David Marks is a woodworking genius and more importantly, he is a great person.  A while back I spent an entire day with his at his studio in Santa Rosa, CA.  While I was there we filmed a video where he demonstrated turning a 400 pound vessel on his lathe.  We also filmed a tour of his woodworking school.

Recently, he sent me some DVD’s of his Woodworks TV show to give away on my Jack Bench YouTube channel.  Each of these DVD’s contains an entire season of Woodworks.  So, each DVD actually has 13 full episodes of his show.  That is about 5 hours of woodworking instruction and entertainment!  Normally, these DVD’s sell for $69 each and I am giving them away!

I wanted to make it easy to enter the drawing and I also wanted to do something to show my  appreciation to David and his wife, Victoria for their generosity.

I also want to say David not only has a great woodworking school, but he also has a great website and a  great newsletter for woodworkers.  His newsletter has information about him, his school, and his latest projects.  He also includes at least one or two tips on how to more easily bring your woodworking projects up to the next level.   I guess what I am saying is that anyone who is interested in woodworking should go to his website and sign up for his newsletter!!

I am also saying that his Woodworks show was one of the best woodworking TV shows, ever!  In my opinion it was actually THE best woodworking show.  If you ever saw it then you know what I mean and if you haven’t then consider entering the drawing for one of the DVD’s that I am giving away.  Or, go to David’s website and purchase one to see for yourself how good his show actually was.

I mentioned in my last update that I was recently invited to be a Contributing Editor for Woodworkers Guild of America. I am happy to announce that the first video and accompanying article that I did for them are now available for viewing at: WWGOA Slab Flattening Video and Article

This first video for WWGOA is similar to the slab flattening video on my YouTube channel. Honestly, I think the one for WWGOA is a little better!

I think there are two reasons for this:

  1. After I made the first slab flattening video I realized there were a few things I could have done better.  Making a similar video for WWGOA gave me an opportunity to make those changes.
  2. I do my absolute best when I make my videos, I really do.  But, when I do a video for the Woodworkers Guild of America I am working with George Vondriska and George reviews everything for me before it goes public. Basically, two sets of eyes are better than one!

I would love to hear your comparison between these two videos.

For the WWGOA flattening video I used a 16″ walnut “cookie” that I got from Matt Cremona. Now that the video is complete I have a 5″ thick slice of walnut that is nice and flat, but I don’t have a project for it. I think it would a pretty nice, but very rustic, end table and I hate to see it go to waste.

I am giving this slab away to the first person who asks for it! It could make a nice rustic table top.

So, I AM GOING TO GIVE THE WALNUT SLAB AWAY to anyone who has a use for it. First come first serve. I would rather not ship it across the country, but you can pick it up from me at my house in the Twin Cities. OR, I will bring it with me to Woodworking in America and give it to you while I I am in Cincinnati.  Just send me an email to let me know that you want it: charlie@jack-bench.com

Zippy with the Cherry Bookcase that I built this week

What I have really been busy with this week is a bookcase. A friend of mine asked me to build one for her grandsons and I agreed. It took a while before she confirmed that she really did want it and just what she wanted it to look like. When I finally got the word, she needed it in 2-1/2 days! Consequently, this update video got pushed back a few days.  I will have a video and an article on this project soon.

Child’s Rocking Chair

The dog chewed the end off of this rocker

Last week a friend of mine brought in a child’s rocking chair that the dog had chewed on and asked me to repair it for him. That will be one of my next projects.

My featured YouTube video this week is Kyle Toth’s Hall Table video. Actually, all of Kyle’s videos are great but I especially liked this one!

I hope to see you at Woodworking in America next week!!!!

Peter Brown is known for doing crazy things on his YouTube videos.  He combines woodworking tools with unconventional materials to make some of the most creative videos on YouTube.   He melted a box of crayons into a solid block and turned them on a lathe to make a bracelet.  He made a ring out of a bundle of colored pencils, and he made a knife out of some off the shelf epoxy.  The knife wouldn’t cut anything, but that was not the point.  Because for Peter the destination truly is less important than the journey.

I interviewed  Peter Brown at his woodshop in Santa Rosa, California in January of 2016.   Peter’s shop was a tiny little building in the back yard of his house.  I think the dimensions of his shop were something like 12’x16′, but his little shop DID have a bathroom!

