About Tom

I decided it was time to retire and do some of the “other” work I love to do and haven't had much time for. Hopefully it will help the meagre pension too.

I was introduced to the rudiments of woodwork at my mother's knee when I was about five years old. She had a broken wrist many years before that had never healed properly, so I got to do the sawing and some of the hammering for her. Her father was a very capable carpenter so we had some great instruction. He built everything, from hip roofed barns and houses to grandfather clocks.

My dad (farmer, mechanic, welder) was always busy with the farm or service station/garage, trying to eke out a living. So many of the home repairs, renovations, shelving and other stuff fell to Mom and me to do. Dad would help as available on the larger projects. Mom and Dad were continuously building and renovating throughout most of their lives. After I was married, I learned more about woodworking from my father-in-law, another great carpenter.

I started leather work when I was in grade 9. My grandfather had given me an old saddle for my horse. It was in very poor condition so I decided I wanted to fix it up. I decided to take leatherwork in Shop and learn leather carving and tooling so I could fix it up. The school I attended bussed us to a neighbouring school 20 miles away for Shop (and Home Economics for the girls) on Friday afternoons. On my first day of Shop, I found that there was no choice of projects or subjects. First we learned drafting. Then we would draft the construction drawings for a night table. Finally we would build and finish the night table.

I decided to learn about leather carving and tooling on my own. I researched instruction books that were available. There was a hobby store eleven miles away that resold Tandy leather and tools. I obtained a very good manual about leather work and studied it. We didn't have any amount of cash so I had to be very frugal. I bought the minimum number of tools required to begin—probably about five stamps, a swivel knife and leather trim knife. I bought a couple of square feet of leather and started to practice.

The first couple of items weren't great, but taught me valuable lessons. After about four months, I was able to do some fairly decent work and was able to sell some of my work. Wallets were the fastest to make and sold well.

Leather work was my source of income for any tools, gas for the car and expenses for dates. When I had to “work” for a living, there wasn't much time for leather work, but I managed to do some from time to time and gradually build up my supply of tools and patterns, improve my skills, hide away some more leather… so I could make something now and then with out having to run to Tandy to get supplies first.

Good-paying work the past few years has helped to purchase a few more wood and leather tools and equipment as well as build furniture, shelves, etc. for our home and toys for our grandchildren.

The saddle is long gone, lost in one of our moves, and never did get fixed up. It is really tempting to build a saddle, but I have no need for one.

  • Trial assembly of custom knick-knack table
  • Reassembling piano stool after repairs and sprucing up the original finish
  • Wood lathe and bench-top bandsaw
  • Round knife, ready to cut a piece of leather for a project