About Me

Zak with a handful of spoons

My name is Zak. I build things. Most often those things are made of wood, but I also like to make stuff with metal, fabric, plastics, and pixels. I like to think that I can make just about anything, and if I don’t know how yet, I’ll learn.

My Story

I’ve been collecting tools and making things for about two decades. For much of that time I punched the clock of a regular 9 to 5 (ok, it was a retail job, so it was often until 1 or 2 in the morning) and didn’t have a lot of time to devote to woodwork. That situation changed in 2015, and until 2020 I had the opportunity to spend a lot more time in the shop.

Woodworking is in my blood. My grandfathers both did a lot of building, one a brick mason, the other a highly skilled draftsman, woodturner, and woodcarver. My dad is also a perfectionist builder, and has a lot of experience with large-scale projects like houses and enormous garages/workshops.

I, however, came to woodworking mostly on my own. I find it to be both calming and stimulating. It scratches the itch of complex problem solving. Like the game Othello, the basics are easy to learn, but it takes a lifetime to master.

Zak drilling a hole into a cut branch with a hand auger bit
CNC cut engraving of a dark mark from Harry Potter

The past couple of years I have moved in two completely different directions of making things. First I gravitated toward handwork; green woodworking, carving, handcut dovetails, and the like. Traditional methods of work are quite satisfying. Later, while in a spooncarving phase, I picked up a CNC machine. Recently I bought a 3d printer. Now, in late 2020, I’ve been spending a good amount of time in front of the computer (at the opposite end of the table from my second grader on Zoom) and have gotten a lot of enjoyment out of designing in Fusion 360. It’s a nice balance.

I mentioned fabric, metal, and pixels above. Along with woodworking machines I have a handful of sewing machines and a couple of welders. I don’t use those quite as much as the woodworking tools but they are an important part of my toolkit. As for pixels, I try to spend a bit of time every year writing code and keeping up with new tech. In 2020 I spent time brushing up on modern HTML and CSS, took a dive into the Go programming language, and rebuilt this website from scratch in Hugo.

Other Interests

Zak leading a cycling road race

Cycling is another passion of mine! Like woodworking, it is something I come back to again and again. I’ve raced road and cyclocross (and road and xterra triathlon, don’t judge), and also love my MTB. While I haven’t spent much time on a bike lately, I will someday… someday.

What’s been keeping me off the bike? Well, along with spending time with my wonderful wife and two amazing daughters, at the end of 2019 we got a puppy. Patsy’s a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, and a great bird dog. Pretty much all of the time that I would have spent on a bike I’m now outside either walking the pup around the neighborhood or chasing birds in the woods. And she makes quite a racket if I go anywhere without her.

Patsy the Griffon