Peter’s YouTube channel is wildly successful.  He has 197,000 subscribers and over 18 million views on his videos and I was quite interested to learn how managed to build such a loyal following.

Peter told me that he enjoyed woodworking, but he especially enjoyed working at the lathe.  He also wants his hobbies to pay for themselves and not be a drag on the family budget.   So, when he first discovered and got good at woodturning he decided to sell some of the pieces that he made.  As it turned out he was also quite good at selling and before long his work was selling both on the internet and in local craft shops.  He was so successful with this that working in the shop and running the business became an all consuming endeavor.

One day he decided that he had enough and he just quit.  He told me that “it stole my joy”.  Not only did he quit the business, but he was so burned out on woodworking that he quit going into the shop altogether.

Some time later he was watching a Jimmy Diresta video and he thought to himself “that looks like fun”.  His take on it was that Jimmy did just exactly what he wanted to do.  That was an ah-ha moment for Peter.  He wanted to reclaim the fun times that he had in his shop before the business got out of hand.  The next day he went back into his shop and made his first YouTube video.

I know how much work it is to run a business and I know how much effort some people put into their YouTube videos.  I find Peter’s decision to do only fun things in his shop and on his videos both counter-intuitive and refreshing.

Charlie and Peter Brown

Peter is a great guy and I genuinely enjoyed meeting with him.  His YouTube channel is called Shop Time and I encourage you to check it out at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3CrzXzBFVqEopj5T1jiRtA

This was an amazing trip, I met and interviewed some of the most talented woodworkers in the country!  The interviews and the videos will be fantastic, but I the best part for me personally is that I made so many new friends.

I was on the road for 7-1/2 weeks, I drove through 11 states and I put 6800 miles on my car. Another unfortunate statistic is that I gained 7 pounds while I was gone, a pound a week! It is a good thing I got home when I did because I would really be in trouble if I stayed out much longer!

I interviewed a total of 11 different woodworkers: The Wood Whisperer – Marc Spagnuolo, David Marks, Peter Brown, Matthew Morris, Andrew Klein, Ray Mowder of Tab Left Workshop, Braxton Wirthlin, Zac Higgins of NV Woodworks, Michael Cooper, Chad Schimmel and Chris Kerschner of Adventures in DIY.

During the trip I met a total of 14 different woodworkers and filmed at least 22 separate videos.  Over the next several months I will post all of them to myYouTube channel and put them on my blog.

During the last leg of my trip I met woodworkers in Phoenix and Denver. The Wood Whisperer, Chad Schimmel, and Ty Moser live in the Phoenix area. I then met with Andy Klein in Denver.

I will post more details about all of the interviews as I complete the editing and get them up on YouTube! Unfortunately, my computer is having trouble handling the huge video files and editing is taking a lot longer than I thought it would. The computer problems is just a bump in the road. I am sure I will work through it and start posting those interviews very soon!

Charlie with The Wood Whisperer, Marc Spagnuolo at his shop outside of Phoenix, Arizona

Chad Schimmel in the pen making section of his woodshop in Chandler, Arizona.

Charlie with Andy Klein in his Denver woodshop.

Charlie with Ty Moser in Phoenix

I also got to meet Ty Moser while I was in Phoenix. I didn’t even know that he lived there, but through the magic of social media we connected. Ty is a great guy!. He and I met for lunch and I liked him very much. In fact, I would like to do some kind of collaboration with him, but I have NO IDEA what that might look like!

It was a wonderful trip, but I am very happy to be back in my shop. The travel and the interviews were an experience that I will never forget, but am a woodworker and I want to get started on my next project!

Until next time –

Charlie from Jack Bench Woodworking!

Charlie and Ray Mowder

Michael Cooper with his latest sculpture in progress.

I really enjoyed meeting Michael. I saw a presentation that he did at the Furniture Society Symposium a few years ago and I have always been a big fan of his work. My time with him far exceeded any expectations I had ahead of time. He and his wife Gayle are two of the very nicest people that I have ever met. Spending time at their beautiful home was icing on the cake. In addition to many of Michael’s beautiful sculptures, their home is tastefully decorated with artwork and custom furniture by some of the great furniture making icons of our time.

