I am a life-long resident of Northern Michigan, other than for a twelve-year period when I got lost in the Detroit area and couldn't find my way out. I started on a technical path at a very early age, having been born into a family of mechanics and craftsmen. I was a woodworker at age 7, a mechanic at 10, a gunsmith at 14, a machinist at 19, and an engineer at 24. After a couple of decades of working in industry, I'm back at my Alma Mater, Michigan Technological University, where I support faculty research and help to teach young engineers how to design and build things. I oversee the safe operation of nearly 100 research and teaching labs, including two machine shops and a woodworking shop. While there are plenty of power tools and machines, I take every opportunity to teach the value of using hand tools. So many people are under the impression that parts are made by pushing the Big Green Button. I show them what is actually behind the curtain. It is highly satisfying to convince a 20-year-old that sometimes the "old ways" are the best and quickest way to achieve their goal.
My obsession with antique tools began with a $1 hand plane found at a yard sale. After cleaning the body and sharpening the iron, I discovered how well vintage tools actually work. I bought another plane and then two more. It was about that time that I found an old Disston hand saw hanging in a garage. Oh brother! That was the real start of a hobby that quickly grew much larger. My small shop is bursting at the seams with planes, saws, chisels, hammers, and the tools used to restore them. Initially, it was only for myself. However, a close friend finally convinced me to restore a plane for him. One became ten and that first “customer” became fifty.
It was through the encouragement of that friend and first customer that I finally hung out the Loon Lake Tool Works shingle, offering new and vintage tools, as well as saw sharpening and tool restoration services. I have many ideas in the works and in various stages of prototyping. With lots of luck and a little hard work, I plan to add more new tools to my offerings on a regular basis.
While I'm not quite old enough to retire from my job at the university, the day will come when I will no longer work for someone else. When the work is for me, I can easily put in 12-15 hour days and be eager to get up in the morning and get at it again. Well, after a cup or three of coffee anyway.