I grew up with my home bordered by over 700 acres of pitch pines. My days and many nights were spent in this spectacular forest. The ground was blanketed with a soft golden cover of pine straw. The tops of the trees provided a canopy thirty feet in the air. The soft golden floor combined with high ceilings supported by the majestic tree columns created a cathedral like ambiance. The forest had the fragrance of Christmas trees with a sweet nutty after scent.
It was by no accident where my childhood home was built. My dad fell in love with my mom on Cape Cod Massachusetts in 1956. She grew up on the family farm, her family dating back to 1657. My dad kept his eye out for the perfect property on the Cape to build a home and raise a family. My dad’s love for the forest was contagious. He loved the serenity of the forest.
We would take daily walks together. Many times we would go to the edge of the forest where some pines would be laying down from a past wind storm. He loved bringing back to life a fallen tree by creating something out of it. We would sit together carving. His creations always took form before by mine. He said it was easy because the piece already knew what it wanted to be.
It is hard for me to imagine a more idyllic place. The golden pine needles were soft to sit on; the sun gently warmed us while the pines trees provided sheltered. We would carve together until the pieces revealed their new forms. My dad would provide guidance but said it was up to me and the tree to determine its new form.
Before we left I would plant a seed from a pine cone. Today there are mature pine trees in some of these areas commemorating my special moments with my dad.
Some of my fondest childhood memories were these times spent in the forest with my dad. Today I walk through forest cathedral with my sons. It is a joy to see the reverence for the trees in their eyes.
My grandfather kindled my love for wood. I can remember helping him in his wood shop when I was around five years old. He held my hands and let me help carve a scallop shell to adorn the top of a cabinet. He let me keep the wood shavings which I still have today. My grandpa told me it was his responsibility to pass on everything his dad taught to him. I am now honored to share the love of working with wood with our seventh generation of wood workers.
Like most craftsmen with a passion for creating with wood I am in awe of trees. The tallest living tree is five stories higher than the Statue of Liberty and the oldest continuously standing trees where around a 1000 years before the great pyramids. Trees spend their lives breathing oxygen into our environment for us and then bestow us the gift of wood.
Wood is an incredible medium to create with. It has an unmatched warmth and depth. It can be bent, carved, laminated and comes in an unlimited palette of colors and tones to paint with. My creations are meant to give reverence to the tree, to give it life again, to try and liberate the soul of the tree.
Wood working has been my passion for over four decades. I do not know where the line between passion and obsession begins. I love working with wood in any manner. I prefer not to defile a piece with fasteners or power tools if possible. My path in wood working has taken me from helping build furniture and wooden boats with my grandfather, carving and scroll work with my dad to painting with wood in marquetry, ornamental wood flooring and finally trying to create the “purest form of flooring” unblemished and perfect in color.
A wood floor is the largest wood working project that most craftsmen will ever have the chance to work on. Although some may be considered a wood floor unrefined compared to a sculptured piece of furniture, my wooden canvases are commonly larger than the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. They are composed of thousands of boards which all dimensionally changing throughout time. It is the size of my wood canvas and the dynamics of the medium that intrigues me.
Frank Lloyd Wright once said, “We can use wood with intelligence only if we understand wood.” Wood is not a static material to create with. As its environment changes so does it. The forces associated with the dimensional changes in wood are incredible. Since ancient Egyptian times man has used these forces to split stone by simply wetting wooden wedges.
Most information concerning wood flooring is difficult to obtain or contradictory. It has been my quest to take some of the frustration out of searching for wood flooring answers. As an engineer I spent two decades working on nuclear power systems. Answers were very cut and dry. Information was accurate and easy to find. I hope to bring this to the wood flooring industry. Although, it seems my quest for wood flooring knowledge might be without end. Each answer I find is accompanied by two more questions.
I am forever grateful for the craftsmen around the world whom have graciously shared their knowledge with me along with my engineering professors and wood science professors. I would like thank everyone who aided me in disseminating knowledge back to others. Thank you to the National Wood Flooring Association for allowing me to contribute to the national technical manuals, certification program and educational classes. I would like to thank John Wiley & Sons, Inc Publishing for allowing me to contribute to the National Interior Graphics. Thank you for Taunton Press for helping me edit 5200 pages down into a manageable 336 page book. Thank you to the New York Times, Fine Home Building, This Old House, Hardwood Floor Magazine, Fine Wood Working and the many other distinguished publications that have been indispensable helping me disseminating much need accurate information.