Michael still has several of his sculptures on his property and it was great to see them up close. Michael was very generous with his time and we made several videos while I was there. In one of the videos he showed me his most recent sculpture which is still in progress. (See photo above) He also did a video describing his technique for making wooden coil springs and another one on his technique for making the convoluted compound curves that is a signature of his work.

Wooden Coil Spring

Michael showed me how he makes the compound curves as seen in the exhaust pipes of this sculpture.

It so happens that David J. Marks lives very close to Michael. I saw a seminar that David did for the Minnesota Woodworkers’ Guild and, well, he is David Marks! I was quite pleasantly surprised not only that David agreed to meet with me, but by how generous he was with his time. We spent the whole day together and we made two videos. The first one is about the fabulous 30” vase that he is currently working on. His wife Victoria joined us for the second video which was a complete tour of the David J Marks Woodworking School. David and the school are both great and I would encourage anyone who is considering taking a class to take a look at his school.

Not only was David generous with his time, but he also gave me a nice piece of exotic hardwood called Pernambuco as a gift! Obviously, David is very high on my list!

Charlie and David Marks

Charlie and Peter Brown

The trifecta of this portion of my trip was the opportunity to meet Peter Brown. Peter has a very good and extremely popular YouTube channel.   Peter is a very fun guy and really enjoyed myself that afternoon. Even though Peter has made a name for himself with his “crazy creations”, he is not a crazy guy. To the contrary, I found him to have the admirable qualities of being sincere, personable, and fun too!

Until next time –

Charlie from Jack Bench Woodworking!

The first leg of my trip was driving from Minneapolis to Reno so that I could interview Zac Higgins.

The drive was long but pleasant. I haven’t been in the mountains for a few years and the scenery through Wyoming, Utah, and Nevada was beautiful!

There was a long stretch outside of Casper WY where the sky was bright and sunny, and the surface of the snow was crystallized. For miles and miles, the snow looked like it was coated with bright shimmering diamonds. The word “awesome” is overused, but it was just that.


Reno is a special place for me because I lived here when I was younger. I attended elementary, middle, and high school here, but this is the first time I have been back since I was 17 years old!  I really looked forward to seeing how it has changed and I was surprised by how familiar was to me. I recognized all the major streets and had no trouble finding my way around. I drove past my old schools and the places where I had lived and was very surprised to see that they are still there.

Reno is a nice town and the one thing that did surprise me was how close and how big the mountains are! I guess since I grew up there I didn’t recognize how special that really is.

Unfortunately, downtown Reno does struggle with some of the same problems that other cities struggle with.

In the stairwell of the downtown parking ramp:

One of my best memories from growing up in Reno was visiting the Harrah’s Automobile Collection. In its day this was the largest and probably the best automobile collection in the world, really!   At one time the collection contained 1400 cars! It is not that big anymore and it is now called the National Automobile Museum, but there was no way I was going to pass on a chance to stop in and look around!

I know this is a woodworking blog, but these cars are just too cool!

John Wayne’s 1953 Corvette

1936 Mercedes

OK, back to woodworking!

I met Zac Higgins at his shop in Carson City, NV. He shares a 4000 sq. ft. space with his father. His father is a pretty cool guy, too!

Zac and I spent several hours together and I did both an interview and shop tour with him. Zac has a full woodshop and lots of cool lumber, but his main focus right now is casting specialized pen blanks. Zac has spent a lot of time honing his craft and I am quite impressed with his methodical and disciplined approach. I will say more about this when the videos are ready, but suffice it to say that if you are at all interested in specialized pen blanks then you owe it to yourself to check out his web site http://nvwoodwerks.com/ and YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCaiEQvv5CgXjk1qN7qevQUQ

Zac has zillions of ideas for pen blanks! His most popular blanks are inspired by college and sports team colors.

This is his Saints pen blank.

Zac is not too happy with his bandsaw! There will be more about the bandsaw and Zac’s color matching in the upcoming videos.

My next stops are:

  • Sacramento to visit Ray Mowder of TabLeft Workshop
  • Sebastapol CA to visit the great wood sculptor, Michael Cooper
  • Santa Rosa to visit Peter Brown
  • Los Angeles to visit Matthew Morris
  • Las Vegas to visit Braxton Wirthlin
  • Denver to interview Andrew Klein

I will definitely let you know how it goes!

Charlie from Jack Bench Woodworking!