We’re interviewing makers from all 50 states. Today we’re featuring Curtiss “Buck” Carr, a woodworker currently interning at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking in Indiana.
How did you get started woodworking? Who were your mentors?
I started woodworking by doing general DIY projects with my dad. We would always spend our Saturday mornings watching The Woodwroght’s Shop (I’m a huge fan of Mr. Underhill), The New Yankee Workshop, and This Old House on PBS. Woodworking became an obsession, later than most, in my adult life. I am mostly self-taught, and I gravitate towards the use of hand tools. My mentor right now is Elliot Driscoll of the Driscoll Woodshop; a non-profit in Baltimore, MD. His shop is doing a lot for the community of Baltimore by providing shop space and classes to people in recovery from substance use disorders and mental health disorders. Elliot taught me the ins and outs of running a wood shop—machine safety, machine maintenance, teaching others, and the value of a good shop dog. Currently, I am an intern at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking and Time Honored Craft. The staff, instructors, and students at the school have been great mentors as I dive deeper into the craft.
What do you think is your best or favorite work? What kind of work do you do the most?
My favorite work at the moment is staked furniture, especially chair making à la the Anarchist Design Book by Christopher Schwarz at Lost Art Press. I use any chance I get to use hand tools, so this makes it my favorite. I would like to make a Jennie Alexander chair in honor of my friend, Driscoll Woodshop Board Member, and Jennie’s daughter, Harper Alexander-Burke. I find it satisfying to break a log in to timbers by hand, making them into flat boards, and then finally into something that someone actually likes to use.
What advice would you give to someone that wants to start woodworking or pursue it as a profession?
The advice I would give someone that is just getting into woodworking is to start with a simple set. You don’t need a lot of tools to make things. Take classes. Search the internet. There are loads of online videos and in-person instruction courses available.
What’s your best hands-on tip or woodworking technique?
My best hands-on tip is to keep your tools sharp! I make it a point to take one day of the week to sharpen all my tools, even though I sharpen them as I work. Secondly, don’t point out the mistakes on your projects. Let people enjoy what you’ve made. Only you care about having to insert a spline into a loose dovetail joint to close a gap.
Is there anyone you’d like to shout-out or recommend we follow? Who inspires you? (Doesn’t have to be woodworking related, either.)
A non-profit that supports those in recovery from mental health and substance abuse disorders.
Black Craftspeople Digital Archive is dedicated to telling the stories of Black Craftspeople and the objects they created.
See more of Buck’s work on Instagram @curtisscarr.
This interview was lightly edited for clarity.
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