww

    My greatest inspiration is a man named Denis Sampson. In the 90′s I worked for Denis in his custom cabinet shop in Upland Ca. He always told me,”you don’t need alot of fancy tools to build a good cabinet”. He definetly proved that to be true, it was amazing what he could do with just a table saw.

  10. J. Pierce

    Besides the obvious mentions which folks have already brought up, I have to add George Wilson, who used to be the instrument maker at col. Williamsburg. Search for his name on Youtube and you can probably find an old video of him and his cohorts making a harpsichord and violin, but as a reader at the SawMillCreek forums, I’ve been astounded at the beauty, variety, and sometimes downright craziness (in a “somebody actually made that?!” way) of many of things he ‘s created, which he’s been sharing discussions and photos of. I can only hope to learn to do half the things he’s forgotten!

  11. jimballew

    What can you say about chris Schwartz, he connects the past with the future and makes it easy for all of us to follow along no matter what century he is in at the moment.

    1. Bill Lattanzio

      I agree. If you agree with his philosophy or not, nobody can deny that he made woodworking seem possible to many. His show was extremely enjoyable to watch, and he did a lot of nice work. Still amazes me that quite a few people in the woodworking world went out of their way to bash him when he retired. I still can’t figure out why.

    2. Dusty56

      I also learned a lot from Norm , and truly miss his show.
      I remember trying to see what Norm was doing on the original This Old House , and telling Bob Vila to get the heck out of his (Norm’s) spotlight ! LOL

  12. jeffdc7

    Bob Van Dyke taught me tons about how to work, as well as specific techniques. Chris Schwarz is always engaging and always useful. Gary Rogowski’s knowledge of sharpening, routing, and just about everything else is extremely helpful. And Peter Korn’s books on mastering the basics of woodworking gave me a fantastic start.

  13. Bill Lattanzio

    The person responsible for getting me into woodworking wasn’t even a woodworker. His name is Richard Proenneke and his special runs on PBS now and again. Watching him build his log cabin and it’s furnishings first inspired me to give woodworking a try. Norm Abram was also an inspiration somewhat. Charles Bender has to be one as well. The easy going way he goes about difficult operations is pretty amazing to me, as well as the beautiful furniture he makes.

  14. robert

    The products page on the Boggs website is impressive. Really cool range of work. The Logan bar stools are very interesting. Nice crisp angles on the seat and back, uncommon joinery of the legs, stretchers and back supports.

    If you are looking for another woodworker to profile take a look at a furniture maker from Charleston, SC, named Michael James Moran. I met him while on vacation this past summer with my wife and kids. I told him I was not looking to buy anything, just need a break from the beach, and he invited me into his shop for an hour. Guy was a class act. His website is: http://michaeljamesmoran.com/

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