Nils History Part 15: Handiwork

Anders chose this week’s post as well. The assignment:

Did anyone in your family do handiwork? Needlework? Wood work? Was anyone particularly mechanical or artistic?

Our family is full of talented folks who have done a lot of impressive work in many areas. My Mother, for example, has done a lot of cross stitch, sewing and art. Each Thanksgiving we place a ceramic pilgrim couple on our table that my Mom painted when she was younger. My sister Saren and my brother Shiloh are two amazing pianists, each with their own styles and abilities. My brothers York and Grove have always been willing to take on any project involving cars, construction and more and York has done a lot of masonry. I think a lot of the abilities we’ve developed have come from growing up in a family where you had to do things yourself because it cost too much to hire things out. Plus, there were six kids, so there were plenty of hands and brains to get things done.

I’ve always enjoyed understanding how things work, how to fix things and how to make things. Woodworking has been a passion of mine since I was a kid. I actually have almost zero recollection of the Pinewood Derby but I bet I enjoyed that, and who knows – that may have been the beginning of my love for woodworking. In Jr. High School I had the opportunity to take woodshop and I loved every minute of it. I’ve always been drawn to opportunities to create and woodworking provided an apt outlet for me to do just that.

In high school I continued to take woodworking classes as well as general construction, drafting and CAD. I loved all of those classes. Nowadays, there are some pretty amazing classes, software and technologies available to people at a young age to help do some extraordinary things. Some of the things I remember building in Jr. High School and High School are:

  • A set of two mug holders for the family (one wasn’t sufficient). This one is funny because we didn’t really use mugs, but I had fun woodburning everyone’s name into the main post above their dowel.
  • A drafting table. I haven’t thought about this in years but I just now remember building my own drafting table. It wasn’t half bad.
  • An attempted acoustic guitar. This one I did on my own and it totally bombed. I didn’t understand acoustics so it was doomed from the get go but it did look pretty cool.
  • An electric guitar. This one was much better. I used plywood, which isn’t ideal, but it worked fine. I used the neck of my brother Grove’s guitar while he was on his mission, like any good younger brother would. It worked well and I essentially copied what I saw in his guitar but made the body myself. I remember I used to decorate it in different ways about once each year. I had the entire thing wrapped in York Peppermint Patty wrappers, painted in Q-Bert style blocks, and probably several other things. As fate would have it, when I went on my mission, my sister gave that guitar to her then boyfriend.
  • A headboard for my bed. I used a jigsaw to cut out┬ámy initials, and then paint them in a contrasting color to the headboard, both of which were made from that glued together waferboard stuff that’s really difficult to work with.

I’m sure there were many other things as well. When I went to college, I even took a four hour/day shop class so that I could build furniture all morning, sell it and pay for my tuition. It worked out nicely. I built a bench for my mother-in-law and a set of oak chairs and bench for a reception center in Provo. Around that time I also built an entertainment center for our house and a bench. A year or two ago we bought our first entertainment center (if you want to call it that). I had built all of them up until then but now, with flat panel TVs, there’s no need for a gargantuan 400 lb beast to hold the gargantuan 200 lb TVs of yesteryear.

Just last night I was looking for some drawings I had done of our house but I couldn’t find them. In that process, I found drawing I had done for all kind of things that I ended up building. Here are a few:

  1. A tickle machine
  2. Three entertainment centers
  3. The aforementioned three benches and two chairs
  4. Four versions of my stand up desk
  5. A diaper changing station
  6. A teleprompter
  7. Two electric guitars
  8. A basement
  9. Camera shoulder rig

I’m sure there are more items but that’s what I can remember right now. For me, building and designing have always been pretty essential to my happiness. It’s what I like to do. Hopefully I’ll always be able to build and fix and create. I’m going to post a few images of some of the things I’ve made over the years below.

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