The Wood-a-holic

Yes, it’s true. I’m Tom Iovino, known as Tampa Tom far and wide, and I am a wood-a-holic. I have to admit this as part of my twelve step program. I knew I was in trouble when I started exhibiting the following symptoms (yes, it’s OK for you to admit that you too might be a wood-a-holic after reading this list):

  • You race home from a hard day at work to put in a few hours in the shop.
  • You start arranging your vacations and family schedule around woodworking expos.
  • You can spend hours in a home improvement center turning every hand wheel, flipping every switch and checking the fit and finish of every power tool you see.
  • You walk into a furniture store, drop to your knees and inspect the underside of every piece of furniture to see how it was built.
  • You find yourself proclaiming, “I could build that,” when someone describes the need for a piece of furniture.

It’s not really a bad affliction when you think about it. Woodworking is the kind of addiction where you can actually accomplish something useful. A piece of furniture that can fill a need – and maybe even look good in the process. That’s always a good thing. Sometimes, I’ll use reverse psychology to get where I need to. For instance, a few years ago, we ran out of cabinet space in our kitchen. We couldn’t squeeze another box, pot or pan in there. So, I sketched out a design for a free-standing pantry that would fit into a perfect corner of the kitchen. I priced out the materials, and then looked for a pantry at a furniture store. The pre-made one cost considerably more than the materials, but I wasn’t convinced she would go for the deal. So, when I showed her the plans, I greased the skids a little – “That was a great idea you had for me to build a new pantry.”

She was sold.

My wife will get annoyed that I’ll spend the better part of a Saturday in the shop building something. But, once that piece gets into the house, everything seems to work itself out. She’ll even call the neighbors over to take a look at the finished piece. That’s when I have to strike while the iron’s hot – “Hey, honey, since I did a good job on that piece, what do you think about me building a (fill in the blank)?” If I say this in front of the neighbors while they are admiring the work, they’ll start asking about when the new project will be completed.

I call them my enablers.

8 thoughts on “The Wood-a-holic”

  1. I am guilty of the last three symptoms. The last one combined with an inability to say no has led me to work on a lot of projects that I really don’t want to do. A file cabinet for the in-laws, a sawing machine table for my mother, cabinets for the laundry room in my house. It’s been a while since I have done something that I really want to do. I guess it is an inherent problem with our hobby. If you play golf there is nothing tangable at the end that people can get from you, but woodworking is different.

    For me I’m announcing once more to my family and friends that the next project will be something that I want to do. Even if in the end I have to throw it away because it serves no practical purpose. But again I’ve given this speach many times before.

  2. Hi my name is Mike and I’m a Wood-a-holic…

    I can relate to each of your points! I always look at the underside of new furniture and inspect their drawer construction.

  3. You know, it’s kinda funny – I got my first paying woodwork project standing – err – on my hands and knees under a project in a bare wood (finish it yourself) furniture store. I was griping to my wife about the fit of a joint on a kid’s desk. That’s when this guy comes up to me and asks if I was a woodworker…

    No, wait, that’s grist for another article! 😀

  4. Hi my name is Ron and I’m a Wood-a-holic…

    I too relate to all your points but the addition of the “enablers” really will make things worse but I never said I wanted to get better so… thanks a bunch! It’s great to see I am not alone:)

  5. Ron –

    Oh, YES, another one to join the fold! Yes, Enablers can be so useful… “Tom, can you build something for me?” That makes me shake uncontrollably!

  6. I too have the wood affliction as confimed by a collection of domestics and exotics that number in the thousands of pieces…..each holding secrets for a possible project.
    I must add another step. I wander”lust” in forests looking for walnut and cherry, burls and roots and stand ready with chain saw in hand to harvests hundreds of bf of quilted, curly, birdseye, tiger striped, water falled, spalted and clear stock….all of which I will load in my solar kiln…to be ready by next summer.
    Whoa be to the man who introduced me to buying on e-bay. May there be a pox or “catch” upon his head
    There is beauty and so much potential in wood and the crafted pieces will long be appreciated by future generations……Rick

  7. Don’t know if I’m on the right page or not but I was wondering if you could help me. I’m trying to make lap joints for bench legs. But each time I cut one, the joint seems to be too big. What am I doing wrong? Any help would be appreciated


  8. In my case, part of the “pitch” would be, “I could build that if only I had a (fill in the blank – tool)”. Since my wife knows that I really could build it, this often helps me get the OK for the new tool.

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