About

I’ve always been a “maker”. From as early as I can remember I’ve enjoyed making things. Fortunately for me I grew up as a Navy brat – which means that I’ve had access to some wonderful craft and hobby shops that the military provides to the troops and their families through MWR program. When I was eight it was model airplanes. At 10 it was leather goods. I made my first real woodworking project at 12 years old. It was a skateboard. I lived in Spain at the time and real skateboards were very difficult to come by. So necessity, or rather desire, was the mother of invention. In my teenage years I had moved on to making software. It wasn’t until I was established on my career path as a pilot that I began to feel the pangs of my “maker” drive going unfulfilled. Although I truly love my chosen vocation, flying airplanes is not a place where creativity is cultivated.

When I was in my mid-twenties I rediscovered woodworking. Since I was now in the military myself I continued to have access to a wonderful wood hobby shop on the base near my apartment. As soon as I started woodworking as an adult I knew I was hooked. I began to voraciously consume woodworking information. In fact, it was my passion for working wood that was the primary motivator to buy my first house. I wanted to be able to have my own shop in my basement…and so began my lifelong journey through the art and craft of creating beautiful and useful items that we get to see, touch and use every day. To me, woodworking is much more than a hobby, it’s my avocation.

My personal woodworking journey has taken me through making many different styles of furniture. I enjoy the challenge of creating new and different pieces. I especially relish the history behind the different traditional styles, the tools of their periods and the techniques they used to accomplish the wonderful works that were created two-to-three hundred years ago. My personal aesthetic falls into the “clean and neat” camp. I’m not a huge fan of lots of surface adornment, but I can certainly appreciate the craftsmanship required to accomplish those pieces. I prefer to use classically proportioned forms to accentuate the natural beauty of the wood. 

The woodshops on the military bases were all basically power tool oriented shops. Since the 1950’s when power woodworking tools began to become available to the homeowner, the hobby woodworking industry has produced machines to help the hobbyist woodworkers make “factory quality” furniture. At the same time the quality of factory furniture has continued to decline. I remember watching Norm Arbrams’ New Yankee Workshop on PBS. Norm had every power tool a woodworker could desire. It didn’t hurt, of course, that his primary sponsor was one of the biggest power tool manufacturers in the world. As the power tool craze took off, the old hand tool manufacturers ceased producing their tools. By the late 1980’s a woodworker really didn’t have any choice in new equipment except to go with power tools. Fortunately in the 1990’s a couple of manufacturers saw that there really was a market for the hand tools that were used in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Today we are blessed with a multitude of options in either hand tools or power tools. I don’t fall into one camp or the other. I embrace them both equally. I simply try to use the best tool for the job that will not detract from the quality or craftsmanship of the piece.

First and foremost I strive for good design. Without good design, construction details are irrelevant because the piece simply won’t be around very long. My pieces are built using traditional construction techniques that have been time tested. By combining good design and solid construction with carefully selected and matched timbers I hope to make pieces that will exceed anything you will find in a showroom and that your descendants will be proud to own. I like to think, by taking this wonderful wood that mother nature has given us and creating something that is beautiful, useful and durable, that we are actually extending the life of this tree by quite a bit.

If you have questions about my work, think you might be interested in creating something together, or just want to chat please feel free to contact me using the link above.

 

Thank you for your time and attention,

Mark Hochstein

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Gunpowder Woodworks by Mark Hochstein is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License Google+