Marty Lindsay

Jan 012016

Welcome to our 2016 Woodworking Resolutions blogger series. Every year we invite our bloggers to share their resolutions specific to their woodworking goals for the new year. Click each link below to read our bloggers’ resolutions!

This year marks a line in the sand for me. In 1996 I weighed up 3 career options… music, furniture making, and IT. I decided to pursue IT with the aim that with the income it would provide, I could pay my bills and at least dabble in my other two interests. That was 19 years ago and the plan paid off.. mostly.

The time has come for me to progress my furniture making dreams. (my music dreams are another story, and may even overlap if I ever make a jazz guitar)

My resolution:

In 2016, I will design, make, and sell an item of furniture, to a stranger, for a profit.”

Why design? Because I love the process of taking something from just an idea to an actual useable product, a thing of both beauty and of use.

Why make? I think that one is self evident.. we like making stuff here, agreed?

Why to a stranger? Because it truly counts. The piece stands on its own merits, there are no favours, false compliments, politics involved.. it’s either worth the price or it isn’t. I have actually sold a piece of furniture once before.. I was commissioned by a friend to build a dining table, which I did. 

I was lucky in that they style they liked was ‘rustic’ which meant that I didn’t have to perfectly edge join the top, so it worked out ok.  My plans for the future though are more ‘fine’ than ‘plank’.

Why for a profit? 5 years ago I bought about 10 Ash planks which then sat idle. I need to ensure that when I consume these by turning them into furniture, that I have enough left over money to replenish the wood supply.

An important part of this resolution is that it is time-bound. I need to not be writing a follow up article in 19 more years wishing I’d achieved more. By the middle of this  year I want to have finished this one, with a really good understanding of the number of hours required and the profit, if any, that resulted.

I fully expect to be horrified with profit/loss and to be shocked that I’d only earn a dollar an hour if I pursued this kind of work, but it will be a good starting point.. better to be enthusiast and informed, than apathetic and not try at all.

Wish me luck.


Marty is a full time IT worker from New Zealand who is continuing a long journey to learn furniture making despite the common obstacles of limited time, money & workspace.

Nov 272015

Let me introduce myself:  “I am not a furniture maker…. yet.”

What I am though is very determined (stubborn) and passionate about becoming one.

I am a normal person with a full-time day job in IT, but who has had an interest in quality, handmade, solid wood furniture for the last 20 years.

I have read many online resources from expert furniture makers and they are wonderful and inspiring, yet I’ve not yet managed to gain much momentum with the craft due to some pervasive obstacles in my way which you may have in common with me:

I’ve had only a small space to work in, and it’s not brightly lit, or warm, or even dry for that matter. I think most beginners have to deal with quite damp conditions available in external sheds.

I have a full-time job which I commute to in a neighbouring city. My family are a lovely bunch, but the time demands of family life are in conflict with the time demands of developing mastery in a craft such as furniture making.

In almost all instances I don’t have the spare cash to purchase a piece of equipment which would save me time. And last but not least, for most of the last 25 years I have put up with the disadvantages of rented accommodation. Each location has had pros and cons, but the ability to set up a lasting and well configured workshop environment has eluded me.

Despite all this, I’ve made some progress. I did make a small coffee table as a wedding present for an inlaw using handtools, as it was the best way to provide a valuable gift with the funds I had available. After that I was commissioned by another friend to make a dining table out of recycled floor joists. Lastly, I made a large shelving unit to host a hand powered grain mill which we purchased.

All three items have survived to this day in daily use, which I find encouraging.


I aim much higher. I want, no.. need to master many classic furniture joining techniques, rather than just ‘screw things together’.  I’ve done the classic newbie mistake of purchasing some text books, but not implementing the contents.

I’ve decided to rectify this by creating a chopping board using mainly hand tools. This will provide me with the core and essential skills of flattening and joining 3 pieces of wood. It’s a critical step in my journey, and should result in a usable product.

If I had a jointer and thicknesser this would be child’s play no doubt, but even if I had such tools I think there will be a lot to learn in the process of using handtools. The tools I have to work with are basic but solid including number 4 smoothing plane, a jointer, a scrub plane, and a solid workbench. I’ve attached a cheap vice on one end. I’ve drilled some bench dog holes in the top of the bench, and chopped up some thick dowel as dogs. Progress at last.

The workspace is still cold, damp and small, but I have a pair of Brave Pants I shall wear.

‘The Cave of Glory’

‘The Cave of Glory’

So, if all goes according to plan, over the next year(s) I’ll demonstrate that even if you have many roadblocks and limitations everywhere you look, you can still achieve your furniture making dreams. Follow along with my future posts and learn from my mistakes and successes, and also give me good advice from your hard earned experience. We’ll both benefit as we go.

Marty is a full time IT worker from New Zealand who is continuing a long journey to learn furniture making despite the common obstacles of limited time, money & workspace.

Nov 242015

I have a very simple wish, which is ‘better lighting’.

I currently work in a small workshop which is cold, damp, and poorly lit. My workbench is functional but when I’m hand planing I find that the lighting is just poor, which is slowing me down considerably when trying to achieve a perfectly flat edge.

My normal routine is this:

1. place board on bench and clamp between vice and dogs

2. hand plane one or two strokes

3. undo vice, remove board, and hold up to the window with my straight edge to look for light shining through any gaps

4. mark areas on the edge for adjustment

5. again place board on bench and clamp between vice and dogs

6. repeat a million times until insanity or victory

Clearly this is a recipe for madness, so my wish is for some simple fluorescent lighting that I will install horizontally at the back wall just above the bench surface so I can assess my progress while leaving the board in place.


Proposed location of additional lighting

Having said all that, the electricity is currently broken in my shop due to a faulty RCD device, so my real wish is for an electrician 🙂

Marty is a full time IT worker from New Zealand who is continuing a long journey to learn furniture making despite the common obstacles of limited time, money & workspace.