I have been making objects in wood for over 50 years. Originally, I made large Shaker chests of oak with hand cut dovetails, large display units and unique chairs and tables. In the late sixties I moved into making (and playing) hammered dulcimers – stringed instruments that are struck with thin mallets. Later on, as a result of playing the banjo for many years, I became interested in making and repairing banjos. Over the years I worked on improving my craft, taking courses in pearl inlay from experts of the time, taking on more and more complex projects and making unique, one-of-a-kind instruments that played as well as they looked. Making and playing clawhammer banjos was great fun and kept me grounded in the American folk instrument venue.
As time went on, my interest in woodworking turned commercial and drove me to develop a company that met a need for low cost yet high-quality inlay and marquetry. That company, Inlay Product World, Inc. is still in business today as the leading provider of wood inlay, marquetry and floor medallions to woodworkers, custom builders and corporations in the United States.
Prior to retirement, I fell in love with the humble ukulele. I say humble with great respect. Anyone who has seen the fine work being done on these instruments by custom builders and heard the quality and diversity of the works played on them today might take offence at the word “humble”. The uke provides a low-level entry to playing music but a huge capacity to play almost anything in the right hands. Its four strings, easy chording, small and portable size and intimate projection make even the novice player sound pretty good right off. With practice, you can play classical music, swing, jazz and anything else you heart desires.
To make one of these instruments basically a luthier has to be able to make a small guitar. There are forms to be built, jigs for holding the components when they are being worked on, cutting rare and exotic woods to size, making fingerboards, necks and rosettes, and countless other tasks.