It’s been a little while since we have featured one of our own customers. Mitch Mandel is no stranger to the wood shop. Here, in his own words, is Mitch’s woodworking journey from being a guy who wanted to get something done, to master craftsman…
I first got into woodworking when I bought my first house and I needed a nice long shelf to go on the exposed brick wall in my newly renovated kitchen. My only consultation came from the guy at the hardware store, whose advice turned out to be spot on. However, my introduction to actual fine woodworking came when the publishing company I work for bought the magazine American Woodworker. I am a photographer by profession, and one of my jobs then was to photograph the step-by-step procedurals for the magazine and woodworking books we produced. The writers, editors and craftsmen in the shop were truly expert, well established pros, and going to work each day was like attending a master class in woodworking techniques and design. Every day I grew more inspired, and tried to incorporate those lessons in each of my successive projects. Eventually, the company sold the magazine, but the love I developed for hands-on woodworking was permanently ingrained and remains an abiding passion today.
I will be retiring in just a few weeks, after a 40 year career in commercial and editorial photography, and am looking forward to spending time in my modest basement shop, working on my own designs and building furniture for family and friends. I have been approached from time to time for commissions, and now that I will have more time I may be inclined to accept them.
Up to now, my projects have been mostly for myself and my kids (I built almost all the furniture in our house). The cherry hutch was a wedding present for my daughter, built with Bailey cherry. The desk was for my wife, and is made from Bailey cherry, curly maple and purple-heart. I’ve been a customer of Baileys for at least 10 years, and I love the service, the selection, and quality of the wood I get there. My favorite species up to now have been cherry and walnut, but I am looking to explore some of the more exotic woods in the near future.
I am particularly drawn to the work of George Nakashima and James Krenov, and have tried to incorporate elements of their aesthetic into my own designs. I have a Krenov inspired cabinet that was featured in Fine Woodworking.
Right now, I’m working on a walnut and curly maple writing desk for myself. Curved, tapered, laminated, wishbone legs…It will probably be another month or so till that’s done.
We are looking forward to seeing that lovely writing desk, Mitch!