The road to becoming the Forager
Meet Stephen, our intrepid Tool Forager. His job is to seek out the new tools that make working guys' lives easier and then bring them to you. Part tradesman, part business guy and all Renaissance man, Stephen's accumulated a wealth of experience and expertise over 25 years. He's also had a lot of fun. Here's how he describes his own path:
- Started in woodwork and craft due to a profound interest in learning about tools that unfortunately was not sated in his upbringing. Admirer of maternal grandfather who was an engineer and patent holder. Irish mother stressed 'good works'. Always loved architectural forms.
- Learned woodwork by training under Appalachian chairmakers and soaked up their emphasis on working from the tree to the finished product using hand-craftsmanship. Acquired a very nice set of hand tools and affinity for the process and technique of the handmade and craft: carving spoons and bowls, steambending parts for boats and chairs, and the visual expression of effort in the joining of large timbers. “Boats became my avocation, my preoccupation, my necessity by the time I was 25 years old.”
- “After working for 3 years as a carpenter I accepted a position with a wooden boat shop as lead carpenter and chief maker of curves. (sanded a lot of boat bottoms as well.)”
- Was offered an opportunity by a young sailor, with stars in his eyes, to complete a 31-foot blue ocean sailboat designed for circumnavigation. “This was the stepping off point for hanging out my own shingle and becoming a businessman.”
- Found a nice niche as an independent contractor with specialties in timber framing, curved work, and one-off custom designed furniture, cabinetry, and residential home construction.
- “Learned traditional blacksmithing to make my own tools.”
- Find value in human-made facets and David Pye's "Workmanship of Risk"
- Call it the backup plan: degree in Biology and love of living things. See E.O. Wilson's "Biophilia". “I'm a huge gardener, too.”
- Spend countless hours knee deep in the spring fed trout streams of the Upper Midwest.
“Nothing we design or make ever really works??? Everything we design and make is an improvisation, a lash-up, something inept and provisional.”
— David Pye
“If a man must be obsessed by something, I suppose a boat is as good as anything, perhaps a bit better than most. A small sailing craft is not only beautiful, it is seductive and full of strange promise and the hint of trouble. If it happens to be an auxiliary cruising boat, it is without question the most compact and ingenious arrangement for living ever devised by the restless mind of man – a home that is stable without being stationary, shaped less like a box than like a fish or a girl, and in which the homeowner can remove his daily affairs as far from shore as he has the nerve to take them, close hauled or running free – parlor, bedroom, and bath, suspended and alive.”
— E. B. White