November 2012

Community Name
When and how did you get into using tools/doing projects?
I began working with tools at a young age (maybe nine or ten) when I visited, and for a brief time lived on, my grandfather Earl Banner's farm. He didn't talk much, but he had all kinds of tools in this big old barn where he taught me the rudiments of basic carpentry such as "measure twice cut once." Unfortunately, the old barn burned while I was away in the Marines and most of the wreckage was sold for scrap.
What do you do when you're not tinkering in the garage and working on other projects?
Recently, I retired due to my health. While I was in the Marines, my body took a beating, leaving me disabled now. I am not complaining, as God has truly blessed my life. He gave me eleven wonderful years as a Marine and fourteen years working with young adults (twelve years as a high school teacher). I have a wonderful wife of 25 years now, Pili, and two handsome sons, Robert & Michael, not to mention a dog, Sparky, and a cat, Lulu. As a Christian, with this extra time on my hands, I am studying Bible scripture & reference materials in hopes gaining a better understanding, so as to better share God's wondrous promises such as Psalm 91 - God's Promises of Protection and John 3:16.
What's the project you're most proud of?
The project that I am fondest of is a 23rd Anniversary clock that I made for my wife. Not to sound corny, but "she is the half that completes me!" I put a lot of thought into the clock. Like, I took into consideration that she is from Spain, so I etched a matador and a flamenco dancer on the glass door. Her father was in the Spanish Guardia Civil and was stationed in Africa when she was born. Her favorite color is purple. With this in mind, I chose African Purple Heart as the wood for the project. By the time it was completed, I had used nearly every Craftsman tool I own. Aside from all that, she absolutely loves the clock. This project was two years ago. Today, I love my wife Pili more than I did as I was measuring twice and cutting once on that Anniversary Clock. Today I love her less than tomorrow, as my love continues to grow with each passing day. My love for her grows bigger and stronger as she is the half that completes me. Pili is the rock on which my dreams and aspirations reside. If the Lord tells me only one of us will be allowed into Heaven, I will gladly give up my seat for her. She is the most beautiful woman to have walked the face of the planet and I can never tell God "thank you" enough for giving me this little piece of heaven.
Any stories of DIY disaster?
As mentioned in the first question, my grandfather taught me to measure twice and cut once. While this adage works most of the time, unfortunately it is not entirely fool proof, as I demonstrated here recently. Working on a frame for a painting for my wife, I laid out the wood, a beautiful piece of bird's eye maple (not cheap). I made my mark on the center section immediately above the dado where the painting will ultimately fit. I even double checked as I do all my measurements and made my first cut. As soon as the blade stopped turning I knew I had made a mistake. The measurement should have been from the dado, not the center section. The resulting cut left that piece of frame a little more than a half inch short. There is no salvaging the cut which means I need to purchase another piece of bird's eye maple, plane it (which is extremely difficult, requiring the wood to be moistened due to the "bird's eyes") and sand it. Once it is prepped, I need to make my router cuts and then start the measuring process all over again. This time, however, I will take into account the dado slot on the bottom side. :-)
Why do you use Craftsman tools?
Craftsman is/was the obvious choice for me, considering it is the tool that my grandfather used and taught me to use all those years ago. The only thing I have left from him is a Craftsman Professional Pliers set of four that I use on a regular basis. Even today, they are still the best tools on the market with an awesome warranty for the serious hobbyist or professional. An example occurred last summer when my son broke the jaw off the 4-1/2 in. Diagonal Cutting Pliers with a sharp blow of a hammer (don't ask). Sears replaced it without a question simply because it was Craftsman.

My favorite Craftsman tools are my planers: the Craftsman 6-1/8 in. Jointer/Planer and the Craftsman 12-1/2 in. Thickness Planer. I just love the feel of running my hand across a piece of lumber after a few passes through either machine. Plus, once I get a smooth finish on a piece of lumber, especially scrap lumber or barn lumber, I am simply amazed at the beauty of the wood beneath, making it difficult to wait to see how it is going to turn out as I am working on the project. It may sound weird, but it's as if the wood talks to me, letting me know how beautiful it will be in the finished project.
How did you get your DIY skills?
This is an interesting question. My maternal family has a long tradition of being carpenters and teachers. My grandfather, Earl Banner, walked the mountains of Tennessee, Virginia and North Carolina to the point where he knew them like the back of his hand. Walking with him in my youth, he showed me how to use the old fashioned tools and numerous times had me running the bellows to stoke his fire as he made or repaired his own tools. I am guessing that from their genes I inherited my love of teaching, lumber and carpentry. I say this as I have had no formal training in woodworking, but usually I am able to watch someone and later replicate whatever project they were working on. One of my greatest joys is my ability to see something in a magazine, along the side the road, or even in someone's home, and I am able to return to my 'Doghouse' and make it with very little trouble. In fact I have amazed a friend, Jerry Lovegrove, who owns the local Woodcraft store in Johnson City, Tennessee, with the quickness in which I pick up turning skills at our monthly turning club meetings. Also, he is impressed with the quality of other projects such as the mantle clock for my wife as well as a second one I made for my nephew and his new bride. So basically, God has truly blessed me with my carpentry skills. I am forever grateful to our Lord for these wonderful gifts He has given me.
Anything you have to say to other craftsmen out there?
My greatest piece of advice to my fellow craftsmen and mechanics in the Craftsman Community would be to ALWAYS practice safe skills in all they do. Please, always use tools for their intended purpose without removing the guards - no matter how tempting; they are there for a reason! Although a bit more expensive and now-a-days they are getting more and more difficult to find, Craftsman tools made in the US of A are of the finest quality. These tools are more than welcome to share a fighting hole with me! (Translation: I would trust my life with them.) "Semper Fidelis - Always Faithful - to your God - to your Country - to Yourself."

May God bless.