Working with Doug

Monday I started a new, two month long internship with Doug Adams, owner of the Spalted Wood Gallery. I took a class with him at MUM and absolutely loved it. I learned so much in his class and knew I wanted to learn more from him. He is a high-energy, humorous, honest, and kindhearted man who is incredibly conscientious about safety. He is meticulous and efficient. He used to specialize in custom furniture and cabinetry but more recently has migrated into gift items such as trivets, salt and pepper shakers, napkin holders, lazy susans, utensils, etc. as well as mosaic art work. Doug’s work is stunning and he has a wonderful and unique style that incorporates beautiful spalted and exotic woods.

My internship will be split into two categories: the first category is production; I will be learning and helping Doug produce the items he sells, the second category is my own projects; I will be choosing and designing my own projects that will teach and refine a variety of techniques and skills.

The first day at Doug’s was sort of an orientation day; He showed me around his large, two-story shop he recently built next to his house out in the country. He showed me his work and all the different projects he was working on. We spent a little bit of time getting his shop organized, tidied up, and ready for me to work in. Doug went over the different tools and safety rules for all of them. We also talked about the goals and expectations each of us had for the internship and what the structure of it would look like. We came to consensus of a few days a week Doug would teach me techniques on my own projects and the rest of the week I would work on production for him. This gives a nice balance for both of us to get something of value out of this experience.

Doug had invited my family and me over for lunch on the first day and his wife, Sandy, made a wonderful meal. So, after an information-filled morning, my husband and son came out to their house to eat and enjoy. It was a wonderful chance for us to get to know each other better. Doug and his wife are so incredibly kind and this gesture just shows how warm and open they are.

The rest of the week was packed. I got to use the chop saw and table saw a lot which made me progressively more comfortable using them. With the table saw I got to cut both very large things, like a sheet of plywood, and very small things, like small borders for books and lazy susans. I also used the table saw to cut rabbet and dado joints. The wide variety of sizes and shapes I got to cut was valuable for both confidence and skill. With the chop saw I cut 90, 45, and 22.5 degree angles for boarders on lazy susans and table runners. I needed to be very accurate with my measurements and cuts so I got a lot of practice at being very precise with the chop saw. Every time I would use a tool Doug would stress safety and show me how it can be dangerous and what I can do to stay safe. Always safety first. I learned how to mark certain pieces certain ways to make sure my cut was in the right place and the pieces would fit together properly. I also learned a few techniques for gluing these pieces together.

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I got to learn all this and more though helping Doug make his products. I had a lot of fun and am looking forward to next week. Even though I haven’t started any of my own projects I am already learning so many valuable things. I’m getting so much more comfortable in my ability and equipped with the right knowledge and skills. I am one step closer to feeling like I’ll be able to do this on my own some day.

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